A Case of Advertising Through Content and Conversation

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Article ImageCompany: Edelman
Edelman has been serving clients' public relations needs for more than 50 years. The company, which is the world's largest independent public relations agency, has a workforce of 2,000 employees located in 45 offices across the globe. Chicago-based Edelman launched its me2revolution unit, which is essentially the company's media lab, in May 2006. The me2revolution team consists of experts (such as bloggers) in the social media and word-of-mouth marketing space.

Business Challenge
The goal of Edelman's me2revolution is to help the company's staff and its clients better understand the changing nature of the communications environment and what they need to do to succeed in the marketplace, says Rick Murray, president of me2revolution. "A big part of our job is training them how to do that and develop products and services that enable those changes to take place," says Murray. "Another part of our mandate is one of industry-wide evangelism." Company officials believe this communication shift has staying power and education will lead to a more rapid acceptance of this new culture.

Vendor of Choice: NewsGator Technologies Inc.
Denver-based NewsGator Technologies Inc. provides RSS aggregation solutions for a customer base that includes online content providers, enterprises, and individuals. The solutions serve those customers through various modes, from their desktop to wireless devices. NewsGator has a large enterprise business, an on-demand service and a private label operation. The privately-held company has 65 employees.

The Problem in Depth
Edelman sought to launch an offering that could display the effectiveness of social media and word of mouth marketing to its clients. "We had this idea of aggregating conversations on individual topics; essentially making it easier for people to find good quality information without having to search through a variety of blogs on their own," says Murray. "The idea is building a community around conversations."

The idea does represent a departure of sorts from Edelman's typical offerings, which don't usually include advertising initiatives, but it is certainly in line with the me2revolution group's goals. A subsequent meeting with NewsGator executives helped cement the idea. NewsGator's private-label platform offering could handle the back-end processes.

"As we understood it, Edelman felt all kinds of brands needed to find a way to be associated with the conversation that is happening around their products, around their position, and around topics that are of interest or related to the brand," says J.B. Holston, CEO and president of NewsGator. "There's this constant conversation folks are having around any particular topic. It may be coming in the form of blogs or podcasts or videos. The content coming out of those sources, that conversation, is determining what's being said on any particular topic."

The companies joined forces to create an advertising platform that would help brands use such social media as online conversations to market their products.

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