I accepted the Paladin Award tonight from The Public Relations Society of America Foundation on behalf of my late father, Dan Edelman. A paladin is a knight renowned for chivalry and heroism. I believe that my dad fit that bill.
You will see a photo of my dad (above), age five, shoveling snow away in front of a house in Brooklyn. This was his favorite shot from his childhood. “See, that’s me. I was working hard even back then. I was always doing something,” he would tell me. He reminisced about sitting in the back seat of the family car as they took the drive from Brooklyn into Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge when the family relocated to the Upper West Side. “I saw the big buildings and the hustle and bustle. I knew this was where I wanted to be.” Then he recalled walking over to Columbia’s campus at age 10 to watch Lou Gehrig play baseball for the Lions. “He hit a home run to the steps of Low Memorial Library. That’s when they played ball on South Field.”
He built a global PR firm which serves clients in 64 cities. But he never changed at his core. Every day was a new challenge. There would be no slackening of effort. He would never take anything for granted. He would be at his desk or visiting the offices or seeing clients. He would be fair, decent and honest. He would save and reinvest, instead of spending on conspicuous items. He would adore his wife, cherish his family and persuade each of his kids to join the business. He would be an active member of his community, by volunteering for charitable boards, engaging with politicians and going to synagogue.
I hope that you enjoy the film and my speech. I miss him every day but know that he is on my shoulder for big decisions. After 35 years of working side by side, I pretty much know what he would recommend—do the right thing, not the short cut or the financially advantageous thing.
Richard Edelman is president and CEO.
April 26, 2013 Correction: An earlier version of this post stated the Paladin Award was given from PRSA. The Award was given from The PRSA Foundation.