Wal-Mart sucks with Edelman's help
As if the exposure and subsequent hubtastic failure of Wal-Mart's social networking disaster was not enough, now comes this:
It now appears that "Wal-Marting Across America," a blog and travel journal originally thought to have been created by a pair of average Americans has been exposed as an elaborate PR stunt. One of its two contributors was revealed to be Jim Thresher, a staff photographer for The Washington Post, and Edelman PR is backing the whole thing.
Shame on you Steve Rubel for letting something like this happen. Is this what you meant by Accelerating the Conversation? I have so much respect for much of what you've written, but this is sh*t and you know it.
From Media Post:
The blog, launched Sept. 27, was profiled in this week's issue of BusinessWeek, which exposed the site as a promotional tactic engineered by Working Families for Wal-Mart (WFWM), an organization launched by Wal-Mart's public relations firm Edelman. WFWM paid for the RV and all travel expenses, rerouted the trip's original plan, and plastered a logo on the RV's side. Although the blog featured a link to WFWM, it did not identify the organization as a paid sponsor. The Business Week piece is called Wal-Mart's Jim and Laura: The Real Story. Wal-Mart Watch, who originally exposed Thresher's involvement, has an excellent recap and has been updating the story on a regular basis. Here is the latest from the AP, who reports that Thresher has been told by his employer, The Washington Post, to give back the money and remove his photos and comments from the site.
And as for Edelman, well, let's just say that this fiasco is generating a bit of bad PR for the PR firm. The Writing on the Wall has some harsh words, and Amanda Chapel's satrical and funny piece Edelman Announces Preference for Companies that Suck is spot-on.
Technorati Tags: blogs, dinosaurs, walmart, edelman
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Thanks for stopping by and reading.
What I find amazing in all of this is how a firm the size of Edelman could be so clueless. I suspect, but don't know, that there might have been some nepotism involved in Laura's brother getting a low-level OK for a trip that higher ups might have seen as a disaster waiting to happen.
As much as Edelman, Wal Mart, Jim and Laura would like it all to go quietly away, I just don't see that happening
# posted by Jeff Hess : 8:48 PM, October 12, 2006
"It now appears that "Wal-Marting Across America," a blog and travel journal originally thought to have been created by a pair of average Americans has been exposed as an elaborate PR stunt."
You might be right. On the other hand, the information I've been able to find in the public record doesn't seem to particularly support that description. Her blog does describe how the project started, and caches of the initial postings did disclose the WalMart sponsorship.
Have you seen any public evidence that her account is a lie?
# posted by John Dowdell : 1:04 AM, October 16, 2006
The problem is two-fold.
The relationship between the two "bloggers" and Wal-Mart was never explicit. This is the complaint made in Business Week.
No one is debating the stories that they told whilst on the road were or were not true.
It is the issue of disclosure.
I don't know what you see in the cache you reference, but no one else has. On the contrary, both the mainstream media and bloggers are complaining about disclosure:
It is a fact that Working Families for Wal-Mart (WFWM), an organization launched by Wal-Mart's public relations firm Edelman paid for the RV and all travel expenses, rerouted the trip's. Source: Media Post and Business Week.
It is also a fact that Jim works for the Washington Post and has subsequently been asked to remove all his photos/comments from the project. Seems that he got his hands caught in the junket cookie jar. That makes it smell even worse. Source: AP
My problem, however, is not really with Wal-Mart.
Frankly, non-disclosure of a silly blog pales in comparison with all the other problems they have. The real issue I am concerned with is Edelman. Hence, the title of my post ...
I respect Richard Edelman. I think he is a bold, creative thinker who is running a fine shop. Heck, I even got email from the guy after commenting on his blog. Extra points in my book.
And I respect Steve Rubel. He is an A-list blogger and deserves to be one. His commentary is informative and I quote/reference him all the time.
What concerns me is how such a supposedly smart company and a smart VP/blogger can be so stupid.
The fact that they have said nothing to date about all this is incredible. It goes against every principle of good PR. And if anyone should know, it is Edelman.
Hope this clarifies things.
Thanks for stopping by, btw. :)
# posted by George Nimeh : 3:14 AM, October 16, 2006