October 15th, 2006

Edelman, Wal-Mart and the Loss of Control in Media

by

It’s inevitable that a PR firm like Edelman would create a phony blog for one of its clients (in this case Wal-Mart — see Shel Holtz for a great analysis). For all of the hype over “conversation” as the new media paradigm, no one has yet figured out how to use conversation to reliably achieve any business objectives. So Edelman naturally fell back on the approach that has worked for decades — control the conversation by manufacturing it, because if you can’t control the conversation, then you can’t make it do what you want. Edelman wanted to make consumers think that Wal-Mart is a hip place that you’d want to use as the anchor point for a roadtrip. The problem is it’s not. And because blogging is not a conrol-based medium, Edelman couldn’t make Wal-Mart appear to be something it’s not. It rang false, and they got caught.

The control infrastructure of media is beginning to unwind. Copyright holders can’t control the distribution of their content. Brands can’t control their images through mass advertising. So, gripped by fear, brands and media companies are embracing the new paradigm of ceding control and engaging in a conversation. The problem is that no one has figured out how to make money in all instances by letting people run off with their content and brands, as wonderfully liberating as it all seems.

If you have a great established brand like Apple, or a great new product, like an iPod, then sure, let people run away with your brand, because most people will say good things about it and encourage other people to use it. But if you have a problematic brand like Wal-Mart or GM, where a lot of people think your product/service is socially irresponsible, for example, then letting people control your brand is going to perpetuate your image problem. The only real solution is to improve your product or service — which is a lot harder than vague notions of “conversation.”

As for ceding control of your content, look at what happened to the music industry. Illegal file sharing crippled music sales, and the only saving grace has been the iTune platform, which functions by rigidly controlling distribution.

Media companies cutting deals to distribute video content will profit IF the “free” distribution is only a promotional channel and most people still consume that content on channels that those media companies control. But if distributed platforms like YouTube become the preferred channel for video content, then those media companies will lose the control mechanism that enables them to profit — and they’ll be left with whatever revenue Google, with its ultimate control over information pathways and distribution, chooses to “share” with them.

Comments (60 Responses so far)

  1. bloggers have been appearing online. Edelman has come in for the kind of publicity that client hire the agency to avoid. “Edelman naturally fell back on the approach that has worked for decades – control the conversation by manufacturing it,” wrote Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0. The fake blog launched September 27th. Anything that is positive for Wal-Mart appearing online gets subjected to heavy scrutiny immediately, and the blog did not withstand the laser-like focus for long. Wal-MartWatch

  2. off-shoot. Despite hiring blog-crusader Steve Rubel recently, the PR agency seems to think that it can still ‘invent the news’ in a time when consumers – and the media – demand transparency. Critics views: Duncanriley.com, publishing 2.0, Shel Holtz, Paul Gillin, Business Week Steve Rubel remains curiously quiet on the subject.

  3. then letting people control your brand is going to perpetuate your image problem. The only real solution is to improve your product or service– which is a lot harder than vague notions of ‘conversation.'” –Scott Karp, Publishing 2.0 blogger, ruminating on how the fact PR giant Edelman created a “fake blog” for client Wal-Mart–and got caught–is symptomatic of a larger shift in corporations trying –and failing– to control popular opinion in an instant-communication world.

  4. Publishing 2.0 » Edelman, Wal-Mart and the Loss of Control in Media

  5. … The story is shifting focus in the blogosphere. What was a Wal-Mart scandal over a phoney blog is becoming a much larger issue of ethics, integrity, transparency, and control in the PR and marketing business. Scott Karp’s piece on the issue of control is worth reading, as I think it gets at the root of why Wal-Mart and/or Edelman would make a decision like this in the first place. So Edelman naturally fell back on the approach that has worked for decades — control the conversation by manufacturing

  6. [IMG] Edelman, Wal-Mart and the Loss of Control in Media

  7. bloggers have been appearing online. Edelman has come in for the kind of publicity that client hire the agency to avoid. “Edelman naturally fell back on the approach that has worked for decades – control the conversation by manufacturing it,” wrote Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0. The fake blog launched September 27th. Anything that is positive for Wal-Mart appearing online gets subjected to heavy scrutiny immediately, and the blog did not withstand the laser-like focus for long. Wal-MartWatch

