Pando

Company that tried to bribe Pando apologizes, "takes back" its offer

By Nathaniel Mott , written on February 25, 2015

From The News Desk

Earlier this week, I wrote about a company that was trying to bribe us into writing about its crowdfunding campaign, by asking us to include a referral link in a post on the project.

I explained in the other post how strange it was to receive the offer from this company. Its campaign was already successful -- it had actually raised a lot more than it was asking for.

Now the company has reached out to Paul Carr, our editorial director, to explain why it thought it might be a good idea to make that offer. As its chief executive said in an email:

Hi Paul,

Two days ago, we sent out an email offering you a ‘blogger referral contest’ that we thought would appropriately incentivize blogging about our project[...]

We were wrong about this tactic, and we take back our offer. As rookies navigating the world of marketing without professional PR services, we’ve failed to adhere to the norms of journalism. It was not our intention to promote bribery, only sponsorship, and we apologize for any offense we’ve caused.

If you have any advice for us about this or other subjects in PR and journalism, we’d love to learn from you.

I didn't realize that offering money in exchange for coverage only seems like a bad idea if someone in the public relations industry says so. But at least the company apologized.

And it could have been much worse. In August 2012, a company called Feedgen asked Pando's Sarah Lacy to publish a press release it had written, under her byline. (A quick Google shows that Feedgen's domain name is up for sale. Guess that didn't work out!)

Still, this person asked for advice about public relations and journalism. So I think it's only fair to say that referrals, promotions, sponsorships, and the like shouldn't ever be offered to writers or editors. And if that wasn't obvious, go ahead and hire a PR person.