PRWeek UK Top 150: How Edelman extended its lead as the UK's biggest PR shop

Edelman extended its lead at the top of PRWeek UK Top 150 for 2017, growing revenues by eight per cent to £60.2m last year - with UK CEO Ed Williams citing an emphasis on trust and a diversified offering as key to its success.

Will Walden: Boris Johnson's former PR man was hired by Edelman UK last year
Will Walden: Boris Johnson's former PR man was hired by Edelman UK last year

Edelman is now almost £10m bigger than Brunswick, its nearest rival in revenue terms in the Top 150. UK headcount for Edelman rose from 478 in 2015 to 500 last year.

Click for the PRWeek Global Agency Business Report profile on Edelman's global operation, with insight from CEO Richard Edelman

Of the firm's eight per cent UK revenue growth across 2016, Edelman UK boss Ed Williams (pictured above) said: "We’ve continued to deliver significant top-line growth in what is evident to anyone to be a challenging and unpredictable environment. What is clear to us is that clients continue to value strategic counsel to help them chart a course through an unprecedented period.

"In particular, the work we’ve led over the last 17 years on trust as a driver of reputation is front of mind for a lot of our clients. It’s also really encouraging to see how clients are positively responding to our strategy to deploy all the creative tools at hand to tell their stories, whether they are brands, companies or individuals."

In terms of significant account wins in 2016, Williams pointed to the product and corporate communications brief for HP across EMEA; the reopening of the Bataclan music venue in Paris; work with the Royal Family on the Heads Together campaign; and work in motorsport with Liberty Media, Shell and Heineken. A more recent global win with Nissan extends that list.

Williams said Edelman UK’s political capabilities "received a tremendous boost" in the year, with three hires: Will Walden, formerly Boris Johnson’s principle advisor, who now leads the agency’s public affairs team; Lucy Thomas, previously deputy director of the Stronger In campaign, who heads up Edelman’s Brexit offer; and James Morris, who has a background as a US political strategist and who now leads the agency’s corporate narrative and positioning work.

Other significant hires included Toby Gunton, formerly of media agency OMD UK, to the new role of general manager, digital, working alongside three of Edelman’s Deportivo team who have relocated to London. Other new starters to the UK business included Tristan Sanders, who is building its paid, search and SEO offer as head of performance; and Matt Cannington, who is head of social strategy. 

Despite admitting that the overall economic picture was "soft", and that many businesses had "started to raise concerns around an uncertain period that comes from Brexit", Williams was upbeat about 2017.

He said: "This is creating a degree of volatility and there are examples of clients delaying some types of projects. However, our strategy over the last few years to diversify our business and invest in creative and digital has allowed us to fish in a bigger pond. We believe that our strong, trusted brand in the market and our obsession around doing the best possible work puts us in a good position, even in the current context."

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