Edelman: Agency Business Report 2013

Edelman continued its steady march toward becoming the first billion-dollar PR agency in 2012, growing its global revenue by 8.3% - 9.6% without the impact of currency fluctuations - to more than $665 million.

Principals: Richard Edelman, president and CEO (r); Matt Harrington, global COO
Ownership: DJE Holdings
Subsidiary agencies: Blue, Edelman Berland, and BioScience Communications
Offices: Global: 66; 14 in the US
Revenue: Global: $665,616,299 (CY'12); $636,775,720 (FY'12)
US: $406,253,336 (CY'12); $391,967,912 (FY'12)
Headcount: Global: 4,653; US: 2,249

Edelman continued its steady march toward becoming the first billion-dollar PR agency in 2012, growing its global revenue by 8.3% – 9.6% without the impact of currency fluctuations – to more than $665 million. 

To facilitate the process, it reorganized its firms into DJE Holdings in Q1 2012, creating the first PR-centric holding company. The reshuffle will help the agency compete more often with shops in the advertising and marketing spaces, but keep PR as its central offering, says CEO Richard Edelman.

“One reason we played up our 60th anniversary was to make the case that we are a different kind of firm than the rest of our competition – private, independent, the biggest level of scale – and now we want to challenge not just PR competitors, but agencies and media buyers,” he says. 

To that end, Edelman bulked up its creative and research capabilities with two major personnel moves. It brought on Penn Schoen Berland president Michael Berland to lead its Edelman Berland research and analytics business in September. The unit, StrategyOne, was integrated into Edelman Berland. The agency also promoted Jackie Cooper to global chair of creative strategy in February 2013. Cassel Kroll, formerly of Mindshare, was hired as the agency moves into media buying.

The firm's 2012 revenue grew 9.6%, which Edelman notes outpaced growth of the major holding companies' combined PR agency revenues. It won Kellogg's business and rolled out Krispr to service it. Edelman also won corporate PR duties from CVS Caremark and Heineken.

In response to one of the year's biggest crisis situations, Penn State University hired the agency in April as it dug out from the Jerry Sandusky child-abuse scandal. It also won corporate reputation, nutrition, and public affairs work from Yum! Brands and Smirnoff's global account, among others. The agency lost a long-held multimillion-dollar tourism PR contract with the state of Illinois to Fleishman-Hillard in March. Nearly 38% of global Edelman client fees were retainer-based.

Edelman reported a staff turnover rate of about 25% for 2012. Former global consumer practice leader Christina Smedley, global tech practice leader Pete Pedersen, global public engagement and future strategies chair Robert Phillips, former chief health and society strategist Nancy Turett, and Curt Kundred, Western region president left the firm in the last 12 months.

Among senior 2012 hires were Jennifer Cohan, global consumer practice lead, Susanne Marell, CEO of Edelman Germany, and Cindy Tian, regional vice chairman of Asia-Pacific. In March, it brought back Lisa Sepulveda from Weber Shandwick. It also promoted Matt Harrington to global COO, Mark Hass to US CEO, and Alan VanderMolen to vice chairman for DJE Holdings and president and CEO of global practices. 

The agency's goals for 2013 are to build its content creation and paid content services and Edelman also has plans to expand in the Middle East and Africa.

Sadly, the firm's founder, Daniel Edelman, died this past January at age 92.

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