Greetings from LA. Sitting by the pool after enjoying a day of 90 degrees plus heat. Great when I know we are having heavy rains and wind with flooding back home in Western Washington.
Continuing to follow the Edelman/Wal-mart/WOMMA issues. WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) apparently is considering kicking Edelman out of the organization for rules violations relating to the Wal-Mart blog they sponsored. Personally, I think the point has been made and too many people are enjoying watching a leader in online PR squirm. As I mentioned before, my guess is that this was a case of some eager beaver in the agency not thinking and not a matter of intentional or even careless violation by agency leadership. But that is simply my uninformed opinion. If I am right, the real lesson to agency leaders who may be involved in blogging, corporate blogging, blogwars, etc., is that they better be darn careful about what everyone one of their folks are doing. Everything is known or can be known, and right down the interns, if it is done on their computers or under their name in any way, an agency could face what Edelman is facing. That being said, enough with the flogging (and I mean that both ways).
At the same time, WOMMA seems to be in a great position to get some key messages across to marketers around the nation about what is right and what is wrong on the internet. They have published draft rules for marketers and I encourage all crisisblogger readers to review them and comment while they are still draft.
I haven’t reviewed in detail but from what I have seen, I think they are all sensible. Here is my great worry. Those who use the internet for expressions of personal anger and to wage campaigns of destruction against people, organizations and brands will not normally play by the rules of ethics. How do you go to war against those who play by a completely different set of rules? The activists I have run into in the “blogwars” I have been involved with are of the “true believer” mentality. Fundamentalists, some like to call these kind of people. They are so convinced of the truth, justice and moral rectitude of their cause, that any violation of ethical standards is justified in their minds. Of course, this kind of moral certainty also leads to violence, but I am only talking here about the virulent and not violent attacks on companies, organizations and political figures. Until we as a blogosphere decide that we will not tolerate this kind of behavior, we put those who wish to play by the rules at a serious disadvantage. Please don’t misunderstand me. It is a disadvantage worth accepting because moral right and wrong matters and ethics matters. But let’s not be naive about those who refuse to play by the rules. And let’s not pretend that such refusal does not constitute a huge advantage in the battle for public and customer opinion.