Gini Dietrich

Edelman Admits They Don’t Know Social Media

By: Gini Dietrich | October 28, 2009 | 

It’s been a while since something in the news has gotten me fired up, but it happened this week. I saw the headline “Younger employees help senior executives unlock social media mystery” and clicked on the story to learn more. I expected it to be another story about using Gen Y to set up social networking, set strategy, and execute.

Imagine my surprise, then, when it started off by talking about the executives at Edelman (THE LARGEST INDEPENDENT PR FIRM IN THE WORLD) working with younger employees to understand social media. They have what they call their “Rotnem” program( which is mentor spelled backwards – in case you missed that) where 95 percent of their senior executives are mentored by Gen Y.

At first blush, it’s not a bad idea. I like that the Baby Boomer generation has decided this is not a fad and they’d better learn more about it.

What I do have a problem with is THE LARGEST INDEPENDENT PR FIRM IN THE WORLD just announced in the Chicago Tribune that the people who are supposed to be setting social media strategy in conjunction with communication strategy for their clients HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY’RE DOING!

If you haven’t read the article, you should. It’s linked above. I met Janet Cabot a few weeks ago. She’s smart. She has a big job. She’s experienced. She knows what she’s doing. And this article makes her look like an out-of-touch bufoon. I mean, come on! Her social media experience is on Don’t even get me started on Kathy Kregner being “so cute” with her 500 Facebook friends.

Maybe I’m a fool to think a piece of social media belongs in the communication department and with PR firms. This article certainly set back our industry a good number of years. The scary thing, though, is Edelman will still do social media for clients. They just clearly won’t have experienced communication strategy attached because 95 percent of their leaders don’t know how to use the tools or how building better relationships online can affect business growth.

Baby Boomers. Gen Xers. Senior leadership. CEOs. Entrepreneurs. Business owners. Anyone in the c-suite. And general counsel. Listen up. Social media is changing the way you relate to your customers, to your employees, to your stakeholders, to your prospects, and to your potential talent. This is not a “cute” or “fun” thing to do. It is how we all will communicate and receive our information into 2010 and beyond. It’s changing customer service, HR, sales, communication, marketing, and advertising.

Learn how the tools can help you do just that or be left wondering how your competition beat you up and stole away all of your customers without so much as an ad campaign.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.


  1. Forget twentysomethings; Let Carol Brady Teach You…

    Pretty please, mainstream media–can you stop perpetuating the myth that the only appropriate guides for “older” people into the scary world of social media are “younger” people? Seriously. It’s getting really, well, old…

  2. […] and had turned over the asylum to the junior executives and interns. Gini Dietrich said as much in her post last week, which led to this reply by Shel Holtz. Of course, the article never said that […]

  3. […] Dietrich of F.A.D.S agrees and remarks how scary it is that Edelman does social media for clients when 95 percent of its […]

  4. […] some questions about a client (Best Buy) and Edelman’s lack of response. But then again they did admit a year ago that they were clueless when it comes to social media. Of course in 2006 a travel blog featuring a […]

  5. […] own mind” and have made way too many mistakes for my money.  According to a PR blog called Spin Sucks the fight against destructive spin What I do have a problem with is THE LARGEST INDEPENDENT PR FIRM IN THE WORLD just announced in the […]

  6. […] we could go back to PR agencies like Edelman who once admitted they don’t understand social media and who made mistakes with big clients like Wal*Mart but one would have hoped that ALL PR firms […]