Many of you will have read about the promotion of Russell Dubner to vice chairman and of Lisa Ross to CEO of our U.S. business. Russ will also oversee our sector-oriented business units in food, health, financial services and tech that are set to serve clients seeking specialized counsel plus the Edelman Trust Institute. Why these moves and why now?
- We Have Accomplished a V-Shaped Recovery—From the dark days of twelve months ago when our revenue plunged in some markets by 30 percent and overall was down 15 percent in the second quarter, we have fought our way back. Huge thanks to the entire team for their determination, endurance and will to win. And to our clients who have relied on us as never before to help them understand the incredible complexity of the moment. We are now above our peak revenue level of the prior year on a month-to-month basis. Now is the time to invest in future growth. Edelman always springs out of recessions; we intend to do this again.
- We Will Continue our Trust Work—Our cadence of 10x per year trust studies during the pandemic was rewarded by clients who felt well counseled and supported. The most recent global Trust study showing that Business is the most trusted institution because it is the only one seen as competent and ethical has penetrated corporate board rooms around the world.
- We Need to Diversify Our Geographic Footprint—We are simply too reliant on the U.S. and UK where we are the No. 1 firm in each market. We will be focused especially on the developing markets where we will aim to double our size. This means acquisitions and senior hires.
- We Are Seeing The Benefits of Investing To Be a Communications Firm—I grinned ear to ear when I saw the Dove Men+Care Off Court Champs ad showing the real faces of Black Men on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Finals. I felt similar pride in our Ikea campaign that launched recycled furniture as a new service offer, a different path to sustainability. Or the Ajinomoto #TakeOutHate campaign to promote take out from Asian-owned restaurants that countered the horrific anti-Asian sentiment from allegations of “kung flu.” This is a PR firm that has morphed into a brave idea factory, solving societal challenges, generating sales with new audiences, no matter what the medium.
- The People Story—Russ has done the U.S. job for six years, bringing in such innovations as CommsTech, hiring hundreds of creatives and expanding our Financial Communications team by 12x. He is ready for a global mandate to drive growth. Lisa has done a stunning job in her four years at Edelman, first running the D.C. office, then more recently as COO of the U.S. business. She helped four hundred clients along with the Racial Justice Task Force team in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
- The Moment in America and the World—Never has our work been more important. What does one say to a client embroiled in the controversy over the new legislation on voting rights in Georgia? We need smart teams to help clients be part of the conversations with legislators while the bills are being formulated, while educating the employees on the issue. We should work with clients to see the full picture, the economic impact of a decision in terms of customer reaction and financial impact in the community (note Stacey Abrams’s comment on the loss of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Atlanta and knock on effect on tourism and jobs).
I take deep pride in today’s announcement promoting two of our best and brightest. I thank Matt Harrington, our president and COO, for making it happen.
Richard Edelman is CEO.