  8. Edelman, Wal-Mart and the Loss of Control in Media

  9. The W3C has published a proposed edited recommendation of XML Inclusions (XInclude) Version 1.0 (Second Edition). The W3C XML Processing Model Working Group has posted the first public working draft of XProc: An XML Pipeline Language. Edelman, Wal-Mart and the Loss of Control in MediaFor Opera, smaller really is better Firefox accepting feature suggestions for version 3How to use RSS & BitTorrent to download TV showsIf you can’t beat them, buy themHacking Web 2.0 Applications with Firefox

  10. is socially irresponsible, for example, then letting people control your brand is going to perpetuate your image problem. The only real solution is to improve your product or service — which is a lot harder than vague notions of “conversation.” http://publishing2.com/2006/10/15/edelman-wal-mart-and-the-loss-of-control-in-media

  11. existent + de façon monolithiques, et + personne ne ‘contrôle’ les réseaux. Même la notion de ‘perdre le contrôle’ est extrêmement délicate pour un acteur économique (voir l’affaire du faux blog pour Wal-Mart). Donc en pratique : tout le monde navigue à vue, les ‘grands’ acteurs réussissant à monétiser le web 2.0 étant peu nombreux. Les désaccord sur la valorisation de YouTube venant du fait que la base de client

  12. Edelman, Wal-Mart and the Loss of Control in Media » Publishing 2.0

  13. t do it the way Wal-mart attempted to (detailed by Shel Holtz). Why use fake people when there are thousands of real people out there doing exactly what your actors are doing? I just don’t get it. Scott Karp has a theory: “If you have a great established brand like Apple, or a great new product, like an iPod, then sure, let people run away with your brand, because most people will say good things about it and encourage other people to use it. But if you have a

  14. le couple nous faisait partager l’avis de clients et d’employés de Wal-Mart sur cette “merveilleuse” entreprise, dans laquelle tout le monde est gentil, et où tous “les prix sont bas”… Oui mais voilà pour reprendre l’expression utilisée par Scott Karp, ils “se sont [trop?] reposés sur l’approche qui à fait ses preuves depuis des décennies: pour contrôler la conversation, la créer de toutes pièces”. Néanmoins, encore une fois, le manque de transparence dans la démarche, mais aussi des

  15. that you’d want to use as the anchor point for a roadtrip. The problem is it’s not. And because blogging is not a control-based medium, Edelman couldn’t make Wal-Mart appear to be something it’s not. It rang false, and they got caught.” –Publishing 2.0

  16. I also feel that most readers are aware of it. It isn’t said out loud, but the awareness is there. My take on Flogs is different because it is the company directly, or someone directly employed by them, to write the fake review. There was the scandal with Wal-Mart and now the scandal with Sony PS3. In both cases, someone working for the brand created a website that deceived readers into thinking it was an everyday person posting their rave reviews about the product. Flogs are based entirely around one brand and

  17. t panic. Im not married to the name. You can have three more, gratis. Field reports of the trip on the dedicated blog, complete with legitimate observations of the driving experience to Woodstock — none of this Edelman Wal-Mart crap. So the audience will get the straight-up skinny on the trip via blog, audio, and maybe some video. I’ll take a still camera, my Edirol R-09 audio recorder, and a fuji finepix digicam, plus a cell phone, of course. I

  18. there’s a massive difference in the way they’re updated. Other ways companies can use blogs, both internally and externally, is to “free up the inbox” – putting out financial results, avoiding long chain e-mails and group responses. The well-known Edelman/Wal-Mart fiasco was mentioned as part of the discussion of a blog’s role in crisis management. One downside of executive blogs is that they run the risk of sounding too uptight. As the virtual “stage” was opened up for questions, one participant asked whether

