NEW YORK: Edelman confirmed today that it had not renewed its membership in the Council of PR firms.
The move signalled the departure of the world's largest independent PR agency from the Council, which serves as the de facto trade group of the PR industry.
Edelman chief of staff Derek Creevey confirmed Monday that the agency did not renew its membership for 2006. He said that Edelman determined that it was an inactive member of the Council and was not deriving enough benefit from its membership.
"We're not actively part of their teams," including subcommittees and task forces on various issues, Creevey said. "So we sat there and [said] ‘Well, why are we members?'"
Creevey said Edelman had its own proprietary programs in many of the fields in which the Council was active, such as diversity and career education, rendering membership unnecessary. The move will save the agency annual dues that Creevey estimated to be $40,000.
Council president Kathy Cripps said she was informed in January that Edelman had decided not to renew for the calendar year.
"They felt they were not necessarily using the resources," said Cripps.
She said that the Council listens to feedback from its members, and strives to represent all of the member firms, whether large or small, independent or holding company-owned.
"We would welcome Edelman back. They're a very important voice in the industry as the largest independent firm," Cripps said. "It's only through a trade association that firms can join together to help establish standards and address common issues in the industry."
She said that the loss of dues revenue would not have a significant impact on the Council's budget.
"We've maintained a very strong membership over eight years of existence," Cripps said.
Creevey said that the move did not arise from any dispute with the Council's specific policies. He added that Edelman is "still available" to take part in any industry-wide initiatives sponsored by the Council or others.
Edelman CEO Richard Edelman was on vacation and not directly available for comment, but did confirm the agency's move through Creevey.
Asked if Edelman's status as an independent agency played a part in the decision, Creevey noted that most firms of comparable size in the Council are not independently owned.
"Their needs are very different from our needs," he said. "Every other agency, more or less, is owned by a holding company. Their financial conversation is very different from ours."
In January of 2005, Sloane & Company pulled out of the Council in objection to what CEO Eliot Sloane felt was a weak response by the industry group to the Ketchum imbroglio with Armstrong Williams.