Roger L. Simon

Edelman shames the blogosphere

Just as The New York Times (Jason Blair), CBS (Dan Rather) and Reuters (fauxtography) have shamed the mainstream media, the Edelman public relations firm has shamed the blogosphere. According to The Writing on the Wall (quoting Online Media Daily), the PR operation has “fessed up” to creating so-called “flogs” (phony blogs) for promotional purposes. One of them has the name “Working Families for Wal-Mart.”

Now I am not pro or con Wal-Mart per se. But I am decidedly against this misuse of blogs. It undercuts the transparency that we are trying to achieve. [FULL DISCLOSURE: In the interest of transparency, Pajamas Media earlier this year had discussion with Edelman about public relations representation that did not pan out. They did not then mention creating any “flogs” for us. If they had, I can assure you we would have rejected it out of hand.]

Of course, this kind of pseudo-publicity ends up backlfiring for Wal-Mart and for all of us who wish to see blogs thrive intellectually and commercially. For a good analysis of what this means, see Tom Hespos’ Wal-Mart: Blazing the Trail to Distrust. [ANOTHER FULL DISCLOSURE: Hespos’ Underscore Marketing works with Pajamas on our business side.]

BTW, J ohn Tierney at the NYT has written some interesting defenses of Wal-Mart in other (non-blogging) areas. Alas this is behind the paper’s fuddy-duddy “select” firewall. (Note to Sulzberger: In the words of Peter Robinson, “Tear down that wall!” It’s worth a shot with your stock going into the toilet.)

UPDATE: Edelman “defends” himself in Advertising Age. Hespos responds.