And now this.
Wal-Marting Across America, a corporate blog that PR firm Edelman managed for Wal-Mart, failed to clarify that its bloggers were being paid by a pro-Wal-Mart organization called Working Families for Wal-Mart (WFWM), which Edelman had previously launched.
At that blog, "Laura" writes: "[W]e’re being attacked. Why? Because we dared to write positive things about Wal-Mart." ... And because you dared to do so while giving the impression that it only because you happened to like Wal-Mart, not because an organization whose purpose is to promote Wal-Mart paid you to write the blog.
At least, as Li Evans discusses, Edelman has made efforts to apologize. That's a good start.
Echoing Jason Lee Miller: "Rule #1 for corporate blogging: Be authentic. Don't lie." Failing to tell enough truth to your readers is a form of lying.
Echoing JD: "In online conversation, it's strong protection to disclose your identity and affiliations. [...] [R]eaders need to stay skeptical."
Echoing Scoble: "If you don’t disclose you’re being paid to blog, you’re gonna create a mess."
Shel Holtz teaches that we can often learn what's going on by who's not talking about it.
Scott Karp reminds us to be wary of companies that attempt to "control the conversation by manufacturing it."
Marshall Sponder decries corporate efforts to deceptively "create a conversation and a point of view that's fictitious."
Dear corporate blog reader: Read every blog carefully. Things are not always as they seem. Some try gaming the blogosphere and get caught. Others actually get away with it. Learn to sift the gems from the dirt.
What did you learn from this mess?