The Word of Mouth Marketing Association, of which I am a member, has issued a statement on the Wal-Mart/Edelman flog as well. This has really been a PR nightmare for Edelman, who has also revealed two other blogs that were being run “anonymously”. They have now been edited to display employee names. According to Technorati, as of this writing the 2nd most popular post in the blogosphere was Steve’s statement with 50+ comments, mostly ripping him for not responding sooner or giving his opinion of the situationm immediately.
One of my concerns with WOMMA and the lack of adherence is the issue of enforcement. Edelman said they will work to follow the ethics code, and we can only hope that this practice, moving forward, does not continue with any other firms. Idealistic, sure, but just because one of the big players in this space got busted doesn’t mean they’re the only one doing it.
I’ve brought the enforcement issue up with WOMMA during calls and meetings and the conclusion is that as an association it’s nearly impossible to enforce an ethics code. We put it out there and expect people to follow it. I’ve turned down work because I’ve been asked to violate the code, and we’ve won business for consistently taking the high road.
Word of mouth may be old, but as an industry it appears to still be in its infancy. And this isn’t another swipe at Edelman, there are several other companies and agencies that engage in dishonest marketing practices, including ad agencies — just email e-mail me if you’d like an example or two that weren’t as public.
But I digress. I don’t envy any of the parties involved here. This is a no-win situation – Wal-Mart and PR critics have more ammunition. Coming out and saying that you were caught isn’t what most people were looking to hear. Then again, that’s the nature of spin.
And I just checked (again)… Robert — why can’t you get your blog working to get a post in on this? Damn technology! 😛