I truly believe that Edelman and their entire roster of PR professionals/Bloggers are deeply sorry for what has become a fake Blog issue. Edelman admitted that they were behind the creation of a fake Blog (Flog - not sure I'm loving that nomenclature) for Wal-Mart.
I'm not going to bore you with the details of the incident. You can read it over here: Matthew Ingram Did Edelman Drop The Ball On Wal-Mart?
I posted a while back about the notion of Firestarter - the idea that we, as Bloggers, tend to go off, rant and rave without doing our own research to determine some level of "truth." Because I have not had a chance to speak to anyone at Edelman or Wal-Mart, I think it's unfair for me to add in what Edelman and/or Wal-Mart should do (beyond the current row of apologies).
The second part of Firestarter happens in search engines. Now, and probably forever more, the scars of this battle (true or false) will rank highly in search engines. So whether or not Edelman was involved with Wal-Mart on the creation of this Flog, or if Apple was indeed going after people trying to use the term "Podcasting," the damage is done. Consumers will have to dig deep into search engines, do their own research and, hopefully, arrive at some kind of truth, if they can find it amidst the Firestarter postings.
Part three of the Firestarter is the Blog Echo Chamber - and this Blog adds to it. It's the periphery comments, insights and ramblings surrounding the issue, which will also garner high search engine rankings.
This is like clutter for the Internet... or is it? This could be the exact reason we have channels like Blogs and Podcasts - lots of voices and you, the reader, deciding the type of content you want, in what style of voice and, you can even contribute.
Blogs and Podcasts are all about opinions. Like 'em or not. Yes, all Blog people need to make sure that we're not saying anything that can get us into legal defamation issues. At the same time, we need to feel free to engage our community, start conversations and take hold of the conversation.
So what's the downside in being a Firestarter? While it's easy to tsk tsk the notion of Firestarter, I am not sure all of us truly understand that this content will live in these search results (or some form of online storage system) forever. Imagine being a student of PR and Blogging about these issues. Then, it comes time for work, and you find yourself having issues getting the right gig because every HR person is checking you out on Google and seeing all of the criticism (re: comments) on your Blog. I am not saying to censor yourself, I am saying to be aware of how content lives and breathes.
As of today, your content lives and breathes forever online. I am far from anti-Firestarter... I have my moments. The big difference is that I am comfortable - before hitting the publish button - in knowing the digital legacy it leaves behind and the long tail of content that accompanies it.