A Guiding Hand or Plagiarism?

As noted on PR-Squared.com’s article Guess Who’s Talking: Social Media Ethical Dilemmas, it is common practice for PR companies to search blogs within their client’s industry. The agencies find blog posts that are pertinent to their clients and that are written by influential bloggers. The agencies send their clients example drafts of comments to leave on the blogs, and urge them to engage in the social media conversation. At a glance this seems like no big deal.

HOWEVER

Is this an ethical relationship-building strategy? Here’s the same situation put into everyday metaphorical terms:

Let’s say that you’re on an online dating website and you’ve developed a flirtatious relationship with a prospective significant other that you’ve become attracted to. Now let’s say you found out that their mother was the one who sought out your profile and drafted said prospect’s topics of conversation.

Not feeling too genuine, huh?

Well, many PR professionals would disagree. Shift Communications believes that blog monitoring is simply another piece of the public relations professional’s job.

Best Social Media Marketing Tips agrees with this mentality. Since the importance of social media is on the rise, monitoring influential bloggers who might say something about your client is imperative work.

But where do we draw the line? Why is it okay for PR professionals to be seeking relationships with bloggers but not for the mother in the example to attempt to get her son out of the house and meet a nice girl?  What about if a client cut and copied suggested comments, written by their PR agencies, right onto the influential blogger’s post?

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