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PR Fail: Former Dallas TV Anchor Gets Caught With 'Sockpuppet'
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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In case you are wondering, this post does not qualify as NSFW, but it sure is funny for the PR universe. From Dallas (my fare burgh), there is a much-confabulated story about an esteemed, retired news anchor for the NBC affiliate, Mike Snyder. Making a long story short-ish, Dallas' arts district is home to a partly open-air museum called the Nasher Sculplure Center. It's a lovely place, but its new neighbor is a big high-rise with all the mirrored windows to refract its glory. Unfortunately, the light it pushes out burns the retinas of museum goers, which has caused a grassroots outreach campaign "Stop the Glare." The tower has recruited many Dallas influentials (much like the Nasher), including Mike Snyder. 

After his 30 years in TV, he decides to "consult" in PR. So, he joins a group that "harness and utilize the latest emerging technologies" called Ropewalkers. Because, like several TV folks before and after entering this beloved profession, he doesn't understand how to pitch, he decides to create noms de plume via social media and comment on stories about this campaign to dissuade people about the aforementioned glaring condominium. We call this unethical practice "Sockpuppeting." Under the name of Brandon Eley from the Bronx, he [Snyder] was part of the following kerfuffle.

His fake Facebook profile is part of a more than $1 million legal and public relations campaign waged by the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System in its battle with the Nasher Sculpture Center over Museum Tower. The campaign was orchestrated by a $500-per-hour lawyer, executed in part by a former television anchorman and backed by the pension system — a government institution that relies heavily on taxpayer funds. The pension system’s lawyers have predicted that only litigation will resolve the fight over sunlight reflected into the Nasher by the 42-story condominium tower, which the pension system owns.

Thanks to watchdog reporting, Snyder's smelly sock was detected and he has since apologized to the masses. Obviously, the PR profession has to speak out against this, now that Snyder is being labeled as a "PR professional." And, boy did they. Note this spanking...eh, statement from PRSA Dallas

In the strongest terms possible the Public Relations Society of America, Dallas Chapter repudiates the actions of someone claiming to practice public relations. Re: Museum Tower Skullduggery – ex-newsman Mike Snyder, who admits to creating fake social media accounts, does not represent the PRSA Dallas chapter. He is not a member, never has been a member and never will be a member...Creating fake social media accounts not only violates these principles, it is a serious breach of professional and public trust. Clients should expect public relations experts they engage to help them grow and protect their reputations while conducting themselves with the highest professional integrity. A true public relations practitioner would not put his or her client at risk by exposing them to unethical behavior....Everyone knows there are rogues in every profession. In public relations—as in all walks of life—trust will triumph over deceit every time.

Those are my people! Hurts to miss that one, huh? 

Flacks, we have ethics for a reason. Why would we try to go around them for a quick hit or praise from the client? Just earn it the first time and sit back and enjoy. Bask in the glare of it all...you know, as it were. 

   

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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