Steve Rubel - Blogger Extraordinaire

By: Danny Wirken

The year 2004 saw the rise of the bloggers - a group of people who seems to wield a great influence on society. Blogs became a big hit mainly due to its attitude, irreverence and an apparent inclination towards controversy. One man, in the person of Steve Rubel, believed that bloggers deserve to be chosen as Time's People of the Year.

The Man

Steve Rubel is a Public Relations Strategist with an extensive experience in public relations, journalism and marketing communication. He served as the Vice President for client service in CooperKatz and Company, a mid-sized PR firm based in New York. From the time he joined the company in 2001, he has handled a diverse array of business-to-business and consumer-client campaigns on behalf of various organizations. He also authors the Micro Persuasion Blog which traces how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.

Rubel has since transferred to Edelman, the world's largest independent global PR firm where he serves as Senior Vice President and Senior Marketing Strategist. He is tasked to help Edelman identify, test, incubate and champion new forms of communications that get people talking across new platforms and channels. He likewise explores these technologies in his well read blog and in a weekly column for AdAge Digital. He is often sought out as a speaker and appears frequently in the press since he is widely viewed as an expert in conversational marketing through blogs, RSS and podcasts. His name has been included in several prestigious lists such as Media Magazine's Media 100, the Always On/ Technorati Open Media 100 and the CNET Blog 100.

Notwithstanding the change of employer in 2006, Rubel gets to keep his blog using the same name. Edelman paid CooperKatz to make this possible but the deal does not include carrying over the Micro Persuasion service which Rubel offered prior to his transfer. Micro Persuasion has managed to create loyal readership since it was able to manifest the unlimited possibilities of the power of consumer-formed word of mouth. This is probably the reason why Micro Persuasion is listed as the top ad blog by Technorati in terms of authority with almost 10,000 in-bound links from more than 2,500 sites.

His name features prominently in most media accounts in the rest of the photosphere. There is a question whether a big agency environment will change Micro Persuasion. CooperKatz has renamed its Micro Persuasion practice Cogence which is a sort of acronym for consumer-generated intelligence.

Edelman's hiring of Rubel is in line with its strategy to shift from a centralized, company-controlled message to a more two-way conversation with the public. Rubel, on the other hand, felt that his transfer was just the next step to his personal evolution. He expects to do pretty much the same thing except that it will be for a bigger organization.

Rubel is expected to work with Phil Gomer, Guillaume du Gardier and Mike Krempasky, all experts in their own respective fields to make the ME2 Revolution reach its realization. This would attempt to persuade more corporate clients to commit to blogosphere. It has been noted that only about 20 out of the Fortune 500 companies are seriously committed to blogging. Failing to use blogs as a business tool is a missed opportunity to learn from consumers, link support to employees for corporate initiatives, reach out to other stakeholders and create a brand story and corporate reputation through the combined efforts of informed and passionate on-line participants.

Steve Rubel's current employer, Edelman has a long history in public relations. The firm was founded by Dan Edelman after the unprecedented success of the first-ever product media tour for the Toni Company (a Gillette division at present). He opened his own shop in 1952 and from then on defined marketing public relations. The backbone of the company was hinged on new product launches and brand-building. Soon, he was hiring celebrity spokespeople such as actor Vincent Price to promote the products of his clients.

The firm's expertise in brand communications extended to corporate reputation and trade associations. It set standards for the direct marketing industry through its Mail Preference Service. It soon diversified into health, public affairs, technology and crisis management and widened its geographical growth to include countries across Europe, Latin America and Asia. It is acknowledged as the first PR firm on the web.

Edelman marked its 50th anniversary by introducing the Relationship Imperative which is basically a new approach to communication. It recognizes the fact that information and news have become increasingly democratized with the growth of the Internet, new technology, proliferation of media and explosion of blogs. It is founded on the belief that the future of business lies in building and sustaining relationship with multiple stakeholders rather than selling. This is to be achieved through dialogue, credible sources and relevant experiences. Brand-building is done through the activation of the most credible spokespeople made up of the average person, friends and family, regular employees and recognized experts. These are people who have become authoritative sources of information on any given subject. This is the role of Steve Rubel in Edelman as it strives to offer the better solutions for its clients.

Rubel's Work

Steve Rubel is the most often-quoted member of his profession and media increasingly turns to him for credible and direct reference on blogging trends. He was named among the 100 people most influential to media in the company of the likes of Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey by Media Magazine. His blog, Micro Persuasion, is read by a huge number of editors searching for fresh leads. In an ironic turn of events, people from other PR agencies pitch him in the hope of getting coverage on his blog.

He started out just like any other PR operative which was to get press for traditional clients using traditional tactics. A shift in the way he found information prodded him to play with RSS and blogs. He named his Micro Persuasion blog from a thought that indicates how buying decisions are based on thousands of "micro points" of persuasion. Two of CooperKatz more important clients - Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and Weatherbug (a software utility company) benefited greatly from his help in using blogs to facilitate direct interaction with audiences.

According to Rubel, the best PR people have always been connectors. He readily admits that it is in his nature to be a connector. Nearly all great bloggers are great connectors using the best connection tool ever invented - blogging. He prefers to share what he has learned about blogging and PR to fellow practitioners instead of hording it as a competitive weapon. Steve Rubel stands out among the rest with his vision of seeing PR people focus on their individual niche and media being broadened to include citizens and professional media focusing on specific topics. With these little ecosystems living together, people would one day see that one message that needs to be seen.

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