What We Should All Learn From Edelman’s Commitment to Become Its Own Client

Edelman ReputationEdelman PR has been in a bad way lately — not for their client outreach efforts but for what they have done to themselves.

First, the global independent juggernaut caused a small kerfuffle by taking a stance against all those pesky “climate change skeptics.” Given their ardent statements of commitment to the cause, this didn’t go over too well.

Then, the agency thought that using Robin William’s unfortunate death to start a conversation about effective pitching would be a good idea. Many disagreed and they apologized, but no one really listened.

Now, Edelman will start to consider itself as a client. Question from the rest of us: What took so long? 

In an article by the great Stuart Elliot of The New York Times, Edelman aimed to address the concerns over its recent, national flubs.

“What the leadership team decided,” Ben Boyd, president for practices, sectors and offerings at Edelman in New York, said in an interview on Friday, is that “we will treat ourselves like we treat a client… lesson learned.”

dan-edelman-quoteRegretfully, this happens too often for PR agencies — they are so busy working the phones and emails for others that they neglect the brand that brought them the business in the first place. This is surprising because Edelman has been around more than 60 years — more than long enough to earn and own its sterling reputation.

This is a worldwide agency with great people at the helm, but even that great collection of talent could not prevent the brand from looking like a start-up.

There’s the takeaway for the rest of us: your own brand is the most important brand you represent.

This is a cardinal rule for all creative agencies. For example, if you create websites, yours should not look like it was made in someone’s garage. If you advertise, what are you doing to promote your own product? If you do PR, how do you improve your reputation among media contacts? Edelman may have neglected itself in the process of conquering the world, but that will not happen any longer. Lesson learned.

“Just because you advise clients on the complexities of today’s world, that doesn’t mean they’re easier to manage,” Mr. Boyd said, adding that “it would have been smart” to have had in place at Edelman some of the internal protocols and processes that the agency’s 5,000 employees suggest that clients adopt.

The brand shot itself in the foot. After that hole heals up, Edelman will limp for a while but recover its gait.

Will your company learn from your mistakes? What has your PR done for you lately? If the answer is “nothing”, then it might be time to get started.