This second volume of Edelman’s annual publication, Public Engagement in the Conversation Age, is a collection of thought pieces written by the UK team about the communications challenges facing brands, corporate, politics and NGOs – as well as our own industry, as we evolve from Public Relations to Public Engagement.
EDELMAN IN THE CONVERSATION AGE
FOREWORD/FUTURE ECOLOGY: A NEW ERA OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT 3
IN AN ENGAGED WORLD, LISTENING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER 4
THE SEVEN BEHAVIOURS OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT 5
THE POWER OF EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT. THE AGE OF PERSONAL SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY 6
WHY ITS TIME FOR THE AD AGENCIES TO ADMIT DEFEAT 8
EMBEDDING SUSTAINABILITY INTO BUSINESS AND BRAND: MAKING SENSE OF THE UNKNOWN UNKNOWNS 10
PUTTING CREATIVITY FIRST 12
ITS POLITICS, JIM, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT 14
SOUND BITE OR SOUND INSIGHT 16
DEMAND DRIVEN DIALOGUE: DESIGNING DEMAND IN THE IT WORLD 18
PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT IN A REGULATED ENVIRONMENT 20
LISTENING FOR RESULTS 22
EDELMAN TRUST BAROMETER 2010 23
ONE WORLD, ONE AGENCY: PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT MAKES YOU THINK 24
CONVICTION OR CONVENIENCE: IS NOW THE TIME FOR BUSINESS TO LEAD? 27
PR CONSULTANCY OF THE YEAR 2009
ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION
This is the second volume of Edelmans annual publication, Public Engagement in the Conversation Age. It is a collection of thought pieces written by the UK team about the communications challenges facing brands, corporates, politics and NGOs as well as our own industry, as we evolve from Public Relations to Public Engagement.
3active citizenship, as calls for transparency intensify and as transparency itself is further empowered by the digital world. Citizen politics now demands that governments and business Act and Tell. Storytelling alone is just not good enough and an evolved form of communications is the obvious result.
Public Engagement is the codification of where we are today a recognition of the new order that is emerging from the continued chaos. Public Engagement embraces the current reality and faces the future, safe in the knowledge that waves of change will inevitably come again. The PR agency which sits back and watches the chaos unfold is the one which will play no part in the future ecology of communications. Which is why we, at Edelman, continue to think, write and debate these new truths and why we are re-shaping ourselves to deliver in a world of cross-influence. We do not have all the answers. Nobody does. But, as these Public Engagement essays demonstrate, we will both stimulate and participate in the conversation.
Robert Phillips UK CEO
A NEW ERA OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT VOL.2
This all has profound implications for the communications world. In a parallel trend, corporate reputation and brand marketing are converging at speed; we, the people, have become media in our own right; and everyone from citizen to brand to corporation now has the ability to participate in the conversation, anywhere and at any moment in time. Opinion is becoming increasingly democratised and media increasingly socialized. None of this should surprise us it is the reality of the everyday.
Immediacy is everywhere. We no longer wait more than minutes for our news, in a world where the story of an earthquake breaks on Twitter before it reaches the newswires. Newspapers have become Viewspapers. The old rules of audience cannot apply and the conventions of advertising are understandably crumbling. The 30-second spot has become the short-form film and it is all content for the conversation anyway.
This is not merely a tale of technology, however, nor is it just about the internet. Technology has begat behavioural change and introduced the new norms. Reform is unlikely to stop here. This is an unfolding story of society and people how we interact, what we prioritise and where we come together in active coalitions. Recent Edelman Trust data (July 2009) ranked the interests of the employee and the customer alongside those of the shareholder, while supply chain ethics, Directors pay and responsible governance have suddenly become genuine influencing factors in purchasing decisions. Governments are increasingly held to account by a digitally-
PR is changing. Driven at pace by the democratizing power of digital and the continued shift from a shareholder to a stakeholder society, we are witnessing the emergence of a new model of Public Engagement. Networks have replaced channels; influence has supplanted audience; shared interests are moving us beyond dogma; and multilateral connection is the new dialogue. We are faced daily with a chaos of news and views. The golden age of broadcast is finally over.
