Edelman takes ownership of Wal-Mart blunder

At last, a response has come from both Steve Rubel of Micropersuasion and Richard Edelman, head of the firm Steve works for, on the Wal-Mart blogger dustup (for some background, see my previous posts here and here).

On his blog, Steve says that he couldn’t blog about it because he wasn’t involved in the file, and “there is a process in place that I had to let proceed through its course.” Knowing how large PR firms work, I have no doubt that that is the case, and knowing Steve a little bit I have no doubt that he was dying to respond to the calls for comment.

Meanwhile, to his credit, Richard Edelman doesn’t try to weasel out of the controversy, or provide any kind of lame, tangled rationale for what happened. He says simply that:

I want to acknowledge our error in failing to be transparent about the identity of the two bloggers from the outset. This is 100% our responsibility and our error; not the client’s.

Richard also says that he reiterates Edelman’s support for the WOMMA guidelines on transparency “which we helped to write. Our commitment is to openness and engagement because trust is not negotiable and we are working to be sure that commitment is delivered in all our programs.”

A little later than some might have liked — and perhaps a little falling-on-sword is being engaged in, to prevent further damage to Wal-Mart’s reputation — but a straightforward and forthright apology. Very classy, I think.


There is still quite a bit of disagreement over whether Edelman’s apology is honest and/or valid, as you can see from Dominic’s points in the comments here, and on other blogs such as Dave Taylor’s and at PR-Squared. Scott Karp says that Edelman is still trying to control the conversation too much, and that’s why they waited so long. I’ll give Scott one thing for sure: This stuff is hard. Anyone who says differently is full of it.


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