In yet another embarrassing revelation for Edelman Worldwide, "Over the Line" has learned that 6 A.M., the blog attributed to Richard Edelman, the president and CEO of the world's largest independent public relations firm (1,800 employees in 40 offices worldwide), has been ghost-written by Wal-Mart greeters from the company's Norwalk, Conn. store.
Blog watchers became suspicious when Mr. E's postings went from "We have released the Edelman Technorati study on the blogosphere in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Italy...." and "I attended the Global Reporting Initiative's annual conference in Amsterdam on Thursday...." to "I got a really good parking spot this morning over by the gas station..." and "Is there anything we can do to keep Wallace in his aisle? I am tired of having to schlep over there to open the glass cases so kids can look at video games..."
Confronted using the hot new pretexting-generated discovery process, Mr. E apologized for the "error in failing to be transparent about the identity of the two bloggers from the outset," and said he has been so busy apologizing for all of the other Wal-Mart blog screw-ups perpetrated by the agency that "I haven't had time to write my own stuff."
Mr. E. has been under considerable pressure since it was discovered that a Wal-Marting Across America blog was created and paid for by Edelman, which apparently commissioned a freelance writer and a Washington Post photographer to drive around the country in an RV, camping out each night in various Wal-Mart parking lots so that they could get an early start the next day blogging about how nice everybody who works at Wal-Mart is (as long as they don't join unions or demand overtime compensation or time-off to tend to family crises).
Edelman senior vice president and tireless blog advocate Steve Rubel stood shoulder to shoulder with his boss in the crisis, responding to tough media questions with: "Richard who?"
The Norwalk door greeters who took over for Mr. E said they weren't entirely sure what blogs were--or for that matter, how to open Word on the computers Edelman Worldwide provided each of them. "My son, you know the one who went to CW Post and took that computer course?" said one of the Welcome to Wal-Mart bloggers. "He said that if Wal-Mart's PR firm was paying the freight, we'd probably end up hand-washing the loading docks if we didn't generate some consumer media, whatever in the hell that means."
To show contrition, Mr. E., who at the end of the day is tasked with helping clients sound smart in press stories, told Ad Age he would send his blog experts "to all of our office[s] to explain our standard for transparency. We are making this a core part of EdelmanUniversity. We are going to have a central clearinghouse for social-media programs. We will walk the talk!"