Edelman’s New ‘Creative’ Position Marks Shift Toward a More Assertive PR

Today Edelman PR announced the appointment of Jackie Cooper to the newly created role of global chair, creative strategy. Cooper previously served as global chair of brand strategy; she is now also a member of the firm’s executive committee.

What does this new title mean? It’s part of a larger strategic shift for the Edelman organization, which aims to “be the lead creative resource” for clients by expanding upon the role PR teams play within the creative process while simultaneously differentiating PR from other marketing disciplines. By leveraging the power of its internal Strategic and Creative Guild and its newly assertive creative strategy team, Edelman will “further empower” its more than 4,500 employees to address the challenges clients face in earning the loyalty of their customers.

The heart of this shift stems from the fact that, in the words of president and CEO Richard Edelman, “PR needs to have a better self-image” and avoid “[assuming] that the job is to advance advertising’s creative work”. In order to facilitate that change, the firm plans to begin “[hiring] more people out of advertising” and cooperating more closely with creative departments on new digital/multimedia content campaigns.

Ms. Cooper explains that, while Edelman’s relationships with its clients “will not change a great deal”, this new approach will establish a clearer focus on developing an “arms around” role. As an example, she cites the company’s work on Unilever laundry brand Omo‘s “Every Child Has the Right to Play” campaign, which “meant different things to different markets” and required a more creative approach. In Vietnam, the Edelman team brought the tagline to life by collaborating with the local government to create more public playgrounds.

In a blog post this morning, Cooper describes the shift as “The Liberation of Creativity” while Richard Edelman sums up the basis for the strategy in a release titled “Why Not Us?

Edelman says that PR needs to shrug off the “stepchild” perception and embrace the creative mantle: “We have great ideas! We think differently!”

PR pros: how do we feel about this new direction? Is it a challenge to advertising firms or a promise to work together more closely on future projects?