Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Wal-Mart Jumps Down Into the Mud: Steven Silvers draws attention to a Wal-Mart site (actually operated by the front group Working Families for Wal-Mart) called paidcritics.com that he says “comes right out of the Swift Boat playbook.”

He doesn’t mean that entirely as an insult. In fact, he thinks Wal-Mart has scored some points by turning the transparency tables on its critics, and to an extent I agree. The reality is that organized labor uses front groups the same way companies do (Wake Up Wal-Mart is the mirror image of Working Families for Wal-Mart) and that they should be subject to the same skepticism and the same ethical standards.

The problem I have with paidcritics.com is not its content but its tone. It is, as Silver says, “a name-calling, nastily aggressive little website.” I can’t help thinking the same points could have been scored—and more effectively—without the snide ad hominem attacks. Wal-Mart might also have taken the moral high ground by highlighting these facts itself, rather than through a proxy organization.

4 Comments:

  • At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Ephraim Cohen said…

    I've worked with a number of these so called "front groups" and found them to be weak strategies. In the end, if they had a good, fact-based arguement with strong messaging leading the facts, then there was no need to hide behind a wall.

    Wal-Mart has some strong facts to support its case (better than average pay etc) and would probably come out as the more trustworthy if it simply attacked other front groups instead of forming its own.

    I would think there are quite a few Wal-Mart employees and families that would publicly support Wal-Mart as Wal-Mart and not as paidcritics.com.

     
  • At 6:35 PM, Anonymous David Henderson said…

    A blog like PaidCritics.com is simply not honest. Even the site's URL is hidden by a proxy server, in the same style as money laundering.

    There's nothing wrong with using blogs to support an agenda or a cause but credibility and transparency are lost when it comes from a faceless, shadowy source. There's something dirty about it.

     
  • At 1:49 AM, Anonymous Chris Newlan said…

    I agree. This is the digital version of "astro-turfing" - the insidious, anti-democratic and dinhonest practice of using front groups to advocate your cause. A few PR pros in Australia have kicked off a campaign against astro-turfing and set up a page of the New PR Wiki.

     
  • At 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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