PR lesson: What to say when you're caught with your hands in the cookie jar

This is actually pretty funny. Last week I blogged about how WebRoot was doing some really weird things to get customers, like scraping our website for names from case studies, showcase customers, etc., and then contacting these customers. We had sent them a legal letter back in March on this activity, where they were doing this and giving customers misleading information. (If you’re curious, you can hear an actual wav file from a customer who was contacted here from WebRoot’s telemarketing boiler-room.)

It would have been probably regarded by most people as just a small spat between two competitors, but then someone posted a rather ugly comment on my blog, from what was clearly recognizable as a WebRoot IP number. This got a few people wondering exactly what was going on over there.

Today, CNET ran a story on the whole kafuffle, and WebRoot’s response was actually brilliant — right out of the Karl Rove fieldbook on PR:

In a statement provided to CNET, Webroot said "There is a long tradition of small, pushy tech companies picking fights in the press with industry leaders to generate attention. While we welcome healthy competition and debate, acknowledging thinly veiled publicity stunts is counterproductive to our business."

I got a good chuckle out of this — really, you can’t take this stuff seriously, and I have to admire what is actually pretty good PR spin. It’s up there with one of my favorites, the “so-called beaches” spin that Exxon used to describe the pristine Alaska beaches wrecked during the Valdez oil spill

At any rate, moving on...