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Posts Tagged ‘Edelman’

MWW Expands Amidst ‘Independent Agency vs. Holding Company’ Debate

MWW_Group_398645Today brings news that MWW has finalized its acquisition of London-based Parys Communications, which will now become part of the larger MWW organization. While the move expands the firm’s client roster to include names like News UK (part of News Corp.) and BBC Worldwide and adds all of Parys’ employees to its team, we’re most interested in its strategic implications.

As Edelman‘s David Armano noted in an August AdAge op-ed, the supernova merger of Omnicom and Publicis led to “swelling…support for independent shops” over the far larger holding companies that would (supposedly) lack the “agility” and entrepreneurial spirit of feistier competitors. Armano wrote that his original employer “had stopped innovating and…winning like we used to” after being bought by Omnicom and that he had a similar experience at Digitas.

His article described the holding company experience as a classic tale of a small fish in a big pond but ultimately concluded that the quality of work and employee satisfaction at any agency depends more on the talent within it than any other factor.

MWW is better qualified than some to comment on this trend, and today President/CEO Michael W. Kempner gave us his quick take.

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Navigating the Tricky Terrain of Ethics Issues

NYSE PRN PostNYSE Euronext served as the venue for Ethisphere’s Best Practices in Ethics Communications Workshop, held last Thursday, and what a difference a year makes. in October 2012 Superstorm Sandy caused the stock exchange to close briefly due to flooding nearby. Last week, NYSE Euronext visitors didn’t need to wear wading boots.

Instead, workshop attendees became immersed in weighty topics: the reasons for ethical failures, building ethical cultures, boardroom oversight and the example set by Warren Buffett. While the “oracle of Omaha” didn’t appear at the New York event, his presence was felt in the image gallery outside the conference room. Many other ethics specialists were on hand to offer their perspectives, including PR and corporate executives, professors and lawyers. Below is a brief series of takeaways.

Ethics trends and views vary by region: “Ethics is a bigger trend now in Europe than the U.S., while in Asia, ethics is a work in progress”, said Paul Argenti, professor of corporate communications and social responsibility at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

“It’s interesting to see how those in developed countries see ethics practices in developing countries, since there’s often hypocrisy in their views”, noted Alex Thompson, EVP of business and social purpose at Edelman. The firm conducts domestic and global surveys on trust and ethics-related topics.

Reasons why ethical lapses occur: “Pressure to meet unrealistic business objectives” is by far the biggest culprit, not the perpetrators’ egos, Argenti reported. Shortcuts leading to tainted food, for example, can result from staff desperately trying to meet short-term returns, he added.

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Does Antonio Villaraigosa’s Edelman Gig Conflict with His Herbalife Gig?

It's just a question.

Yesterday’s announcement that former L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would join Edelman to advise clients on public policy was interesting on its own, but one detail made it more so: last month the infamous “nutritional products company” Herbalife also hired him as an adviser.

This fact creates a conflict of interest, because venture capitalist Bill Ackman recently hired Edelman to help publicize his accusations that Herbalife is an illegal pyramid scheme in which the vast majority of paying members lose money. Both Villaraigosa and an Edelman spokesman say no such conflict exists, but we don’t see how that could be true considering that the most valuable advice Herbalife could receive from anyone right now concerns escaping the shadow of Ackman’s very public campaign (which, again, is managed by Edelman).

Ackman’s hardly the only one pressing Herbalife: while Villaraigosa praised the company for its “strong presence within the Latino community” when he took the job in September, several major Black and Latino advocacy groups recently called upon California’s attorney general to investigate its supposed misdeeds more thoroughly. In defense of Villaraigosa, Edelman’s global public affairs spokeswoman Katie Burke told the Los Angeles Times that he’s “not coming on board for any specific client or project”, which reads like a classic case of obfuscation.

At any rate, we wouldn’t put money on Herbalife if we had it.

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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Coal Rep’s Climate Change Spin Sparks PR Ethics Debate

How does a PR rep handle the conflict inherent in representing The Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports, an organization created to increase coal exportation in the northwest US, with a history working for the EPA? The two organizations could not be more ideologically opposed to one another.

