September 22, 2014

Will the Edelman — Wal-Mart saga ever end? Two more flogs outed

Posted by: of A View from the Isle on 10/20/06

This is not a good couple weeks to be working at Edelman.  Okay, first we have the whole Walmarting across America thing and subsequent apology now, Edelman is coming clean that two more of the Wal-Mart blogs are actually flogs written by Edelman employees.  Yikes.  It turns out (shocker … not) that Working Families for Wal-Mart and PaidCritics.org are Edelman PR fronts (yeah there’s irony for you).

Well Shel applauds them for at least admitting it now (instead of being outed), B.L. wants their head, or at least their butt out of WOMMA, Mathew ponders if PR folks can really be transparent and do their job (good question).

I think this whole fiasco, debacle (anybody have some more words for this?) calls into question, as Mathew and Shel suggest, can PR and blogs actually co-exist?  I don’t think so.  At least not like this.  You just can’t have “corporate fronts” as blogs.  You want to reach out to critics?  You want to get feedback?  Then just have a regular old blog.  No, a “Wal-Mart employee blog” isn’t going to fly and we all know why.  I think a Wal-Mart exec blog might work, if they could take the heat, and I don’t think they could.

I have a good number of friends in the PR biz.  This can’t be a fun time for them.  Everyone is now questioning PR and blogs.  Every company blog or blog that seems to be arms-length is suspect.  Is disclosure enough?  Is authenticity and transparency enough?

Steve … man I’d love to do a podcast with you on this.  Just get your thoughts.  Are you game?

The MediaPost broke the story, follow more on Techmeme.

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10 comments for Will the Edelman — Wal-Mart saga ever end? Two more flogs outed »

  1. Quote of the week…

    Doesn’t anybody at Edelman see the irony behind having their own paid critics writing Wal-Mart’s Paid Critics blog? Sean Carton, quoted on Online Media Daily (via Shel Holtz) The floggings continue. The lesson here? It’s fine to pay outside experts….

    Trackback by The Net-Savvy Executive — October 20, 2006 @ 8:30 pm


  2. Can they coexist? Sure, I think so. And I agree with you though, everyone has, and is questioning PR and blogs, same with being “paid to blog”.

    Outsite our little blog circle world here, everyone else sees just the headlines, and the headlines say bloggers are liars, fakes and shills, which isn’t true, but it’s what people thing.

    Time to help change all that. Does your blog have honor?

    http://www.blogkits.com/bloghonor

    Comment by Jim Kukral — October 20, 2006 @ 11:37 pm


  3. Even Edelman’s ‘transparency’ has problems. The transparency is to link the name of the ‘contributors’ to the blog to a line that says ‘X works for Edelman’. No information about who Edelman is, who pays them or why they are writing the blog. No information that they are paid by Walmart to write the blog. And not even a link on the word Edelman to the Edelman web site.
    Which is quite neat, as any ‘ordinary’ reader of the blog (i.e. not someone involved in the industry) would probably have no reason to know what Edelman is. So the transparency is semi-transparent at best, obviously not designed to reveal the truth. Which is the blogs are fraudulent fronts, based on lies. Terrible.

    Comment by Ivan Pope — October 21, 2006 @ 6:18 am


  4. I noticed those two other Wal-Mart blogs when I reviewed Wal-Mart’s blogging efforts last month. I found out about them being fake from others who blog about Wal-Mart. So I do kind of wonder why this news now seems so shocking to a lot of people. Then again, I’m glad that more focus and attention is being brought to this problem – at least I think it’s a problem. Many big businesses will continue to throw their weight around through blogs just as they do through other media. Sad that we see so many artificial attempts to lead people to support (or oppose) a given business.

    Comment by Easton Ellsworth — October 21, 2006 @ 10:09 am


  5. @Jim … I agree things like this don’t help the public perception of blogs or professional bloggers. On the Blog Honor … Jim it seems that this is a self-policing thing. How will you keep it something people can trust if I can just copy and paste the code?

    @Easton … good point, no, excellent point. I think it exploded up because MediaPost wrote about it. Sometimes it needs to be outed in the MSM or something first. Don’t know what, but I think it’s true.

    Comment by Tris Hussey — October 21, 2006 @ 10:54 am


  6. @Tris, yeah, it’s not about being the police, it’s just giving your readers a way to pledge your beliefs. Like I wrote at the FAQ…

    “Question: What If A Blog Displays A Banner But Doesn’t Follow The Pledge In Practice?
    If you believe you’ve found a blog that isn’t practicing what they preach, then send it to us with your comments at info at blogkits dot com. We’ll investigate it when we can and if we believe the blog is not representing our core values, we’ll ask them to remove it. Beyond that, what can we do? We’re not the blog police.”

    I agree, self policing.

    Comment by Jim Kukral — October 21, 2006 @ 11:04 am


  7. [...] I’m sure by now you’ve all heard about the fiasco that’s going on with Edleman not disclosing that they (once again) paid bloggers to write shiny-happy things about their client, Wal-Mart. And there is plenty that is being said. We’ve had some nice debates about it within our own doors as well. [...]

    Pingback by Brains On Fire Blog » Blog Archive » That Whole Edelman Thing — October 21, 2006 @ 11:49 am


  8. I think Edelman is going too far by producing fake blogs for people why have too much to loose. I do not trust wallmart anymore, because of this fake blogs.

    Thank you for sharing this story with me !

    Comment by Marina making pictures — October 21, 2006 @ 12:18 pm


  9. [...] I caught on Steve’s blog last night and via Jeff Jarvis this morning, Richard Edelman’s blog what is an interesting follow up to yesterday’s news about Wal-Mart (Walgate? Floggergate?). [...]

    Pingback by Edelman responds with a plan, will it be enough? : Business Blog Consulting — October 21, 2006 @ 1:26 pm


  10. @Ivan. Good points … who would know what or who Edelman is. They should have a link on those blogs.

    @Marina: The quesiton is, did you ever trust Wal-Mart? I never did. I don’t think Wal-Mart was ever a good candidate for a blog. IMHO

    Comment by Tris Hussey — October 21, 2006 @ 1:44 pm


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