The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

Cymfony’s Influence 2.0: The REALLY BIG story of the Wal-Mart/Edelman fake blog situation

What are you doing to change the course of your organization?  With this question, Cymfony nails it.  The blogging world is like the Marines and leaves no-one behind.  Honesty and openness is the only way.  Its impossible to hide, so don’t try.  This is the essence of the new marketing.

For a generation or more, PR has been about spin. Finding a clever story angle is what PR people are trained to do. Marketing is the same, except they call it “positioning”. Each new strategy starts from the basic premise of how to magnify the positives and deny any potential negatives.

Exaggeration, careful selection of facts, and creating enticing ways to present the messages are not only accepted, but the fabric of every day work. In advertising, they are limited only by truth in advertising laws.

Source: Cymfony’s Influence 2.0: The REALLY BIG story of the Wal-Mart/Edelman fake blog situation

Read this article in full.  Even if you are not familiar with the Edelman situation.  Essentially it was a blog written by an Agency, pretending to be written by regular people.  They have, according to Strumpette:

Within the past year alone, Edelman has:

  • Engaged in secretive dialogues with carefully selected bloggers with the intention of slipping uncredited, Wal-Mart-approved spin into their seemingly spontaneous utterings;
  • Offered unspecified emoluments to a consumers’ right website in return for their agreement to “stop writing about our companies,” including Wal-Mart;
  • Surreptitiously sponsored a blog by two seemingly ordinary Americans of their vacation tour of Wal-Mart’s parking lots, neither of whom disclosed their ties to Edelman.

And Hugh sums it up perfectly.


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Written by Colin Henderson

October 17, 2006 at 23:29

3 Responses

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  1. […] Which banks understand the web lifestyle? ← Cymfony’s Influence 2.0: The REALLY BIG story of the Wal-Mart/Edelman fake blog situation […]

  2. Big corporations (and banks in particular) have it really tough here. Dealing with the public in a *completely* open, honest fashion is tough for large company – especially when complying with the SEC’s regulation FD.

    Add the political leverage that comes with the Community Reinvestment Act, and banks are really walking a tightrope.

    Along comes the blogosphere, with its tidal wave of pressure. And a lot is blatantly false. For example, a wamu customer is passed counterfeit money in Africa and blames wamu:

    What should banks do? Tentative steps, even false steps through pr agencies like Edelman may not be so bad.



    October 18, 2006 at 08:50

  3. […]  Further to my earlier post on the Edelman thing, here are the details finally. If you’re into the whole PR thing, then you’ll likely have noticed recently that Edelman have got themselves into a bit of a pinch by helping create a fake blog for Wal-Mart. Called ‘Wal-Marting Across America’, it purported to be a blog by a couple who decided to go on a cheap holiday in an RV (that’s camper van to us Brits), staying in Wal-Mart car parks overnight. What the blog failed to mention was that the project was a publicity stunt and that Wal-Mart were paying for their petrol, food, and the RV. This trick is known in the trade as ‘astroturfing’ (i.e. faking grassroots). Another way of describing it is ‘lying by omission’, and we all know lying is bad. […]

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