NEW YORK: Edelman has hired Chris Gee as MD of its digital, U.S. corporate affairs and advisory services.
Gee started in the position on September 21 and is based in the firm’s New York office. He reports jointly to global corporate practice chair Jim O’Leary and global digital chair Tristan Roy.
In the role, Gee oversees the integration of digital expertise into Edelman’s U.S. corporate affairs team, partnering closely with the firm’s leaders to help C-level clients reposition their companies, navigate through crises and manage complex diversity, inclusion and equity challenges, according to a release. He also works closely with the firm’s recently launched CommsTech Solutions team. CommsTech is a service and series of tools that bring together data and analytics to help communicators predict consumer behavior, reduce risk and quantify commercial impact.
Gee’s role is new. He explained that companies historically thought of digital and social media primarily as platforms for consumer marketing, but over the past five years, there has been a rise in companies emphasizing connected experiences and corporate storytelling.
"That trend has accelerated during the pandemic," he said. "In terms of client demand that we are seeing in the marketplace, it was the perfect time to create a role like this."
Gee added that Edelman’s Trust Barometer found this year that 52% of Americans said brands owe it to their employees to speak out on matters such as systemic racism and injustice.
"This happens at a time when corporations don’t have the resources internally to deal with that, and, of course, all of this plays out on social media and digital channels," he said. "So some of the areas I want to focus on will be leading clients and helping them navigate through these thorny issues that don’t fall neatly within traditional buckets."
Previously, Gee served as MD of social media and digital strategy at Teneo, U.S. head of digital strategy at Finsbury and Burson-Marsteller, now known as BCW, where he was head of digital strategy and content for the firm’s U.S. corporate and financial practice.
In June, Edelman revealed it was cutting close to 400 employees worldwide (about 7% of its workforce) and senior staff would take pay cuts to shore up a business that was reporting a net loss due to the pandemic.
Speaking at the PRCA’s National Conference last week, CEO Richard Edelman said that in September his agency had begun restoring full pay to half of the employees who took salary cuts, with the rest of the employees’ pay to be restored in October.
“We are making hires again in fast-growing areas such as financial PR and healthcare,” he revealed.
This story was updated on October 1 with additional information and quotes from Gee.