PR Masters Series Podcast, Episode #64 – Richard Edelman


PR Masters Series PodcastAbout the Podcast

The Stevens Group has been presenting the PR Masters Series Podcast for two years now.  This series is part of the ongoing partnership between The Stevens Group and CommPRO to bring to PR, digital/interactive and marketing communications agencies the wisdom of those who have reached the top of the PR profession.  Today’s special guest is Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman.

If the word “legend” applies to anyone at all in the world of public relations, it truly applies to Richard Edelman.  His agency has taken the world of public relations by storm during the past thirty or so years, and has led the way in growth, innovation, a vision for the future and extraordinary results for its long list of global clients. 

Under Richard’s leadership the agency now does more than one billion dollars a year in revenues, the first ever PR agency to do so. It has set the standard for the PR agency business and the bar is exceedingly high.  Richard is the son of Daniel J. Edelman who founded the firm in 1952.  Richard was named CEO in 1996 taking over for his father, who remained Chairman until he passed away in 2013.  Now in his 26th year as CEO, Richard is one of the longest tenured agency leaders in the marketing services industry.


Richard EdelmanAbout Our Guest

Richard Edelman is the CEO of Edelman, a global communications firm, and Chairman of Daniel J. Edelman Holdings, the firm’s holding company. Founded in 1952 by his father Dan, Edelman remains independent and family owned with more than 6,000 employees in 66 offices across 28 countries.

The firm was named to Advertising Age’s A-List in 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2019 and was honored as “PR Agency of the Decade” by both Advertising Age and PRovoke. At the 2021 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Edelman became the first PR Agency to win a Grand Prix as lead agency in the Entertainment Lions for Sport and was named Independent Agency of the Year in the Entertainment Track.

Richard was named CEO in 1996 taking over for his father, who remained Chairman until he passed away in 2013. Now in his 26th year as CEO, Richard is one of the longest tenured agency leaders in the marketing services industry. During that time, he’s guided the firm’s entry into Digital, Creative, Performance Marketing and Advisory. Under Richard’s leadership, Edelman’s revenue increased 11.5 times enabling it to become the largest communications firm in the world surpassing $1 billion in revenue. DJE Holdings’ revenue increased 14 times during that same period making it the largest independent communications holding company. He also serves as Chair of Edelman’s sister agency Zeno, which was named large agency of the year in 2021 and 2022 by PRWeek. Zeno employs 730+ people across 18 offices.

Richard has extensive experience in marketing and reputation management, having led assignments with major corporations, NGOs and family businesses. He has advised senior executives through significant disruptions within their organizations, including Samsung, Starbucks and United Airlines, and worked on the largest professional services merger in history of Ernst & Whinney and Arthur Young & Co. Richard works with numerous clients including Unilever, Dairy Management Inc. and Chobani. He has counseled countries in every region of the world on economic development programs. As the creator of the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, Richard has become one of the foremost authorities on trust in business, government, media and NGOs. Now in its 22nd year, the Edelman Trust Barometer is widely recognized as the leading piece of research on trust with its cross-cultural insights regularly cited in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Economist, Fortune, Forbes and other media. The survey also informs academic studies on trust and provides insights to thought-leaders and opinion-shapers around the world.

In 2022, Richard was inducted into the American Advertising Hall of Fame, the first PR executive to ever earn this honor. In 2019, Richard was named the PR Agency Professional of the Past 20 Years by PRWeek and was inducted into the publication’s Hall of Fame; in 2014, Richard was inducted into the Arthur W. Page Society’s Hall of Fame; Advertising Age named him Agency Executive of the Year in 2008. Richard is regarded as an industry thought leader and has posted weekly to his blog since 2004.

He serves on the Board of Directors of the Ad Council, the Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP), the Atlantic Council, Project HOOD, P33, the Gettysburg Foundation, the 9/11 Museum and the National Committee on U.S. China Relations. He is a member of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, World Economic Forum and PR Seminar.

Richard earned his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1978 and a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College in 1976. He and his wife Claudia live in New York City, and he has three daughters, Margot, Tory and Amanda.