An article recently appeared in various British newspapers telling the story of one Tom Boddingham who ordered a size 14.5 slipper from Monster Slippers. But due to a translation error, the factory in China that makes the slippers sent a size 1450 slipper instead.
Polly Curtis at the Guardian
thought the story smelled a bit fishy. And with the help of some people on Twitter, she soon figured out that "Tom Boddingham" coincidentally looked identical to Joseph Jennings, the online retail manager for Monster Slippers. In other words, the entire story was a PR stunt.
The thing about stories like this, which pop up with amazing regularity, is that the debunker actually can't help but publicize the PR hoaxer even more by repeating the story. Which plays into their hand. For instance, I'm now aware of Monster Slippers, and I never would have been if it weren't for the Guardian article. P.T. Barnum was very aware of this phenomenon. He would sometimes purposefully spread rumors debunking his own hoaxes in order to generate renewed media interest.
So you have to wonder, would it be better simply to ignore these PR stunts, and thereby not give the PR people the publicity they're looking for? It's a bit of a dilemma. Though my feeling is that the debunkers should never be blamed for doing their job. (Thanks, Laurie!)