PR is not dishonest. Not quite. In fact, the reason the best PR firms are so effective is precisely that they aren't dishonest. They give reporters genuinely valuable information.
Bad PR firms hand out spin and / or misinformation that eventually chips away at their credibility. Traffic Power's public relations firm is AMR Partners. I want to run through some of Danny Sullivan's questions to them and some of AMR's responses to highlight the honesty in the answers. I will then go through their quote that was in the Wall Street Journal and a strategic blog comment spammers comments.
Danny: The letter never actually says what it is he supposedly pirated or published. What exactly is it that's in contention here?
AMR Partners: Traffic Power tells me that in threads regarding Traffic-Power portions of private and confidential emails have been presented as well as links to proprietary company information as well as false claims against the company regard non-existing lawsuits and other potentially libelous claims.
"I just thought anyone should know, This is an interesting link to a law firm that is getting ready to file a class action against Traffic-Power.com http://www.girardgibbs.com/traffic-power.html"
Many of these links are no longer available and Mr. Wall's site - Blocked Wayback Machine with "Robots.txt Query Exclusion" (See robots.txt file at http://www.seobook.com/robots.txt)
Aaron: I remember checking that the potential class action lawsuit was on a real site after seeing that post.
If you look at the Internet Archive you can see that at one point in fact that same law firm was gathering information to investigate the possibility of filing a class action against Traffic-Power.com. No false claim there on my comments page (and this is one of the few things - maybe the only thing so far as I know - they have specifically chose to point out as being knowingly false).
While the Internet Archive was blocked on my site clearly that is a poor idea to cluster it with that answer since the Internet Archive can be used to prove the rest of that particular AMR Partners answer sounds at best misinformed.
It is not like I have been posting AND DELETING lots of stuff about Traffic Power. If I did delete whatever they claimed was wrong then wouldn't I be complying with their desires anyhow?
As far as class action lawsuits go, another site (which goes by the name of Traffic Power Sucks) states they are currently working at putting a Traffic Power class action lawsuit together.
Score: Aaron: 1 AMR Partners: 0
Danny: How is he supposed to comply with a demand for source disclosure when you haven't cited what was allegedly published or pirated? Are you expecting a list of every person he's ever talked with?
AMR Partners: I have no idea what the legal team might expect in terms of disclosure of sources, but I have been told that any evidence will not be presented until it has been decided whether or not they need to file a lawsuit.
Aaron: If they are not going to disclose specifically what they want until well after they decide to sue me then how am I to comply without getting sued first?
Score: Aaron: 2 AMR Partners: 0
Danny: Are you suggesting everything on the SEO Book web site that might mention Traffic-Power is somehow pirated material? Doing a quick search, I see http://www.seobook.com/archives/000314.shtml, where he talks about being called by Traffic-Power. Is this the pirated communication? And if so, was he informed of this before the phone call began?
AMR Partners: I do not think the intent of the letter is to imply that everything on the site is pirated or in response to the two links you've posted, but rather to suggest that pirated material as well as material that could be considered libelous are present and that there are several issues on Mr. Wall's sites that are potentially actionable.
In conclusion, Traffic Power has assured me that they would much prefer a civil dialog with their critics instead of any legal action and that they at least, would be open to discussion.
Aaron: That in conclusion bit is sorta funny. They still have never told me specifically what was wrong, and - at least as I am aware of - outside the cease and desist they made no legitimate effort to contact me in any way about what is wrong prior to filing suit. So if they would prefer one thing then why did they do the exact opposite? Or was that "would much prefer a civil dialog" statement a blatent lie?
Score: Aaron: 3 AMR Partners: 0
On to the Wall Street Journal article:
Traffic Power Spokesman: Steve Pellegrino, a spokesman for Traffic-Power.com, said the company had asked Messrs. Wall and Baardsen to remove some material from their Web sites before filing the suits, and sued them after they refused. "We have let this go on a year and a half," Mr. Pellegrino said.
Aaron: Other than "everything" I was never told what specifically to remove (and I was also told that I may also need to give information for all sources). If a company operates under a variety of names or has a variety of affiliated sites how can I ensure I removed all information if I do not know the names of the various related entities?
As Danny Sullivan so eloquently put it:
He'd been served with a cease-and-desist letter from SEO company Traffic-Power.com that seemed impossible to comply with.
Also, if it has been going on for 1.5 years and there is something wrong with it why wait that long to do something about it? Also this JimWorld Traffic-Power.com thread started in 2002, so that puts us well over 1.5 years of Traffic-Power.com coverage.
Score: Aaron: 4 Traffic-Power.com: 0
Disturbing comment anonymously left on various search related blogs:
GET YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT!
Donate to Aaron Wallâ€™s legal fund? You must be kidding. Why so a spoiled little brat can rant and rage against things he doesnâ€™t like. This is a sad and pathetic joke, in case it has escaped your attention there are people in New Orleans who are DYING, and could really use donations. Anyone who sent Aaron Wall any money should be ashamed of themselves, to support this and turn your back on people who are in real need is disgusting. Aarons right to bash a bunch of spammers, is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, if the Blogging Community want to rally behind something, raise money to help the people of New Orleans!
PLEASE DONATE TO A TRULEY WORTHY CAUSE, TO EASE THE SUFFERING IN NEW ORLEANS.
Comment by French Quarter
Another Comment on My Blog:
I bet three voodoo dolls French Quarter post guy is from Traffic Power
Aaronâ€™s court case could stop companies and government entities from suing or issuing gag orders to the mini-press or public-press (bloggers). Imagine if the National Guard or Bush admin had the power to erase all tales of suffering and crimes against humanity stemming from the administrations lack of help during the evacuation and almost one week afterwards.
Funny you use the name French Quarter, as the Quarter is above sea level and apparently was the only target of organized evacuation due to the millions of dollars invested daily by tourists.
(someone spammed Loren's Search Engine Journal blog, SE Roundtable, Blog Herald, The Intuitive Life Business Blog, and Abakus SEO Blog with the same posts as the stuff they placed on my site. They also created a moderated Aaron Wall hate group in Google Groups.)
Why I have yet to mention Katrina on my site:
I am so pissed off about it that my thoughts on the topic would likely be a bit abrasive and likely piss off a large percentage of my readers.
I will post about it on my other blog. I think many blogs should mention it.
Did you know that prior to the storm FEMA could not finish some of their New Orleans hurricane walk throughs because their funding was cut, and that money to improve the levees and city pumps was cut in part to help fund the war on terrorism / Homeland Security?
Why I Have Yet to Donate to Support Katrina Survivors:
When the tsunami's happened I donated as much as I could. I gave a full month's income while I was still in debt and soon after had to pay off part of my taxes using credit cards.
I have yet to donate to support Katrina survivors because it is hard for me to ask friends to help support my case and then lower my financial stability by giving away money that might be needed to defended against Traffic-Power.com.
Score: Traffic-Power.com: 1 Katrina Victims: 0 :(
If you want to support Katrina victims please open your home up to extended family and friends and maybe even strangers if you are trusting, and you can donate cash at Amazon or donate ad space on your site.
The more I think about it the more I think this suit was intended as a big plublicity stunt by Traffic Power. I probably would not have made a post about the bad or inaccurate comments from their public relations firm, but I think:
- PR is what the case is about
- they should be kept honest, and any dishonestly or half truths should be shown exactly for being what they are (although Danny did a good job pointing out many of them already - thanks Danny)
- if people help spread half truths or deception they are just as bad as the people who come up with the half truths
- the strategic blog comment spammer about Hurricane Katrina was going way too far.
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