What does Edelman know about Client Relationships?

Agency- Client Relationships

Agency- client relationships play an integral role in the operation and management of a PR agency or firm. Bruning and Ledingham (2002, p. 25) note the continual development and formation of agency- client relationships, ‘Just as individuals experience relationship phases…account executives suggested that agency personnel and their clients likewise experience identifiable phases as relationships are initiated, developed, maintained, evolve, and deteriorate’ .

The business of client relationships has been spoken about by researchers as one that is complex in nature due to the diversity of clients. A 2009 study aimed to, ‘develop these ideas towards a view of clients as relational, pluralistic, processual and constructed’ (Alvesson et al 2009, p. 261). To achieve success it is suggested that communications professionals must develop a deep understanding of the client and the importance of monitoring and maintaining relationships and their unpredictability, ‘there are likely to be actors and groups within the client firm that identify with the project and their client positions, people that are skeptical or hostile and those who are ambivalent’ (Alvesson et al 2009, p. 256).


There is a certain complexity evident when discussing agency- client relationships and this complexity seems to be understood by global PR firm Edelman. Chia (2008, p. 69) suggests that, ‘Public relations is a profession where successful relationships are developed, maintained and effectively managed’  and Edelman’s emphasis on the unique nature of clients and tailoring appropriate relationships mirrors this idea. Dan Edelman established Edelman in 1952 and is now renowned for his work in the PR industry (Edelman 2013a). Edelman is the largest Public Relations firm, employing 4,800 communicators globally, with 67 offices worldwide (Edelman 2013a). Edelman represents a range of different clientele, including:

  • Aerospace and Defense
  • Consumer packaged goods
  • Energy
  • Financial Service
  • Nonprofit
  • Sports and Entertainment
  • Retail

(Edelman 2013c)
(Source: http://www.edelman.com/what-we-do/industries/)

Chia’s (2008, p. 77) idea of ‘blending’, ‘best described the mix of a personal and business management approach as one being part of the other’  becomes very relevant in the case of Edelman as they address Chia’s notion of a personal and business management approach in their guiding principles:

  • Edelman is committed to honesty.
  • Edelman is committed to transparency.
  • Edelman is committed to fair dealing.
  • Edelman ensures business activity aligns with the interests of all stakeholders: clients, employees and parties with whom we interact.
  • Edelman strives to model best practice in all areas of our business.
  • Edelman does not violate legal obligations.

(Edelman 2013d)
(Source: http://www.edelman.com/who-we-are/about-edelman/values-and-mission/)

Edelman reported revenue of $637 million worldwide in 2012 (Figure 1). The organisation has the financial might to invest in programs and procedures to establish their intended actions in the area of agency-client relationships. Edelman is an agency that addresses Burgers (1972, p. 23) two basic requirements, ‘Having something valuable to say, and the ability to say it in a manner that will be listened to’ . As a result of Edelman’s extensive experience and financial strength they can be identified as a leader in the area of agency- client relationships.

Figure 1:

Figure 1


(Edelman 2013a)
(Source: http://www.edelman.com/who-we-are/about-edelman/the-details/)

Key Concepts

Due to Edelman’s 70% growth rate over a 5 year period ending in 2012 (Figure 1) and the company’s strong financial position, the organisation offers an example of successful billing, budgeting and financial management. Additionally in 2012 Adweek reported that in 2011 Edelman gained 100 new clients globally and only lost one major account, Burger King (Adweek 2012, para. 10). This high level of retention and acquisition leads to a discussion of the role client relationships has in improving client acquisition and retention. These two key concepts associated with agency- client relationships work autonomously, as well as in conjunction with one another to achieve Edelman’s tangible success.

Billing, Budgeting and Financial Management

In its book ‘Public Relations Business’ Entrepreneur Magazine (2012, p. 143) suggests, ‘One of the primary indicators of the overall health of your business is its financial status, and its important that you monitor your financial progress closely’ . Entrepreneur magazine’s idea offers an ideal introduction into discussing Edelman’s approach to financial management within relationship management.  As Bruning and Ledingham (2002, p. 26) note the practicalities of financial management are key to establishing a prosperous ongoing relationship, ‘both the agency and the client are very cognizant of the value that is received as a result of participating in the relationship, and often view the initial phases of agency-client relationship development in a very utilitarian manner’ .

