Edelman on “PR in a digital world”

Richard Edelman, CEO of the giant public relations firm Edelman, was interviewed recently by Curiosity.com and asked about corporate branding in the digital age. His response is that proactive positioning is not just an option – it’s a necessity.

     “…companies have a responsibility not to be in a sense framed by your opponents. Your job is to tell your own story. And you either do that through your own channel or by reaching out to mainstream media. But to put yourself in a bunker and let others define you is just an absolute disaster strategy. And so particularly in an Internet age where everything is available, you must go out aggressively and also talk to third-party experts, but engage. Engage NGOs;  engage consumers. Be an open-faced kind of company, not closed.”

In that same interview he addressed the role of a public relations company in assisting clients in developing and positioning their brand. Mr. Edelman hit the nail on the head:

     “The problem for PR is that it’s either seen as trivial and “flackery” of the sort of show business type. Or it’s seen as, at the highest end, manipulation and the spin room. And so we have to be between. We’re neither black nor white. In fact, the best kind of PR is that which is quite clearly advocating a position. We’re paid advocates. On the other hand, we then have to commit to acknowledging how we’re doing our work, the names of the spokespeople, their academic backgrounds, that they are being paid. In addition, I think we have to commit to partnering with NGOs, others who have been traditional critics of business. So it’s really the “what we do,” the “how” and then the “where we engage.” It’s all three. That’s the new form of communication.”

The full interview can be found here:


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