In this extremely off-the-record clip, Edelman VP Lauri Hennessey tells coal industry marketers how she navigates around the issue by using her EPA past to convince environmentally concerned audiences that more coal exports would not contribute to climate change. A couple of things are clear:


The clip may be a hit piece, but it’s also a revealing look into the way spin works in one particular case.

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Roll Call: Edelman, NRDC and Big Fish

To support the growth of its Creative Newsroom offering, Edelman announced a number of senior hires with print and digital media, TV and traditional ad agency experience. Edelman’s Creative Newsroom is intended to help clients monitor and respond, in real time, with planned brand-relevant stories and creative assets to the conversations and reporting taking place among consumers and the media. The new hires include April Umminger as a co-manager in Chicago, Cybil Wallace as manager and Kate Shay as associate creative director in San Francisco, and Drew Vogelman as director of creative production in New York. (Release)

The Natural Resources Defense Council announced the appointment of Lisa Benenson as chief communications officer. Leading an international team of 40 people spanning all of NRDC’s offices, Benenson is responsible for NRDC’s brand and marketing, digital presence, and communications strategies and initiatives worldwide. Benenson joins NRDC from the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, where she served as senior vice president, marketing and communications. In her new role, she will help lead NRDC’s decades-long efforts to promote a clean energy future. (Release)

Big Fish announced that Susan Lusty, a game industry PR veteran, is joining the company as Big Fish’s vice president of corporate communications. Kathryn Ficarra has also been promoted to Big Fish’s new senior director, user acquisition. Susan will be overseeing internal and external worldwide company communications. She will work closely with the company’s social media teams and Kathryn, who will oversee the company’s marketing efforts. Kathryn will be focused on customer acquisition efforts and partner marketing initiatives including creating new customer funnels through a variety of publishers utilizing mobile, social and PC/Mac platforms. Susan has served as a public relations consultant for the company for more than two years. She will now turn to leading the company’s communications. During her time as a consultant, Susan led the company’s various corporate initiatives, as well as PR efforts for successful Big Fish titles — Fairway Solitaire, Big Fish Casino, Fetch, and more. Susan has worked on both the editorial and PR sides of the technology and gaming fields for more than 20 years. (Release)

The Secret to Winning CSR: Become a Better Company

Wal Mart Hazardous Waste

We just read this month’s Harvard Business Review piece on corporate reputation by former Edelman vice chairman and Walmart corporate affairs VP Leslie Dach, and it’s  worth a glance if you haven’t seen it.

To summarize, Walmart struggled to improve its reputation with better messaging, but when Hurricane Katrina struck its team had something of an “aha” moment. “No internal debate was needed” because the team knew that mobilizing its resources to provide victims with food, emergency supplies and cash was simply “the right [thing] to do”. Afterward, the path forward became clearer—Walmart would seek out opportunities and set specific objectives in areas like sustainability and “women’s economic empowerment” in order to overcome bad press.

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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

More Brands Paying to Distribute Earned Media Mentions

Here’s another story about how PR and marketing should be best friends: more brands are spending money to bring attention to unpaid media mentions.

Edelman’s Steve Rubel tells Digiday that more and more marketers are working to “making sure the press coverage you’ve already earned works harder” by pairing with networks like Twitter or “you might also like” content recommendation services like Outbrain to push more traffic toward those media mentions earned by sheer luck, quality products or…hard-working, press-savvy PR teams. (You knew we’d get there.)

The advantage to this approach, of course, is that earned media will always be more valuable than paid. But the ROI is a more difficult to measure for retailers, who have trouble drawing a line between clicks on third-party posts and subsequent sales.

Most of the content distributed by brands is still created by and for the brands themselves, but according to the original post this third-party distribution trend has begun to pick up. We’re most intrigued by news sources like CNET allowing brands to score paid placement of product reviews on their homepages.

Now who specializes in both scoring and finding earned media mentions? PR! Can we expect to begin working more directly with marketers on related third-party content projects?

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