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On the Case With…

Each month, as part of “The Business Case for Public Relations,” PRSA asks an industry leader to reflect on his or her career and make a “business case” for public relations.

More from “On the Case With…”

On the Case with Ed James

February 27, 2014

With more than 20 years of PR and marketing experience, Ed James serves as president and co-founder of Cornerstone Public Relations, an extension of lifestyle marketing company Cornerstone.

He’s worked on projects for HBO, Pepsi, Turner Broadcasting, Mountain Dew, Guitar Center, TDK, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Converse, Reader’s Digest, Pepsi, Red Stripe, Bushmills, Nike, Jose Cuervo, Crown Royal, The FADER, Kia, Threadless, 2K, Levi’s, Activision and Adult Swim.

In 2011, James left Cornerstone for a year to become vice president of global public relations for Gibson Guitar Corporation. He holds a B.F.A. from Syracuse University.

“Simply tell good stories and generate compelling content” to reach today’s busy, on-the-go consumer. Tap into what consumers are already interested in and then work to surround them with messaging on all fronts,” he says, adding, “The lines between public relations, marketing, social media and advertising will continue to dissolve. It’s all about brand reputation and awareness.”

Name: Ed James

Childhood ambition:
Rock star — I had the hair, just not the talent.

Current livelihood:
President of Cornerstone’s PR division

What changed:
As I was pursuing a career in the arts — writing movies, playing music — I ended up in the marketing and PR department of a film company. While I thought it was temporary, I enjoyed the daily challenges, strategy and creativity involved. I was hooked!

First public relations job:
Director of marketing and public relations at Troma Films — an independent horror studio responsible for such classics as The Toxic Avenger, Class of Nuke ‘Em High and Tromeo & Juliet

What you know now that you wish you’d known then:
I didn’t fully understand the importance of building and maintaining contacts — a key lesson that I work to impart on anyone new in the business.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received:
My dad told me to be true to myself and honest with those around me. His self litmus test was to take a good look at himself every morning while shaving and be assured that he was OK with the man looking back at him.

Greatest professional accomplishment:
I was lucky to meet the owners of Cornerstone, Rob Stone and Jon Cohen, and work with them to form the PR division of the company. 
If you weren’t in public relations, you would be: I’d work in a chapeau shop.

Desired legacy:
I like what Woody Allen said when asked if he’d like to live on through his films: “No, I’d like to live on in my apartment.”

Make a “business case” for public relations:
On the most basic level, there’s the simple case of value: Any retainer fee paid for a PR program is more than likely to cost less and generate more coverage than most advertising campaigns. In addition, and perhaps more important, earned media is more valuable than paid. Ads just get flipped by or fast-forwarded while a successful PR campaign makes you part of the content.



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