The Baltimore Post-Examiner ran an article entitled “What Is ISO 9001 Certification and Why Does It Matter?” which appeared to be a legitimate news piece. Naturally, it wasn’t.
Written by Peter Jenkins, the piece simply restates the usual tropes and myths surrounding ISO 9001 certification, including this gem:
That’s why companies are so proud of being ISO 9001 certified since it’s an international seal of approval that they conduct themselves in such a way where all of their processes are carefully monitored and vetted to ensure a quality product or service is delivered each time.
ISO, of course, distances itself from such claims when confronted, but clearly has no problem having folks like Jenkins repeat the falsehoods in press. Just try to get your auditor to buy into this argument during the closing meeting, where he’s required to tell you that ISO 9001 certification is not a guarantee of quality or consistency, and just a “snapshot” taken during an “audit sample.”
I approached the editors of the Baltimore Post-Examiner to see if they were interested in a counterpoint article, only to receive an automated reply in 30 seconds, sent by a bot. The email provided details on submitting articles to the “newspaper,” including this telling bit about what happens if they accept your article:
We will then send you the link to the article and an invoice via PayPal. Payment is due upon publication. We only use PayPal.
That’s right, the Baltimore Post-Examiner charges authors, it doesn’t pay them. That means that Jenkins paid to have his “news” article published, and that means it was a press release.
So who paid Jenkins? Well, the first question to ask is if “Peter Jenkins” even exists. He doesn’t come up as any known ISO consultant, and the link to his author details only has a creepy, serial killer-sounding email address (“firstname.lastname@example.org”). The page of his submissions shows the name is used for a variety of posts on all sorts of subjects, including supporting a former felon and choosing the perfect floral arrangement. So it appears to be a pseudonym. The URL for Jenkins’ author page has a name in it, though, but it’s also obfuscated: “Harry Serpchampion.” The company Serp Champion is, of course, a search engine optimization firm which offers writing articles to improve search listings; “SERP” stands for “search engine results page.” Hmm…
The Jenkins’ article does include a single URL in its text, for the company Supercool which manufactures lubricants. It’s intended to look as if Jenkins’ is name-dropping Supercool casually, as an example of an ISO 9001 certified company, but because it’s the only company named (and linked) in the article, it certainly looks like Supercool paid someone (Serp Champion?) to write a promotional piece masked as a news piece, and then pay Baltimore Post-Examiner to run it. Sure enough, the piece shows up in Google News’ feed.
So, no, the mainstream press didn’t suddenly get interested in ISO 9001. It still remains the subject for disingenuous press releases paid by shadowy figures with hidden marketing agendas.
It’s too bad, we desperately need the mainstream press to start reporting honestly about it.
About Christopher Paris
Christopher Paris is the founder and VP Operations of Oxebridge. He has over 30 years' experience implementing ISO 9001 and AS9100 systems, and is a vocal advocate for the development and use of standards from the point of view of actual users. He is the author of Surviving ISO 9001:2015. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.