Edelman has a number of different strategies in place to ensure clients feel as though they are being provided with the best and fairest services. Firstly they are open and transparent with releasing their revenue and growth, it was reported in 2011 Edelman’s global revenue grew by 17 percent and they billed $456 million (Adweek 2012, para. 9). Clients and potential clients being able to access this sort of information contributes to Edelman establishing an image of strength and reliability. In addition Edelman projects itself as trustworthy in the area of financial management by having a key principle that addresses financial dealings with clients:

  • Edelman is committed to fair dealing.

(Edelman 2013d)
(Source: http://www.edelman.com/who-we-are/about-edelman/values-and-mission/)

Secondly and probably most significantly Edelman has established a ‘Code of Ethics and Business Conduct’, the code of conduct addresses, ‘common compliance and ethics issues facing global businesses today and outlines the responsibilities we have to one another, to our clients and stakeholders, to the firm, and to our industry’ (DJE Holdings 2013, p. 2). Most notably the code of conduct addresses financial management, billing and budgeting in the following ways:

  • The financial and accounting records of Edelman and its subsidiaries must be maintained in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles or international financial reporting standards (as appropriate) and implemented consistently throughout the organization.
  • All employees must diligently follow Edelman’s policies and procedures and our client contractual provisions to ensure that we bill our clients appropriately

(DJE Holdings 2013, p. 17-19)
(Source: http://www.scribd.com/doc/96444691/Code-of-Ethics)

Specifically the ‘‘Code of Ethics and Business Conduct’ outlines the way hours should be correctly entered into the system, client’s invoices must reflect bill rates and business expenses must be reported accurately and then billed to the client appropriately. These measures support Public Relations Business’ idea that it is a necessity to, ‘Establish and follow sound billing procedures from the beginning’ (Entrepreneur magazine 2012, p. 145). Edelman has put in place these procedures globally to the maintain the trust of clients, supporting Chia’s (2008, p. 69) suggestion that agency- client relationships are made up of a combination of both a personal and business management approach, ‘The business of relationships is about how they are managed and what makes them viable, effective and beneficial for business partners’ .

Client Acquisition and Retention

As mentioned earlier, in 2011 Edelman gained 100 new clients and only lost one major account (Adweek 2012, para 10). These sorts of statistics would suggest that the organisation understands the intricacies of client acquisition and retention.

The company adopts a number of different strategies to assist in this field. Firstly, what has been named a ‘client-centric approach’ to Public Relations that focuses on the ongoing needs of the client, ‘Because at our core, what we’re all about is successfully supporting every client, every day’ (Edelman 2013b). This statement addresses similar ideas to those of Brunner (2008, p. 74) who identifies, ‘trust, control mutuality, relationship commitment, and relationship satisfaction as the most important outcome factors in an organizational relationship…’ . Clients have most frequently described Edelman as:

  • Strategic
  • Dedicated
  • Honest
  • Creative
  • Passionate

(see Figure 2)

Similarly Figure 2 provides evidence that despite economic issues client retention has remained steady over the past ten years. 

Figure 2:

Figure 2


(Edelman 2012)
(Source: http://www.slideshare.net/EdelmanInsights/edelman-quality)

Secondly Edelman has implemented a ‘Global Client Relationship Management Program’ this program has been initiated for the companies largest clients and aims to use a global relationship management approach to achieve business success, ‘This client-centric approach ensures that all practices and offices around the world working on the client’s business follow consistent standards, protocols and processes – and achieve impactful results’ (Edelman 2013b). This sort of initiative allows Edelman to employ open, yet strategically structured and tailored communication to cover all areas of dialogue with a client, supporting Chia’s (2008, p. 79) research that, ‘Where communication was open, transparent and formal and informal dialogue, face-to-face or online communication was managed ethically, respect for all relational partners was evident’ .

