Focus of Wal-Mart blog strategy questioned

WASHINGTON: While recent news reports suggest Edelman's "netroots" efforts are geared mostly to Wal-Mart-sympathetic, conservative bloggers, the firm said it is also trying to reach those critical of the retail giant.

WASHINGTON: While recent news reports suggest Edelman's "netroots" efforts are geared mostly to Wal-Mart-sympathetic, conservative bloggers, the firm said it is also trying to reach those critical of the retail giant.

"There is a bipartisan team working on all of our accounts," said Edelman vice chairman Leslie Dach. "You have to expand those who will listen to your message... so you're not just preaching to the choir."

Kevin Thornton, Wal-Mart's corporate communications director, said he felt Edelman's bipartisan team is reaching out to both sides of the debate.

Dach said a conservative-blogger outreach, highlighted by a recent New York Times article, is no different than pitching the New Republic one time and the National Review another.

"We've reached out to bloggers across the spectrum," said Dach. "There isn't a purely ideological line that divides how people see [Wal-Mart]."

But adamant critics of Wal-Mart don't agree.

"None of their actions support the claim that they're reaching out to critics," said Paul Blank, campaign director for Wake-Up Wal-Mart. "The PR team seems to be growing more from the right wing."

Blank, who was political director for the Howard Dean 2004 presidential campaign, said his group has reached out to Wal-Mart and welcomes a dialogue.

Regarding Wal-Mart's decision to stock Emergency B contraceptives in all its stores, Blank said Wake-Up Wal-Mart, which issued a press release applauding the move, said they received information about Wal-Mart's decision via a nationally distributed press release.

Dach said that Wal-Mart and Wake-Up Wal-Mart are not in the business of sending each other their press releases.

"We're trying to educate as many people as we can," Dach said, specifying those in the "middle" of the debate. "Yes, we are reaching out to sympathetic bloggers, but [we're also] trying to expand the legion of sympathetic bloggers every day."

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