Tag Archives: Edelman

Real PRogress

“Public relations has always played its part in the marketing mix, even if it was added to plans late and rarely recognized like other disciplines. But the emergence of skippable, blockable, opt-out-able advertising, not to mention ever-more integrated campaigns, means PR can suddenly demand more than a supporting role—and maybe even take center stage.”


Lindsey Stein

Tired of defending public relations? The above quote in a January Advertising Age article by Lindsay Stein is more proof that other professionals are finally recognizing PR’s place in the world of communication. That’s real progress. For too long and too often our profession has been disparaged by marketers, journalists and the public who see PR as spin–the purposeful altering of truth to achieve a desired outcome.

Stein’s article quoted Harris Diamond, CEO of McCann Worldwide, one of the world’s largest PR firms. “Clients increasingly understand that marketing is multichannel, and that the digital and experiential spaces lend themselves to magnification by PR,” he said. “More and more CMOs (chief marketing officers) are recognizing the power and importance of PR, and I’m seeing more practitioners in the field being involved in integrated campaigns, and that’s dramatically accelerated PR’s pace.”

Another example was noted by Stein: “‘At Chobani, where PR has always been a weapon to battle bigger-spending rivals, the discipline is becoming increasingly vital,’ according to Peter McGuinness, CMO for the Greek yogurt brand. The growing importance of PR is…a ‘macro-category trend’ because of highly curious consumers and the increasing need to reach them with brand information. Edelman, the largest independent PR agency, is ‘getting not just a seat at the table, we’re getting half the table,’ said Jackie Cooper, global chair-creative strategy at the firm.”

It’s not only because advertising will be “skippable and blockable” that makes PR more vital. A 2014 study from Nielsen found that PR is almost 90% more effective than advertising. “With advertising, you tell people how great you are,” wrote Robert Wynne in Forbes. “With publicity, others sing your praises. Which do you think is more effective?”

Public relations students and professionals know the answer to that question. Your thoughts?

PalPable leaRning

ashley chauvin

PRSSA Regional Conference Keynote Speaker Ashley Trager Chauvin

Sometimes the sighs and the eye rolling are palpable. It happens on the first day of class as I review the syllabus and reveal that my students will be required to attend a full-day conference–and on a Saturday! Heavens!

However, when we return to class after the conference, there’s usually praise for the experience and a “thank you” from students grateful that they were “forced” to go.

Our profession’s leading trade organization, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), was founded in 1947 to “provide professional development, set standards of excellence and uphold principles of ethics for its members.” In addition to representing 22,000 members, PRSA has 10,000 student members through the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Each year, PRSSA selects just nine chapters to host regional conferences, and this year the Hofstra University chapter of PRSSA was chosen.

The conference, titled “Start Spreading the News,” will focus on the professional advantages Hofstra students have because of the campus’ proximity to New York City, the media and PR capital of the world. On March 18-19, students from Hofstra and other schools in the region will join three dozen PR specialists, communicators, journalists, and educators who will serve as moderators and panelists in eight different workshops. Workshops will be comprised of New York-based professionals in industries including entertainment, travel, nonprofit, technology, international relations, fashion, corporate, and journalism. They’ll also have the chance to meet and network with these practitioners throughout the event.

The conference begins this Friday with a tour of the Museum of Public Relations at Baruch College in Manhattan and a networking reception with working professionals–most whom are Hofstra alumni–at the Heartland Brewery in the Empire State Building . The workshops all take place on campus on Saturday and includes a keynote address from Ashley Trager Chauvin of Edelman, one of the world’s largest PR firms, plus resume reviews, professional head shots, lunch, and more networking.

Students can register online or visit the Hofstra PRSSA table in the Student Center atrium. And on March 20, I believe the excitement, growth and learning from the experience will be palpable. Your thoughts?

Cocktail PaRty

Cocktail-Party-ReceptionLast week, “Public Relations Nation” featured helpful advice from Edelman’s Steve Rubel at the Fair Media Council’s annual Summer Social Media Boot Camp in Bethpage, N.Y. on July 10. Rubel’s main message was that everything we pitch to media and create online should have multiple uses and impressions. He suggested communicators must look for synergy and synchronicity by finding ways to attach social media to everything we do and put order to the content so it’s truly effective.

The event featured best social media practices, tips and advice for businesses and nonprofit organizations. Other PR and social media pros joined Rubel with words of wisdom and advice about online content, many worth repeating. Here’s a sampling:

“Social media is essentially a cocktail party. The person you want to be with is engaging and interacting. Your social media content should be the attractive person at the party.”

