I had lunch with Mike Morley yesterday in our New York office. He is one of the most important figures in the 71-year history of Edelman. He founded our international business with our first office in the UK in 1965. He established our operations in Europe, then Asia, Canada, and Latin America over the next four decades. Among the lessons I learned from Michael:

  1. Teach Your People Well—Mike developed some of the top talent in the PR field. Among the superstars from the School of Morley include Judi Mackey who went on to be senior vice president and director of global communications at Lazard, and Amanda Duckworth who was CMO at Kleiner Perkins. Justin Blake, Edelman's global chair of executive positioning and executive director of the Edelman Trust Institute, told me that when he was just a young account executive at Edelman, Michael critiqued his decks, gave him wise counsel, and concluded with “I really loved working with the guy.”
  2. Build Global Clients—Our first truly global client was United Parcel Service (UPS). Mike established a 15-country team, worked on a rebranding and global expansion program. He built our Samsung relationship from a derivative PR partner with Cheil Advertising into a strong direct relationship across the globe.
  3. Take Big Ideas and Make Them Real—Mike was the guiding force behind two big programs for British Airways. The first, ‘Go for It America,’ was an all-free seats offer in 1986 on all BA flights from the U.S. to the UK, which overcame American hesitation on trans-Atlantic travel. The second, ‘The World's Biggest Offer,’ was a similar program but applied globally as travelers were nervous about the Gulf War in 1991. Michael worked directly with Lord Colin Marshall, CEO of British Airways, on both initiatives.
  4. Take the Chance to Repot Yourself—Mike moved from the UK to New York City in the mid-80s, having done nearly 20 years in his home market. It was a total change for him in client base and work style. He adapted quickly to the New York scene and continued his globe-trotting ways.
  5. Lead on the Big Assignments—Mike and I worked on the 1989 merger of Ernst & Whinney with Arthur Young. We established a separate workspace for the three-month confidential project across the street from Ernst & Whinney. We wrote the speeches, press releases and internal communications together. It still ranks as the largest professional services merger in history.
  6. Positive Attitude—Mike was a born entrepreneur. He made the impossible possible. He was brilliant in pitches. He found a way to connect in and outside of work with clients.

The Morley legacy at Edelman is the network of 45 non-U.S. offices and 3,500 people who work outside of the U.S. He made it possible for us to compete with Burson, H&K, MSL and other global players. He was an invaluable advisor and mentor to me for nearly 30 years. Mike, I am deeply grateful for all that you have done for the people of Edelman.

Richard Edelman is CEO.