Edelman Saves Face with Social Media

February 17, 2010 at 10:31 am 14 comments

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

PRSSA students from across the midwest and a few from across the nation.

PRSSA who??

Is this a joke?

Actually, this was no laughing matter. This was the situation we faced at Edelman on Thursday, February 11, 2010, when I attended the DePaul PRSSA Regional Activity, ‘Get in the Loop’ in Chicago, IL.

A group of 28 fellow PRSSA members and PR pre-pros led by Kellyn Wieland, VP of Special Events at DePaul PRSSA, trekked from DePaul’s Loop campus to Edelman’s agency downtown. Oo-ing and Ah-ing as we approached the skyscraper gleaming in the sunlight, we walked through the glass doors and waited to be ushered through the building. Giddy with the excitement of being at a “big” agency, we took a seat on the couches and ledges, patiently waiting to be led upstairs to the land of Edelman.

But that initial excitement turned into deep disappointment. We sat in the lobby for 45 minutes, never to be let in to the agency.

Kellyn spent the entire 45 minutes trying to call her Edelman contact, only to be asked to “come back tomorrow.” To note, Kellyn had dutifully sent email after email weeks before to confirm the visit. However, we later found out that it was the day the Edelman Trust Barometer was released and the entire agency was booked in meetings.

Sitting with 27 other restless college kids in the lobby, I decided to tweet via text from my non-smartphone to David Armano, Vice President of Edelman Digital, about the Edelman fiasco.

Even with my annoyance at the wait and confusion, I was astounded when Rick Murray, President of Edelman Digital, responded within seconds of my tweet (read from bottom to top):

Heather Crowley from Edelman HR came down to the lobby with another Edelman internship coordinator to tell us a little bit about Edelman, its internship and employment programs and to answer any questions we had about Edelman.

Had we been kicked out of the lobby like the security guards wanted, all 28 future PR pros would have not only left empty-handed, but with a bad taste in our mouths.

It still amazes me what one tweet can accomplish. Congratulations, Edelman Digital, for listening when no one else would hear us.

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14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. foresmac  |  February 17, 2010 at 11:17 am

    And to think, you might not have ended up at Tech Karaoke Chicago, either!

    Reply
  • 2. David Armano  |  February 17, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Hi Mikinzie,

    I felt really bad for you guys and wish I could have seen the tweet even sooner. What you write about here is proof that people do make mistakes (something must have fallen through the cracks) but the way mistakes are handled are equally important in this day and age and this is yet another example of how powerful social media can be (you have a voice, and we have the option to respond publicly)

    I’m glad Rick got back to you as well and followed up after that. While I’m sorry that the rest of the students didn’t get access to the office it was good to be able to meet in person.

    Sorry for your inconvenience and if you are in Chicago again we’d be happy to give you a tour.

    -David

    Reply
  • 3. Katelyn  |  February 17, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Very cool! Props to the Edelman guys, PRSSA, and you Mikinzie– good luck in your job search coming out of college. Looks like you know what is important!

    Reply
  • 4. Madison  |  February 17, 2010 at 11:48 am

    While I was glad someone came down and that Mr. Murray and Mr. Armano responded, I was still pretty bummed! I am going to tour that place next month if it is the last thing I do…

    I’m glad I had you to wait with in the uncomfortably hot Aon lobby. =)

    Reply
  • 5. Heather Crowley  |  February 17, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Hi Mikinzie,
    I too am sorry that the student group was not able to come up to our Edelman reception area. However, it’s worth pointing out that my main contact was not Kellyn, but one of her colleagues, Hanna. Hanna reached out to me on Monday 2/8 to confirm a visit with our agency. I was out of the office that day and she should have received my out of office with information on who to contact in my absence. There was no follow up and I returned to the office on Thursday 2/11 to receive a call that morning letting me know the group had arrived. We quickly searched the network to see about available space, as we did not have this as a planned visit. We realized that we had several clients in the office and were unable to accommodate your large group.

    As my colleague and I reiterated, when we came down to speak with you, this is not how confirmed panel visits are handled. However, this visit was never confirmed. On Friday, I spoke with the PRSSA contact, Hanna, at the job exhibition and she apologized for the miscommunication. In speaking with Hanna, I was hoping that she would have shared this miscommunication with your group.

