NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Carol Cone, founder and chairman of Omnicom Group's Cone PR, will join independent PR agency Edelman. Ms. Cone's title will be Carol Cone @ Edelman, and she will focus on corporate social responsibility.
In early March Ms. Cone, one of the industry's leading thinkers in corporate social responsibility, announced she was leaving Cone "to pursue new interests ... related to social issues, especially in content development and global public-private partnerships." She told Ad Age today that Edelman would allow her to do that on a stage that Cone couldn't provide.
"Global has been this siren song for me," she said. "CSR was a fringe practice when I started out but now it's absolutely at the epicenter of core and brand strategy and not-for-profit strategy. And Edelman provides a very broad global platform."
This is the fifth high-profile hire Edelman has made in the last six months. Last October the independent shop named Barby Siegel CEO of its subsidiary agency Zeno Group after poaching her from WPP's Ogilvy PR, where she was managing director of global consumer marketing. In December Edelman brought social-media specialist David Armano on board as senior VP-digital to work alongside Steve Rubel, Edelman's senior VP-director of insights. Mark Hass, former global CEO of Publicis Groupe's MS&L, was named president of Edelman China in early January, and in February the agency hired BBC veteran Richard Sambrook as its first chief content officer.
CSR and cause marketing has long been a major focus for Ms. Cone, as it has been for Richard Edelman and his agency. Mr. Edelman said the loss of trust by consumers in companies is an opportunity for PR shops to grab more marketing responsibility from other marketing service sectors. "This confluence in the last two years of loss of trust in business has meant that brand and corporate reputation efforts are more aligned and that plays to PR because we speak to multiple stakeholders and not just consumers," he recently told Ad Age. "It's good to be in the right place at the right time."
In a statement, Mitch Markson, president-consumer brands and global creative director at Edelman, said Ms. Cone will help further develop the agency's annual Goodpurpose Consumer Study and its Trust and Health Engagement Barometers.
"She will be very involved in shaping the Goodpurpose study moving forward and also making sure that we're looking closely at how we brand our CSR practice as well," Mr. Markson said. "There are so many different aspects of social-purpose marketing right now and we have started, over the last three years, with focusing on the brand side of it and we want to expand that now that she is here."
Ms. Cone said Edelman's longstanding efforts in the area of CSR, the Goodpurpose study and cause marketing have been embedded in corporate and corporate operations. She believes she can add another level to this. "What I am adding to this is about the corporate platform and corporate brand as well as new issues," she said. "Corporations need to be courageous and adopt the emergent issues and ones that aren't that popular. Companies are ever learning about how this is corporate strategy and drives not a feeling of goodness but decision-making around deployment of products, services and assets. It has a tremendous impact on employee engagement and when companies truly embed social issues into their DNA you see transformative relationships with employees and tremendous collaboration."