In six weeks, we will open the Edelman Museum in our new Chicago office in the West Loop, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the firm. The story begins with Dan Edelman in the U.S. Army psychological warfare unit, interpreting Nazi propaganda overnight and making recommendations for Allied response. The museum will have a timeline of our most famous work—from the Toni Twins, Concorde landing rights and the Westmoreland v. CBS trial to StarKist Dolphin Safe Tuna, Dove Real Beauty, the CVS tobacco-free stores and more. There will also be a section on our pro-bono work for important causes such as the 9/11 Museum, the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., Save the Children after the Indonesian Tsunami and the UN[ }SPOKEN mental health campaign for the City of Chicago.
We will dedicate the Edelman Hall of Fame that evening, recognizing 12 individuals who brought Edelman to its present industry-leading position. Their work propelled the PR industry into new lines of work and enabled us to compete as equals with ad agencies and digital firms. Here are the 12, with memories from my own experience working alongside most of them:
- Betsy Plank—She served as my father’s right-hand person from 1961-73, when she went to Illinois Bell as CCO. She was an expert in corporate reputation, a strong advocate of corporate responsibility well before it was in vogue.
- Michael Morley—Ran the international part of Edelman, starting up the UK operation in 1967, then taking us into France, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and China. He was a top-class advisor to CEOs such as British Airways’ Colin Marshall, helping to run the Go For It America and Go For It World promotions to restart trans-Atlantic travel post the Libyan bombing in 1986 and the Iraq War I in 1991. I worked closely with him on the landmark Ernst & Whinney merger with Arthur Young, then helped on the Entrepreneur of the Year awards programs for that firm.
- David Davis—Ran the UK after Morley, then served as head of Edelman Europe. A former Times of London reporter, he was an expert in financial PR, helping us to enter that business. He was a powerful operator who understood the ratios, the personnel function and acquisitions. He was and continues to be a mentor to me.
- Pam Talbot—Our most outstanding marketing person in the history of the firm, she was stunningly creative and persuasive. She led from the front on clients such as Heinz, Microsoft and Kraft. Her stewardship of our U.S. business was headlined by the development of the West Coast operations via acquisition in Seattle and Silicon Valley. She developed many of our top talents including Matt Harrington, Nancy Ruscheinski and Jay Porter.
- Jody Rolfe—She brought Edelman into integrated marketing. Her most powerful campaign was Fuji Photo Film’s Shooting for the Gold, with Sports Illustrated photographer Walter looss Jr. who took photos of U.S. athletes training for, and competing in, the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. She was also my right-hand person in the New York office as we grew from a dozen people to 100 in five years.
- Leslie Dach—He joined from the political world in 1989 to become head of the DC office. He rose to vice chairman, in charge of our global public affairs and research operations. He was a critical partner in the early years of the Edelman Trust Barometer. He also brought us into corporate reputation assignments for GE and Heinz. He went on to Walmart where he led the evolution of the company into a sustainability champion.
- John Scanlon—We acquired Scanlon’s boutique firm in the early 80s. Shortly thereafter he managed the communications for CBS News in the Westmoreland v. CBS trial, when a former U.S. General accused 60 Minutes of false and misleading coverage of the Vietnam War. He became our foremost practitioner of crisis PR. I learned from Scanlon how to build longterm relationships with the media.
- Michael Deaver—We were his second act after a long career in politics. Michael was our top corporate consultant, working with the CEOs of AT&T, Microsoft and Samsung. He also consulted with several countries, including Panama on the expansion of the Panama Canal. He was an important mentor to me, always insisting on simple explanations and best visuals. At his memorial service, I told the story of Michael wearing shoes of different colors to work because he did not want to wake up his bride, Carolyn, in her own right a formidable communicator at the cosmetics and fragrance association. His assistant went to find the partner black shoe; the spare brown shoe stayed under his desk for months.
- Mitch Markson—Our first global creative director, he specialized in big ideas. Among my favorites were the giant Hershey kiss lifted by crane into the event space in Times Square for an important anniversary of the brand, or the Snuggle the Bear tie-in with Reading is Fundamental and then First Lady Barbara Bush.
- Charles Fremes—As our leader of Edelman Canada, Charles led the response to the SARS outbreak in 2003, rebuilding the tourism business by restoring confidence of travelers. He also established himself as our leading intermediary between our American and international colleagues who periodically quarreled about cost allocations. In his own words, he played the role of former Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson in peacekeeping.
- Dominic DiFrisco—Dom came to Edelman after a long career at a competitor. My father, tired of losing pitches to Dom, asked him to join to develop our public affairs practice and to give us better connections in Chicago. A proud Italian-American, a life-long New York Yankees fan and frequent presence at his beloved Gene & Georgetti restaurant, Dom was a singular force in the Chicago office, mentoring dozens of executives, selflessly sharing his wisdom and contacts.
- Jay Porter—He was a superb client leader who held some of the most important jobs at Edelman, from client manager of Starbucks to general manager of Edelman San Francisco then general manager of Edelman Chicago. His last position was director of our Revere technology boutique. An Oklahoma kid who made it to the big city, he was an intellectual who wanted to make change. His favorite program was the Starbucks Next Race Together, the commitment to hire 10,000 inner city youth who were out of school and out of work.
We will welcome several of these Edelman stalwarts to the Chicago event in September, to listen to their stories, to thank them, and to be inspired by their belief in this family business. As we reach our 70th year, in addition to our distinguished honorees, we will honor all of our employees—together, they remind us of what is possible and that the best of Edelman is yet to come.
Richard Edelman is CEO.