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WalMart isn’t blogging. It’s sticking to Edelman’s advice to “advise” right wing bloggers about how great WalMart is. But Fast Company is running a WalMart blog, and it’s not complimentary.
Fast Company senior writer Charles Fishman, author of a best-selling book about Wal-Mart, The Wal-Mart Effect, is guest hosting the Fast Company blog this week and writing a series of postings on WalMar. His “WalMart Blog” postings just happen to coincide with the brouhaha created by the NY Times story on Edelman PR’s manipulation of bloggers for its client, WalMart.
Fishman’s covering “the ways Wal-Mart is talking about changing its business; to look at how seriously we should take those changes; to consider their possible wider impact, and Wal-Mart’s chances for success.” His analysis of WalMart’s factory inspections program:

But if you look closely at Wal-Mart’s own 44-page report of its performance (issued last June), Wal-Mart’s factory inspection program begins to look like an energetic PR effort, more than a serious effort to protect factory workers.

Walmart: You need to join the conversation in a meaningful way. So far, Richard Edelman has issued a PR-speak defense of your blogger-relations program, and Edelman’s newest employee, Steve Rubel, has copped out and said that he might actually criticize his employer some day, but not today. Ahd you can bet it’ll be a cold day in hell when he criticizes one of Edelman’s clients.
While PR bloggers (surprise, surprise) don’t think Edelman’s blogger manipulation program is of any concern, I think it is. Sure MSM reporters take briefings from PR firms all the time; they print press releases verbatim or put their bylines on them and claim them as their own work; etc. etc.
Here’s the big deal: blogs arose as an independent voice, as media watchdogs, as writers willing to voice their opinions. That means we need to check quotes, attribute sources, link to sites we write about, and provide our opinion on topics within our areas of expertise.
Otherwise, there will soon be no independent voice among bloggers. And that would be a loss because bloggers who’ve had the skill and the balls have exposed many a story that MSM has missed or ignored, bringing about major changes. Ask Trent Lott, Dan Rather, Kryptonite….
Copyright B.L. Ochman