PR Firms Pay for Video Play Online

Fake news isn't just for TV newscasts anymore. "The Web's evolving ability to tap niche audiences is expanding the scope of guaranteed placement," or paying to place PR videos. "For our Web distribution, we guarantee placement on major news sites, including Google News [and] MSN," explained PR executive Doug Simon. His firm, D S Simon Productions, also guarantees placement on "more than 20 viral video sites," but "through our sweat equity and not a cash payment." Beverley Yehuda of the PR firm MultiVu suggests making guaranteed placement "approximately a third of a campaign, including both the Web and traditional broadcast options." Medialink Worldwide's Larry Thomas said his PR firm understands that "people resent feeling misled. ... Our responsibility is to disseminate messages responsibly, so always let them know where the message is coming from." The Center for Media and Democracy's three reports on video news releases (VNRs) documented VNRs from all three of these PR firms being aired during television newscasts, without any disclosure to viewers.