|Headquarters||New York City and Chicago|
|Key people||Daniel Edelman
(Founder and Chairman)
(President and CEO)
|Revenue||$644.7 million (2012)|
Edelman is a public relations firm founded and named after Daniel Edelman and currently run by his son Richard Edelman. Founded as a team of three in the postwar boom, today the company has revenues of over $600 million annually, employs 4,200 people with co-headquarters in New York City and Chicago and is the world's largest independently owned public relations firm.
Former journalist Daniel Edelman founded the public relations firm in 1952 just down the hall from its first client, Toni Home Permanent Co. (now a division of Gillette) with only three staff and a retainer budget of $500 a month.
By 1960, the firm had about 25 accounts, including the country of Finland. In 1978 Daniel Edelman had an opportunity to sell the company, but instead persuaded his son, Richard Edelman, to work for the company for "just a year."
Edelman retired as CEO in 1996 at the age of 76. His son and current CEO Richard Edelman continued in his father's footsteps. In 1981, he was an executive at the company, and in 1983, he was appointed president of Edelman's New York Office. Taking hold of the family firm. Richard Edelman has overseen a recent string of walkouts and a steady growth. He was appointed president of the whole company in 1985, but his father remained as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). At that time, the company's income was only $14.2 million. In 1987, Crains Chicago Business described Edelman as already being an "industry dynamo" and as "having many of the same driving qualities as his father, but with a smoother edge when it comes to dealing with subordinates." His father said he was "more willing to listen to the people around him." He pledged to keep the company independent at a time when many other PR companies were being bought by advertising agencies. He later became the regional manager of Europe before being promoted to CEO in September 1996, a post that he still holds today. Daniel's other children John and Renee also held high positions in the company.
In 1997, Richard made it public that they had received purchasing offers from two of the company's biggest competitors, and that they turned them down. Edelman would remain the only private firm amongst the top ten by revenue. By the early 2000s, Edelman had about $210 million in revenue with almost a quarter of it coming from Europe. Industry consolidation among competitors however, made several conglomerate competitors much bigger. The early 2000s marked the pop of the so-called "dot-com boom," which Edelman had become particularly vested in. Edelman's considerable client base in consumer technology was impacted by the economy, but they also diversified into healthcare, finance, and other high-growth sectors.
Edelman was one of the first in the industry to realise the importance of social media and create a specialist practice. Richard Edelman made the decision to begin blogging early on and was one of the first CEOs to do so. In 2007 PR Week called Edelman's blog "probably the best-known PR blogger"
Edelman coined the phrase circle of cross influence to describe how people are increasingly influenced by other people, the internet, new media and cable TV, rather than mainstream media. As he puts it "The keys to the car have been taken away from government."
In January 2013, the firm launched The Daniel J. Edelman China Group.
It is the world's largest independently owned public relations firm. Eighty-two percent of the company is owned by the Edelman family, while 18 percent is owned by key executives. Edelman is known for remaining private, despite an industry-wide trend towards consolidation and many offers for acquisition.
The company's Insights group regularly publishes reports on issues relevant to PR and marketing professionals. They are most well known for the once-annual Trust Barometer, which in 2009 showed a 10 year low for trust in businesses.
The report found that:
- Nearly two-thirds of informed publics trust corporations less than they did a year ago
- Only 38% said they trust business to do what is right and only 17% trust information from a company's CEO
- 77% said they would not buy products or services from a company they distrusted
Edelman's CEO said the results are an indication to how difficult it will be to rebuild the economy, when businesses have lost the trust of their customers.
Shortly after the mortgage lending crisis, Richard Edelman said that financial institutions have a PR problem. Richard claimed that financial institutions rank lowest on the company's trust barometer, because they don't explain the how and why of their actions to the public. Steve Rubel, who helps Edelman clients identify emerging trends for marketing purposes, has said that he expects social networking to reach the television next year. Edelman CEO Richard Edelman spends about an hour per day voicing his views on the company blog that he started to set an example for Edelman clients.
In April 1998 the Los Angeles Times revealed that Edelman had drafted a campaign plan to ensure that a dozen state attorneys-general did not join anti-trust legal actions against Microsoft. Documents obtained by the LA Times revealed that the plan included generating supportive letters to the editor, opinion pieces and articles by freelance writers.USA Today responded to the astroturfing saying, "the elaborate plan hinges on a number of unusual and some say unethical tactics, including the planting of articles, letters to the editor and opinion pieces to be commissioned by Microsoft's top media handlers but presented by local firms as spontaneous testimonials."
The New York Times reported in March 2006 that Edelman had sent information to bloggers, some of which was copied word for word on blogs, to try to help Wal-Mart in a public relations campaign. Edelman responded by saying that it was working with bloggers and Wal-Mart in a "transparent" manner.
Edelman is also infamous for having invented the "flog", or fake blog. Edelman execs created a fake blog called "Walmarting Across America". The blog was written by a former Washington Post employee who was allegedly paid by Edelman to write the blog.
Edelman has also been accused of greenwashing. In 2008, a group of protesters mounted a protest against Edelman's UK headquarters by climbing onto its glass roof and unfurling a banner. The activists were protesting Edelman's work with Eon, an energy company seeking to build a coal power station at Kingsnorth. The group charged that Edelman presents Eon as an environmentally aware company, despite coal power being one of the most carbon intensive form of energy production. In 2009, to coincide with the week long "Climate Camp" range of protests, a group of naked protestors occupied Edelman's reception, resulting in a considerable amount of news activity.
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- http://www.economist.com/news/business/21569745-pr-better-business-advertising-reckoned-daniel-edelman-dan-not-mad-man Public relations: Dan the (Not Mad) Man
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- Wal-Mart Enlists Bloggers in P.R. Campaign, Michael Barbaro, New York Times, March 6, 2006
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- Activists target Edelman in climate change protest, PR Week, July 17, 2008
- Edelman discovers the naked truth Communicate magazine, September 2009