Last night in Sintra, Portugal, the Holmes Report named Edelman its first Global Agency of the Year. On behalf of my 4,000 colleagues around the world, I want to express my deep appreciation to our clients, whose trust in the firm allows us to innovate and operate with confidence every day.
Here is the story behind this award and our success.
1 ) My parents, Dan and Ruth Edelman, are founders and entrepreneurs in the true sense of the word. They could have chosen to take the big bucks by selling out to one of the holding companies. Instead, they chose to maintain the company in family hands so that our values of client service, creativity, and being a part of the community are our primary purpose. My father, at age 91, begins every conversation with me as follows: “How are we doing? Who is your toughest competitor? Never take the client for granted. Good that you are seeing clients and media.” My mother, who broke her hip and had a new one installed on Wednesday, asked me, when I saw her post surgery, “How was your trip to Silicon Valley? Are the clients happy?” They are not fancy people; they just want to make sure that their legacy is an outstanding PR firm that cares for its clients and its people.
2 ) By remaining independent, we have been able to invest in building a global integrated network by reinvesting earnings. We started our first international office in London in 1967 and now have 54 wholly owned offices. Our company is at once local and global; we have important client relationships in local markets that connect us to opinion leaders and media, enabling better work for our global clients. We strive to nurture a global mindset through initiatives like the Fellows program, which we established sixteen months ago to move key executives from developed to fast-growing markets. We are about do the reverse – transplanting a dozen emerging leaders from offices in Mumbai and Moscow to offices such as Toronto and London.
3 ) We made quality an obsession. Our Q program—enabling every client to evaluate us across 36 key metrics regularly, initiated and run by Janice Rotchstein, is operated separately from the client service teams and gives us an independent feedback loop. It identifies service issues early so that we can address them and, often, build even stronger connections with our clients as a result.
4 ) We invested in intellectual property, such as the Trust Barometer, Health Barometer, 8095 study and Good Purpose to enhance our understanding of markets around the world, and to improve our service and counsel.
5 ) We are ahead in digital because we have been at it for 15 years. We understood early that the Internet would transform how a client does business. We were pioneers in putting embassies on Facebook and Twitter, the essence of “social digital.” Our work in info-graphics is at the highest standard. We are creating content that prompts viral behavior and co-creation. We run Edelman Digital as a true partner of the main firm, with an integrated work product.
6 ) We do not put all of the power into a single office, but rather spread it across many locations. Seattle is home to our technology practice leader, Seoul and Chicago to our crisis practice leads, and Atlanta to our consumer practice lead. London is a center of excellence for content creation.
7 ) We run a triangle offense for clients, including geography, practice, and global client leaders. It may be more complicated but ultimately this approach leads to best outcomes, because it brings local knowledge, sector awareness, and strategic insights to the client.
8 ) We have a culture that demands relentless achievement. It is a culture of YES. “Go ahead and take the initiative.” We are never self-satisfied or complacent. This comes from my father. (Quick deviation here—I was pretty good American History student—got 780 out of 800 on my Achievement test for college—his only comment, “I thought you were perfect in American History. What did you miss?”)
9 ) We give back to the community. We donated $5.1 million in public relations pro-bono work and cash contributions last year. My brother, John, runs the Edelman Community Grants program. He gave out 62 grants last year to enable employees to support their personal causes.
10 ) Most of all, we work for great organizations on ground-breaking programs, such as Pepsi Refresh, which won the Holmes Report Best Program of the Year (with Weber Shandwick, our worthy competitor) and Social Media Campaign Sabre (also with Weber), and the Xbox Kinect launch, which won in the Product Media Relations category.
I am deeply humbled by the recognition of our firm. Edelman will continue to evolve, but I will continue to operate our company guided by the values upon which Dan founded the firm. Now I am off to the hospital to see my mom.
Image credit: The Holmes Report
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