Edelman- a Leader in Global Understanding

18 Oct

For the past six days I have been quite literally stumbling (need to invest in shorter heels) around an Orlando hotel trying to keep my head above the ever-changing public relations industry I’ve thrown myself into.

My school hosted this year’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National Conference. It was a hubbub of meet-and-greets, workshops and influential speakers. I learned a lot about which paths I want to pursue in this big umbrella industry. But mostly I got to familiarize myself with the leading companies in the field. Of all the great companies out there, none snatched my attention quite like Edelman PR.

Edelman is the United Nations of PR companies. It is global, both in it’s reach and perspectives. According to its website,  It employs more than 3,600 people in 53 offices around the globe. It is the world’s largest privately-owned PR firm and strives to have a “diverse understanding of the complexities of the world, its cultures, markets, and issues” (http://www.edelman.com/about_us/diversity_at_edelman/).

After discussing in class the complex nature of communicating  to a variety of different cultures, beliefs and attitudes, it’s amazing to me to see a company that does this so skillfully. So I wanted to explore how a company like Edelman tackles this feat. How can one privately-owned company cater to countries as diverse as Sydny and India? Let me just say, they didn’t do it by cutting corners or “eyeballing” it.

So how do they do it? Edelman spends a lot of time, skill and money exploring consumer attitudes from all over the world. They are famous for their “Trust Barometer” and “goodpurpose” study, which measures global attitudes, including people’s commitment to certain social issues and their expectations of brands and corporations. The firm is then able to find out cool things like how Brazilians and the Chinese are the most trustful of  government and media, while the UK and US are the least trustful. From this, they are able to cater messages to their unique audiences. Edelman also has a series of blogs from employees all over the globe who “immerse themselves in the local business environment” of various markets to help advance the firm’s global culture with colleagues and clients”. (http://www.edelmanfellows.com/pages/home.aspx)

Lastly, Edelman makes sure to hire employees with diverse heritages to educate and mentor each other and promote a culture where “diversity and tolerance are valued and expected.” (http://www.edelman.com/about_us/diversity_at_edelman/)

I think we could all learn from Edelman’s think-before-you-jump approach to communicating in our culturally-sensitive world. To me, this idea is key to achieving progressive, positive and achievable globalization without countries’ losing their cultural autonomy. If each us does a little homework about what our foreign counterparts read, what they like to do on their days off and how they take their coffee, communication would be less like the game “telephone” and more fluid in achieving a healthy globalization. In short- Edelman walks over eggshells in ways that would make the lithest of cats jealous.

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