The PR Spotlight with Marshall Manson (Edelman Digital)

We at Coopr connect with international PR professionals daily. From Sydney to Vancouver and from Cape Town to Helsinki. More and more PR professionals connect with each other online, via Twitter, blogs, podcasts or Facebook. To share their knowledge, thoughts, doubts and passion for Public Relations. With ‘The PR Spotlight’ we wish to contribute to this active PR community. We will try to approach some of the best in PR for you. To help you find answers. ‘The PR Spotlight’ today is on Marshall Manson, Managing Director of Digital for Edelman in EMEA. Please enjoy his 7 answers and help us share the story!

1. Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Marshall Manson, and I’m the MD of Digital for Edelman here in what we call EMEA — that’s Europe, the Middle East and Africa. I’ve lived in London for the last three years, having relocated from Washington, DC, where I worked as Vice President of Digital Public Affairs. I’ve done political campaigns, brand marketing, and corp comms. For the last three years, I’ve focused on digital and social media almost exclusively.

2. What does PR mean to you?
PR means engagement. After all, PR has relationship building at the core of its DNA. Compare that to ad agencies and media buying firms: They’re all built around broadcasting messages. Engagement means building relationships through dialogue or interaction for mutual gain. Going forward, PR needs to apply the principles of engagement to everything it does — from traditional media relations to how it helps clients interact with communities through social media.

3. How do you see the role of PR in the near future?
Well, if PR means engagement, then we’re going have to be the folks helping clients to engage. That’s going to mean helping our clients understand the value of engagement. It’s going to mean teaching them how to do it, and how they have to evolve from what they’ve been doing — perhaps for a long time. And most importantly, we ‘re going to have to learn to be transparent and more complete in our story telling. The age of spin is over. The Web makes it way to easy for stakeholders to learn the truth.

4. PR sucks because…
Sometimes we have an inferiority complex. Marketers have had the big budgets for a long time, and often the ear of senior management. But that’s changing. The effectiveness of advertising continues to wane, and everyone recognizes that the communications and marketing spend has to be more evenly divided. Plus, senior managers are seeing the value of PR and real engagement. And finally, it’s becoming more and more obvious that reputation and marketing are inherently linked for consumers and other stakeholders, so the old siloes just don’t work any more.

5. PR rules because…
I’ve never been around a group of PR people who weren’t fun and passionate about what they were doing. As an industry, we have a great culture. To be sure, there are big exceptions. It’s a big industry. But there’s no industry I’d rather work in everyday.

6. What’s hot on your radar right now?
Measurement and analytics. Someone said to me recently, ‘I didn’t get into PR to do math.’ I told them they were going to have to get used to spending as much time with Excel as PowerPoint. I think that depressed them, but the reality is that as more budget comes into the ‘earned’ space through spending on social media and engagement, businesses are going to expect PR to be more quantitatively driven and to have robust methodologies for showing value. We’re going to have to learn to be outcomes focused. And we have to leave behind misleading metrics like AVE.

7. Who’s the best in your field? And why?
I really respect and admire the creativity and brand expertise of AKQA and the methodological and process rigour of Razorfish — which they always to present beautifully. They’re both doing groundbreaking work, and deserve the accolades that they get. Also, (and I wouldn’t put myself in his ‘field’), in terms of the smartest, most forward thinking guys around, I’d single out Clay Shirky. He just has a way of looking at things that’s always ahead of the moment, but he always manages to stay grounded in some human truth as well.

If you have other questions for Marshall, please feel free to post them in the comments below (‘Reageer‘) or connect with him via @marshallmanson.

Thanks again Marshall!

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