Edelman must adhere to standards it helped set

Edelman's reaction to the imbroglio involving itself, Wal-Mart, and the blogging community seems to invalidate its Me2Revolution charter, an intangible manifesto, apparently absorbed agencywide, that CEO Richard Edelman introduced in a blog post in January 2006.

Edelman's reaction to the imbroglio involving itself, Wal-Mart, and the blogging community seems to invalidate its Me2Revolution charter, an intangible manifesto, apparently absorbed agencywide, that CEO Richard Edelman introduced in a blog post in January 2006.

The proposition was that a spirit of transparency, disclosure, and blog interaction would suffuse the agency worldwide. Increased focus would be directed to the customer and blogger stakeholders. Cynics rightly noted that often bloggers may not be stakeholders, in the same way that protesters of a corporation's policy, while never patronizing the company, still threaten a boycott.

What Edelman got right was a quick apology from both CEO Edelman and SVP and blog wonder Steve Rubel. But the reaction overall left much to be desired. The quick apology in the traditional sense was glacial in the blogosphere. Neither Edelman nor Rubel, who wrote on his blog that he wasn't involved in the project, have offered more explanation about how the campaign occurred in a firm that prides itself on new-media thinking.
Moreover, the program remained active and unaltered until BusinessWeek ran an October 8 story, demonstrating a serious lack of oversight, especially for an agency well-versed in the mores of blog disclosure.

Compounding that, Rubel's tin ears, regarding the dialogue that the community wanted, are marked by his blog comment: "I am moving on. That was yesterday's news. I won't forget; neither will anyone else."

Any time the following enterprises do something, bloggers pick it apart: Dick Cheney, McDonald's, broadcast news anchors, Google, and Wal-Mart. That such a Wal-Mart project, rife with potential scrutiny, escaped vetting exposed a huge hole in this Me2Revolution, which calls into question its very efficacy. Edelman and Rubel helped set the standards for new-media engagement. Now they must do a better job of living up to them.

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