Tail between their legs, Burson-Marsteller rushed to issue a statement yesterday morning after Facebook admitted to hiring the PR firm for an undercover smear operation against Google. Unabashedly blaming Facebook for having asked them to do something sleazy--that is, not disclose the name of their client--the statement said, "[T]his was not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies, and the assignment on those terms should have been declined."
The two Burson executives responsible for the much criticized campaign, former CNBC reporter Jim Goldman and former political reporter John Mercurio, will be reprimanded, a company representative told PRWeek today. The punishment? Not a punishment at all: more training on company guidelines. Evidently, the two one-time journalists who switched to the other side of the press release fairly recently believed it was a bit darker than it actually is.
Facebook has yet to announce any major retributions or staff shuffles in the wake of the scandal. However, Burson confirmed that they will no longer work with Facebook on the smear campaign against Google. (Good idea!) It's unclear how damaged the relationship between the PR giant and the tech giant might be, but this most certainly compromises Burson's recent announcement of their new specialty in tech PR.