WOMMA takes forgiving line on Edelman

I spoke today to Andy Sernovitz, CEO of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association [WOMMA], to get his take on the Edelman-Wal-Mart-blog fiasco. Sernovitz said...

I spoke today to Andy Sernovitz, CEO of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association [WOMMA], to get his take on the Edelman-Wal-Mart-blog fiasco. Sernovitz said that "What Edelman did was the right thing," meaning the apology, not the initial mistake.

"It's the system working just like it's supposed to," he said. "It's not about punishment. It's about fixing the problem."

He also acknowledged that the entire formalization of the WOM discipline is still in its "early days." The association is currently working on a "set of tools" to be distributed to low-level PR staffers to teach them about the basics of disclosure responsibility and WOMMA's ethical code.

It should be noted that Edelman played a role in devising WOMMA's ethical guidelines, as Richard Edelman pointed out in his apology. Chief among those guidelines is the statement "We believe in honesty and transparency at all times."

As some commenters in the blogosphere have pointed out, certain professional organizations immediately kick out any members who violate their ethical code. The WOM industry, though, does not operate like that. WOMMA appears more than willing to give Edelman another chance.

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