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The First Shall Be Last
General Election 2015

Government Affairs
Polling_station

Ahead of voters going to the polls on Thursday, the penultimate Edelman Election Update reviews the campaign to date and provides a guide to what promises to be a dramatic election night. Meanwhile, our CEO, Ed Williams and, former Downing Street Head of Government Relations, Anji Hunter provide their take on the campaign and what to expect next.

After the longest General Election campaign in post-war history, for exhausted candidates, bedraggled activists and frustrated journalists alike the finishing post is now nearly in sight.

Six weeks ago, when David Cameron launched the formal campaign, neither Labour nor the Conservatives could muster a clear advantage in the polls. Since then both Parties have traded poll leads but the overall picture has remained strikingly stable. None of the expected game changers have materialised and the polls continue to show a dead heat between both the main parties.

There are still three days to go and a late swing could yet deliver a clear advantage to either Labour or the Conservatives but the chances of this happening seem slim. Instead, the result on Thursday could well deliver a parliament where no two parties can create the kind of stable coalition arrangement we have witnessed over the last five years between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Outside the UK where multi-party coalitions are common place an inconclusive election result would not be a cause for concern, but in the winner-take-all tradition of Westminster politicians may need to learn the art of compromise quickly if any new government is going to endure.

Ahead of voters going to the polls on Thursday, the penultimate Edelman Election Update reviews the campaign to date and provides a guide to what promises to be a dramatic election night. Meanwhile, our CEO, Ed Williams and, former Downing Street Head of Government Relations, Anji Hunter provide their take on the campaign and what to expect next.

To view the Election Update, click here.

A New Look at the Ethical Practice of PR
By Richard Edelman

Culture
Ethics

Edelman President and CEO Richard Edelman meets with former client Dick Martin to discuss a practical framework for decision-making that can help PR practitioners make the right calls in their daily counseling. They explore the nature of public interest and the obligation of the PR person to contribute.

I met this morning with my former client, Dick Martin, who had been Chief Communications Officer at AT&T. Dick is well into the writing of his latest book, “How to Practice PR Without Losing Your Soul,” with co-author Professor Donald Wright of Boston University. Martin’s goal is a practical framework for decision-making, that can help PR practitioners make the right calls in their daily counseling.

Martin told me that there are three principles in the framework. He begins with virtue, which he traces back to the philosopher Aristotle. He noted that the Arthur Page Society’s work on Corporate Character is a vital component of this first principle. He goes on to the notion of duty, which he takes from the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, a concept that would be familiar to any professional practicing a trade. His final idea is consequences, based on the British philosopher Jeremy Bentham, who was the advocate of utilitarianism.

The book has a cautionary tale about work that John Hill carried out on behalf of the tobacco industry in the wake of a story in Readers’ Digest on the health risks of smoking. “Hill was hired to sow doubt about the science, to say that the sample size was flawed and that the conclusions were unfounded. The work was done under the auspices of a front organization, The Tobacco Industry Research Council. This kind of activity would not be acceptable in today’s world, which requires transparency and accountability,” Martin contended.

Martin and Wright also have a chapter titled, “Is PR Inherently Unethical?” Martin asked rhetorically at this morning’s meeting, “Is it in the very nature of PR to deceive people? Do we persuade people to do something they otherwise would not do?”

​We had an extended discussion of the nature of the public interest and the obligation of the PR person to contribute to achievement of that end. I made a particular point of the higher responsibility of PR practitioners in a world of dispersed authority and democratized media to make sure that there is fact checking with third party experts because we are no longer going through a reporter’s filter.

We reviewed the events of the Walmart case in 2006, in which Edelman was accused of insufficient transparency on having funded a national tour by a blogger. I reiterated my thinking that this was a firm-wide failure to understand the best practices of the emerging social media, which prompted the implementation of a training program for each account person. We also partnered with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association to help to write industry standards and reported back each year on our compliance. This incident ultimately led Edelman to adopt a Code of Conduct which is signed by each employee when joining the firm.

The opportunity for our profession has never been clearer. But the risk of stigmatization has also never been higher. “What do we mean by doing right?” Martin asked. “We have to measure our behavior and our culture. PR people may know that it is not right to lie. But do they understand why it is wrong?”

We operate effectively only based on public trust. This must be earned every day by advising clients to do the right thing, then to communicate the client’s position in a clear and transparent manner. We must laud the best behaviors and criticize publicly those who fail to live up to the ethical bar. Martin and Wright are making a great contribution by moving from case history to conceptual, from tactical to intellectual, in establishing a high standard of practice.

This article originally appeared on 6A.M., Richard Edelman’s blog on trends in communications, issues, lessons and insights.

Written by: Richard Edelman, President and CEO at Edelman

Lord Paul Myners Joins Edelman UK as Chairman

News
Paul_Myners

I am delighted to announce that today Edelman has appointed Lord Paul Myners as Chairman of Edelman UK. This appointment marks another important milestone in the evolution of Edelman's business.

I am delighted to announce that today Edelman has appointed Lord Paul Myners as Chairman of Edelman UK. This appointment marks another important milestone in the evolution of our business.

Lord Myners brings decades of experience at the highest level of business and politics. He spent most of his professional career in fund management with N.M. Rothschild & Sons and Gartmore, before chairing a number of major companies including Guardian Media Group, Marks & Spencer and Land Securities.

He has also been a member of the Court of The Bank of England and was City Minister in the last Labour government from 2008 to 2010, joining at the very moment that the Treasury was tasked with saving the banking system from collapse. He is chair of the London School of Economics & Political Science and a former Chairman of the Guardian Media Group.

Taking on this role, Myners said: “As a businessman, and in government, I always placed enormous value on the senior counsel and innovative thinking at which Edelman excels. I am looking forward to working with Edelman’s senior leadership team and playing my part in Edelman’s future growth.”

Written by: Ed Williams, CEO at Edelman

The View From Abroad
General Election 2015

Government Affairs
british_flag_international

With less than two weeks to polling day, the Scottish National Party is continuing to dominate the debate between the Conservatives and Labour, and we are hearing less about the concerns of the business community regarding the UK’s standing in Europe. In this week's Election Briefing, we explore how Europe and the United States view the General Election, as well as rounding up the latest on the polls and campaign highlights.

We are less than two weeks away from the General Election, and the Scottish National Party – a party that, when Parliament dissolved, held just six out of 650 seats in the House of Commons – is continuing to dominate the debate between the Conservatives and Labour.

What we’re seeing less of is any attempt to address the concerns of the business community regarding the UK’s standing in Europe. Neither major party wants to raise the issue – Labour because they recognise that the voters in their targets seats are predominantly Eurosceptic; the Conservatives for fear of fighting on UKIP’s territory. They may not want to talk about it, but the issue isn’t going away – and can only increase in importance in the next Parliament as pressure grows on the parties to deliver reform.

In the light of this, the latest in Edelman’s series of Election Briefings explores how Europe and the United States view our election, as well as rounding up the latest on the polls, the highlights and lowlights of the campaign and what we should be watching out for in the coming week.

To view the full Election Briefing, please click here.

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