Coffee Break with Richard Edelman

The leader of the largest PR firm in the world describes coping with lockdown, family tragedy due to COVID-19, the business impact of the recession on his agency in 2020 and why it’s time for action communications.

Richard Edelman’s normal work routine involved flying around the world visiting clients and his agency outposts and sending back signature selfies with Edelman teams from Beijing to Brussels.

But for the first eight weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown Edelman’s world shrunk to pacing around his Manhattan apartment and going out onto the terrace at 7 p.m. each night to make some noise in tribute to New York’s healthcare and other essential workers.

He explained to PRWeek editorial director Steve Barrett that he was “in behavior modification” and even did his training sessions inside with an impromptu cone setup – which was “not hugely popular” – and even learned to live with the family parakeet.

Edelman also had direct experience of the tragic impact of the pandemic as his mother-in-law endured a, ultimately unsuccessful, 170-day battle against coronavirus.

He described how Edelman’s teams responded in their “finest hour” to a recession that was far more dire than prior downturns in 2001 and 2008 – down more than 30% in some markets - and made predictions for what he feels the firm will end up on revenue-wise by the end of 2020.

Edelman reflects on all of this and much more in Coffee Break, a weekly 15-minute intermission in your working day to discover more about PR pros occupying interesting roles across the industry, live each Wednesday morning by 11 a.m. ET.

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