All that has the industry scratching its collective head,
wondering when the giant will stumble.
Not anytime soon, judging by 2011 performance, which included
new accounts such as Groupon and Volkswagen, and growth from existing
ones such as Dove, SAP and PepsiCo.
In 2011 Edelman recorded growth of 10.6% in the U.S. and 17.1%
worldwide, with revenue of nearly $600 million, up from $531.6
million the previous year.
That it counts work for edgy brands such as Trojan among its PR
efforts and is increasingly trusted by tech darlings such as
Groupon is a point of pride. It even briefly worked with Twitter
last year, a sign that the agency, while a mainstay, isn't
"We want to represent those kinds of companies because they drag
us forward, so I believe that what we're learning on Groupon we can
apply to GE," said the independent firm's CEO, Richard Edelman.
Brands have long turned to Edelman for its consumer PR prowess,
but it's slowly earning its stripes in the lucrative crisis-PR
field. When Edelman got the call to handle communications
surrounding a crisis threatening to topple one of the world's
largest media organizations -- the hacking allegations aimed at
News Corp.-- more
than a few eyebrows were raised.
Last year was also a breakthrough in the digital and social
spaces. Digital billings now account for almost 15% of Edelman's
revenue in the U.S.; that practice grew more than any other, at
Mr. Edelman said in 2011 the firm reaped the fruits of getting
its digital infrastructure in place. "We're designing and building
more than social," he said. "We created a new ecosystem for how we
operate. We get it now."
That assertion has been validated by its competitive set. It won
the Volkswagen social-media account after pitching against digital
and social-media firms.
Gary Sheffer, GE's head of communications, lauded the agency's
work to create a digestible microsite and infographics that
leveraged GE data, positioning the company as a leader in air
traffic and aviation.
"They helped us cross-pollinate thinking across consumer,
corporate and public affairs," said Mr. Sheffer. Through its
growing research capabilities, Edelman helped GE think about "some
of the challenges we face this year around issues management, such
as the nuclear industry related to Japan and the political
situation in the U.S," he added.
Everywhere-at-once Edelman was even behind the PR push for
Starbucks' rebrand. Corey Dubrowa, Starbucks' senior VP-global
communications, said the firm was aware of the critical environment
in which the new logo would appear -- Gap, for example, had gotten skewered
for its logo refresh just months before. "So," Mr. Dubrowa said,
"one of the key conversations with Edelman early in the process was
around using the digital tools we have at our advantage to tell the
business story and [provide] the context behind the business
Mr. Dubrowa credits Edelman with giving Starbucks the confidence
to roll out the campaign on a global scale.
The agency supported the brand's recent launch in India, which
led to 150 hires in the country and a boost in market share in
Asia. Edelman has seen double-digit growth in BRIC economies such
as China, where Regional President Mark Hass has doubled business
in two years with clients such as HP and Starbucks.