October 10, 2006

edelman and technorati in london

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This morning at 8.30 I found myself in a conference room at Claridge's Hotel in Mayfair [where my sister also had her wedding reception a few years ago, funnily enough], attending a small Edelman/Technorati confererence.

As far as conferences-with-a-corporate slant go, it wasn't bad at all. It was only an hour and a half [thankfully], which is about how long I think all conferences should be.

This was the panel:

* Richard Edelman, President and CEO, Edelman
* Peter Hirshberg. Chairman and CMO, Technorati
* Kevin Anderson, Head of Blogging, Guardian Unlimited
* Iain Dale, political commentator and blogger
* David Brain, Head of Edelman Europe
* Nick Reynolds, Senior Advisor Editorial Policy, BBC
Other people in the audience:
*Mike Krempasky, VP Edelman Washington, DC.
*Stephen Davies, Edelman London
*Neville Hobson, who has relocated back to London from Amsterdam.
*Suw Charman, a well-known UK blogger who has also done some work for Edelman in the past.

The conference seemed to spilit into two distinct halves.

1. The PR Bit. Edelman and Technorati telling people about their new strategic partnership, which Edelman's Steve Rubel also wrote about today:

* To influence the influencers, you need to take both a local and a global view of the conversation

* The dialogue in each region is fairly balkanized and reflects the local culture and influences. However, it is influenced by media and blogs in other countries

* Companies and brands are discussed in European blogs, but not nearly as often as in the US or as product categories are talked about

* Brands have a big opportunity to become part of the conversation by listening and developing programs

2. Blogging in General. This bit, athough there were certainly some smart comments coming out of it, I found less satisfying, simply becasue the non-Edelman/Technorati part of the panel were made up of people from the political/journalist/media side of the 'sphere. I wish this had been more balanced with some entrepreneurial and Web 2.0 startup bloggers adding their two cents [someone like Sam Sethi would've been good]. But that's really a minor point.

All in all, I enjoyed meeting the Edelman crew. Richard Edelman I found particalrly interesting. Though Edelman is known as the people who "get it" more than any other of the large PR firms, he was quite candid in talking about how diificult it has been trying to acclimatize his clients to this brave new world of ours. I'm guessing his attitude is, his clients will resist at first, but will be thanking him in five or so years' time.

After the conference Peter Hirshberg and I went out to lunch, to talk about all things Technorati. En route I took him down Savile Row to and introduced him to one of my bespoke tailoring friends, Ravi Tailor of Airey & Wheeler.

[Jacki Danicki also was at the conference, and writes about it at length here.]

[UPDATE:] The whole event has been put up on YouTube here.

Posted by hugh macleod at October 10, 2006 9:22 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Great to meet you yesterday Hugh. And thanks again for the interview.

Rock on.

Posted by: Stephen Davies at October 11, 2006 8:53 AM

Thank you Hugh for sharing this. Very interesting elements in your posts and the various posts associated with it. There are definitely key elements to take into account when thinking to become a successful trans/national and multi languages blog. I will definitely try to contact Richard Edelman. Do you have an email to share ?

thierry (from France)

Posted by: thierry at October 11, 2006 1:45 PM

Thanks for this review - a great summary. My take on the whole thing over at my blog.

And thanks for all your cartoons - I discoverd your site a few weeks back and I think you have a great thing going on there.

Posted by: jon leach at October 11, 2006 3:30 PM

Influence the influencers?? Blah.

Go on Edelman - draw up a list of 'influencers' and just go and, erm, influence them. easy, no?

I'd hate to find myself on that list with some plan to 'influence me' - would make me feel like someone was trying to control me.

Now if they said, "Inspire the influencers" - I'd understand.

Posted by: Piers Fawkes at October 11, 2006 3:30 PM

A most excellent point, Piers. Rock on.

Posted by: Hugh MacLeod at October 11, 2006 3:35 PM

Edleman might have a higher profile for pushing the Web 2.0 phenomenon because they are betting a lot on this working, but many of the big agencies are doing it better.

Better means not getting thmeselves into trouble by pissing off bloggers and finding themselves in the NYT.

Isn't it Ms&L behind GM's fastlane blog, one of the better examples of blogging done right?

Posted by: Mike Sacks at October 12, 2006 6:59 PM

A gorgeous steak and kidney pie at the Windmill commands far more of my attention economy than anything these media types could ever cook up.

Posted by: Bradley Allen at October 12, 2006 9:33 PM

Hi Hugh;

Took me only two days of thinking and the watching of all 9 videos on YouTube before commenting to this post regarding the Edelman/Technorati London conference.

Although a conference hosted by any PR firm did not facilitate happy thoughts for me, and frankly, at first I wondered "what in the heck is Hugh thinking of by attending such a thing?'... Flash forward two days (light-years of speed at my age)... Certain issues presented were useful and worthy of consideration. BTW the key question and your observation raised during the conference were important and powerful.

I'm glad you attended, glad that you made us aware of this conference including the participants, glad you pointed to the 9 videos available on YouTube.

Your after-the-fact observation regarding a bias toward political attendies et al and the lack of inclusion of entrepreneurs especially regarding Web 2.0 initiatives was very much on-point. I think this over-sight was brought about by a relative lack of knowledge and experience on the part of the organizers, and, this can be easily corrected for future conferences of this type by such organizers drawing upon your knowledge in order to establish a more appropriate mix of presenters and attendees.

BTW Hugh and very important... Make sure you charge appropriately hugh fat fees as your knowledge is well worth it and these mainstream companies can afford it. If you are shy in this regard, I'll be happy to negotiate the fees on your behalf.

Finally we come to the core issues of "influence and influencing the influencers"... Oh! A major topic for discussion! In brief:

[1] As a broad (and safe) generalization, the mainstream companies, including their PR respresentation, have little in the way of "soul". Of course exceptions but these exceptions do not diminish the reality of this generalization.

[2] Two of the roles undertaken by mainstream companies, including their PR representation, are that of "Spin Doctors and Spin Control" i.e., The Great Dream... Influence and control and to include the influencers.

[3] A few questions... Influence with respect to what? Influence Who? Influence for what purpose? Who will benefit?

[4] Credibility on the part of a blogger in the blogging world is essential. In this regard there are bloggers who have some sort of a unique relationship with their audience... In other words, these bloggers have credibility.

[5] It is useful to remember the "no soul" broad generalization previously mentioned. And as such, bloggers better make sure that their credibility is not destroyed by those seeking to "influence the influencers", but rather, bloggers enhancing their credibility by making sound decisions to their benefit for the long-term.

[6] Bloggers live in a world of knowledge, relationship and trust, and they ought to remember that their credibility can also equal economic performance and personal financial well-being.

Posted by: Sheamus at October 13, 2006 12:51 AM

when (approximately) will the number of people reading blogs exceed the number of people writing blogs?

Posted by: peter at October 13, 2006 2:21 AM

i guess to answer my own question - no time soon!

Edelman and friends have as much interest in authenticity as you would expect from any PR firm. viz - the fake Walmart blog:

http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.san&s=49505&Nid=24192&p=82937

BTW - bloggers looking to feast on the crumbs from the Edelman table would do well NOT to blog this story.

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Posted by: Tom at December 18, 2006 3:13 PM