Chapter Five struck my fancy. I am entering the workforce very soon. While ideally I am hoping to land a teaching position, the aspects of PR described by Mr. Cook sounded less soulless, and perfection driven at the expense of reality than my conceptual understanding of what PR and marketing entailed. It sounded like an immersive and social job which I would enjoy.
I checked out the Edelman…I am not sure how to even express this entity, empire or maybe dynasty? The Edelman website is impressive to say the least, and offers consistent examples of what Cook sees as the strength of blogging in PR, the ability to converse. It consists of layers of blogs all geared toward showing the immense professionalism and knowledge of the company. In fact you can easily navigate to a page which lists all of the industries they service, click on this and you are brought to a thorough description of what they do, how well they do it, and who to contact for additional information; a message which is repeated throughout this large, and also self contained, blogosphere. This aspect of Edelman reminds me of Cook’s message of the PR and marketing of the past, repetitive, simple, and did I mention repetitive. Yet the blog-centric approach of Edelman successfully implements what Cook saw as one of the draws of the blogging environment, which is the typical nature of a blog to limit and specify the range of content for invested, and hopefully, educated conversations on the topic. A scenario which Cook spells out as content which is “written by a specialist for a specialist” (51).
I have been jogging through the website for an hour or so now, and have started more than a few attempts at moving this discourse forward, I have decided that the best way to illustrate the Edelman PR initiatives connections to Cook’s article is to focus in on a blog post by Richard Edelman himself. “Paid Media-A Change of Heart” is a blog post written on the 6 a.m blog, contained within the Eldeman website/blogosphere of course. To give a quick overview of the post in question, Mr Edelman is explaining his change of heart toward a “blurring” of the lines between public relations and paid advertisement and media. Edelman notes that paid media’s advertising impact on the consumer is lessening, as are the prices which companies are paying for their services. Edelman sees this as a PR opportunity for more precise client and product placement within paid medias expanded digital realms; here they are specializing again. In the same vein as Cook’s statement, “People consume the news differently,” (49) and his later emphasis that successful PR engagement as that which best brings together organizations and the information consuming public (53), Edelman advocates enhanced mergers with major media and PR. To give an example, one such realm is space on major news Twitter accounts. Edelman states his main point of view below. A statement which lines up quite well with Cook’s message in terms of PR’s strengths and the need to recognize digital media, blogging included, as a potential goldmine of opportunity:
“We have to stay true to our core positioning, that we are about persuasion and not shouting. We have deep specialist knowledge which enables our interaction with consumers and social activists experiencing the brands. We have strong news sense, and can therefore extend the news cycle. But we need to dare to go beyond our self-imposed boundaries on big idea creative with “own-able” insight. Given our earned media experience and editorial knowledge honed through years of creating and co-producing stories, PR is best suited to partner with paid media. We should be willing to co-produce content with media companies, because they have a better sense of what works in their specific communities.”
Ok, final note. The compilation of bloggers, and specialized blogging pages (found under the tab insights, with the link being aptly named, conversations) brought together by the Edelman website speaks directly to Alex Bruns description of Gatewatching, on page 15, as bloggers look for important changes and offer their analytic take. Or as Cook points out, the bloggers will take part in specialist conversations which lead to potentially useful feedback (50). Looking at the comments dealing with the above mentioned blog post, I noticed one such Gatewatcher (at this point they are watching and commenting on this massive PR company) commenting that the use of the Associated Press’ Twitter account to push through client PR/advertising was a break of trust as consumers expect news, not blatant advertising. A few comments down is a more moderate post which reads:
“Some media outlets, especially in India were quick to identify this trend and offer brands paid content which has been wrongly identified as paid news. This is an interesting development. What makes it transparent is the disclaimer that it is paid for by a brand. As long as the message is getting across this is the way to go.”
Here we see the all important conversation mentioned in this week’s reading; a wealth of knowledge and a litmus test of a specific social grouping. While this is not exactly looking at Cook’s mentioned use of PR within the public news environment, the lessons to be taken from PR’s conversation within its own specialist community support Cook’s claims, at least in this non-PR educated students eyes.