July 28, 2014

Wal-Mart Blog PR Backfires

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 03/7/06

The New York Times reports on efforts by Wal-Mart and its PR firm, Edelman to influence public opinion by providing information to bloggers. Nothing wrong with that, but apparently a number of the bloggers picking up on the information are posting it word for word and not citing the source.

Pitching blogs is picking up steam as a public relations activity by companies big and small. Wal-Mart’s Mona Williams is quoted on MediaBuyerPlanner.com: “As more and more Americans go to the internet to get information from varied, credible, trusted sources, Wal-Mart is committed to participating in that online conversation.”

While the issue getting attention stems from the way in which bloggers are posting the news and information, it’s Wal-Mart and Edelman that are left to deal with all the less-than-desired blog buzz that will result.

This is just another lesson for corporate PR on the right and wrong way to implement blog public relations and WOM marketing.

13 comments for Wal-Mart Blog PR Backfires »

  1. I was one of the persons who ran into this PR firm. The people that received information from a PR firm were not paid nor did they receive anything other that some links to some stories and at most a sentence or two. Though I received many correspondences, I only created a post about one of them. I do however have many posts about free markets, capitalism, and the such dealing with Wal-mart.

    What is missing from this story is the corporate campaign by the unions against Walmart. If they can’t get the Wal-mart employees to unionize they are trying another old strategy of propaganda, regulation accusations, along with the help of the pro-union media (which the NY Times author is a member of). What people fail to realize, is that this doesn’t hurt Wal-mart. It hurts the hundreds of thousand of employees trying to earn money for their families.

    Comment by Admin — March 7, 2006 @ 2:48 pm


  2. Same here. We were not paid, and we were not told what to write, only given links to news articles. Quite frankly, we probably would have come across these articles anyway.

    Barbaro’s claim of “cutting and pasting” is because I used a line from an email tip (not from Wal-Mart or the PR firm, btw) I received and neglected to put it in my quote box. The fact that he only mentions that one line attests to the fact that I didn’t write “word for word” what was sent to me.

    Barbaro’s reporting on this is….let’s just say, unique. He has his own version of what really happened, and he’s more than happy to share that version with anti Wal-Mart readers everywhere.

    Comment by Brian — March 7, 2006 @ 3:05 pm


  3. Thank you for the comments. It gives additional perspective on the situation.

    Comment by Lee Odden — March 7, 2006 @ 3:31 pm


  4. The NYTimes article brings up lots of issues to ponder:

    - is the NYTimes reporter biased in favor of anti Wal-Mart readers? Seems unlikely to me but who knows.

    - are some citizen journalists – aka bloggers – unaware of journalistic conventions like quoting, attributing sources, checking facts, etc.? Seems likely to me. (Although I don’t know enough about this particular case to make that judgment.)

    - should Edelman be engaging in this kind of blogger relations? Hmmm… why not. The bloggers who are being approached need to be super savvy about the information they’re being fed. In other words, they need to act more like mainstream journalists and ask lost more questions themselves.

    My .02 cents for the day.

    Comment by Debbie Weil — March 7, 2006 @ 5:23 pm


  5. Edelman does it right. Richard Edelman, Mike Krempasky, Steve Rubel, Phil Gomes … no company has a better bench. The NY Times piece was a non-story.

    Comment by scott — March 7, 2006 @ 5:58 pm


  6. Here’s a few more cents of my thinking on blogger relations. Click my name. :)

    Comment by Debbie Weil — March 7, 2006 @ 7:12 pm


  7. So how many bloggers are susceptible to being wooed in their opinions by large organizations like Edelman and Wal-Mart on a topic like this?

    Perhaps the post title would have better matched the content as, “Did Wal-Mart Blog PR Backfire?” but I doubt it would have received as much attention from both pros and cons.

    Comment by Lee Odden — March 7, 2006 @ 7:46 pm


  8. [...] With some of the recent attention towards blog relations, there’s no question that buzz marketing through blogs and similar consumer generated media is on the rise. Blogs are many things including marketing tools for business and also voices to be heard – consumer voices that provide insight into a marketplace. Availability and ease of communications along with creative tools make consumer generated media (CGM) a force to be reckoned with. [...]

    Pingback by Blog Buzz from WOM and CGM : Business Blog Consulting — March 7, 2006 @ 9:01 pm


  9. As a blogger quoted in the Times story, I’ll answer one of Debbie Weil’s questions:

    “are some citizen journalists – aka bloggers -unaware of journalistic conventions like quoting, attributing sources, checking facts, etc.? Seems likely to me. (Although I don’t know enough about this particular case to make that judgment.)”

    Most bloggers that I know are fact checking, and attributing either directly or through a link where they get their info. If you see a “h/t” in a blog article, it’s a “hat tip” to the person who sent them the info.
    Most, but not all are pretty good with their quoting, also.

    The flip side of her question is does the mainstream media always disclose when an article was started by a tip from PRNewswire or a drink with a PR rep? No, they don’t, at least no according to the reports I’ve been talking to the last few weeks, including Michael Barbaro at the Times for the article.

    One of the big gripes on this whole issue is that there seems to be a double standard applied in Mr. Barbaro’s article.

    Comment by Bob Beller — March 8, 2006 @ 8:40 pm


  10. [...] Here’s what you don’t do. You don’t email bloggers with the press release itself, because bloggers by and large don’t “rewrite” digested press releases and pretend that’s their own news, the way trade magazines do (unless, of course, they are the in the pocket of Wal-mart). Bloggers want to link to news, not rewrite it. That means, if you’re going to call their attention to a press release, have it posted to your web site already, not two days after it goes out on the wire service. [...]

    Pingback by How Not to Distribute a Press Release : Business Blog Consulting — April 10, 2006 @ 8:48 am


  11. How Not to Distribute a Press Release…

    Here’s how you release a press release: you write it, you submit it to a……

    Trackback by Executive Summary — April 10, 2006 @ 8:55 am


  12. [...] The important exclusion here is of those who have made blogging a business for themselves, be it through consulting, blog hosting or as a personal business model. It is helpful to make this distinction for several reasons. Firstly, consulting and PR-related blogs have completely different stakes in blogging than do companies from other industries. They are concerned almost exclusively with promoting the practice of blogging (after all, that’s their business model) and with commenting on the performances of the ‘real’ actors and how blogging helps (or hurts) their business. Secondly, professional bloggers – usually journalists, academics, activists, experts in a professional context such as business or technology etc – have an interest primarily in keeping their readers informed and entertained. As there is no aspect of business outside of blogging that immediatly concerns them, their stakes are also different. [...]

    Pingback by CorpBlawg » A first attempt at a categorization (I) — August 19, 2006 @ 6:41 am


  13. [...] Lisez entre autre ce billet (Why Business Don’t Blog in the UK) qui n’est pas sans rappeler ces mêmes raisons qui font que bien des entreprises d’ici ne sont pas plus présentes dans la blogosphère que celles du Royaume-Uni. Ou cette série sur les déboires de Wal-Mart! (Wal-Mart blog PR backfires, Richard Edelman might get the blogosphere… but PRWeek does’nt, I don’t accept Edelman’s Appologies for the bogus Wal-Mart blog, Will the Edelman — Wal-Mart saga ever end? Two more flogs outed, Edelman responds with a plan. Will it be enough?. (ouf!) [...]

    Pingback by Blogue marketing interactif de l’Association marketing de Montréal » Blog Archive » Sources d’info sur les blogues en affaires — November 12, 2006 @ 10:37 am


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