Richard Edelman has gone to great lengths to become the most visible CEO of any PR agency in the world. Making a concerted effort to speak publicly about issues facing the industry, he has established himself and his eponymous firm as thought leaders. By being one of the few agency CEOs to pursue blogging with dedication and honest enthusiasm, rather than mere rote recitation of marketing phrases, he has helped demonstrate a belief in the transformative power of the Internet as a communications tool. While Edelman has run into controversies – primarily as a result of his firm's work with high-profile client Wal-Mart – his reaction to these episodes, while not satisfying to everyone across the political spectrum, did meet the mark for openness not always employed by PR executives. Edelman's stewardship of his agency, the largest independent firm in the industry, is itself enough to establish him as one of the most influential people in PR. Last year, the company boasted a global revenue of $337 million, a more than 25% increase from the previous year. Having had the foresight to remain independent throughout the frenzy of holding-company acquisitions, Edelman's continued success may provide a blueprint for others to follow.
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