Jennifer Cohan Tapped to Lead Edelman's Consumer Practice

Exec Was Plucked From GolinHarris; Starts New Job in January

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Edelman has plucked a senior exec from GolinHarris, Jennifer Cohan, to lead the PR giant's biggest practice group. Ms. Cohan's official title will be global chair of the consumer practice, and she begins in the post in early January.

In her new role, Ms. Cohan will succeed Christina Smedley, who recently left Edelman to join Paypal as VP of global communications. Edelman's consumer practice -- which makes up 27% of the firm's business and touts 887 employees globally -- is a key driver of revenue for the independent agency.

Ms. Cohan is currently a managing director working out of GolinHarris' New York office. Prior to joining the Interpublic Group of Cos' agency seven years ago, she worked at WPP's Cohn & Wolfe. There, she had served as both deputy managing director in Cohn & Wolfe's London office as well as consumer practice lead in New York.

"We are grateful for all Jen's done for us, and wish her well," a GolinHarris spokeswoman said.

Alan VanderMolen, vice chairman of Edelman holding company Daniel J. Edelman, explained that they were seeking a senior executive who had lived and worked abroad to fill Ms. Smedley's shoes. "That ticked a big box for us," he told Ad Age . "We were also interested in someone with experience working with CMOs and brand PR people. She's got an incredible track record in doing both of those things."

"We're most interested in views on what's happening in the brand PR space," he added. "That's our heritage."

Ms. Cohan will oversee the group operationally and also work closely with a few yet-to-be-determined clients (all senior executives at Edelman commit to devoting about 30% of their time directly to client work, Mr. VanderMolen said). "The question is , which clients will she have a great affinity for and which will have a great affinity for her," Mr. VanderMolen said.

The timing of Ms. Cohan's departure from GolinHarris isn't ideal. It comes just as the dust begins to settle on the firm's "G4" structure, which a year and a half ago flattened the organization, removed generalist roles and whittled down 12 layers of titles to five. Ad Age recently reported that the model is serving the agency well in terms of new business but the shop still faces some challenges on the talent front.