Author Responds to Edelman Criticism

Deadly Spin author Wendell Potter fired back at Richard Edelman following the CEO’s blog post criticizing the book.

In last week’s guest post from Richard Edelman (which also appeared on the 6A.M. blog) he took issue with Potter for a variety of reasons including “inaccurate representations of the PR industry” that “feed misconceptions of what we do.”

Over the weekend, Potter wrote a response that appears on the Huffington Post as well as the Center for Media and Democracy’s (CMD) PR blog. In it, he turns to the 2006 controversy over Edelman’s “recruited” bloggers who wrote favorably about Wal-Mart and cites research by the CMD about a 1978 Edelman proposal to R.J. Reynolds focused on the health impact of smoking.

“The proposal shows how Edelman helped the tobacco industry minimize the health dangers associated with smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, and reinforce the social acceptability of smoking, even as public health efforts to discourage smoking were ongoing,” Potter writes.

The author calls on industry leaders to strengthen the PRSA’s Code of Ethics.

We spoke with Edelman SVP Derek Creevey, who emphasized the evolution of the firm’s code of ethics, noting that all employees are required to sign it. In addition, the code appears on the company website.

He also cited the 6 A.M. blog, which includes Richard Edelman’s archived thoughts about the Wal-Mart controversy, including a transcript of his appearance on CNN.

“As new social media platforms become more common it has been refined,” said Creevey.

We’ve seen comments taking both points of view. What are your thoughts?