“You only have about two seconds to get someone’s attention. So it’s about how you find ways to reach the media consumer when most are just skimming online.”

“Text is less and less effective. Images and visuals get attention and stand out.”

“Using employee or customer experiences as a way to tell your brand’s story is personal and relatable. Give your internal and external publics the tools to represent the organization on social media.”

“When you’re writing anything for the Internet, keep cutting until there’s nothing left but meat.”

One of my favorite observations that day was about the kind of content subjects people share most. The top four are:

1) animals
2) religious
3) children
4) other people

Given this list, maybe the best way to draw a crowd to your social media is by posting a photo or video of cute children playing with puppies while with their praying parents. And be sure that it’s all compelling enough to grab their attention immediately–you only have two seconds.

Clearly, how we use the Internet and social media is constantly evolving. It’s up to PR practitioners to reach our audiences by effectively and creatively using the amazing tools we have, and the advice we get. Your thoughts?


On PeRsonalization of content

Steve Rubel

Steve Rubel

Steve Rubel is an interesting guy with an interesting job. As chief content strategist for Edelman, the world’s largest privately owned public relations company, Rubel spends his days (and nights) studying how, why and when people use the Internet. His role is to watch and anticipate trends in social media and online applications, and see how humans interact with all their available technology.

Rubel, a Hofstra graduate, spoke at Fair Media Council’s annual Summer Social Media Boot Camp on July 10 which featured best practices, tips and advice for businesses and nonprofit organizations. Some of the statistics he quoted were mind-blowing. For example, 60 percent of all media consumption is now taking place on smart phones. One billion–billion!–photos are uploaded every day. People rarely go directly to web sites; they mostly use intermediaries, platforms, links, apps, and aggregate sites to get there.

Rubel’s presentation gave the audience a lot to consider. “Algorithms are the new intermediaries,” he told the group. As most of us know, algorithms are essential to the way computers process data. Each time we use our computers and smart phones, we’re shaping algorithms for the next time we use them. The result is increased personalization of the content that winds up on our screens. Rubel believes we’ll see more and more personalized information, and it’s up to professional communicators to create content to achieve this. He also suggested:

  • Communicators need to pay more attention to what happens to content after it’s posted.
  • We must look for synergy and synchronicity by finding ways to attach social media to everything we do and put order to the content so it’s truly effective. “Social media is like air now,” Rubel said. “It’s everywhere in our lives.”
  • Everything we pitch to media and create online should have multiple uses and impressions. Earned and social media must generate other opportunities.

Rubel concluded by asking us to think of the web and social media like individual stars in a dark sky. If sites, platforms and applications are stars, we need to turn them into constellations by connecting them. Your thoughts?





CarPe diem Rebuked

Robin Williams

Robin Williams

“As we mourn the loss of Robin Williams to depression, we must recognize it as an opportunity to engage in a national conversation. His death yesterday created a carpe diem moment for mental health professionals and those people who have suffered with depression and want to make a point about the condition and the system that treats it,” Lisa Kovitz, an executive vice president at Edelman, wrote to her clients this week.  Kovitz added that most mental health organizations haven’t commented because they’re “trying to be non-exploitative or stay business as usual” but implies that they shouldn’t pass on the opportunity– and that Edelman will encourage its own relevant clients to “consider another approach that is more visible and aggressive.”

It’s a standard PR technique: advise clients to seek exposure in light of current events. Yet this blog created a firestorm within the industry and was roundly criticized by others.  The problem: its timing and wording seemed cold at a time when a lot of people are mourning and in shock.  Talking Points Memo’s Hunter Walker tweeted that Kovitz “actually wrote a how to guide for clients who want to use Robin Williams’ suicide for publicity.” Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan wrote, “Suicide: only a bad thing if you don’t have a communications strategy prepared,” calling Edelman “soulless.”

Lisa Kovitz

Lisa Kovitz

“I must believe that at the largest independent PR agency in the world, someone must have raised their hand and said, ‘This is not OK.’ If more than one set of eyes looked at the post and thought it was appropriate, then my faith in this profession might just be lost,” wrote PRSA Vice President Stephanie Cegielski.” This screams of ambulance chasing.  Ms. Kovitz’s blog post did nothing more than disgrace and embarrass (the PR) profession…'”

Two days later, Kovitz added: “We apologize to anyone offended by this post. It was not our intent to capitalize on the passing of a great actor who contributed so much.”  But why wasn’t the offensive post removed, which would’ve been more meaningful–and appropriate?  Your thoughts?

