An undercover investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, published in The Independent today, has taped senior executives at Bell Pottinger:Later in the article:
* Claiming they have used their access to Downing Street to get David Cameron to speak to the Chinese premier on behalf of one of their business clients within 24 hours of asking him to do so;
* Boasting about Bell Pottinger's access to the Foreign Secretary William Hague, to Mr Cameron's chief of staff Ed Llewellyn and to Mr Cameron's old friend and closest No 10 adviser Steve Hilton;
* Suggesting that the company could manipulate Google results to "drown" out negative coverage of human rights violations and child labour;
* Revealing that Bell Pottinger has a team which "sorts" negative Wikipedia coverage of clients;
Joint events could be held with influential think tanks close to government, such as Policy Exchange, the firm suggested. Another strategy would include passing information to key academics "so that they are then blogging the right messages out there – so it's coming from an independent,"and:
A presentation shown during the meeting said it could "create and maintain third-party blogs" – blogs that appeared to be independent. These would contain positive content and popular key words that would rank highly in Google searches.I doubt whether Bell Pottinger’s false flags, if they exist, would be so daft as to call themselves ‘independent’, but just to reassure readers – this blog really is independent and I’m on my own with my own views. You may well think that is all too apparent, and also that nobody in their right mind would pay me for this stuff.
Though I wouldn’t mind knowing how to rank more highly on Google. A recent search for Sarah Helm Loyalty found my recent post ranked 142nd. The much respected Normblog’s contribution on the same subject was 50th, the highest for a private blogger as far as I could tell. So probably I should just learn to face up to my own intellectual shortcomings!