Just the other day one of our columnists provided readers with a list of the top 50 PR people engaging Twitter. The response to this article was overwhelmingly positive, as people how never had an idea we were watching them came to thank us for their inclusion into the list. It was and is a fairly prestigious group of marketing, PR, and new media types, which we were proud to be able to show our readers. We want to acknowledge again those find individuals, and thank them as well for taking communication to the next level.
The other side of the coin, as it were, revealed some controversy over just who should be on such a list. Some detractors cited public relations experts far and abroad, as well as themselves and friends as candidates who might have been more appropriate. These people are the reason for this short list of top PR people in the world, who by their limited engagement of even Twitter, pretty much exemplify why not everyone who does PR is exactly “up with” the digital phenomena. Paying lip service to Twitter or any of the social sites is not what anyone has in mind for companies really dedicated to engaging clients or consumers via the Internet. We have been actually looking for the ones who do this best both in branding themselves online via websites, blogs, social media presences, social networks and other media. Sadly, we have found all too few really doing more than monitoring the social sphere.
The following list of perhaps the worst examples of social engagement, should indicate at least this: “No matter how many resources, how much expertise, or how much rhetoric a company focuses on appearing to be in “the discussion”, their digital footprints on the Web will reveal the truth of their activity. So then, I provide the following list of “Least Engaged Top PR Executives On Twitter”, for your discretion. Please note, any list is rather arbitrary depending on the crieteria used to build the list. In this case, I used both the corporate Websites of the top 10 or 11 PR firms in the world, and their CEO or founder’s presence on Twitter as at least a mild indicator of discourse from them. Just so you know ahead of time, all but one notable example maintain only a residual presence on Twitter. So too, hardly any of these executives even maintain what one would call a “cutting edge” blog for themselves.
The list below evaluates 11 top PR CEO’s or directors from what amount to the most powerful public relations and communications firms in the world. I think the reader will be interested to see, particularly those from Twitter, just how much these “world shakers” think of your Twitter.
- Edelman – Without a doubt, Richard Edelman is at the top of the heap as far as public relations gurus go. His firm, the world’s most successful by any stretch of the imagination, is the Mt. Everest of or success stories for anyone intent on getting to the top. Unfortunately, even though Edelman has revamped the Website since our last rather scathing critique there, if Twitter is to be used as a milestone for social engagement by top leader, Edelman does not appear to soil his hands with it. There are any number of other Twitter accounts under various arms of the company, but as for top executive presence, well.Edelman CEO engagement of Twitter – 35 followers, 1 person he follows, and precisely 1 Tweet. Why is he the worst on Twitter? Being top dog means being top in everything social these days.
- Waggener Edstrom – Again we come to a paradox in our evaluation. Does one use numbers of Tweets or actual CEO interaction as a gauge of social value. Given the video at the end of this post by Waggener CEO Melissa Waggener Zorkin, galvanizing WE’s new age engagement, we simply had to give the world’s second most powerful PR entity the edge in over the next worst case. It should also be noted that unless WE has another profile outside their TV one, the engagment on Twitter is primarily done via their Hong Kong affiliate. Waggener’s Twitter engagement – Following 213, Followers 211, Tweets 7.
- Ruder Finn – This was a no brainer for the third worst Twitter engagement, and for their CEO David Finn, he barely exists on the Web at all. Ruder Finn topped out WE only because of their number of Tweets. RF Twitter engagement – Following 117, Followers 354, Tweets 136.
- APCO Worldwide – Magery Kraus, not unlike Richard Edelman, is far too high on the totem pole to have time for Twitter. APCO edged out the other top three for one reason only, the numbers of followers and following. As mentioned, Margery Kraus is no where to be found near a social network, but she has directed personnel to do some work in the area. We should have penalized APCO for having a job board on Twitter, but given the economic situation, this seemed like a nice idea. APCO engagement – Following 830, Followers 666, Tweets 98.
- Taylor PR – Though Taylor lays no claim to be at the cutting edge of social media, never the less PR in this age and at the top of the food chain means interacting. CEO Tony Signore has a Twitter account, which like Richard Edelman’s leave a lot to be desired, except Edelman at least attempted to Tweet once. Taylor engagement – Following 2, Followers 32, Tweets 0.
- Dan Klores Communication – This firm could have easily been cast in the coveted number one position, but as mentioned, Edelman and the others should be expected more of. Dan Klores really seems like an entreprenuer or playboy who just happens to have a PR company as well. DKL engagement – Following 14, Followers 21, Tweets 1.
