I’m still confused about what seems like a significant overreaction in the blogosphere to Wal Mart’s PR agency Edelman’s decision to sponsor a couple in their RV trip across America. The blog, now called a “fake” by many but not the authors, is WalMartingAcrossAmerica
Onliners, especially bloggers, get more pissed about this type of thing than about, for example, thousands of far, far more significant issues of global significance and ethics, death and destruction and I find that upsetting, intellectually narrow minded, obsessive, and superficial.
So, a big PR firm sponsors a blog that they see will wind up being favorable to Wal Mart? This is surprising? Unethical? If they’d set up the whole thing I’d see it differently, but that does not appear to be the case. They simply were not transparent *enough*, failing to have the bloggers disclose their financial relationship to Wal Mart.
Sure, they deserved to be chastised and called out on this as a breech of transparency, but is this more of a breech than, say, downloading illegal music and videos? Or, for that matter, building entire companies around concepts of illegal downloading? Those guys get cheers and applause and hundred-million dollar paydays.
That said maybe I’m just not reading this right and it was some major ethical breech by Wal Mart/ Edelman.
Here’s my reply to Edelman’s (too thin) apology about all this even as it becomes the top online story by far:
With all due respect this apology seems too thin, and ironically itself sounds like part of the PR-driven rather than the “blog community” approach to the issue which would outline the scoop for everybody and explain how this got so out of hand.
It’s not even clear to me that you seriously defied WOMMA guidelines assuming that things are exactly as described over at the WalMarting Across America blog. Rather it looks like somebody at Edelman saw an excellent and legitimate opportunity and then chose to fund it in a way that turned this into a blog that was too sponsored to retain credibility.
Sheesh – I think I’m articulating your position at greater length than you are?!