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Why Ed Miliband has been bonged to rights. AGAIN.

BongCurrently doing the rounds on social media is a press shot of Ed Miliband stood next to a young gentleman holding a bong.

In case you didn’t know, bongs are utensils that are explicitly designed to help people smoke drugs.

I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty certain Ed Miliband’s press secretary didn’t sign this image off.

But hang on. This photo is actually very old. Ed Miliband was ‘Bonged’ to Rights back in 2012, so why are people talking about it now in 2014?

This story just highlights how the lifecycle of news stories in the digital age has changed.

The cliché that today’s headlines are tomorrow’s fish and chip paper doesn’t apply so much any more

Google never forgets and a dodgy story from 1992 about a sexual dalliance or a drunken statement can still damage reputations in 2014.

However, reputation management problems aren’t confined to Google. Thanks to social media news sites like Reddit, sometimes stories can keep appearing time and time again.

Take a bow Ed Miliband, or Milibong has he has been dubbed on Reddit this week. The story was one of the most top-read stories on the site and the image has been viewed over 20,000 times in the last 19 hours on imgur.

So how can these problems be mitigated? Unfortunately for Red Ed, once the horse has bolted, not much can help. One might be able to use the right to be forgotten to remove stories from search results but when it comes to social sites like Reddit there is little that can be done to control them.

The feeling among the PR practitioners at my PR company is that in this case prevention really is better than cure. Where was Ed Miliband’s press officer when this was taken? And more importantly, how come Ed Miliband didn’t notice the three-foot device that the student was carrying?

Clearly, Ed Miliband never listened to Cypress Hill when he was a student…

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James Crawford is the managing director of B2B and Consumer specialist PR Agency One. He specialises in SEO PR and using media relations to improve the visibility of websites.