Google Mad at CNet, Won’t Talk To Them For One Year
CNET News.com columnist Elinor Mills googled Google CEO Eric Schmidt last month to find out Eric’s net worth, the town he lives in, how much Google stock he sold, and his favorite presidential candidate and wrote about it. All of the info was available over Google and now apparently Google has issued a gag order to its employees not to speak with CNET for one year. “Google representatives have instituted a policy of not talking with News.com reporters until July 2006 in response to privacy issues raised by a previous story.”
I’m not a PR expert or anything, but what kind of rules did CNET break here? It’s not like they puled a Reuters and broke a Google PR Embargo (where information is given to a journalist on the Goodwill that the info not be printed until a certain date) or even dissed Google in the column. As the CEO of Google Mr. Schmidt has thrust himself into the public eye, and his information is readily available to anyone searching on Google – since Google is so relevant and a great search engine.
EDITORIAL OPINION : This whole hissy fit between the two companies seems a bit overblown. I mean we’re talking multi-billion dollar companies getting so P.O’d at one another that they do what? Promise not to talk to one another for 365.4 days. My golly, I did forget we’re basically talking about a geek fight between Google and CNET. Peel off the shells of stock options, gourmet chefs, online networks, and advertising revenue and you basically have Napoleon Dynamite getting steamed at Arnold Poindexter over who can draw the best unicorn picture. Come on guys, get over it.
Here’s a commmentary on the subject by Steve Rubel, who is a PR expert and says that this blacklisting of specific journalists and publications is quite ‘old school':
For years companies, particularly in the Valley and even elsewhere, have had “do not call” lists of reporters and even news outlets they won’t talk to. I even learned long ago to let calls from certain reporters go to voicemail if necessary. This forces journalists to write such-and-such “didn’t return calls” as opposed to “didn’t comment.” (It’s subtle, but it sounds better.)
In the blog age, it’s really not feasible to blacklist media or operate the way I once did earlier in my career. The world is more transparent. It operates 24/7. And, yes, it’s flat. Instead, as hard as it is, the PR community needs to facilitate rapid dialogue by all means necessary.