Eew! Say it isn't so, Steve!
In case you've been stuck in the same closet I've apparently been in, and missed all the ruckus, Edelman PR created a couple of fake blogs or "flogs" (some call them "astroturf") for its client, Wal-Mart (gee, why am I not surprised!).
You can read all about it in this article on BusinessWeek.com, which first exposed the fraud. BW notes:
It all started last month, when a folksy blog called Wal-Marting Across America was set up. The site featured the musings of a couple known only as Jim and Laura as they drove cross country in an RV, and included regular interviews with Wal-Mart workers, who were dependably happy about the company and their working conditions.But it turned out "Jim and Laura" weren't real RVers, or real bloggers...they were paid schills for Wal-Mart.
Apparently Edelman PR organized the RV trip and accompanying "flog" through a fake-populist group called Working Families for Wal-Mart, which BW notes is funded by Wal-Mart. Once BW pulled back the curtains and exposed the fraud, it took Edelman over a week to admit to making it all up...so much for its vaunted quick-response crisis communications.
For a tongue-in-cheek (or maybe not) rant on this situation, check out strumpette's call for Edelman and Rubel to resign.
A bit extreme? Maybe. But I do seem to recall some sections of the PRSA Code of Ethics that relate to this kind of situation. For example:
HONESTY: We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.Yeah, right. Well, as much as I enjoy reading Rubel's explorations of new/social media, maybe he needs to take a "time out" to brush up on the basics.