Edelman Apologizes For Fake Walmart Blog

Yesterday, Edelman president, CEO and namesake, Richard Edelman, apologized for Walmarting Across America.

The fake blog, or flog, was outed after it became revealed that the smarmy travelogue of two people travelling in an RV across America, posting about how great Walmart was along the way–was a shill site bought and paid for by Edelman PR.

In his blog, Edelman wrote, “Let me reiterate our support for the WOMMA guidelines on transparency, which we helped to write. Our commitment is to openness and engagement because trust is not negotiable…”

Apparently for Edelman, transparency is just another pretty face.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Chairman-Meow says:

    “Let me reiterate our support for the WOMMA guidelines on transparency, which we helped to write. Our commitment is to openness and engagement because trust is not negotiable…”

    Here, let’s process that through our handy-dandy PRtranslator:

    “We apologize for the fact that we were dumb enough to get caught”

  2. Ishmael says:

    Ooooh, I hope ‘flog’ catches on. That’s a good one!

  3. Keter says:

    As a charter subscriber to WOMMA’s newsletter, and a very interested party, I’m going to be watching to see what, if anything WOMMA has to say about this incident.

    Here’s how they responded to a previous incident. http://www.womma.org/disclosure/
    Umm… WOMMA, position papers may make a statement, but $$$$$ shouts.

    If they have any principles and/or any guts at all, they’ll tell Edelman not to let the door hit him in the ass on his way out, and they’ll find a way to set up some corrective controls that definitely disincintivize future bad behaviors by members (non-refundable loss of membership, position in a WOM Hall of Shame, etc.).

    If they don’t rise to this challenge, it’ll be interesting to compile a list of WOMMA members for an ethics watch list and then watch ’em and gig ’em as appropriate. Social engineering can be reverse-engineered.

    WOMMA, remember that WOM works in all axes of communi-motion, not just the ones you and your members control. ;o)

  4. pronell says:

    WOMMA guidelines:

    1. Consumer protection and respect are paramount

    2. The Honesty ROI: Honesty of Relationship, Opinion, and Identity

    3. We respect the rules of the venue

    4. We manage relationships with minors responsibly

    5. We promote honest downstream communications

    6. We protect privacy and permission

    I can’t find much to object to in the list, except to note that the fact that number 4 is even on the list is a little scary.

    It seems to me, though, that Edelman violated every one of those guidelines with that blog.

    They can’t have respect for consumers if they want to feed them propoganda disguised as public opinion. Obviously there was no initial honesty of relationship. The rules of the venue, blogging, are vague if not non-existant, but I would think the community would want to exclude a blog that is entirely paid advertising. I would put their management of relationships with minors as a technical fault rather than an egregious one. Today’s ‘minors’ are probably less prone to believe everything they read online than today’s ‘adults’. They’re obviously not promoting honest downstream communications – honesty in this case is saying “This is what we feel to be true, we paid for it, and we would hope someone comes to agree with us due to the arguments and effort we put forth”, and they obviously didn’t do that. Lastly, privacy and permission.. again, a technical fault, and mostly with the guy who got permission from his boss while not telling him who was paying the bills. Can’t _entirely_ fault Edelman for that, but they need to know who they’re paying to shill for them. That bit them in the ass this time.

    So, yeah, they might have helped come up with the guidelines, but they certainly didn’t implement them. And in this case, with 6 guidelines, I can’t imagine the meeting took very long. “Yeah, good enough” isn’t helping to come up with any code of conduct.