Edelman, Wal-Mart, Steve Rubel: head, meet sand

Update Oct. 16. Edelman has finally broke the silence: Steve Rubel’s post; Richard Edelman’s post. No word on what exactly went wrong, or why the “process” that Steve talks about took over a week. More later …

It’s been almost a week. The blogosphere is talking about Edelman, Wal-Mart, and the fake blog. I added my three cents a few days ago.

In short, we’ve been waiting, listening, and watching for the explanation. Or the mea culpa. But none has been forthcoming.

Steve, you need to speak up
I hate to put this all on Steve, but sorry, you’re the best-known highly-placed Edelman blogger. And it’s not like you haven’t posted recently.

Your blog’s about page identifies that you are Edelman’s thought leader on social media:

Rubel is charged with helping Edelman identify, test, incubate and champion new forms of communications that get people talking across new platforms and channels.

Well guess what – no one needs leadership when everything is fine. Leadership is required when the smelly stuff hits the fan. And yes, right now it is hitting the fan – hard.

Yeah, it is conversational media
Steve, your blog also claims that you are “widely viewed as an expert on conversational marketing.” I think most people in the blogosphere would agree wth that assessment.

But what happens to the conversation when one participant doesn’t speak?

When that happens, there is no conversation. There’s no communication. And you have no chance to even influence or affect the thoughts and actions of your potential clients, your potential allies, your potential listeners.

We’re making it up as we go along
Just because you’re not talking doesn’t mean we won’t talk. And if you won’t tell us your side of the story, it won’t be told. This is strikingly similar to the Marshall Manson incident, which raised questions about Edelman, Wal-Mart, and proper disclosure of interest.

In response to that incident, Richard Edelman said the following:

Let me get the disclosure out of the way. Edelman is the PR firm working with bloggers as part of a Wal-Mart corporate image campaign. Edelman is transparent about its relationship with Wal-Mart in our communications to bloggers. It’s clear who we represent.

So get the disclosure out of the way
As I noted in my first post on Edelman and Wal-Mart, Jaffe Juice has said that “this is the SECOND time they’ve been outed for lack of transparency with the SAME client.”

How transparent is Edelman? How much disclosure is there? How clear is it who you represent? Your silence is deafening. The answers to those questions is unclear.

My suggestion: make it clear. Now.

Consequences: blowback
This will hit TechMeme, and the consequences could be severe.

For example, how effective do you think any further social media campaigns sponsored by Edelman will be if bloggers don’t trust you? And how successful will Edelman be if it cannot deliver social media PR results to its clients?

The answer to both questions is, obviously: not very.

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