Edelman vows to ‘aggressively’ pursue digital, creates new ECD and strategy roles


Lefley, Hamidi, Hegerman and Moggridge

Edelman has become the latest PR agency to hire an executive creative director as it looks to branch out beyond its traditional disciplines, also launching Edelman Digital into the market and promising to “aggressively” pursue digital briefs.

Max Hegerman, the managing director of Edelman Digital India has been brought across to launch the brand locally, while Naked Communications strategy director Carl Moggridge has been named head of strategy at Edelman.

Speaking to Mumbrella on the changes, Edelman Australia chief operating officer Matthew Gain said: “There’s all this demand we’re seeing for non-traditional PR services in the work that we’re doing. And that’s not to say we don’t start with PR briefs or we’re not a PR agency anymore, we definitely are, but what we’re seeing is a massive blurring of the lines between what a digital agency does, or what a creative agency does or even what a media agency does now.

“The opportunities we’re getting, and the opportunities we’re seeing from clients, we’re not just talking to the PR manager now, we’re more often then not talking to the CMO and in order to both strategically and conceptually turn up to those opportunities, and execute those opportunities, we’ve had to bring in people from outside the PR world.”

While Edelman does still see itself as predominately a PR agency, it is shifting the way it positions itself, Gain said.

“We’re positioning ourselves as a communications marketing agency, that’s a new term that we’ve been talking about. At the heart of everything we do is communications and PR. But in non-traditional PR we’re now using creative, paid and other traditional marketing techniques to amplify and spread the work we’ve traditionally done further and just beyond earned editorial media.”

A number of staff have also been promoted internally, with Sydney-based creative director Jamal Hamidi stepping up into the ECD role, while Melbourne-based social lead Alex Lefley has been named national head of social media and digital engagement.

On the challenges faced bringing non-PR staff into the agency, Gain said they are working through them, which have mainly been around a number of different ways of working.

“There’s been some challenges and we’re working through them now. What we’re trying to do is bring the best of the PR way of working with the best way of non-PR’s way of working,” he said.

On how traditional creative agencies and even digital agencies should feel about the shift, newly appointed managing director of Edelman Digital Max Hegerman said: “There is a competitive environment that’s there. It’s not just traditional agencies.

“What we’re doing here now with Edelman Digital, you look at digital agencies, activation agencies and other PR agencies and there is that competitive environment that’s there and it’s just a matter of us stepping up the capabilities that we have and the our ability to integrate and come back with ideas that can cut through both from a PR perspective and a marketing perspective.”

Gain added: “Where we are growing our budgets is at the expense of creative and digital agencies. Equally we recognise we’re not the only ones doing this and there are a range of agencies out there that are looking at this space. We’re going aggressively after it and believe we’ve got a strategy that positions us well.

“What we are doing here is very loudly launching Edelman Digital in the market here. We will very aggressively be going to market against digital agencies to grow Edelman Digital as we have done in other markets.”

Hegerman comes to Australia after a year with Edelman Digital in India, a role he entered following time as CEO at Hungama Digital Services and head of digital at JWT India.

Moggridge joins Edelman following nearly four years with Naked Communications. Prior to that he was the digital strategy director at OgilvyOne.

The agency has made a number of other non-PR appointments, including Skye Lanser as executive producer and head of content, Sonia Chan as digital producer, Michael Birchall as senior art director, Mark Starmach as copywriter, Marcel Bingham as digital designer, Brie Stewart as social media strategist, Julian Frundt as data analyst and Aimee Dean as director of brand and digital in Melbourne.

Miranda Ward


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