Philip Sheldrake

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In conversation with Robert Phillips, CEO Edelman UK

I really enjoyed having the opportunity to ask Robert Phillips (@citizenrobert), CEO Edelman UK, his opinion on the state of the PR profession. Robert believes that public relations is at a pivotal moment when, confronted by the brutal transparency of social media, the profession has the opportunity to embrace the public information and two-way symmetric models as the default rather than the exception, ditching the spin and persuasion attitudes and connotations. Resigning them to history, or at least to publicists.

Robert emphasises the re-emergent role of the citizen, an idea that appears to have played a distant second fiddle to the consumer in recent decades. And if this rings your bell you might be interested in Robert's Citizen Renaissance project.

I was particularly interested in Robert's assertion that social media is about behaviour; it is not a "channel", and PRs who regard it as one are getting it wrong.

And Robert capped this off by giving us his four outcomes for PR programmes (as opposed to outputs):

  1. Increase trust – referring to Edelman's annual Trust Barometer
  2. Deeper communities
  3. Driving behavioural change; of citizens, consumers, business
  4. And ultimately commercial success.

Lastly, Ben Matthews (@benrmatthews) gets a big thumbs up from Robert, and my co-host Stephen Waddington (@wadds). FYI, they're talking about Ben's Bright One initiative (@brightonecomms), a volunteer-run communications agency for the third sector.