12 Dec PRESS RELEASE: Google Buys God; Adds “Holy Spirit” Option to Gmail
As hilarious as it would be for Google to engage in metaphysical financial transactions, the blatant truth is that nothing of the sort is/was/has happened. Interestingly enough, I could easily issue a news release to this effect, drumming up interest in Google’s stock and potentially Christianity. Don’t believe me? It’s been done (albeit not for the purchase of Jehovah).
While fake press releases are not exactly new, the Google-ICOA fiasco is arguably one of the most presumptuous. Major news outlets, from the AP to TechCrunch, ran with the news (sans Google’s confirmation) and, while they were obviously penitent once the ruse was uncovered, this provides a valuable lesson for public relations pros. There’s an obvious best practice here for journalists too, which I don’t need to spell out…do I?
For PR pros, always be prepared to back a release up. Always. Don’t want your major acquisition or massive product launch to be looked at as a joke? Have your details and experts ready for when the reporters call – and the good ones will. In my near-decade of media relations work, I’ve yet to send out a press release that hasn’t been at least nominally investigated.
Fact checking may seem like a lost art, but given this latest round of bogus PR, there will likely be an uptick in follow-up calls from wary news organizations and wire services. So get those data sheets and executives ready to go, unless you want to be lumped in with “Michigan Man Invents Perpetual Motion Machine But Feds Stole It” and “Bat-Boy Found; For Real This Time” releases.