I’m still amazed at this situation. Edelman PR, one of the premier public relations agencies in the world and a company that not only hired sharp blogger Steve Rubel but prides itself on really understanding the new world of Web 2.0 and the blogosphere, screwed up royally, and no-one seems to be particularly upset.
The situation: It created the Walmarting Across America blog which pretended to be a couple of middle aged RV enthusiasts driving from Wal-Mart to Wal-Mart and blogging about their experiences, mostly with how wonderful Wal-Mart was. No surprise, the blog effort was a campaign paid for by Wal-Mart!
When it came out that it was a fake blog and that Edelman was being duplicitous and tricking people, it also became obvious that it’d violated the very code of Word of Mouth Marketing ethics it’d helped create.
The response of the blogosphere? Oh, Richard Edelman apologized, and Steve Rubel said he had nothing to do with the account or the campaign. And all is well. Or is it?
If you want to have an example of the class structure within the blogosphere, go and read how top bloggers like Debbie Weil, Neville Hobson, and Robert Scoble are not just accepting Edelman’s apology, but being apologists for the company themselves. What the heck?
I don’t agree. I think that there’s a much bigger issue of ethical consistency, of leadership and of hypocrisy. It’s not about an apology, it’s about professional bloggers helping to mature the industry.
Note: I have a considerably longer essay on this subject at: Edelman screws up with Duplicitous Wal-Mart Blog, but it’s okay?
[tags]Richard Edelman, Steve Rubel, Wal-mart, Robert Scoble, Debbie Weil, Neville Hobson[/tags]