Thursday, June 01, 2006

Do Richard Edelman's Ethics Apply to His Wal-Mart Client?

Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, the largest independent public relations firm in the world has his own blog. Wal-Mart is one of Edelman PR's clients. Mr. Edelman's March 30th post is pretty interesting. He appears to have pretty high moral and ethical standards for his company (short of hiring Krempasky who thinks Rep. John Murtha is not a patriot; we have got to stop conservatives from smearing decorated veterans).

Here are a few things Mr. Edelman has to say about PR companies (hopefully not taken too much out of context, but you can check that for yourself by clicking on his blog link).

How serious is it for PR that the man who runs the foremost center for press and public policy in the US is fundamentally skeptical about our profession? is time for us to recognize that with our enhanced opportunity comes a very real responsibility.

Tell both sides of every story. We can be more credible by listing the side effects along with the demonstrable benefits.

Empower employees to shape the company image.

Total transparency as to the motive and the funding source.

We need to improve the practice of public relations.

ProPr had a few comments about Edelman PR and transparency.
That’s where Wal-Mart came up short. They used their PR firm’s bloggers and the credibility those bloggers had built up to speak directly to other bloggers. But for the rest of us, people outside of their carefully targeted direct blogger pitch, we could not see what the company was up to. The fact that their activity was discovered resulted from the slipshod practices of a few bloggers who quoted verbatim from the material Edelman/Wal-Mart provided to them, without attribution.

So, true transparency was not achieved. And the resultant uproar should prove a cautionary tale for all.

So do PR firms have the obligation to tell both sides of a story when representing a client? Should PR firms encourage the client it represents (Wal-Mart) to talk about side effects? Should there really be total transparency when representing a client? Should Wal-Mart employee's be empowered to shape the company image?

Maybe I'm just confused about what Mr. Edelman is trying to say.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm confused about WHY Wal-Mart needs PR and bloger's to begin with. IF THEY JUST STARTED DOING THE RIGHT THING bloger's wouldn't be necessary.
Just SUPPOSE Wal-Mart began:
1) paying their employees a living wage 2) giving them ALL health coverage 3) stoped squeezing their suppliers for lower wholesale prices every year forcing them to go overseas for production 4) began to work with communities so business districts were not left with no place else to shop except Wal-Mart and 5) started contributing to the communities they're in rather than bleed them dry.
JUST SUPPOSE WAL-MART DID THOSE THESE THINGS AND MORE? Well, surprise, surprise, surprise!! They wouldn't need Edelman, any PR nor any blogers to improve their image!! Simple word of mouth would get around about how Wal-Mart is now this great company. Communities would be breaking down Wal-Mart's door to come instead of fighting them off. Currently, 1 out every 3 communities that is supposed to get a Wal-Mart is fighting it. Groups in opposition to them are springing up EVERYWHERE! This is why Wal-Mart doesn't announce their arrival into an area. They know the minute they do that, a group opposing them is going to be formed.