If image truly is everything, then Edelman may be one of the most indispensable companies around. Daniel J. Edelman, which does business simply as Edelman, is the largest independent agency in the industry, conducting work for heavy hitters such as Wal-Mart and Microsoft. With more than 50 offices worldwide, the company provides its services to five industries through about 20 practice areas (including financial communications and investor relations, corporate affairs, marketing, litigation, and public affairs). Edelman has fiercely guarded its independent status, despite the business world's ever-increasing trend toward consolidation. The company was founded in 1952 by chairman and owner Daniel Edelman.
Edelman's growth strategy involves expanding through strategic acquisitions, especially in what it considers emerging economic markets. Looking to India, in 2011 it obtained a 51% interest in Sampark PR, a Mumbai-based public relations firm. The year before, it enhanced its presence in two growing international markets through the purchases of Significa, a Brazilian brand marketing firm, and Hinfelaar PR, Life & Health Communications, a leading Dutch PR firm with expertise in health and food communications.
Edelman significantly extended its reach in the southwestern US in late 2010 when it purchased Vollmer Public Relations, a PR firm owning offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and New York City. Edelman established Vollmer's Houston office as its Southwest headquarters and merged the other offices with its own operations. The new hub serves clients across Arkansas, Kansas, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.
In late 2009, Edelman gobbled up Grassroots Enterprise, a digital grassroots advocacy firm specializing in creative and public relations strategies for national organizations, corporations, trade associations, and government agencies. Earlier in the year, Edelman obtained Coory & Associates, a provider of media training and crisis communications services based in Hong Kong.
Although Edelman has been primarily a PR firm, the company also dabbles in advertising through its Blue unit. In addition, Edelman owns four other specialty agencies: First&42nd (management consulting), MATTER (sports and entertainment marketing), Bioscience Communications (medical education and publishing), and StrategyOne (research).
Edelman's independence is not without a price. The company competes with the PR segments of the large advertising and marketing conglomerates such as WPP and Omnicom and must do so without the opportunities to raise capital that publicly held companies enjoy.
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