Passing of the Torch

edelman cigar Another of the 20th Century Greats passed away this week.

Daniel J. Edelman, a reporter-turned-flack who founded “easily the biggest [PR] agency in the world,” literally changed the public relations industry into what it is to- … into what it was yesterday.

That is not a knock. Edelman was a true visionary. As Washington Post reporter Emily Langer so aptly put it, “Mr. Edelman saw before many others in his field that advertisements were only primitive tools, and that PR campaigns could take companies, products and politicians into American newspapers and onto American television screens — and therefore into American homes.”

But thanks to the Internet, it is the PR firms themselves that run the risk of becoming primitive tools.

That’s the good news about social media. It is no longer necessary to pay PR firms to pitch your story to the mass media monopolies. We all have the opportunity to become the writers, stars, and directors of our own stories. And we can reach the audiences we want to reach directly, without the middlemen.

The bad news is we also have the responsibility to tell our stories ourselves.

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“Communication” isn’t a department down the hall. It’s a part of what you and your team do every day.

The transition will be painful for many. You can hear almost hear the sound of cigars exploding across America.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult. Storytelling is literally in our genes. It just lay dormant over the last 100 years as we outsourced our storytelling to paid professionals. You now have the opportunity—and the responsibility—to wake it up.