In addition the acquisition of key clients in Edelman’s Australian offices recently highlights the global reach of Edelman’s policies and their substantial success:


By synthesizing the academic research and the values and actions of Edelman it is clear that Public Relations practitioners need to understand the complexity of agency- client relationships to achieve success. In the area of financial management, billing and budgets it can be concluded that by providing clear, sound and understandable information an organisation can develop a level of respect from clients, in order to achieve Bruning and Ledingham’s (2002, p. 28) ideal state of agency- client relationship, ‘Moreover, both parties are able to accurately predict the behavior of the other, and have developed highly complex patterns of interaction’ . In the area of client acquisition and retention it can be concluded that by valuing, understanding and listening to a client an organisation can achieve success. This conclusion is in line with the research of Burger (1972, p. 24) who suggests that, ‘Like most of us, clients or employers are perfectly willing to listen to sage counsel, and perfectly willing to accept valid ideas, as long as such listening or acceptance does not imply that they are fools’ .

Reference List:

Adweek 2012, ‘Media Agency of the Year: PR, Edelman’, Adweek, 23 January, viewed 15 September 2013, < http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/media-agency-year-pr-edelman-137643&gt;

Alvesson, M, Karemann, D, Sturdy, A, Handley, K 2009, ‘Unpacking the client(s): Constructions, positions and client—consultant dynamics’, Scandinavian Journal of Management, vol. 25, pp. 253-263.

Bruning, S, Ledingham, J 2002, ‘Identifying the Communication, Behaviors, and Interaction Patterns of Agency-Client Relationships in Development and Decline’, Journal of Promotion Management, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 21-34.

Brunner, B 2008, ‘Listening, Communication & Trust: Practitioners’ Perspectives of Business/Organizational Relationships’, International Journal of Listening, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 73-82.

Burger, C 1972, ‘The New Challenges in Client Relationships’, Public Relations Quarterly, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 22-25.

Chia, J 2008, ‘The business of relationships’, Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, vol. 9, pp. 69-86.

Edelman 2012, Edelman Insights: Edelman Quality, Edelman, viewed 15 September 2013, < http://www.slideshare.net/EdelmanInsights/edelman-quality&gt;

Edelman 2013, About Us: The Details, Edelman, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://www.edelman.com/who-we-are/about-edelman/the-details/&gt;

Edelman 2013, Client-Centric Approach, Edelman, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://www.edelman.com/who-we-are/about-edelman/our-global-approach/&gt;

Edelman 2013, Industries, Edelman, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://www.edelman.com/what-we-do/industries/&gt;

Edelman 2013, Values and Mission, Edelman, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://www.edelman.com/who-we-are/about-edelman/values-and-mission/&gt;

DJE Holdings 2013, The Edelman Family of Companies: Code of Ethics and Business Conduct, Edelman, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://www.scribd.com/doc/96444691/Code-of-Ethics&gt;

Entrepreneur magazine 2012, ‘Financial Management’, in Public Relations Business: Entrepreneurs Step-by-Step Startup Guide, Entrepreneur Press, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://reader.eblib.com.au.ezproxy.lib.rmit.edu.au/(S(lebbx1ldp3bycdednfdarmjw))/Reader.aspx?p=979548&o=116&u=IOscgPs%2fwrrXl%2bHlhzQrww%3d%3d&t=1379833714&h=B0F2DDEAFD3C56FDC4E57DF9C713FAC60A3373F2&s=10104592&ut=337&pg=1&r=img&c=-1&pat=n#>

PRIA 2012, Edelman joins KFC at the dinner (and boardroom) table, PRIA, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://www.pria.com.au/industrynews/edelman-joins-kfc-at-the-dinner-and-boardroom-table&gt;

PRIA 2010, Edelman wins the EXTRA professional account, PRIA, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://www.pria.com.au/news/id/1032&gt;

PRIA 2010, Edelman wins Listerine, PRIA, viewed 15 September 2013, <http://www.pria.com.au/news/id/1038&gt;


The Value of Visual Storytelling for NGOs

In the age of Web 2.0 your NGO must have the ability to break through the incredible amount of noise on social media. You have to do something that hits a nerve.

