Richard Edelman on PR and Syndication

Richard Edelman is on the stage, talking about PR in the new media landscape. I’ve been listening (and not taking notes) for most of the discussion, but found the last discussion point interesting: when asked about the Wal-Mart brouhaha a couple months ago, Richard suggested that the crux of the problem was that one of the bloggers who’d received info from Edelman simply copied the info into a post, and didn’t attribute the source.

(Background: Edelman approached a number of mostly conservative bloggers and offered to get them some info about Wal-Mart that would help counter the anti-Wal-Mart efforts. Several anti-Wal-Mart bloggers highlighted it, the New York Times covered it, and it generated some further negative press for Wal-Mart and Edelman.)

As Andrea explained to me when we talked earlier this year, her issue was not that Edelman was working on behalf of Wal-Mart, or even that they were reaching out to conservative bloggers. I think the issue was that Edelman was promising perks to the bloggers (private warehouse tours, invites to press briefings, etc.) that made the bloggers feel like VIPs. I may be misrepresenting Andrea’s views here (feel free to correct me, Andrea), but if that’s the rub it’s interesting that Edelman doesn’t see it that way. Personally, I don’t find that promise of perks to be too off-putting. Edelman’s outreach in this particular case backfired, but the fact is that they were trying to engage influentials — which is the heart of what PR is all about.