Today, we announced the establishment of a boutique public affairs firm, Edelman Global Advisory, as one of the Edelman family of companies. We are moving 140 members of the Edelman team working in Washington, Brussels, Beijing, Buenos Aires, London, Ottawa, Mexico City, and Delhi and more, to this specialist unit. At the same time, we are concluding the acquisition of Basilinna, a public affairs consultancy run by Deborah Lehr, which specializes in cross-border work between the US, China, and the Middle East. Ms. Lehr will become the CEO of Edelman Global Advisory; she has worked with us as an affiliate for the past two years and we deeply admire her professionalism and passion for the business. Here is our rationale for this investment in public affairs:

  • We are convinced that there must be a new, outside in approach to public affairs. Shareholders are taking a backseat to consumers and employees who are now activists, pushing companies and brands to act on the most important issues facing society. At the same time, the investment community is committing to ESG, rebalancing its priorities to ensure that management has the right incentives. It is no longer enough to have good connections in government; you must be able to balance all four corners of the stakeholder table. Edelman’s strong suit is its understanding of trust at the intersection of corporate reputation and brand marketing.
  • The global pandemic has government intervening in the economy in ways not seen since World War II. Companies are managing such epic transitions as the launch of electric cars, the rise of crypto-currency, and e-commerce. There are significant obstacles to globalization with the rise of nationalism and protectionism, so that every market entry must be couched as pro-jobs. The tech industry is working through issues of privacy and security. The world is multi-polar, with Washington and Beijing pulling in opposite directions toward separate economic spheres, and Europe sitting in the middle.

It's against this backdrop that we are evolving the work of our $30M PA business into a boutique, with a global mindset at its core. We intend to compete aggressively, providing our clients with a different level of service that combines the best of public affairs strategy with a global footprint, industry specialization, digital expertise and deep knowledge of both consumers and employees. Game on.

Richard Edelman is CEO.