Breaking through noise might be about big campaigns and spectacles. But how about for the everyday NGO, NGOs just starting out or the budget conscious? It may be one of the oldest forms of captivating an audience, but just maybe it’s still the best. Storytelling.

In the case of Web 2.0, where content is hitting your audience from every angle, maybe visual storytelling is the answer.

Use Image Photo by Alex Masi on behalf of The Bhopal Medical Appeal. Source: http://www.nten.org/blog/2011/10/04/visual-storytelling-nonprofits

Photo by Alex Masi on behalf of The Bhopal Medical Appeal. Source: http://www.nten.org/blog/2011/10/04/visual-storytelling-nonprofits

Blogger for socialbrite.org JC Lasica suggests there is nothing more powerful than an emotional connection. Whatever the visual form, it’s a matter of thinking about your organisation not souly as an NGO but as a media organisation.

So what about an example of a successful visual storytelling technique, ‘Trailer of Burbax, Ethiopia’, produced by ‘A Glimmer of Hope’.

What is the beauty of your story? I think there is something special about breaking away from the norm. Do you think there is some value in using visual storytelling to delve into a NGOs complexities? Giving people a chance to use their brains and actively connect.

I think much of the value of your story comes down to its circulation. Resource wisely, use platforms with a wide user base and choose your time to post wisely. Understand when people have time to make an emotional connection.

I’ll leave you with a final example. Let me know what you think, its strengths and weakness or simply did this technique of visual storytelling affect you?

Social Media as a Platform for NGO donations

An NGO can’t operate without donations. It is the core of an organisation, giving an organisation an ability to reach its current goals and to strive for more influence. In the age of Web 2.0 Social Media offers a massive pool of potential donors difficult to ignore.

Source: socialbrite.org

Source: socialbrite.org, ‘How can NGOs use Social Media to Create Impact’– Slide 7

Social Media largely dominates the ‘eco-system’ of the internet. It becomes a matter of putting this resource to work.

‘Likers’ and ‘followers’ alike the question that floats to the surface is how to turn discussion to donation?

STEP 1: Raising the Profile

For an NGO using social media it is essential to raise the profile of the organisation. Consultant Samantha Fleming of Afrosocialmedia talks about the potential for discussion social media offers.

Source: Samantha Fleming, Afrosocialmedia on NGOs using social media

But as professionals in the NGO sector there’s a question in the back of your mind, how does this convert to tangible funds?

STEP 2: How to donate?

NGOs have to have the ability to compete with e-commerce giants like Amazon and their ability to provide customers with their product in a minimal amount of ‘clicks’.

It’s about efficiency. Janet Fouts, (follow her on twitter @jfouts) blogger at socialbrite.org, in her post ‘Social fundraising tools: Our top 5 picks’, gives organisations a clear list of efficient donating tools to integrate into their greater social media strategy.


In response to Janet Fouts’ post, I think it’s important to comment on the recent shift and ongoing trend toward greater integration between social media and donation.

Greenpeace is an active example of where the future is headed. In just two clicks from their facebook page donors are right where they need to be.

Step 1:

Step 2:


So what do you think? I’m all about integration and the ability to make the social media experience one that’s completely linked to donation. What about you, do you think there some value in keeping the two somewhat seperate?

Prof Comm Student Charter

So the challenge was to see if we as students of ‘Professional Communications’ at RMIT University we could improved the prescribed charter. So how to go about this? Well google docs file sharing apparently. I found this experience rather confronting at first, I think the challenge lay in the fact that the document was open to such a large amount of contributors, so many that material that had been changed and edited was difficult to follow and further improve myself. Therefore this experience taught me that perhaps when using online file sharing and editing programs one must be very specific about the content and the intended use and development, as well as the amount of people the file is shared with. A vast and open arena of online editors and contributors in this case proved quite problematic.

