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Social Media, Cowboy Boots and Penguins: In the Words of Richard Edelman

January 19, 2013

Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman Worldwide, is a pioneer in emerging social media strategies. As one of the first CEO’s to begin a blog (his in 2004), he well understands the importance of social networking in today’s market. As current technology rockets forward, it’s important to understand and implement some of the key basics, and Edelman is on task. Fortunately for you, I am providing a slideshow of a presentation he gave last June at the Edelman Academic Summit.

Edelman’s presentation can be broken down into three sections:

5 Media Trends to Watch

3 Ways [Moving] Forward for PR

4 Communication Musts

(note: there was a bit more to the presentation, but I found these areas to be the most important to focus on.  You can view the entire slideshow here)

5 Media Trends to Watch

New social giants emerging
; Paid media now amplifies social [media]
; Search is morphing with social [media]
; Amplification now trumps circulation
; Visual storytelling is now in Renaissance.

Specifically, he notes it is interesting how these trends are “key disruptions reshaping how news is produced, distributed, consumed and monetized”. As an unknowing consumer, I see this pattern every day and really don’t realize it.  I wake up, get on Facebook and see an ad in my timeline for “Country Outfitters”. I think to myself, “wtf? I hate everything about country music and clothing. Why am I seeing this ad?!”  So, I do what any rational, analytical person would do…  I click on the link, look around their page a bit (which only confirms my dislike for country/western clothing), and slowly it dawns on me.  I wasn’t facetiously and randomly bombarded with tacky western-wear.  I realize that three of my friends have “liked” an advertisement post by Country Outfitters (and seriously consider the value of my friendship to them, based on their poor fashion choice in cowboy boots).  I then continue scrolling through my feed, responding to notifications, and log off Facebook.  But – I’m still perturbed that I was viciously accosted with that Country Outfitters ad in my timeline; even more so as now it seems to happen on a weekly basis. I felt slightly…violated.

So perhaps I’m being a bit hyperbolic.  I wasn’t physically accosted or violated.  Psychologically, however, you can see how Edelman’s trends are on par with what I experienced. Facebook allows paid advertisements to randomly pop in your feed simply because some of your friends “liked” that advertisement. If you’re unfamiliar with the company, you will then google them to figure out exactly what they are, or better yet, click on their Facebook page (as I dangerously did).  Assuming that I actually enjoy looking like an extra from a 1960’s John Wayne movie, the marketing strategy would have been genius and effective for Country Outfitters.   And let’s not forget about those pesky “sponsored” tweets that show up in my twitter feed.  Statistically speaking, one of these days I will be graced with an ad so perfect that I will have no choice but to blindly “like” their page on Facebook and follow them on twitter.  Let’s hope that it will also be accompanied with swag in exchange for blogging opportunities.

I want to discuss the next two sections of Edelman’s presentation together, as I feel the concepts are related to a fantastic interview I heard last week.

3 ways that PR is moving forward:

Show and Tell; Be Rational and Emotional; and Dig the Data.

4 Communication Musts:

Social Engagement;
Understanding Data;
Emotional Intelligence; and Visual Storytelling.

When I read these concepts, I immediately thought of a podcast I listened to last week by one of my favorite sports writers, Dejan Kovacevic, of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. (Podcast is here).

Kovacevic interviewed David Morehouse, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  I’m nothing if not a huge Pittsburgh sports fan, specifically, the Penguins.  I began following the team about two years ago, and was immediately impressed with their social media presence.  Not only did they have a Facebook account, they also were very active on twitter, and they had a mobile app for my iPhone.  Being a Penguins fan in Indianapolis is only problematic when the games are nationally televised (apparently, the Blackhawks are the regional favorites), so occasionally I would miss a few games.  Worry not, as the Penguins twitter account live tweeted the games AND streamed the radio airing via their web app.  I can say with certainty that this made me love the team even more: they catered to the needs of their fans, and I feel that’s incredibly important in the sports world.

Morehouse comes into play, though, as he is the brains behind the media presence brawn.  He was promoted to president of the team in 2007, and his responsibilities included marketing and promotion.  In his interview with Kovacevic, he stated that the most important thing was to promote and enable fan engagement.  He went on to explain that data showed the demographics of their fan base, which was increasing numbers in a younger fan base.  So he decided to market the team in a way that would make sense for fan engagement- social networking.  Though he says that his generation doesn’t quite understand the need for social networking (referenced tweeting in line at Starbucks), he realizes that it’s about what will best draw a fan base that will be involved and support the organization.  As you can see, he integrates the necessities of communicating as well as strategies to achieve successful marketing and fan engagement in the future.

This makes me incredibly optimistic as both a fan and a potential PR strategist.  My dream job is to handle the PR/Marketing communications for the Pittsburgh Penguins.  I realized this dream almost two years ago and have been working towards that goal as much as possible.  It’s refreshing and encouraging to know that as of right now, my potential future employer is already in the direction that PR is going, and it solidifies my passion for pursuing my academic and professional goals are on the right rack as well.


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  1. keiannarae permalink

    Hilarious! And very well written. Thank you.

  2. keiannarae permalink

    Hilarious! And, very well said. Nice job.

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