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June 8, 2012
Shell and PR Needled at the Space Needle
 
We've been wondering what the Occupy movement has been up to in its current, relatively quiescent phase to help set the economy aright and speak truth to power. Well, its Seattle branch, at any rate, has had the energy for an elaborate hoax that, hopefully, will backfire on winsome protest frolics everywhere. Protest, guys, is a serious business.

In Seattle, an "invitation" surfaced from an ersatz PR firm, "Wainwright & Shore," to attend a June 6 event, "New Frontiers: a Celebration of Seattle's Energy Leaders," on the Skyline Level of Seattle's Space Needle. Supposedly a private function to focus on offshore oil drilling, the "event" produced an online video showing an "oil platform" punchbowl running amok and spraying an elderly "attendee." The best we can make of this is that the "event" supposedly was sponsored by Shell Oil, but was intended to give Shell a black eye via the video. 

For a while, it worked. The Seattle Post Intelligencer's website was among those taken in by the hoax video. Then Gawker exposed the fraud yesterday. It was a real mind-bender. Don't look for it to rebound on Occupy overall. But remember that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, and the test of any seemingly serious protest. Shell has been, rightly, keeping its distance from the Seattle hoax. The PR profession has as much reason to be offended by it as anyone.  

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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