Wal-Mart uses bloggers for PR Spin
Today’s New York Times carries an article about how the largest company in the world, Wal-Mart, is covertly using bloggers to influence public perception of their company:
Brian Pickrell, a blogger, recently posted a note on his Web site attacking state legislation that would force Wal-Mart Stores to spend more on employee health insurance. “All across the country, newspaper editorial boards ‘€” no great friends of business ‘€” are ripping the bills,” he wrote.
It was the kind of pro-Wal-Mart comment the giant retailer might write itself. And, in fact, it did.
Several sentences in Mr. Pickrell’s Jan. 20 posting ‘€” and others from different days ‘€” are identical to those written by an employee at one of Wal-Mart’s public relations firms and distributed by e-mail to bloggers.
Under assault as never before, Wal-Mart is increasingly looking beyond the mainstream media and working directly with bloggers, feeding them exclusive nuggets of news, suggesting topics for postings and even inviting them to visit its corporate headquarters.
Honestly, I believe that we are going to see more and more of this as companies wise up and begin to see the blogosphere as a natural extension of their public relations machines…
The problem is, of course, that bloggers have their own opinions about things – though spin like what Wal-Mart is doing will help any company spin the blogosphere’s opinions.
The political parties are on the forefront of this – take a look back at how Howard Dean, George W. Bush, and the Kerry campaign used blogs to raise money, spin their message, and so on. As we see with Wal-Mart’s example, companies are just now catching on…..
Matt Craven is the former editor & publisher of The Blog Herald. Currently, Matt is the co-founder of Bryghtpath LLC, a consulting practice located in Woodbury, Minnesota. Matt's presently looking for new blogging gigs. Ping him at matt (at) bryghtpath dot com. You can follow him on Twitter.