Edelman Wins PRWeek Blog Competition

If there’s any validity to this competition, that would be the headline at the end. Alas, that’s not going to happen, so we will announce the real winner now.

Richard Edlman, CEO, Edelman WorldwideAll other PR bloggers are nibbling at the edges, Richard Edelman is square in the center, week after week, post after post. He deserves recognition for the most important, insightful, useful and consistent blog focusing on public relations.

When Richard started 6 AM four years ago “blog” was still a new term. As the namesake of the world’s largest independent PR firm, he was a visible and vociferous proponent of social media and the “new” PR. He staked his ground early with “Pioneer Thinking” and Edelman flourished because of it. Along the way Edelman made some very public mistakes; they were also taking the biggest risks. Through the mistakes, apologies and corrections, we all learned.

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Fake Richard Edelman Protests Suspension

EXCLUSIVE. This just in: The attorney for Fake Richard Edelman has contacted PRBlogNews to vehemently protest his client’s suspension from Strumpette due to alleged plagiarism. Fake Richard Edelman is charged with lifting the words of Joseph Goebbels for a speech in Davos.

“My client is a fake,” said Joseph Santangelo (left), partner at Santangelo & Morello, legal counsel to Fake Richard Edelman. “How do you charge a fake with plagiarism? He should be given a raise and promotion for his brilliant work. Now that he has been vilified and tainted in the public media I am sure that he will find it extremely difficult to get another Fake gig. We are mulling our options.”

Fake Richard Edelman is accused of “a wholesale lifting of source material” from Joseph Goebbels, “Der Rundfunk als achte Großmacht.” by Martin Turnbull, Dean of the Communications College at the Kepler School of Management.

Fr. Brian Connolly of Strumpette said in a statement: “We’ve launched a thorough investigation and intend to review this matter fully. Until such time as we can make a final determination, we are suspending Fake Richard Edelman without pay.”

“You have not heard the last of Fake Richard Edelman,” said Mr. Santangelo.

Meanwhile, the real Richard Edelman has made his annual pilgrimage to Davos to release findings of the Trust Barometer. This year, it seems that for some reason people trust business more than ever. According to the Financial Times the Trust Barometer includes this breakthrough insight:

The Edelman study confirms this view: most of those polled said they would not buy products and services from a company they distrusted and, conversely, would take their custom to one they trusted.

Edelman Speaks Up … Say What???

Richard Edelman finally acknowledges the “significant chatter” about his firms’ ethical challenges in the blogosphere with a 1/12 post that essentially says he has nothing to say. The post is called Setting Expectations and he is very clear that our expectations for him addressing this issue or other front-page news about recent Edelman antics in the blogosphere should be very low.  

Edelman says “we hold ourselves to the highest standards of ethical behavior and openness,” but he is not compelled to discuss what those standards are, and he sees no need to be open about company policies or behavior in the blogosphere. Instead, he says, he’ll let subordinates deal with that and he offers a link to a PR Week print edition story that quotes Edelman’s Me2Revolution President Rick Murray. Unfortunately, the story requires a $178 subscription to view. (PRWeek reporter Keith O’Brien offers a free link to the story.)

Okay, Richard Edelman won’t talk about Microsoft of Wal-Mart, but maybe he will discuss his personal blogging standards and policies. I posted to his blog last week and it still has not appeared. Others have been complaining recently that their posts, when they ask questions about Edelman blogging policies, take several days to appear and then they are ignored. Anyone who manages a blog knows you can approve or disallow a post in seconds.  Richard, do you want to be timely and even handed in your blog – or do you want to manipulate the dialogue? What is your policy? 

This is not a matter of competitors picking on each other and trying to find fault with the big dog in the digital PR space. As David Jones noted in his post on CanuckFlack : “Even though I work at one of their competitors (Fleishman-Hillard), I want these guys to succeed for the good of the industry.”

I was a huge supporter of Richard Edelman when he started blogging a few years ago. That’s why it is  disturbing to see his blog devolve into a backslapping, self-congratulatory, self-promotional vehicle while the big elephant in the middle of the room is off limits. He has an opportunity here to move the needle with some open engagement, a real dialogue – what blogs are all about – but he chooses instead PR 1.0 shuffle and dance with a story quoting subordinates planted in the PR trade pub. Come on!  