  19. Searls, D. & Weinberger, D. (2000). The cluetrain manifesto. New York: Basic Books. http://kevin.lexblog.com/2006/10/lawyer-blogs-for-public-relations/fake-blog-walmart-gets-caught-with-its-pants-down/ http://publishing2.com/2006/10/15/edelman-wal-mart-and-the-loss-of-control-in-media/

  20. Scott,
    Agree with everything. But I also think that organizational silos are at the heart of the challenge for companies that wan to cede control to consumers, while making thier product better. I recently wrote about three huge ones in light of P&G’s chief’s keynote at the ANA last week: 1) Legal; 2) Advertising; 3) Customer Service. A fourth big one would be product. See here: http://attentionmax.com/blog/2006/10/_are_marketers_serious_about_c.html
    – Max

  21. Well written!

    I think it certainly does speak to using blogs as a marketing medium — and a strong caveat to the mantra “every business should have a blog”.

  22. [...] Publishing 2.0 [...]

  23. [...] Algunos artículos interesantes sobre el tema en otros blogs (todos en inglés): Edelman, Wal-Mart and the Loss of Control in Media; Three Questions re: the Edelman/Wal-Mart Flap; The Wal Mart / Edelman Affair: Hardly a Crime…; más una interesante nota publicada por Business Week. Para almacenar esta entrada en tu gestor de favoritos online, haz clic en el icono:Estos iconos te permitiran agregar este texto a tu gestor de favoritos online con solo hacer un clic. [...]

  24. The problem is that no one has figured out how to make money in all instances by letting people run off with their content and brands, as wonderfully liberating as it all seems.

    These companies are experimenting, which is a Good Thing. These days, you likely won’t improve your business by holding on to control unless your product is aboslutely killer (see Apple). Experimentation is the way to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Experimentation doesn’t have a clear ROI, and it’s this attitude that’s absolutely killing old media companies. If you’re not part of the solution, Scott…

    As for ceding control of your content, look at what happened to the music industry. Illegal file sharing crippled music sales, and the only saving grace has been the iTune platform, which functions by rigidly controlling distribution.

    The music industry didn’t “cede control” of its content. In fact, they struggled mightily against the rising tide of piracy, instead of figuring out how they could use decentralized distribution to their advantage. Steve Jobs stepped in and the labels are now beholden to him; they’re better off in the short term, and arguably worse off in the medium-to-long term.

    Ultimately making a product that aligns more closely with customers’ needs is the way to win. The question is how much you’re willing to experiment to figure out how to more closely align your business’ success with customer needs, without a guarantee of an immediate return on your investment.

  25. Regarding: “The problem is it’s not. And because blogging is not a control-based medium, Edelman couldn’t make Wal-Mart appear to be something it’s not. It rang false, and they got caught.”

    Umm, they sent out a PRESS RELEASE. How much more this-is-fake can you get? It’s got nothing to do with “control-based medium”, which is a backhanded way of setting up an unfalsifiable argument (anyone who gets caught, proves that bloggers are just so gosh darn smart and clever they’ll catch fakers – but the uncaught fakers don’t get noticed!).

    In fact, the real story is they followed the Kool-Aid recommendation for blog success, and failed miserably, because blogging is in fact a highly gatekeepered medium, and they had no gatekeepers involved.

  26. “Illegal file sharing crippled music sales…”

    This actually isn’t true. I thought it was for a long time, being a college student when Napster was big, but I worked on a co-investment in the buyout of Warner Music and studied this hard. There were two much larger factors at play. Big box retail started killing off mom and pop record shops and music-only stores to a much greater degree than the web. Even the demographics that weren’t web savvy weren’t buying music anymore, because people shopped at Walmart more and Walmart hardly carried any of the catalogue that the music only stores did. More focus was put on DVDs and video games which were a much higher profit margin per inch of shelf space compared to CDs. Plus, mobile revenues went up… $5-7 a month in text messaging and another $5-7 a month in ring tones… that’s a CD a month when you consider a finite entertainment budget. I know this point is small in the grand scheme of your post, but I think it needs to be addressed.

