Edelman is a prominent American public relations and marketing consultancy firm that was founded in 1952 by Daniel Edelman, and it is currently led by his son, Richard Edelman. As of 2022, it holds the distinction of being the largest public relations firm globally in terms of revenue, boasting a workforce of approximately 6,000 employees.
Throughout its history, Edelman has been recognized for its role in establishing astroturf campaigns, which are initiatives that appear to be grassroots movements but are, in fact, fronts for industry interests. The firm has engaged in such campaigns on behalf of its clients, contributing to its reputation in the public relations and marketing domain.
Edelman's client portfolio has included the fossil fuel industry, and it has been involved in advocating for clients like the American Petroleum Institute. This industry group, dedicated to influencing public opinion and legislative outcomes, has faced criticism for its stance on climate change denial and its efforts to obstruct climate-related legislation. Edelman's involvement in such campaigns has raised ethical questions about the role of public relations in shaping public discourse on critical issues.
1952-1960s: Founding and Early Growth
- Edelman Public Relations was founded in Chicago in 1952 by Daniel J. Edelman as Daniel J. Edelman and Associates.
- The company started with three employees and quickly grew, serving 25 accounts by 1960.
- Daniel Edelman, credited with inventing the corporate media tour, initiated campaigns for clients such as Toni Home Permanent Co., Sara Lee, and Brunswick Corporation.
1970-1980: Global Expansion and Financial Growth
- The New York office, opened in 1960, experienced significant revenue growth, from $1 million to $20 million by the late 1980s under the leadership of Richard Edelman, Daniel Edelman's son.
- In 1977, Edelman secured the landing rights for Concorde.
- By 1981, Edelman had expanded to five international offices, later opening six more over the next decade.
1990-2000: Leadership Transition and Digital Initiatives
- Richard Edelman became Global CEO in 1996, succeeding his father, who remained Chairman until his passing in 2013.
- The company expanded globally, opening offices in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Spain, South Korea, China, and Belgium.
- Edelman was the first public relations firm to have a website in 1995, pioneering web-based projects for clients.
- In 2010, Edelman acquired Vollmer public relations.
2000-Present: Further Global Expansion and Digital Evolution
- Offices were opened in Calgary, Dubai, South Africa, and Colombia in the 2000s.
- In 2002, the company rebranded from Edelman Public Relations Worldwide to Edelman.
- In 2012, Edelman Digital was established, and the firm entered the Turkish market.
- The Business and Social Purpose division was introduced in 2012, focusing on social impact initiatives.
- Edelman launched a joint venture with United Talent Agency in 2014, resulting in United Entertainment Group (UEG).
- Edelman Digital, launched in 1995 as Edelman Internet Services, became the Global Digital Agency of the Year in 2018.
Recent Developments (2020s): Leadership Changes and New Initiatives
- In 2019, Matthew Harrington was named Global President, and Judy John became the first Global Chief Creative Officer.
- Lisa Osborne Ross, appointed CEO of Edelman's U.S. operation in 2021, became the first Black woman to run a PR operation of that size.
- Edelman continued to work with a diverse range of clients, including Heineken, Royal Dutch Shell, and Starbucks.
- In 2023, Edelman joined the World Economic Forum in Davos, releasing the trust barometer, an annual report since 2000. Edelman also announced the launch of a global B2B marketing group to enhance trust in B2B relationships.
Edelman's mission is to leverage its expertise in public relations and marketing to empower clients in building trust and delivering impactful communications. The company is dedicated to helping organizations navigate the complexities of the modern world, fostering authentic connections with their audiences, and driving positive societal impact. Edelman places a strong emphasis on transparency, integrity, and innovation, aiming to be a trusted partner for clients seeking to effectively engage with their stakeholders and achieve meaningful, long-term success.
Edelman envisions becoming a globally trusted partner for organizations seeking to navigate the challenges of the modern world. The emphasis on transparency, integrity, and innovation suggests a vision of being at the forefront of ethical and innovative communication practices. Edelman's commitment to fostering authentic connections, building trust, and driving positive societal impact aligns with a vision of contributing to a world where organizations engage with stakeholders in a meaningful and impactful manner.
Richard Edelman (CEO)
Matthew Harrington (President and COO)
Products and Services
Edelman offers a comprehensive range of products and services in the field of public relations and marketing. Key offerings include:
Strategic Communication and Public Relations: Edelman provides expertise in developing strategic communication plans, managing public relations campaigns, and building and protecting the reputation of its clients.
Marketing Communications: The company assists clients in creating impactful marketing campaigns, leveraging insights into consumer behavior, and employing innovative approaches to enhance brand visibility.
Digital and Social Media Services: Edelman is at the forefront of digital communication, offering services that include social media management, digital marketing, and online reputation management.
Corporate Reputation Management: Edelman helps organizations build and maintain a positive corporate reputation by developing and implementing strategies that align with their values and resonate with stakeholders.
- Edelman (firm) | Wikipedia
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- Edelman U.S. CEO Lisa Osborne Ross taking "leave of absence" | AXIOS
- PR Roundup: Shein Influencer Folly, Edelman Layoffs, Mets’ Owner Does PR | Prnewsonline
- Employees are demanding workplace reset: Edelman | Foxbusiness
- Edelman Canada Wins IKEA's PR Business | Provokemedia
- Employers trusted more than government | Axios
- Edelman Rolls Up B2B Marketing Units Into Global Offer | Provokemedia
- Edelman US CEO Lisa Osborne Ross takes leave absence | Prweek
- Edelman Vet Sheila Mulligan Joins Weber Shandwick Central region president | Prweek
- EU Influence: Defense on offense — Edelman culture clash — Registry suspensions | Politico
Daniel Edelman (Founder)
Media and Communications