Companies realize the power of the Internet to do good or evil, and many of them are willing to pay to ensure that good triumphs. By having negative posts about their companies removed illegally, it’s possible to “scrub” their dirty deeds from the public. Known as the “Black PR Industry,” the costs for such services run into the thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Black PR firms delete bad PR comments, blogs and posts—for a stiff cost. That such illegal industries thrives in China points out that companies know just how powerful bad PR can be. Chinese officials recently raided two of the largest Black PR companies in China—Xinxun Media and Yage Times. The story about their crimes was of course deleted from Chinese sites, but preserved on a New York Times site about China. With 2011 profits of more than 7.9 million dollars, primarily from deletions about Chinese officials, it seems as though PR crime does pay.
I hate to break this to you, but the news is manipulated everywhere, not just China. As you evaluate your competition and the economy and the news you hear so that you can strategize how to promote your business—realize there is a mix of truth, lies and half-lies in all the content you absorb. Try to study a competitor’s actions (and the news) from as many angles and sources as you can. It’s the best way to find the truth and to make a decision in the best interest of your business.
And if you want to get a leg up on the tactics used and how to protect yourself, read Sun Tzu’s Art of War. His strategies, documented back in the 6th century, are just as relevant today as they were then. And, they’re likely to be relevant forevermore.
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