Richard Edelman: CEO of Edelman Public Relations

Richard Edleman PR
Richard Edelman, President and CEO of Edelman, is the son of Daniel J. Edelman, founders of the firm. Richard started working at the firm in 1978 after graduating and then receiving his MBA from Harvard. He became president of the firm in 1985 and then CEO in 1986. During that time the company was bringing in less than $15 million in revenues – Richard chose to remain independent and resist acquisition from an advertising firm – a common occurrence at the time.

Edelman under Richard’s leadership jumped into using social media for branding early in the game, and his blog became quite well-known. Blogging since 2004, his posts often run on the controversial side, bringing more eyes to the screen. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Ad Council, the International Business Leaders Forum, the National Committee on United States-China Relations, the Children’s Aid Society, the Atlantic Council, and the Gettysburg National Battlefield Foundation.

In 2013, he topped PR Week’s list of most powerful executives and in 2014 named the third highest rated CEO by Glassdoor. His personal areas of expertise include marketing and reputation management. Richard’s efforts have seen the company to its current standing as the largest independently owned PR firm, representing such clients as General Electric, EBay, Starbucks, and Microsoft.

Richard recently acquired an apartment in Chicago, deciding to split his time between New York City and Chicago – where the Edelman firm began. Of the move he said, “*I get to hang out with my brother John, catch a few games, see my old friends from Latin School of Chicago, and give something back to worthy causes. Besides, I get to work on accounts and help win some business. It feels like the right thing to do and the best time to do it.”

Rehm signs off for the final time

Rehm signs off for the final time

In popular culture, there’s the passing of the torch and the end of an era. In media, the latter seems to be happening far more often than the former. Trusted anchors are retiring to pen memoirs or reinvent their fame on social media. Where once they were replaced by trusted names who had been their […]

The Climate Change Imperative [by Richard Edelman]

I went to the home of Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, last night for dinner. Sachs, a Harvard classmate (one of those people you identified at age 18 as having superior intellect), has taken a leadership role in the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a coalition of academics, business and non-governmental organizations.

The Academic Summit [by Richard Edelman]

Richard Edelman speaks

Edelman hosted its sixth Academic Summit last week at DePaul University in Chicago. We had over 80 professors of communications, marketing and public relations for a three day event. Many of our clients, including HP, GE, Starbucks, SC Johnson, Samsung, Darden, Gap, CVS Caremark, DMI, ConAgra and Mars, spoke to the academics.

The Cannes Lion for PR Is Home at Last [by Richard Edelman]


Tonight in Cannes, France, the Chipotle Scarecrow campaign won two Golden Lions and the Grand Prix for PR. This marks the first time that a PR firm has actually won the coveted Grand Prix award. In prior years, I would gnash my teeth and break pencils when I learned that ad agencies had invaded our space and had done a better job of convincing the judges. PR firms have learned how to play the game, with visually arresting content to go with the usual high substance and top class results.

Leadership and Corporate Accountability [by Richard Edelman]

Christine Lagarde speaking at the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism

I met for breakfast this morning with my long-time friend Henry McGee, former top executive at HBO, now a professor at Harvard Business School. Henry is teaching the Leadership and Corporate Accountability required course to first-year students. The MBA students are exposed to this broader view of business because the school wanted to make the case for complexity in decision-making, a far better lens than the simplistic shareholder value notion that dominated my own graduate experience.

The 9/11 Memorial Museum [by Richard Edelman]

Richard Edelman

Today marks the opening of the 9/11 Memorial Museum in Lower Manhattan, nearly 13 years after the destruction of the World Trade Center and the loss of almost 3,000 innocent lives. I was part of the Edelman team that worked pro-bono with the global media on the press preview and Dedication a week ago.

Get IN Chicago: Richard Edelman in Chicago

Richard Edelman at Davos

Earlier this week, Dr. Toni Irving, executive director of Get IN Chicago, a public-private partnership to combat juvenile violence, announced its first 11 grant recipients (disclosure: Edelman is the volunteer PR firm). In a ceremony that also featured Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Allstate CEO Thomas Wilson, the $50 million partnership made its first grants to non-profits that in Irving’s words, “administer community-driven programs that research indicates are most effective in preventing youth violence, including mentoring, after-school engagement, cognitive behavioral therapy and parental leadership.