A PR Lesson from Author Solutions & Chick-Fil-A

author solutions jared silverstone

While going through the list of people who recently circled me on Google+ today, I came across a guy named Jared Silverstone from Bloomington, Indiana.

Bloomington rings bells for me, not just because it’s a couple of counties south, but because it has the rather distinct misfortune of being the home of Author Solutions (ASI) headquarters.

Sure enough, when I clicked through I discovered that “Awesome Publishing Consultant” Jared Silverstone is an ASI employee.

Huge eye roll. Being followed by these scum bags is nothing new. They’ve followed me (and dozens of friends) on Twitter too. I once thought this was dubious on their part, but it happened with such frequency that I’m now of the opinion they auto-follow accounts. Someone mentions a certain user or keyword and BAM!

By the way, in case any of you are wondering, that’s NOT in the best practices manual for social media relations. It’s the cheap, lazy, show-me-the-numbers way to use social media.

So back to Jared. Aside from the fact that he’s posted only a handful of ASI-centric posts since March 2012, Jared looks just a little too hipster to be hipster, doesn’t he?

the real jared

That’s because—surprise!—Jared Silverstone isn’t real. Click through a few pages of istockphoto.com  search results for “mustache,” and you’ll find our precious Jared, sans the green filter makeover and the slightly off center crop job. Before Author Solutions paid for his likeness, Jared looked a little something like (okay, maybe EXACTLY like) the watermarked guy on the right.

You’ve seen something like this before, haven’t you? That’s right. Remember that whole Abby Farle – Chick-Fil-A – Facebook debacle?

This is shitty, hack PR. And not only does this kind of sideways promotion not sit right with real consumers who demand honesty and transparency in business and in social media, but it makes all Author Solutions employees look bad (again). It also makes the company’s new parents, Pearson and Penguin, look bad (again).

And I have to point something else out: because Indianapolis’ Bohslen PR is the firm of record for Author Solutions, Bohlsen Group looks bad too.

Did ASI really just give their PR firm bad PR? Or was this a group effort?

If anyone from Author Solutions, Pearson, Penguin or Bohlsen wants to comment for the record, you know where to find me.

UPDATE 11:32: Apparently Jared’s on Facebook too. Why don’t you friend him up?
UPDATE 11:39: And Twitter @JaredSilverston (although, that one seems to have fizzled early)
UPDATE 8/31/12: GalleyCat picked up the news and reported on the story yesterday. Author Solutions later issued a statement to GalleyCat.

[box border=”full”]Don’t miss the complete list of complaints against Author Solutions and its imprints.[/box]