“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."
On top of that, one of the contributors to the blog turns out to be a photographer for The Washington Post.
This is the second time Edelman has been exposed for opaque social media relations on behalf of its client, Wal-Mart.
Joe Jaffe levels the following question at Edelman, “please explain why, as a so-called leader in this field, this is the second time you've (how shall I put this) acted like an advertising agency?”
As a non-agency guy, I’m also asking it. The folks at Edelman know that by embracing transparency we gain the permission to make mistakes…as long as we fess up quickly. So now’s your chance.
In the meantime I’m giving Edelman the Goofus and the Gallant on furthering the use of social media in the public relations industry. This tactic could have worked using full disclosure, just interview the customers and get their stories. It might not have resulted in effusive praise for the giant smiley face, but it would have been interesting nonetheless.
Hard to believe Edelman’s leviathan efforts in hiring the right team and investing the time and money to take a leadership role in social media could be thwarted so easily. But it very well could.
UPDATE: Biz Hack is tracking the issue here. Based on my referers, I KNOW Edelman is monitoring the situation. Based on the additional referers from Technorati, it would seem a lot of folks are. I'm linking to Biz Hack to show how quickly issues can unfold online. Left unchecked, problems escalate in a flash. This snowballs with more questions, assumptions and asserstions.