Although in saying this I did find the experience quite enlightening and interesting. As such an open forum allowed for a wide range of ideas and sentiments. Annotated in the screen shots below are the changes I believe were most important to make and the points I thought could be added.


The screen grab above shows the three new points I added to the charter

  1. Involve yourself actively and often in discussions during tutorials. It is important to have the ability to voice your opinions in a public space, and draw and develop upon the ideas of others.
  2. Utilise the resources that RMIT provides (technical equipment, academic resources, tutors and lecturers) wherever possible in order to get the most out of your degree.
  3. Approach the course as an active and ongoing learning experience. Students are expected to push their learning boundaries and step outside their immediate comfort zone, in order to get the most of the course

I attempted to write these goals in a formal and direct style in order to suit the already existing points within the charter. Whilst also aiming to be descriptive and clear.


Visible in the annotation on the screen grab I made some changes to three of the points already posted by fellow students. With these changes I aimed to improve clarity in expression and description. As well as attempting to make the wording and expression within these points more in line with the original charter (Seen in Figure 1, Figure 2,Figure 3).

RSS Teach Me How to Blog cont.

Once again I have gone to my RSS feeds for tips on how to turn this ‘reluctant’ blogger into an enthusiastic one. The feed I found most useful in this instance was Blog Go Down. More specifically the blog post ‘5 Steps to Building More Confidence with Your Readers’

It’s not as though I have the suggested 250 visitors a day, but I still found I could draw some keys points from the blog written by guest blogger, Nathan Kash. The blog post discussed in a logical manner, using sub-headings the way in which as a blogger needs to have specific goals and ideas concerning the way their blog operates and the content that is posted. As the article suggests:

‘The main reason random visitors don’t end up converting i.e. subscribing to your lists, feeds or buying a product is simply that they do not trust you. They have come to your site sure enough but you haven’t given them a reason to stay or keep coming.’ (Source: Nathan Kash 2012, (‘5 Steps to Building More Confidence with Your Readers’)

The key steps Kash suggests are as follows:

  1. Focus on your content
  2. Find a compelling angle for your content
  3. Create a posting schedule
  4. Reply to all your comments
  5. Build a relationship with other bloggers

(Source: Nathan Kash 2012, ‘5 Steps to Building More Confidence with Your Readers’ )

The step I found most useful with the stage I am currently at in my blogging career and where I want to take blogging after the conclusion of ‘Networked Media’ was step 1. In terms of content, according to the research I did by reading this blog post, I need to discover a niche. Something that is specific to my blog and appealing to readers, that has a clear directional focus. This prompted me to begin brainstorming where my niche may lie.

This research, employing the use of my RSS feed proved very useful as it has provided me with an easy to follow process that I can follow and adapt with as blogging career develops.

I also found reading the reactions via twitter at the bottom of the blog post interesting (see image below), I also believe this is a great way to extend the reach of ones blog, allowing a blog writer to connect with a much wider audience.


(Source: Nathan Kash 2012, ‘5 Steps to Building More Confidence with Your Readers’ , accessed 12.02pm 7 September 2012)

How Do I Best Search the Net?

Due to my absolute fascination and the inspiring performances in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London 2012, I decided to use ‘Paralympics’ as my search term of choice. I used three contrasting search engines, google, instagrok and duck duck go. All three search engines provided a different way of searching the vast information the internet has to offer.

Instagrok was perhaps the most different to any search engine I had ever seen before, presenting the results within a mind map/flow chart format, as well as a key facts table on the right hand side (see picture below). Personally I found this format slightly hard to navigate. Although for people who best learn visually I can see how this format would cater to their needs.

The second search engine I employed was ‘Duck Duck Go’ this search provided a format I found easy to understand and navigate. In my opinion it was quite logically set out. Providing a general overview of the topic at the very top of the screen followed by the ‘Official’ Paralympics site. The search engine also pin points which results are sponsored links and provides the option to uncover ‘more results’ if more information is need (see picture below).