Related Links:

Edelman Speaks Up In Shut Up

Edelman In The New World

Edelman Shuts Up in Speak Up

Odd, isn’t it, that Edelman Worldwide blogs are called Speak Up when its prominent CEO blogger is absolutely mute about front-page news concerning his firms’ questionable antics in the blogosphere. In recent months Edelman has been buffeted by big stories about murky blog manipulation on behalf of Wal-Mart (see New York Times Wal-Mart Enlists Bloggers In P.R. Campaign) and trying to buy favoritism from bloggers by giving them expensive laptops on behalf of Microsoft (see Online Media Daily). As a prominent blogger often on a soapbox for transparency in the industry you would think that Richard Edelman would relish addressing these high-profile issues.

Not so. When Steve Safran, Managing Editor of Lost Remote politely asks Richard Edelman twice in his blog 6AM to “kindly share your thoughts on how the laptop giveaway fits or does not fit into your corporate ethics policies,” Edelman ignores him and instead exchanges pleasantries with fawning employees and associates.  Is this good P.R.? 

In the post Questionable judgement by Edelman in fake blog fiasco in Neville Hobson’s blog over 30 people express their degrees of mystification by Edelman’s silence. 

Richard Edelman started his blog in September, 2004. At first it was a curiosity, he was the only major P.R. agency CEO blogging. After the first year or so it became clear that he was not content with idle musings – he wanted to challenge the industry to clean up its act, embrace new technology, and re-define the process of delivery of information through the Internet. Admirable but dangerous.  He was taking a public advocacy position in an industry that is preternaturally secretive and slow to change.

This could be a case study of the perils of setting yourself up as a public figure through a blog – sooner or later you are going to have to face unpleasant business. When you do: be forthright, acknowledge the problem, deal with it. That’s standard public relations practice.

It was not that Edelman turned into a P.R. philosopher/activist for the good of the people. He saw an opening in the industry – to lead the charge in digital P.R. – and he seized it. It was smart business. But once you set yourself up as the lightning rod you’re going to get zapped - proved by the Microsoft & Wal-Mart imbroglios. The question is – when does Richard Edelman get off the soapbox and into the sandbox and enter the real conversation? (full disclosure – I worked for Edelman Worldwide briefly in 1999).

Relevant posts:

Edelman in the New World (PRBlogNews)

Edelman’s Rescue Plan For The PR Industry (PR Watch)

Richard Answers the Five Questions

Public relations is unfortunately absent its own scandal sheet or even a Trade that shouts and titillates the way Variety does for the film industry or even Advertising Age for the sons and daughters spawned by Mad Men.  Maybe we can start here with Richard Edelman’s confessional to PRBlogNews. I mean, he’s talking transvestite strippers and suicidal Civil War battle fantasies. What gives in the new downtown NYC Edelman nerve center? 

Richard Edelman on Wed, 28th Oct 2009 9:17 pm

gravatar of Richard Edelman, left, as appears in Intergalactic Space PR Guide

PRBlogNews (PRBN): What would be a 140 character or less ‘on message’ Twitter from Moses’ spokesperson?

Richard Edelman (RE): Our CEO is en route from mountain with official statement from the most credible source. Family focused material–short and sweet

PRBN: If Iago worked for Edelman in NY, what group would you put him in?

RE:  Iago would be in the entertainment group making deals with Hollywood moguls

PRBN:  I had go-go dancers at my Bar Mitzvah in Brooklyn. Can you top that?

RE:  I had a transvestite at my bachelor party as male stripper. I have never forgiven the party organizer

PRBN: If the name of the firm was not Edelman, what would it be?

RE: Danny Boy–my father’s nickname at ZBT House at Columbia. After all, he started the firm

PRBN: If you could click your heels twice and be anywhere, where would it be?

RE: I’d like to be on the Union line 3rd day at Gettyburg repelling Pickett’s charge

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