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Brian Hart: Debunking PR Payola Schemes

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

Brian Hart, 2012 Klein College graduate and founder of the Philadelphia full-service public relations agency, Flackable published an op-ed disclosing a disheartening trend instigated by publicity brokers. He is calling on regulatory agencies to end the unethical practice of payola.

Payola is a form of bribery paid to a source or person deemed useful for promoting a product or interest which Hart explains as, “further contributing to the increasingly corrupt segments of the news media.” This scheme is often perpetuated by unethical publicity brokers who are pretending to be public relations practitioners. Hart is helping to lead the way in calling out this highly unethical practice while shedding light on the hard work PR professionals are writing and facilitating daily.

Hart calls attention to lobbyist Jack Abramoff in his op-ed, who is known for serving prison time for his role in the Native American casino lobbying scandal. There have been complaints filed regarding Abramoff paying writers to publish and share articles praising AML BitCoin, and now the Securities and Exchange Commission is involved. It is likely Jack Abramoff will be heading back to prison for his unethical crimes. This is just a recent example of payola and how it is negatively affecting the field of communications.

Living and working in a digital age means misinformation and fake news are more likely to run rampant, thus making it difficult to consistently consume the facts. Hart has penned an outstanding letter to the Federal Trade Commission to begin the process of calling for investigations into news media payola schemes while simultaneously making sure the work of public relations professionals is still valued.

Check out Flackable’s own Brian Hart’s op-ed published in PR-Week to learn more about the unethical concepts around public relations payola schemes.


This blog post was written by Alexis Levant, Director of Public Relations

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