SAN JOSE, CA: Just a few months into Edelman’s tenure as PayPal’s first global PR AOR, the firm is moving account lead Courtney Bigelow into the role of EVP and global client relationship manager, overseeing its work with PayPal around the world.
Bigelow, who heads up client strategy for the firm’s New York consumer practice, will move into the role on July 1. Edelman won PayPal’s multimillion-dollar account in April and has completed a two-month transition period in order to understand its "complicated" global business, noted Anuj Nayar, PayPal’s global head of product communications.
Edelman’s global client relationship management program, launched in 2005, was designed to help the firm oversee its largest and most geographically diverse client relationships. Other clients using the program include Samsung, Unilever, Starbucks, and Mars.
"Our ambition is giving clients in the [program] a global perspective to ensure we are developing exceptional work from client strategy to client service to comms marketing campaigns," said Bigelow. "I am taking on that role to manage the new scope of work but also the work we have been doing [with PayPal] across corporate affairs, analyst relations, employee engagement, social strategy, and other pieces in the U.S., U.K., across Europe, [and in] China, India, and Australia."
PayPal has replicated the global customer relationship management model within its organization, appointing agency management leader Melissa O’Malley to a broader role as director of global initiatives to compliment Edelman and work closely with Bigelow.
"[O’Malley] is managing different stakeholders within PayPal that are working with Edelman to take the integrated model on both the client and agency sides to drive maximum connections as we work to become one team on both sides of the house," said Nayar.
As AOR, Edelman is covering parts of PayPal’s global communications business including its corporate affairs and product communications globally. Government relations is also included in the firm’s remit. Nayar explained that Edelman can support PayPal’s comms function in a way that works for an innovative company in a highly regulated space.
"We have government relations and PR and our comms function under a corporate affairs banner in addition to a social innovation team because PayPal’s social impact is so huge," Nayar said. "We are bringing those pieces together to drive our business in a way that is different from many of the other players in the industry."
Edelman’s contract includes work on product brands PayPal, Venmo, Braintree, Paydiant, and Xoom.
Nayar added that Edelman has assisted with a variety of announcements since coming onboard. For example, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman said in March that the company would start allowing money transfers to Cuba through Xoom later this year, and PayPal held its first analyst day. The company also ceased its proposed expansion plan in North Carolina after the passage of a law preventing cities from creating non-discrimination policies based on gender identity.
Edelman has also been helping PayPal launch and expand their One Touch product, which enable consumers to check out items by pressing one button, as opposed to going through multiple checkout screens.
"There is a real opportunity for us to be at the forefront of shaping conversation about [PayPal’s] vision for the future of money. To have this charge to create campaigns that connect with people around the globe in new and different ways is compelling for our agency and for me personally in the global client relationship management role," said Bigelow.
In early 2013, PayPal selected MSLGroup as its AOR for North America. The Publicis Groupe firm is continuing to support PayPal in Latin America and Canada.
Edelman’s relationship with PayPal dates back to when the company was a part of eBay. In March 2009, eBay hired the firm to work on its marketplace and corporate divisions in what was then a seven-figure account, following a competitive review. PayPal previously had a consolidated PR account with Access Communications. EBay and PayPal split in July 2015.
"We decided to go with Edelman because it is the largest independent PR firm in the world and it can bring a host of skills to us from tech comms through to brand building to traditional CSR," said Nayar. "It has the full range of capabilities, and we can now lean into that in a way that hadn’t been possible before now."