06 December 2011

Bell Pottinger's "magical" digital reputation team don't know how to use Google

I know it's missing the point about the murky claims made by the Bell Pottinger lobbyists* but as someone who has seen a number of these stings (one from quite close hand) over the last 13 years or so, I found this element particularly puzzling.

Tim Collins described David Wilson's digital reputation management team as "magical". Yet they appear to not be able to use Google properly.

The name of the fake client created by The Independent and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism was the Azimov Group. If you put "Azimov Group" into Google, you get 57 results (at time of writing). Seven of which are links to The Independent story, or news aggregrators or blogs also covering the scoop. One of the pages is what appears to be a failed attempt to set up a page about the group on a Japanese Wikipedia-type site.

The Azimov Group's website is simply a holding page with a name, address and mobile phone number.

Now I know that the schtick was that it was a relatively unofficial, secret, clubby clique of business people. But seriously? Only 50 hits and it didn't start any alarm bells ringing? 

In the age of Wikileaks, Wikipedia and 24-hour crowd-sourced coverage of, well, just about everything, you found just 50 hits about an international investor group with links to a dodgy Central Asian regime and thought, yep, seems like it's all legit and not made up at all.


*FWIW, I do draw a distinction between what Collins, Richmond and Wilson claimed as an extreme form of marketing, and the actual truth of their influence. But what a way to earn a living. And I say that as somebody who has had a career in this field. Though always, I hope, knew where to draw the line. (Somewhere several thousand miles before cotton harvesting child labourers in Central Asia, by the way).

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