  27. [...] Edelman/Wal-Mart aftermath: expect more PR blogging *** ups Last week Edelman lost its virtuous positioning among the bloggerati with the saga of its Wal-Mart blog – or indeed Flog as we now know it should be called. Uncovering the inside story on the blog has drawn an ugly reaction from the anti-Wal-Mart lobby, and indeed the anti-anything-to-do-with-PR lobby. The storm has been whipped to a frenzy by blogging commentators and PR competitors, just some examples can be found here Ketcheson, bizhack, Publishing 2.0 and Shel Holtz. Recently WaggEd also ran into a few local difficulties, see the story at SVW. Although WaggEd’s problems were more of a foot-in-mouth gaffe, rather than the result of a machiavellian strategy (and so are more easily forgiven). This despite the fact that each organization would have considered itself among the leaders in the field. Both episodes serve to highlight that no PR company has yet solved the challenge of blogging, despite noisy claims to the contrary. By challenge of blogging I mean participating in blogs, advising customers, building strategies, internal education, understanding technologies, etc… the whole gammut. Too often knowledge is kept inside the heads of a handful of leaders within each organization. While client-side, few organizations have reconciled the behavioural implications of choosing to participate in a new, fundamentally honest and open medium. In simple terms not enough people, ‘get it’ yet. But everyone has access to the tools. So there’s still plenty of potential for many, many more gaffes to follow as PR people and marketers stumble out into the blogosphere. In the interests of transparency, both Edelman and WaggEd are competitors to our PR business, and when I say ‘no PR company has yet solved the challenge of blogging’  I include ourselves. Its an ongoing journey. Tags: Edelman, Wal-Mart, WaggEd Digg this   Add to Del.icio.us posted on Friday, October 13, 2006 11:53 AM by Steve Ellis Post a Comment :: [...]

  28. Max,

    Indeed — perhaps the answer is to shut down the advertising department and give all the money to the product and customer service department. Or maybe you have one “brand steward” who also blogs and then spends the rest of the time flogging product and customer service folks to do right by the customers (and prospective customers).

    Seth,

    It’s got nothing to do with “control-based medium”, which is a backhanded way of setting up an unfalsifiable argument (anyone who gets caught, proves that bloggers are just so gosh darn smart and clever they’ll catch fakers – but the uncaught fakers don’t get noticed!).

    Let me put it another way — I don’t see any way that Wal-Mart could make effective use of corproate blogging, because no one is going to be interested in reading an honest and transparent blog — and they have no control mechanisms to force people to do so — and any effort to manufacture an intersting voice rings false.
    Kareem,
    I’m sure Edelman and Wal-Mart thought they were just “experimenting” — there’s a lot of shareholder value to be destroyed with failed experiments. I agree that there is no option other than to experiment, because the control infrastructure is unwinding — but so much of the hype around “conversation” and ceding control makes it sound easy, when in fact doing it in a way that achieves business objectives is actually really hard.
    Charlie,
    An interesting analysis.

  29. [...] I won’t dwell on the detail, it’s covered well enough by others, but basically a blog was created called Wal-Marting across America. Media Post sums it up: [...]

  30. [...] Scott Carp écrit dans son article : “Edelman en est revenu à l’approche qui a cours depuis des décennies : contrôler les discussions en les fabriquant de toutes pièces. conversation by manufacturing it”. [...]

  31. You think: “because no one is going to be interested in reading an honest and transparent blog”

    Right. So they fake it. To make something that *looks* honest and transparent, but is in fact a marketing ploy. Lonelygirl15, anyone? The fact that someone is going to mess up on this sometimes, hardly means it can’t be done.