- ICR – To be honest I am not sure what ICR does or it their Co-CEO’s even exist or are apparitions. This massive financial communication firm has a profile on Twitter that quite honestly was a waste of company funds. They did not take the top spots in this mediocrity countdown only via the other firms’ apparent advantage, at least from what they appear capable of, and because someone there actually Tweeted 17 times. ICR engagement – Following 187, Followers 93, Tweets 17.
- Schwartz PR – The same old story hold true for this mega powerful PR presence, CEO and founder Steve Schwartz is way too busy out in the wild rock climbing to be on Twitter in the first place. The company has delegated some social tasks however, and Mike Farber, one of their Senior VP’s has been up to the task. Schwartz PR engagement – Following 64, Followers 114, Tweets 185.
- Qorvis – Perhaps the best of the Websites belongs to this mega PR conglomerate, but as for Twitter and social media, the bets are in they purchase social media like the rest. Doug Poretz, a founding partner is there, along with some others from the company scattered about, but were it not for another partner, Kelley Mccormick, Qorvis would be higher on the the list. Since Doug is senior, I will give him the nod to brag about his Twitter profile. Qorvis engagement - Following 52, Followers 91, Tweets 67.
- Text100 – CEO Aedhmar Hynes may not be the most personally involved PR mogul on Twitter, but her brand and her company are not as underrepresented as the others in this list. In fact, combining all the Twitter and other social “experiments” Text has across the Web actually adds up to something of a substantial engagement. The only reason her firm is even on this list is because by some of the standards imposed on us by complainers about “who should be where”, we were compelled to place Text100 here for lack of CEO participation. Her delegates talk about her, she engages on many other levels, but as far as this writer can determine, she is not personally there. Aside that, for a company with as many followers as Text has, 90 Tweets is a very low number. Text100 Twitter presence for the main Twitter feed – Following 2103, Followers 2306, Tweets 90.
Here we have a collection of the most powerful people in the communication industry, many professing to be at the razor’s edge of digital communication. While most of them are surely ultra skilled at branding for other people, given some of their Websites and the residual presence in what is called “the conversation”, many would say they are at best case, playing it safe as far as social interaction is concerned. With the exception of Text100, which appears to be light years ahead of the others, most top level CEO’s and even intermediate level execs simply are not listening to Twitter. There is a moral to this story however, which the reader probably does not expect.
I do not blame them. These people have hundreds, sometimes thousands of people depending on their decisions for their very livelihood. Just who can expect Richard Edelman to waste time typing away on Twitter? I know, I baited the reader into scrutinizing this list for whatever purposes they might have wanted to, but the bottom line here is this.
Twitter is a fad. No self respecting corporate leader is going to prioritize his or her life, the lives of their employees and clients, just to gain 12,000 followers, they would be idiots.
I used to work for one of the most powerful men in the world steel industry. Being an engineer, I was always forced into coming up with creative and technological solutions to problems. Once, while expounding on the merits of a new technology we might create, I was cut short by my boss. He made a comment I will never forget, and it went something like this.
“Phil, I always admire your ingenuity and passion for these things, but the bottom line is, if we want better technology we will just buy it from people who are better at it than us. We do not have time to create, we need to produce.”
We criticize these companies not to interject ourselves atop them. Our mission is an idealistic one, that is a what we want to accomplish – higher ideals. Who made us the watchdogs of corporate ideals? We did. We do not have the resources these companies do, but we know what the perfect PR company might look like. Without higher ideals, and the input of honest people, the status quo would make all companies mediocre. Our own site suffers from a case of Web 1.0 aging. We make mistakes too, and are open always to ideas on how we can be better. But, in the end we try to superimpose greater ideals and ideas onto the people who CAN make a difference in a big way. Not many have noticed, but in our own way we effect change. Every one of the corporate Websites we have reviewed these last few months has altered in some way. This is rewarding for us no matter whether we get credit for constructive criticism or not.
I applaud most of these people for what they undertake and how they address larger issues than Twitter presence. As for the people suggesting we make a list of professors and conference circuit gurus or PR, well, they would not even close to being as expert as any of the ones mentioned here. Dealing with life is a big part of PR, and doing so while watching hundreds of employees and dozens of clients takes more than thinking about it from the library. Not the ending you expected is it? Will we continue to criticize half excellence? Of course. The duty of leaders is to lead, and we are here to remind them of this.