Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Vail Would Be Proud

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Vail Would Be Proud

In Michael Barbano's article "Wal-mart Enlists Bloggers in P.R. Campaign," he investigates how Wal-Mart is feeding information to interested bloggers to present their point of view. In the piece, Barbano explains how Marshall Manson, a senior account supervisor at Wal-Mart's public relations firm Edelman, would seek out bloggers who were against or for Wal-Mart through their online blogs. Through this he would address their articles, either positively or negatively, and offer future correspondence. If they wanted, he would supply them with pro Wal-Mart information for them to use.

While some may see this as a sneaky, underhanded way to create sympathy for the company, I see this merely as a smart company trying to use the latest forms of communication to defend itself. There is a certain authenticity the blogs appear to have, regardless of the factual nature of their content. An air of truth is associated with them because they are able to be started by anyone. This democratic ideal, while answerable to no authority, is often seen as truthful, and any bias associated would at least be a honest bias.

In fact Wal-Mart is doing what any smart company would do now. Using examples such as General Electric and Microsoft, reaching out to bloggers has been shown to be a smart way to disseminate the information about your company and its products. It would also be unfair to consider such tactics as unethical since these companies are merely using the same forum that their criticizers are. The right to blog can only truly be seen as universal if it applies to all and not just those who have no other venue.

In disseminating information to bloggers to help promote the image of their storage, I believe Wal-Mart would make AT&T's Theodore Vail proud.


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