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New York Times article on Fleishman-Hillard vs. Politech



Photo is here:
http://graphics.nytimes.com/images/2002/04/15/business/15spam.jpg

Previous Politech message:
http://www.politechbot.com/p-03372.html

-Declan

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http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/15/technology/15SPAM.html

Rant Inappropriately. Multiply by 20,000. Duck.
By Chris Gaither

    It was a publicist's worst nightmare.

    Fleishman-Hillard, a prominent public relations firm based in St.
    Louis, had to apologize last week to the editor of a large e-mail list
    after one of Fleishman's computer administrators angered some of the
    Internet's most vigilant defenders.

    The trouble started when a Fleishman office manager in San Diego
    returned from vacation and found nearly 80 messages from Politech, an
    e-mail list maintained by Declan McCullagh, the Washington bureau
    chief for the Wired News Web site. Each day Politech circulates up to
    a dozen comments and articles on electronic security, free speech and
    privacy to its 20,000 subscribers.

    The office manager had not subscribed, so she e-mailed a request to
    the list's server computer to remove her. When that did not work, she
    sent Mr. McCullagh an angry e-mail message and notified her
    department's computer expert.

    As it happens, while on vacation the office manager was assigned the
    e-mail address of a former employee who had been an active member of
    the Politech list.

    Not knowing that, the Fleishman computer administrator sent Mr.
    McCullagh a stern warning about unsolicited e-mail, and for emphasis
    added that he would consider it an honor and a privilege "to use all
    the technology tools available at making you go away."

    Mr. McCullagh promptly circulated the Fleishman warning to the list's
    members. There ensued a 24-hour flurry of messages from journalists,
    professors and policy makers inveighing against Fleishman. Some
    respondents vowed to block all e-mail sent from Fleishman, which is
    owned by the Omnicom Group. Others noted the irony of the firm's
    motto: "Grassroots marketing word-of-mouth makes the difference."

    Mr. McCullagh said, "What Fleishman-Hillard unwittingly played into is
    the Internet's intolerance for people with power who are pompous."

    List members sent the messages to a handful of Fleishman executives,
    whose e-mail pagers buzzed through the night, according to Michael
    Busselen, a senior vice president at Fleishman.

    On Wednesday morning, Mr. Busselen called Mr. McCullagh to apologized.
    He explained the sequence of events and said the computer manager had
    not been authorized to speak for the company. He said he hoped the
    apology, which Mr. McCullagh accepted, would allow "everyone to return
    back to business as usual."




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