Edelman at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, 2011
Richard Winston Edelman
June 15, 1954
|Education||Phillip Exeter Academy
Harvard University (A.B)Harvard Business School (M.B.A)
|Occupation||President and CEO of Edelman|
|Spouse(s)||Rosalind Anne Walrath (m. 1986 - d. 2015)|
Claudia Romo González (m. 2017)
|Children||3 (with Walrath)|
|Parent(s)||Daniel J. Edelman|
Richard Winston Edelman (born June 15, 1954) is the President & Chief Executive Officer of the public relations company Edelman, a position he has held since September 1996.
Edelman was born on June 15, 1954 to a Jewish family, the son Ruth Ann (née Rozumoff) and Daniel Edelman, the founder of the public relations company, Edelman. He was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy.
On May 18, 1986, he married Rosalind Anne Walrath in a Jewish ceremony on at the Harvard Club of New York. His wife is the daughter of the then-creative director of advertising agency JWT, and was a Vice President at the investment bank Keefe, Bruyette & Woods when they wed. He has three daughters, Margot, Tory, and Amanda. In 2008 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer but had successful surgery. In 2015, it was announced that Edelman and Walrath were getting a divorce. In 2017, Edelman married Mexican diplomat, Claudia Romo González. Claudia had two kids, Joshua and Tamara in her previous marriage.
His two siblings, John and Renee, are also executives at Edelman, making Edelman the largest private, family-run public relations firm in the world. His daughters, Margot and Tory, both work for his firm.
Richard Edelman joined the Edelman firm in 1978 after receiving his MBA from Harvard, where he had also studied as an undergraduate. He had intended to take a job in marketing at Playtex, but his father persuaded him to join the family company. He was an executive at Edelman by 1981 and in 1983, he was appointed president of Edelman's New York Office. He was appointed president of the company in 1985. His father remained as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). At that time, the company's income was only $14.2 million. He pledged to keep the company independent at a time when many other PR companies were being bought by advertising agencies. He later became the regional manager of Europe before being promoted to CEO in September 1996, a post that he still holds today.
Edelman is a regular attendee at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, having attended 9 times by 2007. In January 2012, he presented to leaders in world governments and chief executives, and his main message to them was that, based on a survey by his company, the public do not trust governments and business executives anymore - they are the least trusted of any group.
Edelman was one of the first PR practitioners to identify the importance of social media and create a specialist practice. He coined the phrase circle of cross influence to describe how people are increasingly influenced by other people, the internet, new media and cable TV, rather than mainstream media. He has written a blog since 2004, and is one of the first CEOs to do so. In 2007 PR Week described his blog as one of the better-known PR blogs, in part due to some of his posts being controversial.
Edelman sits on the board of directors of the Ad Council and is a Vice Chair on the Board of Directors at the Atlantic Council. Edelman also sits on the board of the Children's Aid Society, the International Business Leaders Forum, the Gettysburg National Battlefield Foundation and the National Committee on United States-China Relations. He is also a member of the World Economic Forum, the Arthur Page Society, the PR Seminar and a director of the Jerusalem Foundation. In 2009, Edelman was appointed executive jury chair of a new award recognizing the creative use of unpaid publicity, given at the Clio Awards.
In September 2014, he was inducted into the Arthur W. Page Society Hall of Fame.
In March 2019, he was named "Agency Pro of the Last 20 Years."
Shortly after the mortgage lending crisis, Richard Edelman said that financial institutions have a PR problem. Richard claimed that financial institutions rank lowest on the company's trust barometer, because they don't explain the how and why of their actions to the public. Richard Edelman spends about an hour per day voicing his views on the company blog that he started to set an example for his clients.
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The new wave of leaders at Edelman will likely include three young women who share the company name: Richard and Roz's three daughters, Margot, Tory, and Amanda
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Richard’s eldest daughter Margot, a VP in research at Edelman Berland, rejoined the firm in 2013 after a stint at business school. She works across clients such as Hearst and New York City FC’s Major League Soccer team. Tory Edelman started in fall 2013 as an account executive in New York working on Starbucks and Dove.
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