NEW YORK: Edelman CEO Richard Edelman said the company still had work to do in training its employees how to handle new media, after his agency created a blog for client Wal-Mart that did not disclose its origins or funding.
The blog, walmartingacrossamerica.com, chronicles the story of a couple traveling across the country in an RV while stopping at various Wal-Mart parking lots. Although the blog did not initially bear any clear disclosures, it was funded by the group Working Families for Wal-Mart [WFWM], an organization designed to promote a positive portrayal of the company.
Edelman told PRWeek that the necessity of disclosure was "implicit in everything we do," and that employees had simply failed to do it in this case.
Edelman has placed itself on the frontline of the new media paradigm by naming its new media practice the Me2Revolution.
"We still have a job to do about explaining to our staff their [disclosure] obligation in old media and new media," he said.
Following several days of outcry on the blogosphere about the blog's lack of transparency, Edelman first posted a statement of apology for the incident on his personal blog located on Edelman's website, which put the responsibility on the agency, not Wal-Mart.
The apology took several days to materialize because of an investigation process, Edelman told PRWeek.
Me2Revolution president Rick Murray is now working with employees to "reinforce our commitment to the WOMMA guidelines" for disclosure, Edelman added.
"We're committed to doing better, and I have a process for doing better," he said. "I am not happy about this."
When asked if there would be any disciplinary action will be taken against employees, he said, "I haven't gotten that far yet."
Popular blogger and Edelman SVP Steve Rubel, who also works for Edelman, posted his own statement this week as well, saying "our firm failed to be completely transparent."
Rubel declined to be interviewed further.