Is anything ever really ‘off the record’?

An Uber executive’s remarks became big news though they weren’t intended for publication. It’s always important to set ground rules with reporters.

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Uber hit another reputation speed bump last week when one of its senior executives shared an troubling suggestion for generating better PR for the brand with a group of notables.

At a celebrity-studded dinner in New York, Senior Vice President of Business Emil Michael floated the idea of hiring opposition researchers to dig up dirt on journalists who’ve been hard on the company in order to “give them a taste of their own medicine.”

Apparently Michael thought he was speaking off the record, so the whole thing might have been another crazy cocktail-party story except for the fact that there were journalists present. One of those journalists was Buzzfeed‘s Ben Smith, who promptly posted a story about the bizarre statements, because no one told him anything was off the record, and therefore it wasn’t.

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