Edelman's Membership in Word-of-Mouth Group Under Review

PR Firm Violated WOMMA's Ethics Code It Helped Write

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- The Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association has put Edelman's membership in the organization under a 90-day review.
WOMMA has asked Edleman to undertake six steps to preserve its membership during a 90-day review period.
WOMMA has asked Edleman to undertake six steps to preserve its membership during a 90-day review period.

The move comes after weeks of controversy, including a very public apology by principal and CEO Richard Edelman, surrounding the independent public relations firm's role behind the Wal-Marting Across America blog, unmasked as a fake paid for by the firm.

Helped write ethics code
The firm's failure to disclose its role in the blog violated WOMMA's ethics code on transparency, which Edelman helped write.

WOMMA has demanded the firm undertake six steps, including a briefing to the organization's executive committee to explain the incident and to "formally participate in upcoming WOMMA ethics programs."

The organization is also asking for "detailed documentation" of compliance of each of the six steps. "If we are not satisfied, WOMMA reserves the right to implement additional penalties, including but not limited to: demanding additional corrective action, removal of Governing Member status, removal from the Board of Directors, or expulsion," the organization said in a statement.

Internal newsletter
A spokesperson for the firm said Mr. Edelman was traveling in Asia and could not comment on the decision and instead sent a portion of the firm's internal newsletter, sent earlier today to the 2,400 worldwide employees, in which Mr. Edelman wrote: "I acknowledge WOMMA's decision and appreciate the opportunity to show that Edelman has learned from this experience. Edelman has already undertaken a number of items outlined by WOMMA including firm-wide ethics training. ... We are proceeding with a review of our social media work throughout our global network and are undertaking a global audit to ensure we follow best practice guidelines in all practice areas and regions. Where guidelines don't exist we are committed to helping to create them."
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