Bloggers got upset for two reasons. One, was the lack of transparency in not disclosing that the average American couple traveling around the country in an RV staying in Wal-Mart parking lots was part of a PR campaign by Edelman. Second, when the story broke, neither Edeleman nor Steve Rubel, a lead VP of blog marketing for Edelman, responded to the blog discussion for 4 or 5 days.
Doing such a blog talking to other folks staying in RV’s at Wal-Mart parking lots, taking pictures of the places you see and the people you meet is all a great idea for a blog. Disclosing that the couple were part of a PR campaign would have diminished the blog some. But it would still get PR out by telling the Wal-Mart employees and the people you meet they are going to be on the net. Local newspapers could have picked up.
I did not want to be as shrill on Edelman’s not responding to the blog buzz as it came out in the BusinessWeek article. I was asked why all the buzz. I explained that Edelman and Rubel were leaders in the area and that now when Edeleman was getting slammed on the blogosphere, bloggers, particularly those in the PR industry, were looking for Edelman and Rubel to respond right away. When they did not, people felt they were not walking their talk.
I further explained when it must have been one of their worst days, Edelman wasn’t doing what they preached. They crawled into a shell waiting until the Internet discussion stoped so Edelman could go through the appropriate ‘channels’ to respond in a ‘timely’ fashion. Thats what took so many people, myself included, aback.
Good lessons here and hopefully will not too heavily tarnish the good reputation Edelman and Steve Rubel have earned in the blog marketing arena.