Robert Phillips, industry legend, dies aged 57

Robert Phillips, founder of Jericho Chambers, former European chief executive of Edelman and legendary figure of the British PR industry, died yesterday (Sunday 13 June), three years after being diagnosed with advanced cancer.

Robert Phillips
Robert Phillips

Robert Phillips, who was 57, remained active and forthright about his views on business, ethics and corporate communication until a few weeks ago, when his illness finally took its toll.

He is survived by his wife Venetia and sons Gabriel and Gideon.

A statement from his family says: “We love Robert beyond words and the loss that we feel is indescribable. Robert was many things: a Dylanologist, a Man Utd fanatic, a dreamer, and a fighter for a better and more just world. To us, he was all of this and more.”

Phillips co-founded and co-led Jackie Cooper PR in 1987 until its acquisition by Edelman in 2004. After leading Edelman for eight years as UK chief executive and then EMEA president, he left to set up Jericho Chambers in 2013.

He wrote the influential book ‘Trust me, PR is dead’ in 2015.

His family said that Phillips had pushed for progressive leadership, championing the power of citizen collaboration in order to achieve positive change: “Short as it was, Robert lived life to the full. We would love to hear your stories, anecdotes, tales of wonder/defiance, and anything else you have to say about him. We’ve set up an inbox to share your stories at Venetia, Gabriel, Gideon."

Chris Rumfitt, chief executive of Field Consulting and a close friend of Phillips, told PRWeek. “My dear friend, and an absolute legend of our game, Robert Phillips, passed away yesterday afternoon after his long battle with cancer. I can scarcely believe I am writing the words to you.”

Full PRWeek obituary is to follow.

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