  32. [...] Blog community response: “Edelman wanted to make consumers think that Wal-Mart is a hip place that you’d want to use as the anchor point for a roadtrip. The problem is it’s not. And because blogging is not a control-based medium, Edelman couldn’t make Wal-Mart appear to be something it’s not. It rang false, and they got caught.” –Publishing 2.0 “I suppose the take home message is that if you’re going to sponsor a blog either be completely transparent all the way – risking the authenticity of the message, but perhaps done in a ‘wink-wink’ fashion.” –Deep Jive Interests “This doesn’t just cause confusion by blurring the lines between blogging and payola, or blog-vertising, but it arguably does Edelman harm too – and that would be a shame, since they are the PR firm that probably walks the walk the most when it comes to blogging and the conversation (the Wal-Marting Across America blog has a post that puts all the blame on Wal-Mart haters).” –Mathew Ingram Posted by Margaret Kane Permalink | Post a comment   October 13, 2006 6:02 AM PDT [...]

  33. [...] “Edelman naturally fell back on the approach that has worked for decades – control the conversation by manufacturing it,” wrote Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0. [...]

  34. [...] Edelman, Wal-Mart and the Loss of Control in Media (publishing2.com) [...]

  35. [...] delusion. By Seth Finkelstein | posted in cyberblather , google | on October 16, 2006 09:54 AM (Infothought permalink) | Followups Seth Finkelstein’s Infothought blog (DMCA, Google, censorware, and aninside view of net-politics) – Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)             [...]

  36. [...] Scott Karp: Edelman, Wal-Mart and the Loss of Control in Media [...]

  37. Seth,
    How large, do you estimate, is the universe of successful “faked” blogs (assuming it’s possible to arrive at a meaningful definition of “faked”)?

  38. [...] Critics views: Duncanriley.com, publishing 2.0, Shel Holtz, Paul Gillin, Business Week [...]

  39. [...] Now, the firm is under fire again for a “fake” blog about how great it is to drive your RV around and park overnight in Wal-Mart parking lots, something I wrote about here and many others have covered as well, including Shel Holtz, Scott Karp and Tony Hung at Deep Jive Interests. So far, no response from either Edelman or its most famous blogger, Steve Rubel. Is the war room on full alert? I would expect so. But one wishes someone would come out and say something — anything. [...]

  40. Well I don’t really believe in blog ethics. The Wal-Mart blog was stupid but so is the idea of taking a blog on Wal-Mart’s website seriously. I don’t even take my own comapnies blogs seriously. In fact, the only blogs that are taken seriously here are the ones employees take camera phone snapshots of confidential products. I pretty much assume that any corporate blog is phony in one way or another.

    Corporate blogs aren’t much different than commercials. Just about every commercial is manufactured and tries to create a false image about the company and it’s usually really obvious. If people are looking for some kind of journalistic integrity I think they have the wrong medium.

  41. Brilliant analysis. I wrote an oped for Odwyer’s when the Andy Youg flap erupted. It generated a lot of heat from the Edelman PR blog experts. But, I think even they realize how bankrupt this Blogosphere stategy is. Your commentary is surely the dagger.

  42. Just more evidence that that “Micropersuasion” guy has absolutely no clue what he’s talking about.

  43. [...] This analysis seems incredibly appropriate in light of the discussion we’re seeing swirl around not only PayPerPost (1,2,3) but also the related sorties surrounding “blogging vs journalism” and “Edelman vs blogging“. [...]

  44. [...] The retailer gets slapped by bloggers after hiring its PR firm, Edleman, to produce a fake blog about the joys of parking an RV in its parking lots. Ingram’s take: "I would argue that it’s not obvious the blog was a “fake” blog — from what I can tell, the people who wrote it really wanted to do such a trip, thought it was genuinely great, and simply got paid by Wal-Mart to do it," he says. But the disclosure was almost completely lacking — lacking to such an extent that one of the bloggers’ employers wasn’t even clear that there was sponsorship involved. Did Wal-Mart dictate what could be said about the blog? In all likelihood they did. And Edelman probably acquiesced at some point, when they shouldn’t have."Shell Holtz: It’s dismaying to see Edleman failing to walk the talkWal-Mart blog highlights issue of media controlWhere’s Edleman’s star blogger Rubel hiding? Comment [...]

  45. I’m sure Edelman and Wal-Mart thought they were just “experimenting” — there’s a lot of shareholder value to be destroyed with failed experiments.

