Is it time for PR to lead? Experience Design: Storytelling edition.

Public relations industry of today sits at an interesting intersection of brand building and user experience. At its core, PR has always been about finding stories to tell and ways to tell them to the world.

“It’s time for PR to lead” — Dave Fleet

I set down with Dave Fleet of Edelman to ask how PR can help brands tell their stories at scale. Edelman just landed on Glassdoor’s list of best places to work once again, for a reason: here’s a global agency that embracesorganized chaos as a way to stay creative and forge ahead.

So how do you scale brand narratives?

Dave Fleet: We focus on the narrative to help build brands, identify audiences, the story they’re looking to tell and break it down into all the little pieces that play into that story. In many cases, several agencies are involved in crafting the brand narrative — no small feat. It takes interesting, entertaining ideas that translate well across different channels, educate, evolve emotion, and capture people.

How do you come to a shared understanding of what the story is going to be? How do you capture that?

Dave Fleet: One of the things we do with companies — we sit with stakeholders internally and interview them. We look at it from narrative and story perspective, and capture that shared understanding in a document to coordinate our efforts, especially in digital space, where space and timing are of essence.

How do you scale social? How do you maintain authenticity and consistency of narrative across all channels?

Dave Fleet: We work with other agencies on nearly every client we have. Edelman has 1,600 clients. We’re very used to collaborating with other agencies, and we focus on getting that deep understanding of a brand story and the customers’ journey, and good ideas. Sometimes we will have creative tensions, and that is a good thing. In the end of the day, multiagency mix can be a disaster or it can be fantastic. When a client defines clear roles and responsibilities, and doesn’t let agencies go rogue, it can be great.

Edelman is a big agency — but many of the same things apply to small agencies. Doing social at scale is hard, and so we put process in place to help scale happen. The core story and crafting of narrative is not about specific moment in time, it’s not about campaign — it’ll be part of different campaigns and programs. While the creative idea piece might a bit more campaign focused, it stems out of that same narrative.

Is it time for your PR agency to lead your creative?

Dave Fleet: There was a Marketing Mag article on this topic. It’s a good read. In a nutshell, PR agencies can help clients tell their stories in creative, engaging and human ways.

When public relations is about the public, it’s a great focus for an industry and a promising place to be.


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