Finally I employed the use of Google, admittedly my default search engine up until now. The strength in Google as a search engine I believe was the ability to break up informative sites, from news sites and the how the engine pin points these differences (see picture below). The order of sites seemed quite logical and I found it quite easy to navigate between the different resources.

For the above reasons I decided to rank the search engines in this order:

  1. Duck Duck Go
  2. Google
  3. Instagrok

Therefore, I went about changing Duck Duck Go to my default search engine. I did this by following the instructions posted on Duck Duck Go itself:

1. Right-click the address bar (where it says duckduckgo.com).

2. Select Edit search engines.

3. Find and select DuckDuckGo in the list. If not there, click here.

4. Click Make Default.

5. It should then move to the very top with (Default) next to it. Good luck!

(Source: www.duckduckgo.com)

RSS, teach me how to blog!

So I am still fairly reluctant and I’m still very hesitant. I need some serious help. My RSS feeds are focused on how to blog, why to blog and what to blog. So what exactly have I found out? Apparently according to ProBlogger it’s all about setting long-term goals, just check out the article ‘Long-term Goal-setting for Successful Bloggers’. So what’s the key, here is my interpretation:

Image accessed from: http://www.problogger.net/

  • Make a sustainable goal
  • Orientate your goal around you
  • Walk don’t run!
  • Learn from your failure

Easier said than done I’m sure, but I think for me it has to start with some positivity. Whether it’s just convincing myself that blogging isn’t the self-obsessed hobby I first thought or perhaps even just removing the slight cringe from my face as I write into the white box that appears on my screen.

‘Sydney Swans’, Flying Under the Radar?

With the help of newly discovered ‘Google Alerts’ I have been excited to find out without trolling through pages and pages of news. I can be automatically notified when something intriguing surfaces about the boys at the Sydney Swans. Most notably this week my Google Alerts sent me a link to ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ article, ‘Swans avoiding complacency against Bulldogs’ (access at: http://www.smh.com.au/afl/afl-news/swans-avoiding-complacency-against-bulldogs-20120815-2485p.html).

I absolutely agree with the sentiment of the argument of the article and feel like this week gives the Swannies a chance to build confidence coming into finals. Western Bulldogs, an under performing and out of form outfit, give the Swans a chance to implement game plans and for the experienced players to step-up and inspire the team after their loss to Collingwood last week. Furthermore my ‘Google Alerts’ notified me of the ‘Herald Sun’ article concerning Sydney’s said under performance at ANZ Stadium and how the Swans only need to go as far as examining the statistics to realise this is not the case (access at: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/afl/statistics-debunk-myth-that-the-sydney-swans-perform-poorly-at-anz-stadium/story-e6frf9io-1226450364245).

Can this week at Etihad help rebuild ‘The Bloods’ confidence. I hope yes! Bring on finals!

I have also received a ranged of interesting articles via ‘Google Alerts’ about my other two subscriptions, The Australian Ballet and The United Nations. Watch this space for more on that.

An inspiration…

An outstanding performer in so many rights. Beyonce has always inspired me. Whether it is her amazing confidence or the value she places in being proud of your own achievements and striving for excellence. Beyonce has amazing talent. This particular video and song has come to hold a special place in my life. Beyonce prompts us to make a difference in the world and environment we live in. This video tells the story of a journey of Beyonce’s life through the use of archival footage, as well the live performance at Revel last year. A video that has a nostalgic quality whilst taking the viewer on a journey and attempting to create a personal connection between Beyonce and the audience. In my view the strength of this video is the way in which it uses creative editing and archival footage to create a very prominent sense of place and time in order to create a strong narrative with the overall theme of achieving ones dreams and aspiring to be influential in the world.

Reluctant to Blog

I have always been reluctant to become a blogger, I don’t know whether it’s because I have no idea what I’d ever write about or the fact that I feel my life is far too boring for anyone to ever want to read about. Admittedly I love nothing more than reading a witty, hilarious, inspirational or thought provoking blog, much like the entries on Mamamia, http://www.mamamia.com – headed by one of my favourite writers Mia Freedman. Well, let the blogging begin. I guess.