In a speech last night during the annual Arthur W. Page Society’s Hall of Fame Award Ceremony, Richard Edelman stood before a room of colleagues and challenged them to push the boundaries of their roles with clients.

Edelman, who is the president and CEO of the Edelman public relations firm with 36 years of public relations experience, was awarded the Hall of Fame award.  According to the Arthur W. Page society, the award recognizes men and women whose careers have pushed them to become the best in the communications field.

After taking a moment to thank his 5,000 employees around the world and his parents, Edelman immediately began his call to arms.

“I want to challenge you tonight in a quite significant way,” said Edelman. “I’m actually going to make some of you uncomfortable.”

He then said that communications personnel have moved into a role that is more “mission critical,” pointing to five trends that he believes are driving this change.

“We have to change the language that we use to talk about our category,” said Edelman.  “We have to move from marketing communications to a new paradigm called communications marketing.”  He suggested that this new term be guided by three principles.

“Evolve, promote, protect,” said Edelman, “communications marketing actually returns marketing to its roots.”

Edelman said that trust in business, a world of complexity affected by technology, brands acting as representatives for their community, the changes in the media landscape and technology’s role in bringing together brand and reputation have a caused a “tectonic” change in the communication world.

“We have to move into new areas for us, such as customer service, and yes, product development,” said Edelman.  He continued to say that public relations professionals can no longer simply focus on managing perception and must instead take a more proactive role in managing a company.

“Our new job is to be a living brand 24/7 with content and immersive experience,” said Edelman, “every company has to be a media company.”

Acknowledging the changes in the world brought on my social media, Edelman continuously said that companies must become a larger voice in the overall narrative of the world.

“Great companies are making change,” said Edelman, “not waiting for it.”

Edelman cited the values, principals and skills instilled in public relations practitioners as the driving force behind his belief that communications experts were ready to take this expanded role.

“Our job is to enable change,” said Edelman.

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