A sticky situation has gotten stickier for Burson-Marsteller—and, by extension, for all PR agencies. After days of reports about its work on behalf of Facebook to advance negative stories in the media about Google—while not revealing that it was working on behalf of Facebook—B-M deleted negative posts relating to its work for Facebook on its own Facebook page. On May 13, Wired.com reported that B-M censored a post, leading to a statement to Wired.com from B-M that it would put the post back. B-M has since revised its Facebook posting policy.
As of Sunday, May 15, B-M's Facebook page included many critical comments, as well as a link to the Wired.com story. This is as it should be.
The B-M/Facebook episode has left the profession with a black eye, so anything that can lead to cries of censorship among the Facebook community can only intensify the damage. B-M should certainly delete profanity, but a healthy and open discussion of the issues should be allowed to flourish.
In the long run, this is going to be a painful, but useful, learning experience for PR agencies. It'll never be business as usual again. It's a socially connected world, and transparency is the coin of the realm.