From 1st August 2009 to 31st July 2010, Edelman’s worldwide revenue was $495 million, up from $443 million from the previous 12 months, a 12 per cent growth in organic revenue. San Francisco was the fastest growing of its 52 wholly-owned offices, with revenues up by 59 per cent over the period, closely followed by Buenos Aires, which was up by 51 per cent.
For the most part this growth came from increased work and budgets from existing clients such as Pepsi, Dairy Management, Starbucks, POND’S, eBay, US Airways, and the 2010 Winter Olympics. In this period Edelman did not lose a single top-50 client. Its average quality score, based on formal evaluations from 722 clients worldwide, was 8.34 out of 10.
This meant that at a time when other agencies were reducing staff, freezing salaries and eliminating bonuses, Edelman was able to pay approximately 40% of its earnings back to its 3,300 employees through bonuses.
Notable work the agency carried out in this period included the Pepsi Refresh project, to fund ideas to ‘change the world’, and a partnership with the NFL and students across 60,000 schools to help tackle childhood obesity and improve nutrition and physical activity in schools. Edelman also worked on the launch of Starbucks Via, the largest announcement in the coffee chain’s history. Crisis work carried out by the agency included the US Airways ‘miracle on the Hudson’, with the agency supporting US Airways during the aftermath of Flight 1549’s successful emergency landing in the Hudson River after striking a flock of birds during takeoff from LaGuardia Airport.
It was a performance that attracted fresh talent, most notably Michael Slaby, former digital technology and new media advisor on Obama’s Presidential campaign, who joined as EVP and global practice chair, and Richard Sambrook, former director of global news at the BBC who joined as global vice chairman and chief content officer to establish a dedicated content capability.
Internal initiatives within the network included the global fellows programme, which allows rising stars within Edelman to gain experience in different offices globally, for two years. The agency also released numerous high-profile research projects, including the annual trust barometer and the annual goodpurpose study of people’s expectations of corporations, brands and themselves. The agency’s annual new media academic summit, held in New York, saw more than 100 leading academics from across the world attend to explore alongside expert practitioners how digital media continues to transform communications and businesses.
The icing on the cake for Edelman were the awards: Adweek gave Edelman its 2009 PR agency of the year award, as did PRWeek UK in 2009, The Holmes Report named it agency of the decade, and Advertising Age, placed it as the top-ranked PR agency of the decade.