09:22 AM

Lessons From Richard Edelman's Decade As A Blogger

Edelman Churchill 148

Richard Edelman (center) at a Churchill Club event in February 2013.

Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, the world's largest privately held PR firm, recently wrote about his "Decade of Blogging." His first post was September 29, just 10 days after my first post, which shows how early he began. 

There weren't many bloggers at the time, it was a tiny community and that's how I got to meet Richard Edelman. We were both bloggers. And we spoke the same language.

It takes a lot of courage for the leader of a large organization to jump into blogging, especially in 2004 when it was causing tremendous consternation in PR and corporate communications communities.  It's difficult to believe today but when I left the Financial Times to become a "journalist/blogger" in mid-2004, Intel held an emergency meeting to discuss how it should respond to "bloggers." 

I spent a lot of my time in those early years, speaking to PR agencies at lunchtime meetings, speaking at conferences, speaking privately with the comms teams of major companies to try and answer their questions about this media phenomenon, and I witnessed their trepidation at being caught in the middle of a fast changing media world — without rules and without precedents. It still hasn't stopped. 

By starting to blog early Richard Edelman figured out what blogging was and what it is good for. He didn't have to ask anyone and that gave him an important advantage over his peers at competing companies. And it continues to give him an advantage. Blogging is something that you can only know by doing it. [And it's so much more than you could ever imagine — it can sometimes feel like a spiritual practice. I'll share my decade in an upcoming post.]

Richard Edelman writes

The most important benefit of the blog is my connection to so many different kinds of people in this industry. It has been a wonderful way to connect with clients and media partners surrounding topics about which they care deeply. In academia, I feel that I am a positive force for PR students and professors, raising issues that they can debate in the classroom. And it has been a powerful gateway to our talent, connecting me to my Edelman colleagues around the world who ask me questions about my posts when I visit their offices in my travels.

By blogging, I have been able to address a wide range of topics: from political change in the world, to the explosive impact of digital platforms and technology to some of our most brilliant client work. It has also allowed me to give the background for a change in position, such as my new interest in sponsored content done in a balanced, ethical manner versus solely for advertising purposes.

Some of the posts have been deeply personal. My tributes to my late parents Dan and Ruth were cathartic for me, my family and the Edelman employees who knew them. My turning 60 was similarly an opportunity to reflect and commit to the future.

There's more on Edelman's 6 A.M Blog — his favorite time of the day.

[Edelman was a sponsor of SVW for six months in 2006]