I met Eric when I went on Fox Business Network three years ago to discuss the findings from our annual Edelman Trust Barometer with anchorwoman Maria Bartiromo. I was up early, schmoozing in the green room with Judge Andrew Napolitano, another Fox talent, one eye on the monitor to make sure that Maria was in a good mood. Eric, who had booked my interview, bounced out of the control room.
“Look, Maria will want to cover the rise in trust in business. She will want a few companies and CEOs to be mentioned. Who is doing trust well and who is losing. And be sure to look at the camera.”
I went on air and came out to wash off the powder on my face. Eric met me by the sink. “Your opening was good. You had energy and facts. You could have done better towards the end. You need a snappy close.” And then he disappeared back to the control room.
That was the beginning of our friendship. Eric would call me about an Edelman client such as the president of KFC who had just been on the air. “I found the most awesome visuals of the new chicken wings. You PR guys should be providing that.”
We had a socially distanced outdoor lunch over the summer on Long Island. We talked about the challenges of the lockdown in the spring, the closure of the studio and need to operate remotely. He envisaged himself on our side of the table during the Covid crisis. “I would be getting the good news stories out there. The CEOs who are keeping their workers safe.” We talked about Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks, who was one of the earliest to re-open stores, on a pick-up only basis.
We had hard conversations late last year about the politics of the moment intruding on his business life. He wanted to know whether Edelman was telling its clients not to go on Fox. I told him absolutely that we needed our CEO clients on his air, that his viewers were highly valued as consumers and investors.
I was completely shocked by the news of Eric’s death over the weekend in Miami, another victim of Covid-19. I send my condolences to his children and extended family. His effervescence, his street smarts and his hustle will forever be remembered. He was a booker for the ages.
Richard Edelman is CEO.