Firestarter Part Two

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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.


  1. Forever ? Nah…
    You’ll be surprise when in october 2010 you will find almost nothing of this story. The Web forgot a lot of thing. If this story don’t make a wiki page, it will vanish soon or late.
    I made a hude scoop in the late october 2001 on Google revealing office documents and a lot of them was not supposed to be seen. This story was on more than 200 sites like; AFP, Le Monde, Liberation, Cnet News, Le Devoir, Yahoo News, Radio-Canada, etc, and in a few hundred blogs. Now If i’m lucky… I can find it on half of a dozen site ! Probably sure in 10 years its will vanish completely.

  2. I appreciate the fact that you addressed the situation just this ONCE in a thoughtful and cautionary post, Mitch. It’s a refreshing change from the folks who only recently broke away from the finger-pointing brigade to declare that “now” is the time to stop levelling accusations.
    Good point about the “legal defamation issues.” I suspect it is only a matter of time before (international) law catches up with the blogosphere and starts to prosecute individuals for libellous posts and comments.
    In a discussion with a PR colleague this morning, I indicated that I thought this is one of the significant areas that separates the “public relations/marketing” industry/trade from a profession, as I don’t believe you would see “professional” doctors, lawyers, teachers and accountants engaging in these kinds of public criticisms/accusations against a colleague or firm. To a large part this would be because their profession’s code of ethics would forbid it.

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