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Edelman

Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Joins Edelman on Public Policy

Smile for the camera.

…and the hits just keep coming: Edelman has tapped former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to work in a “senoir adviser” role in the firm’s global public affairs division. This announcement is interesting primarily for Politico’s description of the role Villaraigosa will play:

Villaraigosa will work mostly for the firm’s corporate clients on issued related to public policy — but he will not lobby. Edelman has no lobbying division or registered lobbying clients.

Instead, he’ll help clients navigate a variety of public policy challenges in the United States and abroad from a public affairs and public relations perspective. He is to be based mostly in Los Angeles.

His responsibilities will obviously go far beyond telling executives that they’re now required to provide health insurance to their employees (and those employees’ same-sex spouses, depending on the state in which they live), and we’d be very curious to sit in on some of those meetings.

One thing is certain: the Edelman gig will be far more productive than Villaraigosa’s other new position as senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

PR ‘Matriarch’ Ruth Edelman, 1929-2013

Ruth EdelmanToday brings news that in some way touches everyone in the public relations industry: Ruth Edelman, who helped build husband Daniel’s eponymous firm into the world’s largest, died this weekend at 84 after a brief battle with leukemia.

The Chicago Sun-Times describes Ruth as the firm’s “matriarch”, but of course her role went well beyond “pick[ing] out the lamps and furniture” for Edelman’s first Chicago office.

In fact, she was something of a bellwether for powerful women in the industry, and her networking skills were legendary. Son and current president/CEO Richard Edelman explains:

“She was my dad’s kind of silent partner…In the present generation, she would have been an executive, but in the ’50s she was the corporate wife. She never had a formal title while my dad was alive, but everybody knew she was the power behind the throne.”

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Roll Call Redux: Edelman Digital and Lambert, Edwards & Associates

4762458_300Add Edelman Digital to the list of firms making big changes this week. David Armano, formerly managing director of ED Chicago, will assume the newly created position global strategy director of key accounts and report to Cricket Wardein, head of U.S. digital practice, while southwest digital lead Brian Mays will succeed him as MD reporting to Rick Murray, GM of the larger Edelman Chicago operation.

Armano, who joined the agency in 2009, has become quite the presence as a quotable expert on all things digital, and he’ll provide “senior-level guidance” to CMOs, digital marketers and social media teams on the client side.

Mays, who has nearly two decades of experience and specializes in helping brands lead online conversations, will replace Armano in overseeing 75 employees in Chicago.

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Changes abound at Lambert, Edwards & Associates as well; the firm added three new members to its RIPPLE+AFFECT digital team in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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New Edelman Advisor: ‘PR Needs to Grow Up’

edelmanBack in March, Edelman advisor Steve Rubel told us that upcoming PR professionals need to “look at the bigger picture” and “orient [themselves] toward both creating and distributing content”. The firm’s newest tech advisor Burghardt Tenderich recently gave The Holmes Report a more direct version of that statement:

“PR needs to grow up and become real content creators.”

Edelman picked Tenderichwho is an Associate Professor/Associate Director of the Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center at USC Annenberg, to advise clients tech clients; his specialty will be “transmedia storytelling” campaigns like this one which include both paid and earned media across platforms.

The quote may seem obvious now, but remember that Edelman was a little late to the paid content game. The firm’s sponsored content partnership with Reuters on Twitter had a bit of a rocky reception, but we’ll be watching to see exactly how they put Tenderich and Rubel’s statements into action.

*Photo via Edelman Digital

What Does the Publicis/Omnicom Merger Mean?

We’ve all heard enough about this weekend’s Publicis/Omnicom merger to know that it’s too big for our limited minds to even fathom, much less evaluate.

So many questions followed: will it lead to mass layoffs or protracted battles over antitrust laws? Will it doom boutique agencies that don’t get picked up by major “holding company” conglomerates? Will it change our jobs in profound and permanent ways?

These are all valid, fascinating issues that must be considered—and for now we’ll let other people do the thinking for us, starting with those smartasses at The Onion.

Surprisingly accurate! That headline stings a bit, though we finally understand why they didn’t hire us for the grad school internship we wanted so badly (should’ve learned to code in high school, dammit). On a more serious note, Richard Edelman is skeptical of this supposed sea change, writing:

Bigger does not mean better. My 84-year-old mother’s first reaction yesterday was that this reminds her of AOL’s* merger with Time Warner. “They were all screwed up for years,” she said.

In other words, don’t freak out…at least not yet. But there will be blood.

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Edelman’s Content Strategist Explains the New ‘Content Marketing’ Model

Steve RubelThis week we posted on Weber Shandwick‘s decision to publicize its new content-creation wing, Mediaco, and what that means for the future of PR. This morning we had the opportunity to speak with Steve Rubel, chief content strategist at Edelman PR, to go over how his firm is addressing this newest chapter in the ongoing “PR vs. marketing vs. advertising” debate.

