Today Edelman PR named Robert Phillips to the newly created position of global chair, Public Engagement and Future Strategies; the purpose of the new position is to “ensure that the firm is at the forefront of communication innovation”. Phillips describes the job as “an and, not an or”; he will also continue to work in his current London-based role as head of the agency’s EMEA (Edelman Middle East and Africa) division.
Phillips will report directly to CEO Richard Edelman. In an interview with PRNewser, he outlined the thinking behind his new role:
“The communications landscape is moving forward at a huge speed. At Edelman, we want to continue to be able to take a 3, 5, or 10-year view of what that future landscape will look like and make sure that our services are fit to purpose.”
“The communications world is increasingly bottom-up, social, transparent and values-led. Businesses need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. This shift finally defeats the myth that PR can’t be insights-led and evidence-driven.We’re not saying that we’re not PR–we’re just codifying the new reality. ”
Richard Edelman clarifies: “We’re not going into advertising. But we see the future battleground existing between ourselves, digital firms and media-buying firms.”
When Phillips and Edelman look ahead, they see a world in which the power of positions like that of chief communications officer illustrates a convergence of marketing and classic PR–all driven by the growing influence of data. Phillips says that “PR always under-invested in measurements and data, but search and measurement belong in all areas of corporate reputation and brand marketing. We need to be ahead of the curve.”
In the new world of communications, firms can use data to both guide their creative work and target it to unique communities–not just to present results and ROI reports to clients.
As an example, Phillips describes the “Captain’s Island” campaign that Edelman created for global rum brand Captain Morgan: “It was a digitally-driven sales promotion” involving online contests and games that could be physically re-created in bars. Phillips says, “The actual content creation, both on and offline, was run by the Edelman team. The gamification was built by the Edelman digital team. The brand marketing team then took the digital offline and made it a real-world experience in participating bars. We measured results in terms of both awareness and concrete sales.”
“My mantra: if you can’t measure it, don’t do it.”