PR, Not Communications – revisited

In April 2011, Richard Edelman wrote a blog post in defence of public relations. The blog post PR, Not Communications was in response to a question from an employee in the London office

…as PR continues to expand, encompassing digital, research, media planning and content creation, should we consider rebranding ourselves as communications firms?

He then went on to give a spirited defence of Edelman being a PR firm with seven points, there is a link at the bottom of the page to Richard’s post, take the time out to go and read it.

My own view on the matter was more akin to the London employee, partly because I worked in digital and saw changes there in terms of competitors, clients and the flux in brand positioning of the agency that I worked at. My response to Richard’s post is in the links below.

By 2012, Edelman had been listed as number eight on the AdAge Agency A-list in the US. And by the end of March 2015, Edelman’s boilerplate changed on its own press releases, from:

Edelman is the world’s largest public relations firm, with more than 5,000 employees in 65 cities, as well as affiliates in more than 35 cities. Edelman was named one of Advertising Age’s “A-List Agencies” in both 2010 and 2011, and an “Agency to Watch” in 2014; Adweek’s “2011 PR Agency of the Year;” PRWeek’s “2011 Large PR Agency of the Year;” and The Holmes Report’s “2013 Global Agency of the Year” and its 2012 “Digital Agency of the Year.” Edelman has been awarded seven Cannes Lions including the Grand Prix for PR in 2014. Edelman was named one of the “Best Places to Work” by Advertising Age in 2010 and 2012 and among Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work” in 2011, 2013 and 2014. Edelman owns specialty firms Edelman Berland (research), Edelman Deportivo (creative), BioScience Communications (medical communications) and agency Edelman Significa (Brazil). Visit http://www.edelman.com for more information.

To:

Edelman is a leading global communications marketing firm, with more than 5,500 employees in 65 cities worldwide.  Edelman partners with many of the world’s largest and emerging businesses and organizations, helping them evolve, promote and protect their brands and reputations.

Edelman was named one of Advertising Age’s “Agency to Watch” in 2014; one of Forbes’ “14 Most Influential Agencies of 2014”; and The Holmes Report’s “2013 Global Agency of the Year.” Edelman was awarded the Grand Prix Cannes Lion for PR in 2014 and was among Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work” for the third time in 2014. Edelman owns specialty firms Edelman Berland (research) and United Entertainment Group (entertainment, sports, experiential), a joint venture with United Talent Agency. Visit http://www.edelman.com for more information.

The change of descriptor from ‘public relations firm’ to ‘communications marketing firm’ appearing in the first sentence of the new boilerplate. The move seems to be in somewhat of a transition, for instance at the time of writing , Edelman’s UK website still has metadata when you use Google search that says:

Edelman is the world’s largest public relations firm, with more than 5000 employees in 65 cities, as well as affiliates in more than 35 cities.

So what does this all mean for public relations? Is PR dead, when the world’s largest PR firm no longer admits that’s what it does?

The answer like the industry is more complex. PR skills are still in demand. But agencies that have provides these services have either cemented themselves into niches or expanded their service offerings beyond the traditional PR toolkit.

PR has become more pervasive as it has gone incognito.

More information
PR, Not Communications – Edelman 6am blog (Richard Edelman’s personal blog)
A response to: ‘PR, Not Communications’ | renaissance chambara
Edelman Is No. 8 on the Ad Age Agency A-List
Edelman Chicago Appoints David Greenbaum Managing Director, Digital | Edelman Press Releases
Edelman Appoints Martin O’Reilly as New Global Chief Information & Technology Officer
Is PR dead? | renaissance chambara