How did a marketing guy from the National Retail Foundation become an “online shopper” in a piece about “Cyber Monday” on the Fox Business Network?
As you may have guessed, it wasn’t an accident. But the folks at the trade group say it also wasn’t intentional: The reason that their man Peter Perweiler was at the ESPN Zone in Washington D.C., was because the NRF was hosting a media event — one designed specifically to provide reporters with “real” Web shoppers to interview.
Confused? We’ve got a detailed explanation from the NRF after the jump.
Statement from NRF spokesman Scott Krugman:
The second annual [email protected] event was a National Retail Federation event sponsored by Mall Networks, which powers CyberMonday.com. Members of the media were invited to the event to interview online shoppers in celebration of Cyber Monday.
During the event, it was clear to all who attended that NRF staff members were onsite and that some were shopping. At the event, held at the ESPN Zone, 198 people shopped and 15 of those shoppers were NRF employees. More than 20 people were interviewed by various media outlets and four NRF staff members were interviewed.
News media had free rein at the event to interview any attendee, including official NRF and Mall Networks spokespeople and consumers who were shopping. All consumers who were interviewed were approached directly by the media. It was neither hidden nor disguised to reporters that some shoppers at the event were employed by the National Retail Federation. In one instance, an NRF staff member specifically identified himself and the reporter chose to interview him regardless.
Members of the NRF Public Relations staff did not put reporters directly in touch with NRF employees for interviews; in fact, they intentionally directed reporters to non-NRF staff. Some members of the press chose to interview NRF employees with the understanding that they worked for the association.