Not-so-naked conversations

Michael Barbaro, of the New York Times, reports on Wal-Mart’s intricate and often successful PR program to plant pro-Wal-Mart messages in blogs. The story begins:

Brian Pickrell, a blogger, recently posted a note on his Web site attacking state legislation that would force Wal-Mart Stores to spend more on employee health insurance. “All across the country, newspaper editorial boards — no great friends of business — are ripping the bills,” he wrote.

It was the kind of pro-Wal-Mart comment the giant retailer might write itself. And, in fact, it did.

Wal-Mart’s PR firm, Edelman, scours the blogosphere for mentions of its client. When it finds a positive post, an Edelman employee, Marshall Manson, shoots off a friendly email to the blogger, saying that the post was noticed “at [Wal-Mart’s] corporate headquarters in Bentonville” and offering to send “the occasional update with some newsworthy info about the company and an occasional nugget that you won’t hear about in the M.S.M.” The subsequent updates “are structured like typical blog postings, with a pungent sentence or two introducing a link to a news article or release.”

The pungent sentences and the links frequently make their way into the blogs, often without a mention of the source. It’s the sort of word-of-mouth PR you just can’t buy.

One thought on “Not-so-naked conversations

  1. Admin

    I was one of the persons who ran into this PR firm. The people that received information from a PR firm were not paid nor did they receive anything other that some links to some stories and at most a sentence or two. Though I received many correspondences, I only created a post about one of them. I do however have many posts about free markets, capitalism, and the such dealing with Wal-mart.

    What is missing from this story is the corporate campaign by the unions against Walmart. If they can’t get the Wal-mart employees to unionize they are trying another old strategy of propaganda, regulation accusations, along with the help of the pro-union media (which the NY Times author is a member of). What people fail to realize, is that this doesn’t hurt Wal-mart. It hurts the hundreds of thousand of employees trying to earn money for their families.

    The biggest oxymoron I have heard is New York Times and ethics. To think none ever receives tips is preposterous. Why do they have h/t ?

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