Wal-Mart Cautions Blogger-Shills to Avoid Being Caught

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[Viral Marketing]
Wal-Mart, in an effort to change public opinion is now mobilizing armies of bloggers to push the pro-company line and counter other sites who are critical of the retail giant. However, some of its blogger army are intentionally reprinting the company's dictates word-for-word and the monster corporation is concerned they may get "ripped" for being the shams they are.

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.

But the strategy raises questions about what bloggers, who pride themselves on independence, should disclose to readers. Wal-Mart, the nation's largest private employer, has been forthright with bloggers about the origins of its communications, and the company and its public relations firm, Edelman, say they do not compensate the bloggers.

But some bloggers have posted information from Wal-Mart, at times word for word, without revealing where it came from.

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Posted by mrg on 2006-03-15 01:56:59
I saw something similar to this with vector marketing on the complaint station.
 

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