PR Agency Steps Up About Wal-Mart Blogging

We emailed Steve Rubel, a PR blog maven who recently was hired by Edelman, the same PR agency handling the Wal-Mart blog apparatchik. We asked him what he thought of the Wal-Mart blog affair. He passed our email along to Marshall at Blue World Wide, the advertising division of Edelman, who wrote us a nice note…after the jump.

Steve passed along your e-mail inquiring about our effort to engage bloggers on behalf of Wal-Mart.

We thought there was no better source than the horse
s mouth, as it were. And, well, that
s me. What questions can I answer for you?

Let me start with the broad one in your original e-mail.

We
re very proud of our effort to help Wal-Mart communicate with bloggers. 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. Blogs are a very important communications channel for us. Whether they have a large or small audience, they are an important new media that can
t be ignored. As you know from the various coverage, all of our communications have been open and transparent. And we plan to continue them going forward.

Let me what additional questions I can help you with.

Sincerely,

Marshall

God, we love PR talk. It’s so close to human English but it’s got an underlying poetry all of its own. We especially love how any company that’s under scrutiny is always said to “remain commmited” to one thing or another.

We’ve got some questions in mind but what, Consumerist readers, would you like to know about this PR agency approaching and engaging bloggers in the way we’ve seen?

Beware, though, they’re watching us now…

Previously: Wal-Mart Loves Blogging

Comments

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  1. Doug Nelson says:

    1) What’s it like with no soul? Do you make a noise when out walking on windy days?

    2) re: your mother. How much?

    3) Does your cell use a certain recent Oscar-winning song as your ringtone?

    4) As you curl into a fetal position and cry yourself to sleep at night, is it out of longing for your lost innocence, or due to your failure to commoditize the air in your stores?

  2. As a blogger, I’ve found some of the criticism leveled at Walmart to be a little discouraging. Walmart isn’t secretly paying anyone or publishing bogus blogs, they are simply proactively taking their stories directly to the blogosphere and because they are doing what every company SHOULD be doing, you rip into them? Way lame in my book.

    Rather then accusing them of trying to manipulate bloggers, we should be celebrating the fact that a major company understands the growing role that bloggers play in society.

    What Walmart is doing is no different then what many companies do on a consistant basis. If companies become afraid of approaching the blogosphere, then we will have taken a step back not forward. If it weren’t for companies being willing to share themselves with the blogosphere, we wouldn’t have a lot of the great information that we have today. Thomas Hawk wouldn’t have ever been able to have dinner with Microsoft’s Jim Allchin nor would we have been able to meet with E. Stephen Mack of TiVo after calling the official TiVo blog lame. These interviews produced some great insights into both companies and were widely reported as news. How is their giving interviews to the blogosphere any different from Walmart’s attempts to join in on the conversation? After all, the blogger has complete editorial control the entire time.

    You can dislike Walmart for their policies or their dominance in retail, but it’s not fair to criticize the company for trying to shape public opinion. The fact that Marshall has taken the time to directly address any questions you might have, shows how important Walmart’s PR firm takes the blogosphere. Their being open with the blogosphere will do a lot to ease concerns. Compare that to Cititgroup’s approach to their ATM problems. Not only did they refuse to take calls from bloggers, but you had to pretend to be a customer just to get information. This is inexcusable for any company and I hope that other companies won’t use this backlash against Walmart as an excuse to put off their entries into grassroots media.

  3. Wal-Mart = DVD of Smokey the Bandit for $4.88 – not blogging.

  4. GenXCub says:

    Didn’t Steve Rubel create Studio 54? Anyway… I think Wal-Mart appealing to bloggers is a double-edged sword. Yes, we like that they’re attempting to be transparent, but we, as mere mortals, know we won’t be subjected to real speech, it will be the aforementioned pseudo-english spewed from PR people. There is both good and bad about Wal-Mart, and I personally think that having them be so seemingly forthcoming will lower our defenses on Wal-Issues that should not go to the back burner.