Edelman's decision not to renew its membership in the Council of PR Firms is regrettable, particularly in the context of the firm's game-changing marketing and program activities of the past 18 months.
No other firm has more publicly and effectively capitalized on the changing marketing landscape. Under CEO Richard Edelman, it has rapidly embraced new-media strategies and set a new pace for the entire industry with its challenge to advertising conventions. As the world's largest independent, it has made a convincing case for the ability of non-holding company firms to thrive in a market where intra-agency synergies are more vital than ever.
The firm made no public announcement on its withdrawal and has not openly criticized the Council, but rather has pointed to the need to direct its resources more productively. It also stated that it has not participated in subcommittees and task forces that would make the relationship more meaningful.
Perfectly reasonable. No one disputes Edelman's right to do what it wants. But we'd challenge the premise that, as an independent firm, its needs and perspectives are viewed as subordinate compared with its large-agency peers in the Council, all of which belong to holding companies. The themes for which Edelman has been a standard-bearer relate to all firms, regardless of ownership.
For the world's largest independent firm to give up membership in the only trade association dedicated to PR agencies sends a discouraging message. CEO Richard Edelman has spoken candidly for years on the need for the industry to pull together and demonstrate its potential to lead. The Council, under Helen Ostrowski's chairmanship, has dedicated itself, in part, to focusing on the relevance of PR to CMOs, a topic firmly in Edelman's interest. In abdicating its crucial independent voice now, Edelman has surrendered some of the leadership gravitas it has so wisely cultivated.