Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Associated Press Got it Wrong!

News is buzzing on the Internet today about the Associated Press falling for a press release hoax. The fake press release appeared to be from GE, claiming that the company would repay a $3.2 billion tax refund to the Treasury Department. Once the AP learned the press release was a hoax, they pulled the story immediately.  Read the details of the prank here.

I'm sure GE's PR rep went into crisis mode as soon as the story hit the wire. This issue brings to light one of the problems with media today. While citizen journalism and social media are great tools to get your message out, the ability to publish breaking news within seconds has a downside. Every outlet from bloggers to mainstream media wants to be the first to break a news story. Unfortunately the AP fell victim to a prank in its haste to get this breaking news out the door.

This is a good reminder for all of us, especially PR pros, to check facts on our own release and pitches, ensuring the information we have - whether it is from clients or our own research - is accurate. You never know when you might be the victim to a prank such as this. Remember, just because you Google something doesn't mean it is accurate!

This post was contributed by Leah Ekmark.