Well the fall out continues from the paid Walmart blog I originally wrote about in a post called What's Your Blogging Storey. The post was really mostly about figuring out the point of view of the author of your content, whether it is traditional news media or a blog.
The PR firm Edelman has confessed to making a critical mistake by not being totally transparent behind the Walmart flog (fake weblog) and it is not only nailing the firm, but also premier blogger Steve Rubel from Micropersuasion fame who also is an Edelman employee. As of right now there are over 90 comments at Edelman's blog confession and Richard Edelman is doing an efficient job of answering the posts. Then comes a shot from AdAge and also a pretty nasty critique about Edelman and Rubel's blogging transparency from ZDNet called Edelman Blogs. Exclusive Country Clubs?
This last post is what caused me to write my own which hopefully you'll finish reading. Donna Bogatin writes this about Rubel's blog "Rubel uses his “personal” blog (although he writes under "we," for himself and Edelman) to promote his employer’s business relationship with a blog tracking service and then uses his same "personal" blog to reprimand a third-party blog tracking service for not acknowledging his own promotion of his employer’s blog tracking efforts." I'm not sure you could be more blunt in saying that Rubel is using Micropersuasion to promote Edelman clients. My thought is, so what?
Rubel has been very open about his employer and has given as much transparency as possible; even posting a badge. I too have had this feeling for a while, but at the end of the day, as I wrote in my What's Your Blogging Storey post, it doesn't matter to me and it shouldn't to you.
Do you get good information from Micropersuasion? Do you like the links, the data, and analysis even if you think it might be slanted. Who's blog isn't slanted to something. Look he works at Edelman and if he wasn't aligned with their goals then he wouldn't work there. That would go for any of us, unless you are hanging on for a severance package from the new, new, new, trust me it is really new AT&T.
When I write about political online marketing it isn't that I think other agencies aren't doing good work or that there aren't good online Democratic campaigns. I don't know if there is, and if I did know, why would I talk about competitors? I don't have the time or energy. I even take regular shots on the SBC version of AT&T; clearly I am negative about them, but if you've been a reader here for a while you know why. Besides, isn't the first rule of blogging to be controversial?
Will Edelman learn from this experience? Yes and I'm betting in the long term this scandal will be nothing more than a case study on how not to be transparent. I'm not forgiving them or even saying that it is over. However, let's not through the Rubel baby out with the Walmart bathwater. Decide what the story is behind the media you are reading and decide whether you can continue on. If not, there are 1000's of other places you can visit - so just move on.....I do once in a while but every time I want to unsubscribe from Micropersuasion I see another interesting post.