Martin Holladay at GreenBuildingAdvisor.com blogs that Allison Bailes, a frequent contributor to his site, recently posted on his Energy Vanguard website about the difficulty of installing fiberglass batts well. According to Holladay, Bailes wrote that fiberglass batts “get a Grade III in the typical installation. That’s because it’s so difficult to install them well.”
Holladay writes that the lawyers brought out the big guns. In his story, he says, “But the lawyers at Guardian Fiberglass didn’t like what they read.” (He notes that, looking closely at Bailes’ photos, it can be seen that the batts in the photos happened to be manufactured by Guardian.) Now I don’t know a batt from a boot, but apparently, these were fighting words.
“In a letter written to Bailes on October 21,” Holladay writes, “Michael Metz, a Guardian lawyer, informed Bailes that ‘Guardian disagrees with [the] assertion that it is difficult to install fiberglass insulation well. … It is Guardian’s position that these comments by your company together with the picture of Guardian’s products constitute libel, slander and commercial disparagement.” The letter goes on to say that Guardian demanded a response within 10 days that included the blog’s agreement to “cease its negative advertising.” If not, Holladay writes, the company promised to “’aggressively pursue its remedies to the fullest extent permitted by law, and any further conduct by Energy Vanguard of a similar nature will be dealt with accordingly.’”
Scary words for a simple blog. Bailes ultimately hired a lawyer, then edited his photo to remove the Guardian name. [Editor’s note: The post currently includes a Nov. 8 apology from Guardian Building Products, and the word “Guardian” is once again clear on the blog post’s photo.]
Moral: What happens when a company tries to suppress a story?
Holladay writes, “When will public relations employees learn that any attempt to suppress a story only turns it into news?” Thanks to Guardian’s heavy-handed attempt at censorship, Bailes’ blog post will now get more readership than ever.