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My Brother's Keeper
By Richard Edelman

President Obama My Brother's Keeper

Edelman President and CEO Richard Edelman on Edelman's involvement with the launch of My Brother's Keeper Alliance in the Bronx, with Barack Obama announcing more than $80 million in private sector commitments to support boys and young men of colour from birth through young childhood.

There are a few notable projects each year that people at Edelman and our sister PR firms feel privileged to work on. Yesterday, we helped launch My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (MBKA) program in the Bronx, with President Barack Obama announcing more than $80 million in private sector commitments to support boys and young men of color from birth through young adulthood. This program was spawned in the White House at the beginning of 2014 by Broderick Johnson, assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary, and will now be run by Joseph Echevarria, former CEO of Deloitte.

Our team pitched the story as an economic imperative for U.S. business. Hayley Meadvin, a vice president in our New York office, told me that by 2018, U.S. employers will need 22 million new workers with a post-secondary education but only 19 million will be available. Meanwhile, by that date, a majority of Americans under 18 will be people of color; fully a quarter of African American and Hispanic males are now considered disconnected, neither in school nor employed. Only 52 percent of African American males graduate from high school. This is a clear disconnect that must be remedied.

The problem starts very early in childhood. If you are not reading at a comparable level by the time you enter the third grade, the chances are high that you will not graduate from high school. By the age of three, children from low-income homes hear 30 million fewer words than their peers from wealthier neighborhoods. Only three of 10 in poor neighborhoods are enrolled in standard pre-schools.

Companies including Pepsico, Sprint, Deloitte, Prudential, American Express and Sam’s Club have signed on as charter members. The MBKA program will start this summer with a grants competition to support programs as follows:

1. Early Childhood—0 to 5—Enter School Ready to Learn
2. Middle Childhood—6 to 8—Reading at Grade Level by Third Grade
3. Adolescence—12 to 18—Graduate from High School Ready for College or Career
4. Late Teens—Complete Post-Secondary Education in Community College or Skills Training
5. Young Adult—Successful Entry to Work Force
6. Young Adult—Reduce Violence, Provide Second Chance

I would hope that you would alert your clients to this important initiative and encourage them to participate. Given the recent events in Baltimore, there can be no better time.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.

Written by: Richard Edelman, President and CEO at Edelman

Edelman Poll - British Voters Energised By General Election, But Let Down By The Campaign

Government Affairs

Insert excerpt

A new poll published by Edelman today finds that the UK public feels more engaged by this general election campaign than they did in 2010, but that the majority of voters say they haven’t learned anything new about the parties or candidates despite a month of furious campaigning.

Of the 1,000 eligible voters surveyed, 69% reported that they are more interested in this election campaign than they were in 2010, compared with 22% who feel less interested. However, 53% think the campaign period hasn’t teach voters anything new and only 25% felt that the campaign had any impact on their voting intentions (compared with 69% who said nothing they heard had any impact).

The study of 1,000 UK voters was carried out May 1-3, 2015 and was conducted by Edelman, the UK’s largest communications company.

The survey also found that the British public believe that:

  • TV news is the most trustworthy (65%) and informative (76%) source of information about the election campaign, ahead of online (63%, 59%) and newspapers (54%, 39%) in second and third place
  • Negative campaigning is effective, with 45% claiming that negative messages they heard during the campaign about a party or a leader made them less likely to vote for them
  • The voices of celebrities should have been less prominent during the campaign – while the only group they wanted to hear more from was politicians themselves. 53% of those polled said they wanted to hear less from celebrities.

Television also emerged as the most-influential media source, with 22% reporting that TV changed their voting intentions compared with 17% for online news, 15% for newspapers and 13% for social channels. TV’s pre-eminent role during the campaign was underlined by the overwhelmingly positive response to the televised leader debates, which 74% of the public found useful and 81% made them more likely to vote in this election.

Cameron the biggest loser from the televised leader debates, with 38% of viewers reporting that they felt less positive about the prime minister as a result, compared with only 27% who felt more positive (a net score of -11%).

A surprising 32% of all voters reported that they were following at least one official party source on social media with Labour the most-followed party across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+. On Facebook and Twitter in particular Labour enjoyed a huge margin of victory over the Conservative Party (Facebook 40% Labour, 30% Conservative; Twitter 44% Labour, 29% Conservative)

And finally The prime minister also flunked Edelman’s Tenner Trust Test with 5 percentage points fewer people saying they would trust him to repay a £10 note they lent him compared with the last time Edelman asked the question in January 2015 (from 49% to 44%).

By contrast, Ed Miliband held steady in the Tenner Trust Test (44% in May compared with 44% in January) and his net positivity score from the leader debates was only -1%.

Ed Williams, CEO of Edelman UK, says:

“What this shows is that voters do care about party politics but they want more substance, more detail and more leadership than they heard during this election campaign.

“Voters are relatively unmoved by the sound and fury of the political pundits or by celebrities shouting from the side-lines. Although they are influenced by negative campaigning, they really want to see politicians take each other on and talk about the issues that matter.

“TV remains the most important and influential political medium in Britain and the British public clearly believe that the leader debates are good for our democracy. Candidates who try to avoid them risk missing the opportunity to communicate directly to a mass audience ready to listen.

“On social, Labour’s leadership is likely to be due to a combination of demographics and a new manifestation of the ‘shy Tory’ phenomenon, making Conservative voters less likely to signpost their voting intentions by following party sources.”

For a full analysis of the survey, click here

The First Shall Be Last
General Election 2015

Government Affairs

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


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

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