How does Edelman PR simply not learn from past ethical lapses? As the PR firm for the Vista launch, Edelman sent selected tech bloggers a free Acer Ferrari laptop complete with Windows Vista installed. It was apparently “up to the blogger” whether they wanted to keep the $2,300 laptop or test and return it. Microsoft blogger Long Zheng reportedly broke the news, quite happily, last week. Edelman took heat, deservedly, and then asked the bloggers to return the laptops. You may remember that Edelman is the PR firm that engineered the Wal Mart flog disaster. Richard Edelman blogged about it, and even listed changes being made at the company as a result. Backpeddling is, apparently, ethical. Writes one of the bloggers who received – and then was asked to send back – the computers: The original email read “you are welcome to send the machine back to us after you are done playing with it, or you can give it away to your community, or you can hold onto it for as long as youâ€™d like.” Then, after the firestorm began, that blogger received this “clarification”: Just to make sure there is no misunderstanding of our intentions Iâ€™m going to ask that you either give the pc away or send it back when you no longer need it for product reviews. Mr. Edelman has yet to blog about this latest miscue. (I have posted a request at his last entry, but the comments are moderated and, as of this writing, it’s not up yet.) But fellow PR firm Pierce Mattie thinks the idea is swell, and is even lecturing bloggers who disagree: “Bloggers: Be professional and human, donâ€™t crucify a company for deeming you worthy of free products to review and own! … Honestly, if youâ€™re a Blogger and you get to keep a product like that, the human thing to do is say thank you.” Yes, you little ingrate bloggers, take our bribes and love them! Gee. Thank you for the advice. UPDATE, SAT AM: The question that I posted at the Edelman blog has still not been “approved” for public eyes. Mr. Edelman is out with a new posting – which does not address the laptop giveaway. So I posted my question again on his new entry. Credit, however, to Pierce Mattie who posted my comment, pointed out an error I made and respectfully disagreed with my points.
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