It seems like Edelman’s got over the fake Wal-Mart blog stutter and is happily ploughing on with it social media ambitions. A week or two ago, the company announced its StoryCrafter social media news release format. There’s been a lot written about that already, some of it claiming that Edelman has merely stuck its own name on other people’s work. But then last night, I read this headline:
Edelman and NewsGator Team to Offer Conversational Ads
It struck me as a bit odd, because I thought Edelman was a public relations company…so what’s it doing offering ads of any kind (conversational or otherwise)?
This is the deal: “The NewsGator-powered product tracks media relating to pre-specified subjects, extracting nuggets from blog posts, mainstream media, and video and photo sites. The PR firm will pluck the highest quality content from those sources based on criteria set by its clients; the choice bits will then feed dynamically into the chosen advertiser-branded units.”
“Units” in this context means things like banner ads. So, basically, there might be a banner ad from, say, BMW on the Auto Trader website containing lots of positive comments from blogs and other media about BMWs; comments that Edelman has selected from the stuff pushed to it by NewsGator.
Excuse me for asking, but what on earth has that got to do with public relations? Edelman doesn’t create any of the content; it merely sifts through and chooses content (“based on criteria set by its clients”, remember) which has been created by other people. Edelman doesn’t then place any of that content in the media itself; it just floods it into banner ads (presumably designed and planned by the client’s ad agency).
I’m really struggling here. Have I got this wrong, or has Edelman made a significant strategic shift in the focus of its business?