The re-tweets of this topic show no sign of slowing down. Which means two things: The announcement that Richard Sambrook will be joining Edelman – the world’s largest independent PR firm – as Global Vice Chairman and Chief Content Officer is BIG news. Secondly it means that people often hit the RT button without a second thought behind its significance.
The former has driven the latter in this case, and it’s trending because it does matter; and for good reason. Communication is shifting – we all know that – but what makes this move so significant is that a leading Global player such as Edelman feels now is the time to employ one of the industries most revered communicators from one of the World’s leading content providers – the BBC. Why? Well with earned media being so low-cost, and traditional outlets becoming choked with content, brands need to find a way around the problem. The solution? Create another way to do it – direct to the people, but in a way they’re comfortable with.
“With the fragmentation and decline in many traditional forms of media, every company needs to become its own media company. It has to tell its own story and in ways that people can easily engage with, share and shape. That’s sometimes easier to say than it is to do. In Richard, we now have one of the world’s most accomplished creators and managers of content to help our clients do just this.”
David Brain, Edelman President and CEO EMEA
David Brain summarises, or rather outlines their reasoning above. In order to react quickly in an age where people increasingly obtain their own news through topical choices, a character such as Richard is fully capable of enabling channels for major brands to provide tailored content. But provide it in a media-friendly, transparent and honest way. Trust and content are a brand’s premium commodities.
As Mr. Edelman points out,
“We’re trying to create a third way for ourselves to communicate. The first way was always mainstream media, the second was social media and the third will be companies themselves. And it’s a big challenge for PR companies to figure out that middle ground. We don’t want to upset or pre-empt what reporters do. That’s not the point. But on the other hand, reporters have less space and we have to still tell the story of things that require more coverage than they can offer or [that reporters] don’t view as big news.”
So does it really matter? Of course, when a Global player creates a new position then there’s good reason. In this case it’s creating that third way Mr. Edelman speaks of. With a hire such as Richard Sambrook, Edelman have ensured that they lead this third way, not join it. It will be fascinating to watch how their content deliver unfolds in the future.
Prepare for a glut of companies analysing how this decision shapes their own futures, and how best to react when, not if, it works out.