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Wal-Mart exploits bloggers in P.R. campaign

CNet reports Wal-Mart has enlisted bloggers in a P.R. campaign attempting to improve its image.

Under assault as never before, Wal-Mart is increasingly looking beyond the mainstream media and working directly with bloggers, feeding them exclusive nuggets of news, suggesting topics for postings and even inviting them to visit its corporate headquarters.

But the strategy raises questions about what bloggers, who pride themselves on independence, should disclose to readers. Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, has been forthright with bloggers about the origins of its communications, and the company and its public relations firm, Edelman, say they do not compensate the bloggers.

Lawyer Glenn Reynolds, publisher of Instapundit.com, one of the oldest blogs on the Web, questioned WalMart’s practices: ‘If I reprint something, I say where it came from. A blog is about your voice, it seems to me, not somebody else’s.’

I agree with Reynolds. Wal-Mart may have enlisted Edelman, now employing blog PR expert Steve Rubel, but the company’s feeding content to bloggers is misguided. If Wal-Mart is serious about having a presence on the blogosphere, they’re going to need have their own blog where they openly interact with the public.

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