Edelman Goes on Record

    November 1, 2006

A quick search of Technorati reveals not much awareness yet in the PR corner of the blogosphere that Richard Edelman gave a detailed interview to IT World on the recent brouhaha over the “Wal-Marting Across America” flog.

In the interview, published yesterday, Edelman admitted that his company failed the basic transparency test that applies to all media, not just new media, noting that the failure occurred because “we have people who are insufficiently experienced in this.”

Edelman said that it’s up to him to ensure his employees are adequately trained in the morals of new media; he added that the company needs to rely more upon those who do understand the way social media works, pointing to the me2revolution team (which boasts well known names like Steve Rubel and Michael Wiley).

He also admits to frustration and anger when he learned about the flog, but got over it quickly in order to do what CEOs are supposed to do: address the situation. Edelman also rejects the idea that his company’s reputation has taken much of a hit, suggesting that its history of decent behavior is an asset that will see it through. He admits that he should have said something sooner than he did, noting it’s the only thing about the crisis he would have handled differently.

Thanks to Tony Hung for the email pointing me to the interview. Tony-a third-year medical resident who blogs about a variety of issues at “Deep Jive Interests“-has written his own observations about the interview, expressing astonishment that Edelman would assign the plum Wal-Mart account to junior executives. That’s not what Edelman meant, though; in fact, I find that inexperienced 25-year-old PR newcomers (like Chris Clarke) get the blogosphere and its morals much better than 25-year veteran account executives with deep experience in traditional PR but to whom social media is an alien world.

In any case, I’m sure Edelman’s interview will be dissected and discussed over the next few days, especially by “the group of bloggers who don’t like PR people being in the blogosphere,” as referenced by Edelman in the interview.



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Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.