Posted by Brian Connolly
In a press announcement that sent ripples throughout the business community yesterday, Edelman, one of the largest PR firms in the world, proclaimed that the agency was doing a complete about-face radically shifting direction. The firm has staked "its claim in ‘Authentic Communications.’”
According to the release, Edelman is mobilizing rapidly to convert its entire ambiguous worldwide PR operation to “authentic.” In support of the initiative, the agency said that it has consolidated its three digital service practice areas into one global operating unit. The new group will be a combination of the firm’s Web design team, its social-media toy lab and a couple of ideas that were being bandied about last fall under the name “Edelman Mobile."
Heading the overhaul will be Rick Murray, former head of the Agency’s botched “Me2Revolution” Practice. Murray set the stage for the announcement a little over a year ago articulating Edelman's very public optimism regarding Second Life. Then he said, “Anytime you can bring fake people together spending real money on fake things to create value... [well] I don't really know how it's going to end up or where we're going to end up in it but it's really cool."
Along with yesterday's announcement Murray described the agency's investment: “We think authentic communications is where it's at. The debate over what is and isn't authentic is likely to be rich, complex and never-ending.”
With regard to specific services, Murray was a bit more elusive: "Authentic Communications... frankly, getting to those two words was the easy part; delivering on that promise is anything but."
Martin Turnbull, Dean of the College of Communications at the Kepler School of Management commented: “Murray sounds awfully convincing. Designing and manufacturing perception has never been easy. But authenticity? That takes it to another level altogether. There are few firms out there capable of the true knockoff. Edelman however has proven to be a global leader in sophisticated appearances and genuine-looking reproductions. If anyone, Richard Edelman has the moral fiber and checkbook to pull it off.”
According to Manufacturing News, "’Knockoff Incorporated’ is now twice the size of Wal-Mart. Genuine knockoffs account for 7 percent of world trade. Arguably it's the business success story of the modern era.”
It all reminds me of a Saturday Night Live skit featuring a 60-Minutes' parody investigating defective fake novelties.
I believe in "Authentic Communications" in PR. Because it's an Edelman.
Toyota Highlights, ACDelco Moves, Airborne Pays, Facebook Poked
Facebook gets poked! Right. Facebook backlash YouTube-style.
Tracked: Mar 05, 11:10
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Knockoff phony doggie doodie! Is nothing sacred?!
The firm that invented the "flog" now goes "authentic". Orwell would be proud if he could see Edelman's latest declaration. Classic doublespeak. As if PR hasn't been "authentic" until now. It's like a spiritual conversion. Richard saw the light. On the order of Emperor Constantine. The smell of mendacity is sky high as usual over at Edelman headquarters.
This sounds like the companies that have the job title "leader." What does that make the rest of the employees, "followers"? What's the opposite of "authentic"? That pretty much spells out PR's perception problem.
I wonder if any of these people have read Heidegger. Their definition is as inscrutable as his: everyone wants to be "authentic" but I'm never clear what it means.
I remember well the skit from SNL. Celebrate being slick, I say to the Edelman folks. It pays well and it's what we all expect. It would be more believable if they just said, "since there are so many people who are doing their own online research and not just believing everything we throw out at them, we're also working on addressing them in a more straightforward manner. We're still PR. We're still going to put the best possible light on our clients that is possible, but we're going to do so while adapting to the new technologies and consumer demands as we grapple with the new media realities of the digital age. We're still good ole Edelman. The ball busters you've come to know and, well, know." That would sound open and real to me.
If it looks like Dog Doo, feels like Dog Doo, smells like Dog Doo...then it's Authentic!
I'm reading this and hoping (almost beyond all hope) that it's a spoof. I'm actually fearful of looking into it further to find out if this press release is real. Please, for the love of God, say it ain't so!
Having to announce you are authentic reduces authenticity. It's like someone saying "trust me." That's when it's usually time to question any trust you had.
"Authentic Communications" is like any other word or phrase branding. It's like fighting a "war on terrorism." What exactly is "terrorism"? How do you win against something that exists conceptually? You don't. You spend money, time and in this case lives fighting something that abstractly can exist anywhere, anytime.
It's the abstract nature of the phrase that allows one to say that anything as abstract as communications is "authentic." The truth of that phrase can only be gauged by the trust you put into the person saying it and the evidence they provide.
Maybe I should start making certificates of communications authenticity?
Wow. Exceptionally poor positioning. Some of your commenters even seem to think it's a spoof. While I don't think clients will be put off by it at a conscious level, I'm sure it will erode their trust at some deeper level. It will haunt them. They will be authentically creeped out. No, really, trust me!
Illuminating the Future
Having to say that you're authentic means that you're not authentic.
Ok, I've been lying to everyone the whole time. I'm not really a dog, but I've been pretending to be.. but starting today, I SWEAR I am going to be AUTHENTIC! I am gong to be a real dog and do real dog things...
What? Does that sound creepy to you to? Yeah, and BTW, your money isn't even real... it is just printed paper, your FB friends aren't really your friends and most people are lying to you... really.... sorry....
Funny. The irony of spinning their downsizing, reorganizing, of their company as an initiative to be authentic...is well, priceless.
Nice to see that psychobabble hasn't gone out of style, and that people are perfectly fine covering their ass with comments that have little to no meaning. To paraphrase that famous line from "Jaws," You're gonna need a bigger shovel.
Apply Poe's law to see if the Edelman announcement is, indeed, distinguishable from parody. Please let me know if you can. I can't.
Hmmm. Sounds like another "Cue Cat" fiasco. I was there for that debacle, and it was ugly. Wish I had kept a few, though. They're going for $10 on ebay now.
Erm... did Rick Murray read the Milli Vanilli article on Guy Kawasaki shortly before issuing the release for the new "authenticity" positioning? Hmm.
What Edelman doesn't realize: Authenticity doesn't need to SELL itself. You can't capture true authenticity by trying to own it.
You just have to be it.
I agree with Britton that its incredibly poor positioning. Rick also gives the kind of quote that's supposed to sound hip, clever and yet sincere, but it just comes across sounding flip, poorly thought out, and cynical.
I guess in that respect, it perfectly represents the overall effort.
Nice job of self-representation, Edelman. I wouldn't have expected this level of candor. And yes, this is another reason why we in PR have perception hurdles to overcome.
Makes me wonder what have they been doing until now?
I'm a totally authentic blogger.
Edelman is in deep shit.
I don't have a clue about PR. But, couldn't this move to 'authentic' just really be running away from anything 'virtual' at all, like all the other band-wagoners out there that never understood things like Second Life to begin with? Guess I am just a little tired of people pigeon-holing SL or any tech without exploring all the angles. SL, like a lot of tech, can be as 'authentic' as people make it.
Be careful using the word authentic too often. Might later come off as "synthetic authenticity"
Anthone who has to delcare that they are "authentic" must presumably take the view that they are perceived as not being "authentic" - something which might be of concern in a PR company