NEW YORK: New business wins including Pitney Bowes helped propel Edelman to 11.4% global organic growth in calendar year 2013 as worldwide revenues hit $741 million, up from $665 million in the 12 months prior.
US revenue increased 10.9% year-over-year to $450.3 million, accounting for 60% of the total, 2% less than in calendar year 2012. New York was a powerhouse performer, gaining 20% year-over-year in the July-December period. The office has doubled in size in four years and employs 800 people. It is a particular hub for Edelman's work with global clients such as GE, Johnson & Johnson, and Unilever.
“We are increasingly working with CMOs on programs that affect brands but also have a corporate element,” said agency president and CEO Richard Edelman. “We're trying to stretch the definition of PR – we want to be a consultancy firm, too. But we've backed away from building a PR-centric holding company, and we don't want to be an advertising or entertainment business.”
Edelman identified technology, energy, financial services, and food as four challenging areas that were in particular need of reputational advice. He said his firm's profit margin was approximately 14%. He noted that the top-tier agencies had separated from the mid-sized shops in and around the $100 million revenue category.
“You can't have the scale you need to be a global player unless you are $350 million and above,” he added.
Edelman's Washington, DC, office had a good year, including high-profile reputation and crisis work with Penn State University. The agency's health practice grew 13% globally and benefited from an increasing cross-fertilization between the areas of health and food and nutrition.
Europe grew 11.6% to $139.2 million to remain stable at 19% of total revenues, buoyed by a robust performance in the UK, which is particularly strong in digital.
The newly constituted region of APACMEA (Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa) was up 14.3% organically to $98.7 million, 14% of the total. The acquisitions of Design Royale in Sydney, Baird's in South Africa, Cream Events in India, and AVC in Vietnam boosted Edelman's overall revenue in the region by $5.7 million. Revenue from Latin America grew 24% to $21.8 million, up 1% to 3% of the total.
Edelman subsidiary Zeno grew 39.2% year-over-year in 2013 to post revenue of $29.9 million.
Matt Harrington, global COO, added that there was more convergence between the CCO and CMO, which was leading to more integrated work for Edelman.
“The jump ball of digital is beginning to land and it is infused across both of those worlds,” he said. But he warned that “CCOs need to listen to digital natives and pay attention to the way the communications flow is changing... otherwise they run the risk of being roadkill.”
Harrington added that there were also more conversations with CEOs and board members about corporate reputation.
“I've never seen such board sensitivity to having a properly managed communications strategy, and boards are holding the CEO accountable on that,” he said. “The engagement of the CEO is critical to its [communications] success.”