NEW YORK: Edelman CEO Richard Edelman, facing an audience at the 2006 Syndicate Conference in New York City that has traditionally been hostile to PR professionals, launched into a discussion of how blogs and other new media are changing the business.
Microsoft employee and blogger Robert Scoble, who was scheduled to interview Edelman for the keynote, has experienced a family emergency, which he wrote about on his blog. Despite broadcasting his tragedy, he noted in a follow-up post that he was still receiving PR pitches since he wrote about his family's situation.
Scoble could not attend, but, sent a question asking why PR people, who presumably value his opinion enough to have read his blog, were still sending him product pitches while he was facing tragedy.
“On behalf the PR field, I apologize to Robert for the misbehavior and tell you that there is a better way,” Edelman said.
The talk then discussed how PR is changing from its traditional ways of operating and how he is effecting change within his organization. The conference, sponsored by IDG and Yahoo, among others, was created to discussing content syndication trends like RSS and, of course, blogs.
“A lot of PR people regard blogs as another form of the mainstream media to be pitched,” Edelman said. “Our methodology has traditionally been to throw out 1,000 flowers and one might bloom. That’s not the way to interact with the blogosphere.”
Edelman said that his agency was eliminating the message triangle, whereby interviewees stick to the same three points, and would be releasing a “physical manifestation” of the reinvention of the press release in June.
“It’s better to say, ‘We’re going to give you a set of info with tags and you organize it as you wish,’” Edelman said. “We’d rather have it in pieces as if it’s a b-roll and let bloggers make the news judgment.”
Edelman used the conference to announce an exclusive partnership with blog search firm Technorati. The service would provide Edelman and its clients with real-time access to information about blogs written in five languages - Korean, Chinese, German, Italian, and French - before that service is made available to the public, Edelman SVP Steve Rubel told PRWeek. Technorati currently only searches blogs in Japanese and English.
Edelman said PR agencies are also working with clients to better understand the marketplace.
“Our great triumphs are persuading clients to show beta versions of products to bloggers months in advance of actual product launch,” Edelman said. “By the time we started talking to the MSM [mainstream media], we had some momentum.”
Edelman was also asked where he sees the industry in five years, to which he replied he hoped the press release had changed and that PR professionals had more of a role in the corporate suite and earlier on in the product development cycle.
“We have to tell the corporations things they don’t want to hear,” Edelman said. “Five years from now, I hope that PR professionals will have [the] balls to say” what they feel and what the clients don’t want to hear.
After the discussion, Edelman told PRWeek that the blogging community had been warming to attendances by PR professionals.
“Two years ago, bloggers were negative about PR,” Edelman told PRWeek. “They’re becoming more accepting of the constructive role that PR can play.”
He also said Edelman was launching an internal survey at its management meeting to determine what the agency’s current “state of play” is in the blogosphere.