Edelman grows 8.5% in 2014/15 financial year

Global revenues at the world's largest PR firm rose to $833 million in the 12 months to June 30, 2015, while the US was up 9% to $504.7 million in the same period.

NEW YORK: Edelman achieved organic growth of 8.5% in the 2014/15 financial year, with revenues rising from $768.5 million to $833 million.

Global growth was down from 10.3% in the 2013/14 financial year; US growth was up from 7.8% to 9%, with stateside revenues hitting $504.7 million, up from $463.1 million.

Overall growth was 8.4%, with acquisitions accounting for 2.7% but currency fluctuations reducing the overall number by 2.8%.

The $768.5 million was adjusted down by $8 million from last year's $776.5 million figure to account for revenue that was transferred to its Zeno subsidiary in markets including India, Canada, Brazil, Singapore, China, and Indonesia. Zeno reports separately to Edelman.

Organic revenue increased 14.1% in Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East, 12.7% in Latin America, 6.1% in Europe, and 12.8% in Canada. The agency did not break out revenue figures for these regions.

"It was a very solid performance, with growth across the board," said Edelman president and CEO Richard Edelman. "I was very pleased with our 20% growth rate in digital, which includes everything from community management, paid, SEO, web development, to analytics."

In the year, Edelman acquired Elan in France, Deportivo in Sweden, Devon Group in Canada, and Position Comunicaciones in Colombia.

It also embarked on a JV last October with United Talent Agency to combine United Entertainment Group and subsidiary Matter. Edelman holds a 60% stake in the JV and Richard Edelman said business had doubled in a year.

In the US, the firm’s New York and Atlanta offices performed particularly well. Sector growth came from health, food and beverage, financial services, retailing, and CPG. Technology and energy were sluggish.

"The health business is growing again and accounts for 18% of revenue," added Edelman. "Pharma also came back."

Edelman retained all 20 of its top clients, with 15 of them growing. Notable client wins during the year included Cracker Barrel and Florida Citrus, the latter via its Edible food and beverage specialist firm. The agency lost Humana and Crayola, both to Golin.

Edelman highlighted the agency’s Cannes Gold Lion-winning Photoshop Murder Mystery work for Adobe and Dove Sketches and Real Beauty 10th anniversary work for Unilever as particularly noteworthy examples of its communications marketing model in action.

High-profile talent hired during the year included CCOs such as Kathryn Beiser from Hilton, CMOs such as Kelly Schwager from Streetline, ad industry experts such as Carol Potter from BBDO - who joined in March to become executive vice-chairman for APACMEA – and City of London veteran Lord Paul Myners, who became chairman of Edelman UK.

Leavers included US CEO Mark Hass, social purpose practice chair Carol Cone, and DC veteran Neal Flieger.

Edelman has invested in its content newsroom and seen the benefits in work for clients including Flextronic and The Udder Truth video series for the US dairy industry, but the agency CEO is reluctant to follow the trend of agencies striking partnerships with media operators.

"It’s hard for PR firms to partner with media companies," said Edelman. "I don’t think we should do that – we should be working across all of them."

In calendar year 2014 Edelman posted organic growth of 8.2%, increasing revenues from $745.5 million to $812.3 million. US revenue rose 7.1% from $450.4 million to $482.1 million.

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