|Papa John's CEO and Founder John Schnatter poses with
Taylor Swift. Source: Papa John's Facebook Page
A Backhanded compliment? On behalf of its client Papa John's, crisis PR firm Sitrick and Co. is tracking down bloggers who wrote posts about Papa John's CEO John Schnatter's comments on Obamacare, asking them to correct or remove their posts.
According to Politico, the firm has contacted a few dozen bloggers—but no major publications—who wrote that Schnatter said that due to Obamacare, pizzas would have to go up in price about 11 cents to 14 cents and individual franchises would have to close stores and cut jobs. Sitrick and Co. chair Mike Sitrick told Politico that "most bloggers have either corrected the items or removed them entirely once the 'mischaracterized' quotes are brought to their attention."
The real news here: Organizations are taking bloggers more seriously, treating them as part of the media landscape and calling them on their posts. Whereas it used to be the Wild West among bloggers online, and organizations felt like it wasn't worth it to try and control them, now we can see how great their influence is and why Papa John's was concerned about misinformation about its organization.
It's a testament to the growing power and influence of bloggers—even (or especially) when they're wrong.
The agency points bloggers to the CEO's November 2012 op-ed in The Huffington Post, where the pizza mogul wrote that he “never said” hours, jobs or stores would be cut as a result of Obamacare. The post includes a transcript of Schnatter’s exchange with the reporter, according to Politico.
While agencies correcting the media on behalf of their clients is nothing new (which is why it's interesting Politico devoted so much attention to it), this proves that as the line between bloggers and "traditional" journalists continues to blur, PR pros have similar media relations straggles for each. More and more, the top online influencers become the source for important news and information within their areas of expertise.
Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg