Edelman promotes Matthew Harrington to global president

'It's too big a job for me to do myself,' Richard Edelman said about handing off the president role to Harrington.

NEW YORK: Edelman has named global COO Matthew Harrington as its global president, making him the third person to hold the title at the firm after CEO Richard Edelman and his father, the agency’s late founder, Daniel Edelman. 

Harrington will continue to report to Edelman, who is keeping his title of CEO, while Harrington holds on to the role of global COO. The change is effective immediately.  

Harrington will take over management of the agency’s digital practice and advisory services, as well as overseeing talent, the client portfolio management committee and the firm’s four operating regions: the U.S., EMEA, Asia-Pacific and Latin America and Canada. 

Edelman will continue to guide agency strategy and oversee the global client relationship management program, data and analytics, creative practices and the United Entertainment Group. He will also be the lead promoter of the firm’s Trust Barometer and serve as a counselor to the agency’s largest clients. 

Edelman explained that he promoted Harrington because the agency is too big for one person to manage, saying, "I’ve been thinking about this for some time. It’s too big a job for me to do myself."

"It’s a massive organization," he said. "This just reflects the reality of the complexity of face-to-face leadership. A lot of companies, like WPP, run the business based on numbers. That’s not the way Edelman does it. We do it on the basis of personal connections."

Edelman added that his role at DJE Holdings and his relationship with Edelman sister agency Zeno Group will not be affected by the change. He added that the promotion is taking place as the agency returns to growth, though he did not disclose financial numbers. The firm’s global revenue dipped 1.1% in 2018 on a like-for-like basis to $888.4 million. 

"We have gotten back to growth, which I’m thrilled about, on the basis of existing clients and some client wins," Edelman said. "And we paid bonuses to our people, which is rare for the PR sector, last week."

Harrington’s appointment caps off a series of senior moves at the agency, including the promotion of Arent Jan Hesselink, GM of Amsterdam, to COO of EMEA, reporting to new EMEA CEO and president Ed Williams. Edelman also promoted Stephen Kehoe to president and CEO of APAC after incumbent Jesse Lin resigned. The agency also picked Aaron McLear as U.S. chair of public affairs, replacing Rob Rehg, who moved into the role of vice chair of global client strategy. 

"From my standpoint, we really have the dream team," Edelman said. "[This] week we’re announcing a new head of data and analytics and that completes the senior team, and I am excited about the capacity of our operating committee, [whose members] have emerged as really top class communications firm leaders."

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