    Yes, and there’s a lot to be gained, too. I’d have thought Edelman would know better, though, given the things I’ve heard and read from Rubel.

    so much of the hype around “conversation” and ceding control makes it sound easy, when in fact doing it in a way that achieves business objectives is actually really hard.

    I agree, which is why it’s important to keep trying new things. The question is whether the new things you’re trying are reasonably smart… or not.

  46. [...] Transparency…Edelman, Walmart and the Loss of Control of Media [...]

  47. [...] Corporate Blogging Group Project Seeking Volunteers | Main Oct16 Wal-Mart Corporate Blogging Mess: Lessons Learned Easton Ellsworth October 16, 2006 Know More: Business Blogging, Corporate Blogging, LegalIssues, News, Opinion, Problems with Blogging I recently reviewed Wal-Mart’s corporate blogging efforts and was summarily dismayed by what I found (and didn’t find).And now this.Wal-Marting Across America, a corporate blog that PR firm Edelman managed for Wal-Mart, failed to clarify that its bloggers were being paid by a pro-Wal-Mart organization called Working Families for Wal-Mart (WFWM), which Edelman had previously launched.Stinky.At that blog, "Laura" writes: "[W]e’re being attacked. Why? Because we dared to write positive things about Wal-Mart." … And because you dared to do so while giving the impression that it only because you happened to like Wal-Mart, not because an organization whose purpose is to promote Wal-Mart paid you to write the blog.At least, as Li Evans discusses, Edelman has made efforts to apologize.  That’s a good start.Echoing Jason Lee Miller: "Rule #1 for corporate blogging: Be authentic. Don’t lie."  Failing to tell enough truth to your readers is a form of lying.Echoing JD: "In online conversation, it’s strong protection to disclose your identity and affiliations. [...] [R]eaders need to stay skeptical."Echoing Scoble: "If you don’t disclose you’re being paid to blog, you’re gonna create a mess."Shel Holtz teaches that we can often learn what’s going on by who’s not talking about it.Scott Karp reminds us to be wary of companies that attempt to "control the conversation by manufacturing it."Marshall Sponder decries corporate efforts to deceptively "create a conversation and a point of view that’s fictitious."Dear corporate blog reader: Read every blog carefully.  Things are not always as they seem.  Some try gaming the blogosphere and get caught.  Others actually get away with it.  Learn to sift the gems from the dirt.What did you learn from this mess? [...]

  48. [...] Publishing 2.0 » Edelman, Wal-Mart and the Loss of Control in Media (tags: blogging technorati) [...]

  49. [...] Publishing 2.0 Scott Karp on the Convergence of Media and Technology « Edelman, Wal-Mart and the Loss of Control in Media | Home | [...]

  50. [...] “Edelman naturally fell back on the approach that has worked for decades – control the conversation by manufacturing it,” wrote Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0. [...]

  51. I find the actions of Edelman no more egregious than the typical CBS, ABC, CNN, or NPR diatribe spewed out daily. To say these organizations are objective is laughable. We no longer have objective news, just opinion and 30 second sound bites.

    Walmart is at war with UFCW, (United Food and Commercial Workers Union). Why is no one reporting on the thousands of bogus complaints by the Walmart haters? The UFCW has a large playbook and will stop at nothing to keep on discrediting Walmart. Edelman has to come up with creative ways to combat this vicious attack by UFCW that no one is reporting on. This is simply an example of another “in-the-trenches” Walmart is having to do to try and counter the UFCW onslaught.

    You aren’t finding many places condoning what Edelman did but I want to make damn sure that everyone recognizes the tactics of the unions agianst Walmart. This comment may be only 1 in 5,000 places you’ll be seeing this, certainly not in the newspapers or the television news.

