“Why pay for a golf trip, dinner or full-page ad when you can tweet for free?” asks Cecilia Kang in a front page story of this morning’s Washington Post.
“The influence peddlers of K Street have discovered the power of social networking on such Web sites as Twitter and Facebook,” Kang writes. “Using their own names without mentioning that they work in public relations or as lobbyists, employees of companies with interests in Washington are chattering online to shape opinions in hard-to-detect ways.”
In the story, Kang points out how some PR people and lobbyists are less than transparent in their use of Twitter, Facebook and other social to advocate for their clients. Though Sprint was mentioned in the story, she doesn’t cite us an example of companies who are working “undercover” or as an “influence peddler”.
That’s because our team fully discloses our affiliations online. For example, I use Sprint’s logo on my Twitter background and I identify myself as spokesman for Sprint on public policy issues. On my tech blog and my You Tube channel, I have an even lengthier bio. Disclosing that is not only in Sprint’s interest, but it’s in my personal and professional interest.
My fear is that more conservative, risk-averse companies will read Kang’s story and decide social media shouldn’t be used at all. I hope not — I believe the more open and more spirited the debate is, the more likely it is we’ll end up with a reasoned public policy decision.
In my view, Kang appropriately questions the lack of similar disclosures by others. More companies and trade associations should require their employees to disclose their affiliations online. Sprint does.
Photo credit: Flickr: o palsson