Commentary

Edelman Gives Up Tracking Chinese Blogs

David WolfBy David Wolf
Public relations firm Edelman continues to provide superior comic relief, and proof that despite the impending end of PR as we know it, traditional public relations firms are not going gently into that good night.

Nearly eight months ago, Edelman announced through Steve Rubel's Micro Persuasion blog that, because two thirds of the blogosphere spoke a different language than English–and that already 15% of the global discussion is in Chinese–Edelman saw it as critical that their global PR teams be able to listen to the conversations not only in English but in other local languages. They were teaming up with Technorati to fast-track the development of localized Technorati monitors in German, Italian, French, Korean, and Chinese. After all, Rubel said, Edelman recognized that the world is flat.

Technorati is still regularly blocked in China, so in many ways their joint endeavors are like a blind man choosing colors. Following effusive self-congratulation and huge hype around the initiative, we heard little for six months.

Now, Rubel notes that, basically, China and Korea are too hard, so they are de-emphasizing (read "forgetting") Korea and China, and focusing on Europe. Yeah, those double-bit character sets are a bitch, huh Steve?

More proof, if any were needed, that China is not for dilettantes, and the corporate communications crafts are no exception.

None of this comes as a particular surprise. Edelman's tail-twixt-hind-legs retreat from China's blogosphere echoes for me their embarrassing screw-up with Wal-Mart and the failure of one of their teams when pitching to one of my clients to even identify a single blog of importance to my client. Richard Edelman and Steve Rubel talk a superior game.

But it's all spin.

About the author:
Silicon Hutong is an ongoing series of thoughts and commentaries by David Wolf, President and CEO of Wolf Group Asia'a management advisory firm providing strategic communications counsel to technology, media, entertainment, and telecommunications companies in Greater China and the Asia-Pacific region. David's opinions are his own and do not reflect those of either WGA or it's clients. Past articles can be found at www.chinatechnews.com, the Silicon Hutong Blog can be found here and David himself can be contacted at [email protected].

4 Comments

  1. Yes, it may be the impending end of PR as we know it. Edelman and Rubel have talked about the power of the Internet and the importance of "conversations" but they play the old manipulate and control PR game. Their most egregious failure may be in not addressing these issues in their public blogs.
    Mark Rose
    PR Blog News
    prblognews.com

  2. And of course — don't forget! — blogs in China are not like blogs in USA where there is more freedom to write and put forward ideas. Why should Edelman check these blogs in China if they have nothing good to say??

  3. Ryan,

    I think you take a somewhat narrow and, I daresay, uninformed view of Chinese blogs.

    There may not be much interesting political commentary in Chinese blogs, but there is a lot that is powerfully interesting and important to companies. After all, blooggers and other commentators are basically given a free fire zone when it comes to commercial topics.

    Given that Edelman represents companies that Chinese bloggers and BBS posters love to talk about – and, quite often, trash mercilessly – they and their clients have a very real interest in understanding what is said.

    Which is why Edelman invested the time and effort in trying, and why their disappointed clients are looking elsewhere to get a clearer idea of the online buzz about their companies in China.

    David

  4. Ryan,
    I am from blogcn.com in China. We are the largest blog provider in China.
    For my experience, I think you need to learn more about China government operation system and policy. PR is not enough.
    If one foreign blog provider hopes to offer blog hosting for Chinese people, he needs to:
    1, Register on http://www.miibeian.gov.cn
    2, Waiting for China government audit
    3, Get a ICP code (you need to have a mobile phone of China because this code will be sent to only to your cell phone by SMS)
    4, Check your blog users everyday and remove any content against China government policy, such as adults, political…

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