4By listening with new intelligence, we can identify the key idea starters and amplifiers. Idea Starters are the ones who will spark the conversation. Amplifiers can be anyone. They are the ones who will continue the discussion and advance it through their networks.
Listening can also impact a business beyond communications.
Starbucks (an Edelman client), for example, has created My Starbucks Idea, a platform for listening to, and co-creating with, its customers that has yielded important suggestions for improving the companys business. Ranging from product ideas to operational improvements, Starbucks commitment to listening has driven results straight to its bottom line.
Similarly, by listening to its customers wherever they were talking in this case, Twitter U.S. cable giant Comcast improved its customer service and, according to its CEO, changed the culture of the company, making it more responsive and engaged.
The risks of failing to listen are massive. In a world where everyone is a publisher and compelling content always manages to find an audience, a crisis can appear from anywhere. Failing to listen can leave us ignorant and impotent.
So if we commit ourselves to listening, how should we do it?
To be sure, some people will listen for a few moments, then make their excuses and drift away. But many will be (at best) annoyed and the outcome will be unsatisfactory for everyone. Brilliant grandmothers the world over have made a clich out of the notion that we were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. But those who practice ham-handed attempts at engagement behave as if they have a very large mouth and no ears at all.
Successful engagement must begin with a realization that might at first be uncomfortable: as communicators and marketers, we no longer control the terms of engagement. The decision to interact is necessarily one of mutual consent.
So before we can engage, we need to take the time to understand the answers to several key questions:
Whomightbeinterestedintalkingwithus? Whataretheyinterestedintalkingabout? Whereandonwhattermswouldtheyliketoconnect?
Answering these questions ensures that when we do engage, we will approach the conversation with content that is relevant, timely and interesting.
Effective listening also provides a roadmap for deploying our resources and ensuring that whatever approach we adopt is practical and realistic by helping us prioritize the influencers we might want to engage.
Consider a moment we have all experienced. Standing at a party, chatting amiably with a friend, an interloper arrives, interrupts our conversation, seizes control and turns it in an unexpected and perhaps unwelcome direction. Too often, this is the approach that communicators and marketers label engagement.
EDELMAN PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT VOL.2
IN AN ENGAGED WORLD
LISTENING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER
5Listening with new intelligence is a uniquely human skill. Discerning sincerity, subtlety and emotion are all instinctive human abilities that no machine or artificial intelligence has yet mastered in spite of the countless over-marketed claims to the contrary.
Technology can and must provide assistance, but at its core, listening is more art than science more a personal exercise than a computational one.
The countless platforms for listening are useful for gathering together elements of the conversation that are relevant. But once gathered, real understanding only comes from immersion in the content and an in-depth understanding of the context. And real success only comes from a commitment to act on what is learned.
Over the last few years, social media and similar technological changes have made the world more connected, interactive and dynamic. In short, the world is a conversation.
So at its core, the imperative to become better listeners rests on a simple, human truth: We cannot join a conversation without listening to it first.
Are you listening?
EDELMAN PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT VOL.2
IN AN ENGAGED WORLD
LISTENING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER
Marshall Manson Director
Marshall is Edelmans EMEA Director of Digital Strategy. He has a diverse background in communications and lives in London.
The Seven Behaviours of Public Engagement1. LISTEN WITH NEW INTELLIGENCE
2. PARTICIPATE IN CONVERSATION: REAL TIME/ALL THE TIME
3. SOCIALISE MEDIA RELATIONS
4. CREATE AND CO-CREATE CONTENT
5. CHAMPION OPEN ADVOCACY
6. BUILD ACTIVE PARTNERSHIPS FOR COMMON GOOD
7. EMBRACE THE CHAOS
Public Engagement: ADVANCING SHARED INTERESTS IN A WORLD OF CROSS-INFLUENCE
6work they do. It is about establishing mutual respect in the workplace for what people do and can be. But it goes beyond this: to engender pride to work for a company not only drives motivation and productivity but creates ambassadors for your business who in turn help attract the best and the brightest to your organisation.
The recently released MacLeod report Engaging for Success: enhancin