In the field of communicating ideas to the masses, Edelman stands as one of the biggest players on the planet, which is why Steve Rubel, Senior Vice President, Edelman Digital, a division of Edelman, determined years ago that his role as a public relations expert would need a decidedly new digital edge. Working with some of the biggest brands in America such as Kraft Foods, Wal-Mart, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Starbucks and others, Edelman is at the forefront of devising ways to capture customer attention in a rapidly changing mediascape. Rubel has recently focused his efforts on a new initiative within the company called Edelman Digital, a digital and social marketing division designed to harness the power of the Internet and social media to reach customers and increase brand awareness.
01 | JOURNAL: How visible/transparent are you to your professional peers?
Rubel: It’s a mix—much of my thoughts about the Internet and where it’s going is transparent to everyone, some is only for our clients and teams and some is for an even smaller group. My personal life is personal.
02 | JOURNAL: What was your most recent, big mistake?
Rubel: Overestimating the importance of channels rather than watching people.
03 | JOURNAL: What percentage of decisions do you base more on logic than emotion?
Rubel: I try to base the majority on logic, pulling in multiple opinions from people who think differently than I do, especially my teammates. It’s something I picked up from studying President Obama.
04 | JOURNAL: When you travel abroad (outside of the U.S.) what is the most frequent, yet surprising response to your work?
Rubel: That I am willing to admit I don’t have all the answers, particularly about the markets that I visit.
05 | JOURNAL: What are your top three strengths?
Rubel: 1) Big picture thinking. 2) Observing trends/patterns from multiple points of view. 3) Understanding technology and how people use it.
06 | JOURNAL: How do you take personal responsibility when you get things wrong?
Rubel: I apologize, own the mistake and try never to make the same mistake twice.
07 | JOURNAL: If you were stripped of your current professional position, do you think your ideas and approach would still resonate with those you interact with?
Rubel: Yes, but I have no plans to go anywhere. Edelman and I have a great mutually beneficial relationship. I am lucky to play for this team.