Edelman is the world's biggest public relations agency, and arguably also the most widely admired. Still owned and run by its founding family in a sector dominated by subsidiaries of multinational marketing groups, it has swept the board in recent years for industry accolades, regularly named Agency of the Year by multiple trade publications and organisations and as Agency of the Decade in 2010 by both Ad Age and industry monitor The Holmes Report. Although originally known mainly for consumer and healthcare PR, it has established a much envied reputation for excellence in corporate PR and public affairs since 2000, and was one of the pioneers in word-of-mouth marketing and social media. Although the US is still its core market, it has also established an expansive global network since the end of the 1990s, becoming one of the leading agencies in Europe and the Asia Pacific region. Parent company DJE Holdings Inc also owns several other smaller PR and consultancy agencies including Zeno, Assembly (a dedicated unit for Microsoft), Krispr (for Kellogg's) and food & beverage specialist Edible. United Entertainment Group is a sports and entertainment marketing joint venture with United Talent Agency. Former journalist and WWII public information officer Daniel J Edelman launched the agency in Chicago in 1952, gradually building a national and then international footprint. He remained group chairman right up until his death in 2013, aged 92. His son Richard Edelman is now president & CEO. Fee income for 2017 hit a new high of $894m. (Separate subsidiary Zeno generated an additional $59m, putting it just outside the Global Top 30). In 2011, Edelman overtook Weber Shandwick for the first time to become the #1 PR revenue by global fee income. The Holmes Report has ranked it as the world's largest PR firm every year since then. Subscribers may access account assignments and contact information. The searchable account assignments database is available to full subscribers to Adbrands.net premium services. Click here to access Adbrands account assignments (subscribers only); or see here for information on how to subscribe.
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Capsule checked 29th March 2018
Adbrands Weekly Update 1st Mar 2018: Edelman retained its position as the world's biggest PR company, but revenues grew by just 2.1% to $893.6m. That was better than last year's 1.7% uptick, but well below past performance. The PR divisions of the major marketing groups are experiencing a similar slowdown. "I would say that we've outperformed relative to the sector," said CEO Richard Edelman. "Most of [our competitors] actually shrank. The story for PR is we have to evolve... We can't assume any longer that developing markets are necessarily automatic 10% growth every year." He highlighted the decline of traditional journalism, historically the main focus for PR agencies, as one key factor. "The number of journalists has declined by more than half," he said. "Half of the work is now social. The budgets that we have to get as an industry, both on the corporate side and the brand side, are going to be dependent on our ability to attract eyeballs through social. We've got to reinvent what normal is. We're going to have to compete with the ad agencies and with the digital firms. They are coming into our world - our competitors are no longer just Weber Shandwick and Ketchum. It's a battle for share of the wallet."
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Feb 2017: Privately owned PR giant Edelman also reported results this week. It remains the world's biggest PR firm by a sizeable margin, but growth slowed to its lowest rate since the financial crisis of 2009. Fee income was up just 1.7% to $875m. CEO Richard Edelman highlighted economic uncertainty in Europe, a slowdown in China, and in US healthcare spending and also some digital services. In the latter area, several clients have taken back social media management inhouse.
Adbrands Weekly Update 28th Apr 2016: The Holmes Report published its latest ranking of the world's leading PR agencies by fee income. Edelman easily retained the #1 position, albeit with a slightly reduced margin over second-placed Weber Shandwick, owned by Interpublic. Omnicom's FleishmanHillard and Ketchum held the #3 and #4 positions. WPP's Burson-Marsteller moved up to equal 5th alongside Publicis-owned MSLGroup. However the biggest change was a 37% increase in fee income for China's BlueFocus which jumped five places in the ranking to the #10 spot, unseating Havas PR. Among the holding companies, Omnicom slipped from first to third place by combined estimated fee income, behind Interpublic and WPP.
Adbrands Weekly Update 3rd Mar 2016: Edelman, the world's largest PR agency, still privately owned by the founding family, reported another good year in 2015, through the rate of growth slowed. Revenues hit $855m, reflecting organic growth of 7.2%. US fees broke the $500m barrier for the first time, thought to be a record for any PR company, but Canada was down year-on-year. All other regions were up on an organic basis, with Europe adding 6% to $157m. The group said that corporate and consumer PR each account for around 30% of income, but digital, which includes analytics and design as well as social media, has grown to 22%.
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Mar 2015: Edelman reported another year of solid growth, with revenues up 9% to a record $812.3m. The US accounted for 59% of revenues, but the fastest growing markets were international. Europe was slow with organic growth of 6% but there were double digit jumps in Latin America, Canada and Asia Pacific.
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