PR: getting to gripes

The US Council of PR is about to talk about the thorny issue of client conflict according to Tim Dyson soon, and Edelman a PR company that has a number of conflicted clients under its roof had decided not to renew its membership. Connection?Some six years ago when I worked at Edelman we used to say that two was a conflict but three was a specialism. This was particularly true with regards to the roster of management consultancies that the technology team had on its books: Arthur D Little, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and DiamondCluster International. I worked on both Cap Gemini and DiamondCluster at the same time.

It is interesting that Tim Dyson of NextFiveteen mentions Edelman’s expertise in conflicts yet fails to mention his own agency Bite, who in London have Samsung, Toshiba and Apple all in the same building.

Indeed I write this not to be critical of Edelman’s approach. Instead I just wish there were some clear standards on what was deemed an acceptable way of managing conflicting clients.

Is the expertise of Bite’s London office not making it around the network despite Clive Armitage and Judy Wilks moving Stateside over the years? And could this targeting of Edelman have anything to do with Richard spurring some cheque book driven growth with the purchase of A+R Partners? ;-)

As an industry, PR spends a lot of time talking about the value of brand to our clients, but what about our own agency’s brand? I had an interesting experience on Thursday evening at the T3 birthday party; ran into a PR person who was reluctant to admit where they worked.

Not the usual banter about being reluctant to admit that they were a paid shill in the company of journalists. Not that they tried to hide the fact that they were an in-house PR person so that I didn’t try and beat them into signing a three-year rolling agency-of-record contract with my employer. They were concerned by the reaction of their peers (ok me and my team mate Alex) if they revealed the agency where they worked.

That’s pretty poor, how can we as an industry expect to be the brand guardians of our clients when we are reluctant to admit where we work?


I am going to close out further comments on this post now as both sides have made their point and there is no point in having a flame war by proxy. Understandably if you feel that I curtailing the conversation email me at the address listed in the header and I promise to post the best views for and against editiorial censorship on blogs.

9 replies on “PR: getting to gripes”

  1. Your comments on Edelman are right on target. Way to go.

    How about how Edelman says it doesn’t, yet does work for the tobacco industry. Richard Edelman will take money from anyplace he can get it.

    Edelman represents everything that is wrong with the PR industry. Others set up astroturf groups, but not like Edelman, evidence the Walmart fiasco.
    Check out my oped in this wks

  2. James, thanks for reading and your contribution. The honest answer is that I don’t know anything about Edelman’s involvement in the tabacco trade.

    Whilst Edelman does have conflicting clients within a business, their ‘accuser’ Tim Dyson has a similar set-up in the London office of Bite.

    Re PR for Walmart – you can put lipstick on a pig, but it won’t win a beauty pagent. Edelman can’t solve the corporate disfunction of Wal-Mart.

    I hope that you come back and visit again soon James.

  3. Ahh, well Stephen at least he hasn’t found about your pivotal role in covering up the alien activity at Area 51, your fleet of black helicopters and your use the entrails of human sacrifices to devine what counsel you should provide clients.

  4. Sssshh!

    P.S. You forgot to mention my fundamental role in ensuring the Russian immigrants were supplied with fake passports and working documents so they could be employed in Greggs’ bakeries across the UK.

    Cheese pasty anyone?

  5. I thought that your involvement with the illegal Russian immigrants was a mercy mission to supply the South East of England with the superior nutrition of a Northern diet?

    How else with the punny London Broncos hope to compete with the might of St Helens?

  6. PR Week has an interview with our chief of staff as to why Edelman is no longer a member of the Council Of PR Firms.

    Edelman resigned its tobacco clients a long time ago.

    A search for James Bruni on Google shows that his online identity is 100% tied to his dislike for Edelman — he doesn’t seem to stand for anything else. Hell… At least Strumpette spreads the bile around a little bit.

    With a preference for the phrase “smoking the PR crack” and a pathological need to promote his ill-reasoned article, Bruni is trying to make a name for himself in a way that just will not end well.

    Phil Gomes
    VP, Edelman me2revolution

  7. Hi Phil,

    Thanks for the contribution, in particular clarifying the tabacco firm question.

    I only wish that PR was as addictive and lucrative as crack, it make our jobs soooooo much easier.

    Re the PR Week interview: if you are going to respond it would be smarter of you to then summarise the main thrust of the point?

    The people that read this after finding it on Google in the future may not have the time or inclination to follow up and search for the article you reference.

    Finally I found it interesting that Dyson put the Council of PR ruling on conflict and used Edelman as an example, with the knowledge that the company had withdrawn from the association and yet his own firm handles exactly the same kind of conflicts in its own business.

  8. Come on Edelman employees, can’t take the criticism?
    If you feel so strongly about your PR sweatshop, then pen an oped for OdwyerPR, like I did.
    The Council is exploring a wide variety of client conflicts at Edelman. That’s why Rich pulled out.
    Thank God for the First Amendment and freedom of expression. All I’m doing is using your agency’s tactics against you. A taste of your own medicine.

Comments are closed.