Steve Rubel Will Craft Word-of-Mouth Campaigns for Blue Chips

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Steve Rubel, by some counts the No. 1 advertising blogger, is going mainstream with a move to PR giant Edelman.
Steve Rubel will keep the 'MicroPersuasion' blog he created at CooperKatz and operate from his new position at Edelman.

Mr. Rubel, currently at 22-person indie PR shop CooperKatz, is taking a senior VP role at the much larger Edelman, where he’ll craft word-of-mouth and social-media campaigns for a consumer-client list that includes Unilever and Microsoft's Xbox.

Rubel keeps his blog
Despite the change in employer, his blog, MicroPersuasion, will continue with the same name. Edelman paid CooperKatz so Mr. Rubel could keep the name and URL. He won’t, however, be able to carry over the MicroPersuasion service offering he launched at CooperKatz. The parties wouldn’t disclose the financial terms of the deal.

The move is yet another blogger-makes-it-big tale -- even if it’s not quite up to Engadget snuff. Mr. Rubel’s MicroPersuasion has become a popular read in a marketing world that apparently has no limit for ruminating on how the power of consumer-formed word of mouth can be harnessed.

’Thumper’ makes some noise
Technorati lists MicroPersuasion as the top ad blog in terms of authority, with about 9,700 in-bound links from about 2,700 sites, and Mr. Rubel has rated on a number of all-star-blog lists including the CNETNews.com “Blog 100.” He’s also featured prominently in most media accounts on the rise of the blogosphere, including a cover story last year in Business Week that described him affectionately, if strangely, as “an all-knowing Thumper in a forest of clueless Bambis.”

In an interview, Mr. Rubel said that while the blog’s popularity made it possible for him to make such a leap, it wasn’t the only reason. He also attributed it to blog programs for Vespa and SimpleHuman, a high-end designer of household items. “Writing the blog and having that client experience has made it a lot easier,” he said.

Can he blog on blue chips?
It remains to be seen, however, how a big-agency environment will change MicroPersuasion. Edelman has a long list blue-chip clients that presumably wouldn’t be happy seeing their marketing and PR faux pas dissected on the blog. Asked about this, Mr. Rubel, whose blogging day begins at roughly 4:30 a.m., laughed and said, “I’m not going to be calling out as many companies as I used to.”

His boss, Rick Murray, Edelman exec VP and general manager of its diversified services group, said, “We don’t intend to censor him. I don’t anticipate reviewing his posts in advance.” He said the Edelman Web site will link to MicroPersuasion.

PR firms buy up bloggers
Edelman recently has also hired Michael Krempasky, a public-affairs blogger, and Phil Gomes, who writes about online communications. Others agencies have gone a similar route. Weber Shandwick, the world’s largest PR firm, recently hired Jeremy Pepper, writer of popular PR blog Pop PR Jots as group manager in its San Francisco office.

CooperKatz said it will rename its MicroPersuasion practice Cogence, a sort of acronym for “consumer-generated intelligence,” said principal Andy Cooper. While it will be run by Senior VP-General Manager Anne Green, Mr. Cooper said it is meant to be an agency-wide capability.

“Our creative, strategic thinking about consumer-generated media will continue post-Steve,” Mr. Cooper said.

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