In the short history of blogging, corporate interaction with the medium has been more about selling than interacting.
Sending products and press releases was the easy way to reach out. Then there's the way Edelman navigated the blogosphere, by seeding information to predominately receptive conservative bloggers on behalf of Wal-Mart, a practice "outed" by The New York Times in a story published last Tuesday.
Anyone who has stumbled across pro- or anti-labor blogs can sense a palpable hunger by the editorial powers there for any sort of news. The best bloggers, like journalists, will parse it all and comment on every angle. And even myopic bloggers, like myopic journalists, love to get information that reaffirms their world view. And their readers, favoring their perspective, crave that ammunition for their own debates around the water cooler.
The Edelman employees behind the Wal-Mart campaign are conservative bloggers, and, in the parlance, "know the space." When they found sympathetic blog artists going to bat for Wal-Mart, why wouldn't Edelman supply them with a rhetorical Louisville Slugger?
By dipping into blogging's turbid waters, Edelman has effectively reached Wal-Mart's fans. But now that the polarizing retailer has made inroads into comfortable territory, it faces a drawn-out slog through the pro-labor, liberal blogosphere if it wants to effect opinion change.
It's a rare situation when you get marquee bloggers from both sides of the aisle like Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.com and Duncan Black of Atrios to agree on a particular issue: Was this story really as big as the Times said it was?
If you think about it, The New York Times and reporter Michael Barbaro have managed to unite bloggers on both the left and the right. If only Wal-Mart could do that.