Monday, 14 May 2012

an addendum about ethics

As a PR consultant, I recently received an email via a client about a website that had 'written them up'. The person (who called themselves a 'reviewer'), requested that the client read the review and suggest any amends. The email went on further to request that the client recommend the site to other businesses to help promote themselves.

Here's the catch: The 'review' was a copy and paste effort, directly from the client's website, with no amends. Literally CNTL + C, CNTL + V . Further investigation on the site indicated that the same had been done from a multitude of websites, including publishing entities such as Fairfax Media.

There are two immediately pertinent issues here:

1. Don't copy content from another site without due credit for the source. 
It's journalism 101: don't copy sh*t from other people without giving them credit. Early on in my writing career, I'm not ashamed to say I made that mistake. Once. But here we're talking a fully blown commercial website, taking payment for ad space and to promote what's going on in the city. Not cool.

2. Don't call yourself a 'reviewer' if you've just undertaken the above. 
The term 'reviewer', just like 'publisher' or 'editor' comes with years of skill, practice and punishment. They're terms you earn the right to call yourself when you prove it. Emailing the subject alerting them to your shonky work and expecting thanks isn't called 'reviewing', it's called being a hack.

It's really simple. If you write it and publish it, great. If you copy it and repurpose it, say so. It's not rocket science, it's called manners.