Dave Fleet is the Vice-President of Digital at Edelman’s Toronto office (one of the world’s leading PR firms). Prior to working at Edelman, Dave held positions with the Government, Lloyds, and Hitachi. Dave writes a great blog with in-depth posts on social media, communications, PR, and the online world.
Dave, tell us about your job (what do you actually do at Edelman) and what your favourite part of it is?
I manage the Digital practice in Edelman’s Toronto office. We have a great group of people working on digital projects within every practice in the office, from Corporate, to Consumer, to Healthcare, to Technology. My job is to support them in whatever way I can, while also driving the practice forward. I’m very fortunate as I have a team full of people who are smarter than me, so my job largely consists of pointing them in the right direction and getting out of the way.
2. You write very in-depth blog posts. How much time do you spend on your blog each week or month?
I generally spend between one and two hours on each post. So, if I manage three posts a week that’ll be somewhere between three and six hours each week.
3. What kind of impact has blogging had your career and your company’s business?
Blogging has had three significant effects on my career:
- I’ve made industry connections across the world that have strengthened my network immensely
- My blog provides me a place to flesh-out my thoughts on work-related topics. Once they’re up there, I also benefit from getting other peoples’ input on them.
- My blog has enabled me to build-up my own profile. I’m just a regular guy that works hard at what he does. My blog has let me take that and turn it into innumerable opportunities
From my perspective, employers benefit as their employees grow. So, as I grow personally, my work for the company improves; the people around me benefit and the company benefits.
4. You’ve worked both for the Government and with several large companies (like Lloyds and Edelman) in the private sector. What are the biggest differences you’ve found in working with these two groups?
Working for the Ontario government was a great experience for me. Through it, I gained a great grounding in corporate communications and a fantastic introduction to Canadian issues. Working in the government is like working in a large company in many ways. Of course there are differences – additional stakeholders; more complexity; less of a P&L focus – but for me working in government, and especially in the central agency where I worked, was great preparation for agency life.
5. Agency’s often bring in external talent like consultants, marketers, copywriters, and so on. What are you looking for in these people? And what should they keep in mind when approaching an agency for work?
Edelman is a full service agency, so we use relatively few external sources. When we do, though, one of the big things I look for is flexibility. We need to respond to our clients’ needs quickly and effectively, and we need partners to do the same. If you can work flexibly and you can deliver a high-quality end product, you’re in good shape.
6. You have two free ebooks on your site (a communications planning ebook and a social media policies ebook). Why did you create these and did putting them on your site accomplish what you planned (ie. land a job, get exposure, etc)?
I created the communications planning and social media policies ebooks because I saw a gap in the information available for people online.
For the former, I worried that many people were approaching communications from a tactical perspective without considering the broader context. The ebook I created walks people through a thought process that takes all the necessary pieces into account. For the latter, I saw an increasing need for these kinds of products within organizations. As it was something I’d written and spoken about previously, I thought it would be helpful to pull those thoughts together into one document. They certainly seem to have gained traction – these posts frequently trump recent posts when I look at my site traffic.
7. What are the keys to building a strong Twitter and blog following like you have?
Rule number one for me would be to be interesting. That can take lots of different forms – funny comments; timely commentary; in-depth analysis; breaking news and so on. As Scott Stratten likes to say, people don’t spread “meh.” You need to be interesting.
My second suggestion would be to be personable. Shoot for a high ratio of conversation to ‘push’ content. People who only talk about themselves, generally, aren’t interesting. It’s like going to a party and meeting someone who doesn’t listen to you but only talks. That’s not enjoyable at all.
8. What are you favourite websites or apps that help you stay productive at work and outside the office?
My favourite websites and tools, in no particular order:
- Google Reader
- Pulse Reader
- RockMelt browser
- Fast Company
- Ted Talks
- Globe and Mail Technology