How does the Weber Shandwick announcement relate to recent “creative” moves by Edelman?

There’s a lot of hype in the never-ending hunt for shiny objects in marketing, but the bigger picture here is that the economics of the industry have changed – demand side platforms (ad exchanges) have made advertising more efficient, which caused the price of CPM (cost per impression) and ads themselves to plummet. This is good for the industry but bad for publishers, because media outlets squeezed by tech developments can’t make the leap to other revenue streams like subscription, video, etc.

This has led to a greater willingness to open their platforms to branded/sponsored content, thereby empowering marketers to make good on their longtime desire tell their stories their own way on some of world’s largest websites (Ed. note: see The Washington Post). That is the big change here.

Some people say this is all old news. How do you respond to that point?

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Edelman Reboots Its Russian Operations

Edelman PR LogoWe’re fascinated by the very concept of public relations in a formerly closed society like the one now run by Russia’s Vladimir Putin. But the practice certainly does exist, and this weekend Edelman PR announced plans to continue the scheduled reboot of its Russian operations after facing some challenges that led the firm to liquidate its Russian acquisition Imageland.

In 2012 Edelman “ran into some problems” due to pushback from Russia’s Solidarity trade union, which encouraged laid off Imageland employees to form their own union and take legal action against the firm. That spat appears to have resolved itself; in an interview with The Holmes Report, Edelman Russia general manager Kerry Irwin confirms that the office’s staff will include several former Imageland executives who stuck around through a wave of departures.

Edelman represents brands like HP, Wrigley and Mars in Russia. The firm apparently does not plan to work directly with Putin’s government like Ketchum sometimes does, but the Kremlin could certainly use the help: Edelman’s own 2013 “Trust Barometer” study found that Russian citizens unsurprisingly report some of the world’s lowest rates of trust in their own government and media outlets. We’d suggest more Boyz II Men concerts as a good way to start winning the public back, because if there’s one thing pretty much everyone around the world can agree on, it’s the healing power of 90′s R&B.

Trojan’s ‘Condom Cab’ Stunt Might Not Make It Past City Hall

Trojan Safe RidesTrojan‘s promotional stunts just never seem to get off (yep, bad puns already) without a hitch. This time, the company’s Valentine’s Day plans have hit a road block.

Trojan arranged to have its fleet of three Safe Rides taxis pick up passengers in the Greenwich Village and New York University areas of New York City on the nights of February 14 and 15. Passengers would not only enjoy free rides to their love day destinations, but would also be quizzed on sexual-health topics on the way — because nothing gets couples in the mood like a thorough refresher course on VD (venereal disease, not Valentine’s Day. Try to keep up, people).

Unfortunately, if you were hoping to woo your date with a ride home in a condom cab, you may be out of luck. The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission says that neither the purveyor of prophylactics nor its PR company (Edelman) cleared the promotion–and the plans may violate regulations in the first place.

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Edelman’s New ‘Creative’ Position Marks Shift Toward a More Assertive PR

Edelman PR Today Edelman PR announced the appointment of Jackie Cooper to the newly created role of global chair, creative strategy. Cooper previously served as global chair of brand strategy; she is now also a member of the firm’s executive committee.

What does this new title mean? It’s part of a larger strategic shift for the Edelman organization, which aims to “be the lead creative resource” for clients by expanding upon the role PR teams play within the creative process while simultaneously differentiating PR from other marketing disciplines. By leveraging the power of its internal Strategic and Creative Guild and its newly assertive creative strategy team, Edelman will “further empower” its more than 4,500 employees to address the challenges clients face in earning the loyalty of their customers.

The heart of this shift stems from the fact that, in the words of president and CEO Richard Edelman, “PR needs to have a better self-image” and avoid “[assuming] that the job is to advance advertising’s creative work”. In order to facilitate that change, the firm plans to begin “[hiring] more people out of advertising” and cooperating more closely with creative departments on new digital/multimedia content campaigns.

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Edelman Trust Barometer Uncovers ‘Crisis in Leadership’

Edelman PR just released its annual “Trust Barometer” for 2013–and its findings contain both expected and surprising results. The study’s theme is “crisis of leadership”, and its most significant finding is that fewer than one in five respondents (out of more than 30,000 worldwide) believe that “a business or governmental leader will actually tell the truth when confronted with a difficult issue.”

And yet, despite this conclusion and the fact that “banks and financial services” remain the least trusted industries, consumer trust in both “business” and “government” in the abstract is higher this year than last. Confused?

A couple of interesting points:

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