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16.3.06

Episode V: Wal-mart strikes back 

Further to my Wal-mart post today, this Dutch site notes (acknowledging Marketing Vox and The New York Times) that the retail giant is recruiting bloggers to help fight its negative PR. Not sure if it will work: according to the report, some bloggers are republishing releases verbatim, and with today’s smart blog-surfers, who are pretty clued up on advertising, this could yet backfire. It could also harm the bloggers who have carried the releases verbatim.
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Comments:
Really interesting Jack,
Heaven doesn’t have pressrelesas, but hell does.  
I do the occasional release for the sake of good, though I could actually be partly evil (see earlier blog post here).  
Jack, I've seen a few comments elsewhere as well, critical of Wal-Mart's approach. Come to think of it-- what's so wrong in Wal-Mart adopting this approach. Couldn't it be viewed as a paid-for advertising campaign, except that the chosen medium is blogs?  
Manoj, you’re quite right that the method is not illegitimate. I guess my problems are these: (a) (most) blogs to date are personal and independent, and having people republish releases would undermine them. Now, I know it could be easily argued that many blogs push products, even personal ones, so why not push someone else’s? That leads me to the next objection: (b) Wal-mart’s behaviour in a global sense. We know, for example, it engages in some behaviour which might not be outright illegal, but some might say it is unethical. To ask someone to “join the club”, so to speak, through being a paid mouthpiece on blogs that should be independent, extends that “Wal-mart way”, perhaps uncomfortably for me and for others who have been critical. And, finally, (c): if Wal-mart was ethical and cleaned up its act, then people would blog about it, and it wouldn’t need to spend a penny getting the word out. It might as well use the money it has earmarked for PR-troubleshooting to give some of its sweatshop workers a pay rise.  
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Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.


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