CorPoRate communications

One of the highlights of my participation in the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC)’s annual conference in Montreal this week was seeing Michael Krempasky of Edelman Public Relations.  Krempasky presented “Digital Public Affairs: From the campaign trail and corporate communications” to 100 PR and communications educators.

Edelman's Michael Krempasky

Edelman’s Michael Krempasky

Krempasky, general manager of Edelman’s Digital Public Affairs team and adjunct professor at Georgetown, talked about the changes in corporate communications over the last couple of decades.  He noted what was known as “brand advocacy,” when companies focused on creating awareness to sell products and services, has evolved into “public advocacy,” where firms look to build trust, relationships, collaboration, and action.  He said that corporate communications is less about the competition and more about meeting stakeholders’ expectations.  Traditional advertising and marketing approaches have morphed into business relations, government relations, philanthropy, and public relations.

An active Republican, Krempasky pointed to how the Obama campaigns wisely viewed social media and traditional media as one in the same, never treating them as separate plans but instead completely integrating the two.  He discussed the importance of hiring people with diverse skills, and letting them problem-solve without edicts from detached higher-ups.  He said, “math wins,” suggesting that PR practitioners always pay close attention to measurable approaches and results.  He also suggested we “build things,” meaning we shouldn’t accept only what’s available to us, but rather create new infrastructures and platforms to help reach our goals.

Krempasky concluded by talking about the three basic components that make a successful campaign: time, talent and treasure.  He asked us which of the three were most important; most said, “talent.” Some thought “treasure” or big budgets were the key to successful campaigns.  But Krempasky said that it’s “time”which matters more, especially when there’s a final date attached to a campaign (i.e., Election Day).  He suggested that above all other things, we use our time wisely and strategically when conducting our public relations campaigns.  He’s right–it’s not just about meeting deadlines; it’s about using every PR tool you have efficiently and effectively.  Your thoughts?

ImPoRtant work

For most of my three decades as a communications professional I put together content and programs for target audiences on behalf of my employers.  Whether it was my brief time as a reporter or my lengthier tenure as a public relations practitioner, I worked on instinct, direction from my bosses, and trial-and-error.  I also got professional advice and learned about the profession from my colleagues who pretty much used the same approach to do their jobs.

aejmcIt wasn’t until I starting working in higher education, first on the administration side and then as faculty, did I realize there’s a world of academic research examining our profession.  In the area of communication and public relations, university professors, graduate assistants and research teams look at the effectiveness of the tools and techniques professionals use.  They analyze PR campaigns and results, audiences and influencers, pedagogy and practice.  When I joined Hofstra in 2010 I quickly learned that I would also be involved on the research end of our practice, the goal being the advancement of our profession through journal publications and conference presentations.

This week I’ll attend the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) conference in Montreal, a several day event which will bring well over a thousand educators and professionals together to share their academic research. Papers will be presented on topics both highly specific (“Chinese Milk Companies and the 2008 Chinese Milk Scandal: An Analysis of Crisis Communication Strategies in a non-Western Setting”) and day-to-day practical (“An Analysis of How Social Media Use is Being Measured in Public Relations Practice”).  Professors and graduate students will discuss their findings and we’ll all get a little smarter.

I’ll also be joining a group of more than 100 of my colleagues to visit the Montreal headquarters of Edelman Public Relations where top PR practitioners and managers will share their perspectives on our fast-evolving profession.  We’ll hear about their staffing needs and they’ll give us their thoughts on teaching PR.  Their positions and the important work of our academic colleagues are essential if we, as educators, are to be effective in the classroom.

Your thoughts?

Moving PictuRes

Edeleman's Arun Mahtani

Edelman’s Arun Mahtani

In an Edelman PR blog a year ago, Arun Mahtani wrote about how video has emerged as a profoundly important tool for public relations professionals. “In public relations, we’ve always put storytelling front and center. It’s been key to winning media coverage for our clients.”

“In the world of YouTube,” he continued, “it’s real stories about real people that reign supreme. The site is flooded with users documenting their lives and thoughts. Brands and companies have leveraged this trend… In this new reality, our talents as public relations professionals are in demand.  We just need to understand how video has changed.  And be bolder about our abilities.”