    While I suggested that the group come back the next day, I was hoping this could be a possibility, as we would have had space to accommodate the group. Kellyn let me know that this was not a possibility, thus, my colleague and I did the best we could preparing materials to share with you and share our time unexpectedly with the group regarding Edelman, our practice areas and our internship program. Again, we are disappointed that the visit was never confirmed, but hopefully the group appreciated our efforts in addressing this matter. Thank you for sharing your perspective here.

    Heather

    Reply
    • 6. Madison  |  February 17, 2010 at 7:06 pm

      Heather,
      I appreciate you taking the time out to come on here an recommunicate what happened. I don’t think anyone in our group was truly upset over the situation–more bummed than anything. But we all understood that sometimes there is miscommunication between people, and that this was one of those instances.

      I was also glad after meeting with you to know that individually we still had the opportunity to set up a meeting with you to talk about/see Edelman. I definitely plan on making that happen soon.

      Thanks,
      Madison

      Reply
    • 7. mikinzie  |  February 17, 2010 at 7:30 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Heather.

      We were all really appreciative that you were able to come down to the lobby to tell us about the internship program and answer our questions. As you may have noticed, security was trying to give you the boot too!

      It was unfortunate that we weren’t able to come up to the agency. I’m still pretty bummed since I was really looking forward to it. But miscommunication happens, wires get crossed and it usually isn’t anyone’s fault. We realize that companies can be really busy, especially on a day like the release of the Edelman Trust Barometer, and priorities have to be made. Had it been different day, maybe it would have been handled differently. But it was what it was and the students still got something out of it: face-to-face time with Edelman’s HR rep! I still think that is pretty amazing.

      To make this clear, I didn’t write this post to blame Edelman. I actually plan on applying to Edelman during my job search, so I would never try to bash on a company I am considering for my future career as a PR pro! I wanted to write about it because it was an interesting situation where social media saved the day. As I noted in the post, I was impressed with Edelman Digital’s reaction time and how they handled the situation.

      Thanks again for your perspective, Heather.

      -Mikinzie

      Reply
  • 8. Kris Schindler  |  February 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    I’m not surprised that Edelman has been in touch. I mean, they ARE in PR. But gosh, what a disappointment this must have been to the students, who were wanting and needing face time, not a few “OMG someone from Edleman sent me a tweet,” experience.

    A teachable moment presented itself here for Edelman to show our future colleagues what “all hands on deck” looks, feels, smells and sounds like. Surely someone could have conducted a quick walk through (even with the instructions, “We can’t stop and we can’t talk until the walk through is over.”) and spent 7 minutes with the group.

    In this instance, I don’t think the attempt to manage the Edelman reputation by using social media is a good enough substitute for missing a face to face meeting.

    Reply
  • 9. Dan Higgins  |  February 17, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    That is wonderful that Edelman Digital saw the problem and made the group’s trip work. Props to David Armano and Rick Murray for being connected and available. It shows how great the company can be when there is a misunderstanding or confusion. quickness to act.. ;) Like Kris said, they are in PR!!! ;)

    Reply
  • 10. peacelovepr  |  February 17, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Wow – what a trip! I can only imagine how bummed you all were, but I think Edelman did a great last minute job accommodating the unexpected visit. Goes to show, communication is key – especially within a company. They should hire you to make up for it! :D

    Reply
    • 11. mikinzie  |  February 17, 2010 at 8:02 pm

      I just want to note, this was not a paid-for or asked-for endorsement ;) But thanks, that is really sweet of you to say that!

      Reply
  • 12. peacelovepr  |  February 17, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    I assumed it wasn’t. I “know” you better than that :)

    Reply
  • 13. Andrea V. Lewis  |  February 18, 2010 at 9:56 am

    One word. WOW. Even though I’m not in public relations, I’m a big fan of David Armano’s ideas. It must have been a great feeling to have the Edleman president and vice president speak about their disappointment re: PRSSA’s wait. =]

    Reply
  • 14. David Armano  |  February 18, 2010 at 10:39 am

    One other thought on this. A “teachable moment” you could say. Social Media without a doubt empowers the Davids to go up against the Goliaths. There’s a headline pretty much every week that proves this. It’s my opinion that the Goliaths also have a huge (no pun intended) opportunity as well. I admire what Heather did here with her comment. She gave her side of the story. And every story usually has two.

    One of the reasons I’m a fan of this space. The playing field is leveled for everyone (big and small).

    Reply

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