Quiz 4 PR by JLGoldman5


									Fake Blogging (and More!)

2 The PR firm, Edelman, has admitted that they are behind two blogs that initially appeared to be run by nonaffiliated supporters of Wal-Mart. Three Edelman employees are the actual writers of these two blogs, “Working Familes for Wal-Mart” and “Paid Critics.” Online critics called for the blogs to be more transparent with who was running the blogs. "In response to comments and emails, we've added author bylines to blog posts here at forwalmart.com," announced the site. The authors of the blogs were all revealed to be Edelman employees. Another blog called “Wal-Marting Across America,” which is set up to be a log of a man and woman traveling across the country from Wal-Mart to Wal-Mart, was actually an offshoot of “Working Familes for Wal-Mart.” Other companies like Sun Microsystems and General Motors have also started their own blogs. Corporate blogging can be both negative and positive. Sun Microsystems’ CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, has his own blog. He provides straight talk and insight on the life of a CEO, giving a large corporation a more human feel. On the other hand, WalMart is using blogs under a veil of deception. Their public relations agency, Edelman, has created blogs that appear to be written by independent bloggers, but are really written by employees within the Edelman

3 company. When Wal-Mart got caught, Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, took full responsibility for the error and assured the public that Wal-Mark was not to blame. “The best corporate blogs are open, honest, and authentic.” Some schemes can compromise computer users' security; they live in the Internet's gray areas where savvy marketers can easily hide their identity and seek out naive or reckless users who willingly give up their e-mail addresses and other identification. A common Internet marketing scheme is the “meat puppet:” a fake person that tries to pass as having a real identity. Ruckus Network Inc. did this very thing by creating a fake Facebook account. They created a fake account and befriended thousands of people on the website. By the time Facebook realized that the account was a fake, Ruckus had already contracted 300,000 email addresses. They used those addresses to send company information, promotions, and newsletters via email. This creates a blurry situation legally and morally. Companies cannot be stopped from creating accounts on social websites and posing as someone they are not. Yet, this kind of ploy is nothing new. For instance, when James Cagney was a struggling actor, he sent fan mail to his studio under fake names, praising his work. More recently, hype for

4 the independent film, The Blair Witch Project, built up due to a large marketing push on the Internet. Social websites and blogs aren’t the only places that hidden corporate marketing takes place. Chat rooms are fertile grounds for companies to pose as regular people who talk about their own products. Companies posing as independent people will talk in chat rooms to praise their own products. What’s even more surprising is that companies will pose as unaffiliated chatters whom will talk badly about competitors’ products. While the internet is fair grounds for sharing opinions, purposeful deception meant to benefit a corporation may cause legal concerns. A blog site, alliwantforxmasisapsp.com, appeared to be authored by an amateur hip-hop artist whose cousin wanted a Sony PSP for Christmas. The blog was written in over-the-top hip-hop and Internet vernacular and aroused suspicions among those who visited the site. It turned out that the site was actually run by Zipatoni, a public relations firm with Sony as their client. Sony admitted to the public that the blog was a fake. They claimed that they were just tying to do humorous, clever marketing. They clarified the situation on the blog by explaining

5 who exactly was behind it. As soon as the blog was revealed as a marketing tool, Sony used the site strictly for information about the PSP and shut down the comments feature. A representative for Zipatoni explained the unorthodox marketing strategy from their perspective. “Please know that we approached the client initially with this scenario and they said 'who cares if people find out? As long as it is funny, we do this stuff all of the time.’” This isn’t the first time Sony used “fake” marketing for the PSP. The company also paid graffiti artists in major United States cities to paint murals of people playing with the gadget. The murals were transparent to many people and caused a backlash against the product and the company. Jim Nail, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer Cymfony said, “The blog world is a very open, self-policing and pretty unforgiving world when you try to trick them with things like this. I don’t understand why marketers, after all the different examples of this, don’t get the message that you can’t get away with faking these kinds of blogs.”

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