Manson: ‘avoid online flacking’

The Edelman employee behind a controversial Wal-Mart campaign has warned that European agencies need to ‘avoid flacking’ if they are to take advantage of the demand for online PA.

Marshall Manson, head of Edelman’s online public affairs, issues management and corporate reputation practice in Washington, DC, was in Europe to present his Transatlantic Trends report.

The study claims that while blog readership increases substantially around the time of an election, most agencies do not have the required online public affairs presence to take advantage of PR opportunities.

‘Influencers – those people taking part in local committees, attending rallies and signing petitions – are disproportionately reading blogs and using social media,’ said Manson. ‘More than ever, blogging will have a significant impact when the next election is called.’

He warned that any public affairs campaigns spearheaded online must be ‘completely transparent’, adding that agency account teams should ‘avoid flacking for clients’.

Edelman was at the centre of criticism earlier this year when an online campaign for client Wal-Mart backfired (PRWeek, 26 September). It was forced to apologise for ‘astroturfing’ when it started a fake grassroots blog.

Manson also came under the media spotlight in the US after he accused film-maker Morgan Spurlock of pursuing an ‘anti-business agenda’ in his exposé of McDonald’s, Supersize Me.

Manson was acting as spokesperson for the Center for Individual Freedom when he wrote to Spurlock.

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