Richard— We appreciate your own personal commitment to talking about ethics in PR. I would even go so far as to say that you believe what you say, and say it in good faith, most of the time. But we're not gonna be taking down the post about your (alleged!) media training lying incident. And here's why:
We really have no reason to, first of all. We got a tip from an actual marketing executive, and we put it up. I would make an educated guess that it's true, but people can judge for themselves, as they have access to all the information about where it came from and what it said. That's Gawker for you. Always servicey. (Even though we know you and your people have had plenty of issues with sites like Valleywag and Consumerist, as well).
Furthermore, you and your agency aren't really the paragons of honesty and decency in communications that you present yourselves to be. You guys have run a political-style, multimillion-dollar campaign for years on behalf of Wal-Mart, one of the most objectionable companies in the world. In my opinion! Edelman also had the whole fake, undisclosed pro- Wal-Mart blog scandal, when it turned out that you arranged and paid for a guy to go around writing positive things about the company in a folksy, supposedly independent blog. Yea, you apologized for that one. But then there was that big article in the New Yorker about your work with Wal-Mart, where you lied and said that the 100% company-controlled Astroturf group "Working Families for Wal-Mart" was "A real group of people, as far as I know." I made the case that that was a blatant lie when I was at PRWeek, and I still believe it.
I know that you disagree with that, because I had to have two separate sit-down meetings with you and your subordinate over that little blog post. Thank you again for breakfast at the Harvard Club. You do seem like a nice guy. The problem is that you take anything negative said about your agency, which consists of thousands of employees, as a personal insult to you. And honestly, we hear a fair amount of shitty things about your agency. How in the world could you possibly know that the story about telling executives to lie during media training is false? It's perfectly plausible that some dumb, shady people work for you. It's very likely, in fact. But it sounds bad for Edelman, and you take it personally.
Like I said, you're a nice guy. So are many other people at Edelman (nice women as well, whatever the case may be). But much of your work— Wal-Mart being the best example— is just objectionable on philosophical grounds, like a lot of things in the PR industry. If every multinational PR firm crumbled to pieces tomorrow, the world would be a slightly better place. Just my opinion! If you wanna help the ethical state of the industry, that's great. But when PR people who happen to work for your agency do bad things and the word gets out, people are gonna write about it. Lighten up!
If you resign that Wal-Mart account, though, we will buy you breakfast. You pick the place.