  52. Walmart stores stink.

  53. I happened to attend a conference on Web 2.0–The Future of PR in NYC last week. Steve was one of the presenters. They all talked on and on about how to harness the power of the internet through “engaging customers in authentic conversations”…lots of PR Speak, but not much substance or “how-to’s.”. Personally, I felt the only interesting information centered on whether PR/Marketing folks will try and infiltrate the “authenticity” of the internet “conversation.” I pointed out that the internet is so powerful to consumers because at the tips of their fingers they can get real, unbiased, helpful information on most anything–including brands and products. But as soon as it becomes obvious that you can’t trust if the info is real or manufactured (which I pointed out is often quite apparent), than the internet will no longer be a powerful (trusted) tool for consumers. They will reject the blogs as suspect and/or they will shun the brands and products who are trying to manipulate the internet. Either way this PR ploy will fail if it is not genuine. I believe marketing on the internet can be done. Endorsements have worked in traditional marketing and I’m sure brands can be upfront about asking for customers to share their positive experiences on their websites. This may not be slick or clever, but it beats false advertising anyday!

  54. [...] Spinoza said "given a fair arena of debate, truth will prevail over falsehood". Increasingly, spin is hitting the wall that is that fair arena – Edelman’s (latest!) attempts to run a fake blog for WalMart (Publishing2.0) have collapsed as the truth of their fakery came out thus proving, if any further proof were needed, that just spinning your brand is a strategy wholly dominated by actually making products your customers want to buy in a way that your customers don’t think is evil. Scott says,"if you have a problematic brand like Wal-Mart or GM, where a lot of people think your product/service is socially irresponsible, for example, then letting people control your brand is going to perpetuate your image problem."Indeed. The solution really isn’t to go for tighter control of the brand. There’s that fair arena just sitting there watching you do it. The product, the service, is the brand. Instead, make something good. Make it responsibly. We’ll tell each other. Promise. [...]

  55. [...] Edelman, Wal-Mart and the Loss of Control in Media (publishing2.com) [...]

  56. [...] Publishing 2.0 and this one followed [...]

  57. [...] This was clearly illustrated by the furore that developed around a PR activity that Edelman and Wal-Mart did. Wal-Mart’s PR counsellors at Edelman created a blog ostensibly authored by a couple traveling across America in their RV and spending nights parked in Wal-Mart parking lots. Edelman wanted to make consumers think that Wal-Mart is a great place to use as the anchor point for a road trip. When it became clear that this was a fake blog, as it quickly did, everyone jumped on Edelman. Blogging heavyweights, such as Shel Holtz, Scott Karp and Robert Scoble, pointed out the manifest deception of such an approach. This was particularly heinous from a company like Edelman that has made much of the benefits of social media efforts. It took a few days for Richard Edelman to fess up and acknowledge what he called an error in failing to be transparent. [...]

  58. [...] Publishing 2.0’s Scott Karp makes some good points about how this new,  open world can lose you money. [...]

  59. [...] A dramatic song from “Ummagumma” bringing back memories of what life was in the seventies, but also of my friend John from Wolcott, Conn. who remembered there was “some crazy italian filmmaker who shot a movie with lotsa music by the Pink Floyd”  [Michelangelo Antonioni, Zabriskie Point, 1970]. But the point behind the title hasn’t got anything to do with music or with Flower Power, but rather with total destruction (you must see the movie to figure that one out) Shel Holtz writes about another Edelman / Wal-Mart blog blunder; in general it’s true that it’s very easy to cross the line that makes corporate blogging B-A-D. I love to say that Corporate blogs almost invariably http://blog.holtz.com/index.php/weblog/edelman_and_the_one_sided_conversation/smell too much of big corporates trying to control what is essentially a grassroots phenomenon (read on this Scott Karp’s comments). CEOs should blog to the only audience who has a vested interest in listening to them: their own employees. [...]

  60. [...] The Cluetrain guys had their hearts in the right place when they said that markets are conversations, but, unfortunately, when corporations try to do the conversation thing, they typically end up making a mess and a mockery and looking utterly clue-less. You’ve got fake blogs, undisclosed paid blog posts, and bloggers who “lead conversations” receiving unsolicited free merchandise (courtesy of Edelman, AGAIN). It feels like we’ve reached the point where good old fashioned, in-your-face, BUY THIS advertising is starting to look a whole lot more authentic than all of the fake “authenticity” that the hyping of authenticity has engendered. [...]

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