It used to be that video was something someone else produced for the purpose of promotion, usually to advertise a product.  PR practitioners would only flirt with video production, occasionally working on public service announcements for nonprofits, or sometimes producing a video news release.  Today, according to a number of sources, using video in blogs, on websites, and on YouTube channels boosts search engine optimization (SEO) so much so that a client is 50 times more likely to appear on page one of a Google search.

What does this mean for public relations professionals?  It means we all better get more comfortable and knowledgeable about video production, and learn basic scripting, lighting, shooting, and editing.

The good news is it has become relatively easy to produce good video; in fact. some of my students’ PSA projects are shot with an Iphone and edited in Imovie, and come out looking nearly professional. Video, desktop publishing, photography and other tools have become such a part of PR that we’re thinking about developing an advance course in public relations tools, building on the fundamental tools class we require of Hofstra’s PR majors.

“Authenticity is another factor that plays to our skill-set,” wrote Mahtani. “Like journalists, we are experts in showing people the way the world is, rather than constructing an alternate reality.”  Which means we all better get good at using video to tell our stories.  Your thoughts?


The PRecision of Pope

NOTE FROM JEFF MOROSOFF:  Each semester, my public relations students in Hofstra University’s Honors College are required to contribute posts to my blog.  The following guest post was written by sophomore Nyala Stagger:

Nyala Stagger

Nyala Stagger

In January, Arik Hanson, principal at digital communications consultancy ACH Communications, wrote an article about the hit television show, Scandal, and its representation of the PR industry. In this article he questioned other public relations professionals from top firms of the country and got their opinion of the show and its relation to PR.

When I initially saw the title, “Does Scandal’s Olivia Pope represent the PR industry well?” I automatically answered, “Of course!” being a proud gladiator (as fans and followers of Pope are called). She represents some of what I hope to be as a PR professional: passionate, savvy, quick-witted, strategic, and most importantly effective.

As I continued to read, however, I had to admit to myself that, like any other television show, Scandal is a fictionalization of the real world, and thus, some of Olivia Pope’s work as a crisis management consultant and campaign aide are very far from the truth. Obviously the task of covering up a murder committed by a top politician wouldn’t be a part of my day-to-day life in the PR industry.

Despite the campaign rigging, crime scene clean ups, and an affair with the president of the United States, nevertheless, Olivia Pope still exhibits some PR skills that are great examples for a public relations student, like me, including improving her clients’ public image, producing relationships with her clients and the public via the media, understanding the basic needs of people, and being tactful and strategic with decisions about her clients to satisfy those needs. As Anuli Akanegbu of Edelman said in Arik Hanson’s article, Olivia Pope “is a problem-solver that thinks quickly, strategically and creatively as any good PR practitioner should.”

How well do you think Scandal blurs the lines of fiction and reality? Do you think it gives people the wrong impression of an already hard-to-define profession or should she still be applauded for the great public relations skills she exhibits?

Steve Rubel: PR’s Potential poweR

Edelman's Steve Rubel

Edelman’s Steve Rubel

In my world, it seems that Steve Rubel is speaking everywhere.  And what he’s saying concerns me.

A Hofstra University graduate, Steve is chief content strategist at Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm.  His role (as I understand it) is to study and report on trends in social media, and how they affect the business of providing content.  In recent presentations at Hofstra and the Fair Media Council, and in this month’s edition of Public Relations Tactics, Steve talked about trends that may forever change the way we receive news.

Quoted by Kyra Aufferman in the article, “Edelman’s Steve Rubel on content disruption,” Steve says communicators have to come up with new strategies to break through the masses of available media.  “There’s a difference between the news you read and news you say you’re reading,” he believes. “One is to elevate your private self and the other is to elevate your public self.  We (communicators) have to be thinking about that in the way we tell stories.”

Steve sees the lines blurring between journalistic content and content provided by PR and advertising people. “Brands and corporations now feel confident that they can tell their own stories in their own way,” bypassing traditional media outlets and using converging media to communicate directly with their publics in a two-way, feedback-friendly environment.  This also means that paid content is showing up as news in social media platforms.  Kyra Aufferman writes, “Today, more media companies are willing to collaborate with brands to place sponsored content–even the AP started posting paid tweets on their Twitter feed.”

We should be concerned.  Does this mean that paid content and “free” content on social media, generated by professional communicators, could be disguised as reported news and perhaps take its place?  It could happen–and Steve Rubel says it’s already happening.  This puts a lot of potential power in the PR practitioners’ hands.  Of course, to quote Spider-Man: “With great power comes great responsibility.” As always, PR people must strive to create honest, responsible content for our new media platforms.  Your thoughts?

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