Dan Edelman, the founder of the largest PR firm in the world, died this morning. He was 92.
Edelman is considered a pioneer in the world of public relations, having started his namesake firm in a small office in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart on Oct. 1, 1952. The firm, now the largest in the world, celebrated its 60th anniversary last year.
“At the time, public relations was a rudimentary practice, dominated by a handful of firms employed primarily as ‘press agents’ and publicists,” the company has said
. “Dan, a former journalist and World War II public information officer, had a greater vision. He dreamed of offering clients a range of superior PR services never before seen.
“And for the next 60 years, Dan and his firm would do just that—transforming the field of PR first in the United States, and then in the rest of the world.”
Edelman served in World War II. After the war, he worked as a reporter in New York before joining Musicraft Records as a publicist. He was later hired by The Toni Company, which transferred him to Chicago in 1947 to become the company’s PR director.
Four years later, he started his own firm that over the years has included a storied client roster, among them Sara Lee, the California wine industry, the Concorde jet, Butterball Turkey, KFC, and others. In 1989, Edelman partnered with the green movement, working with Star-Kist to introduce dolphin-safe nets.
“He was known as a staunch advocate of his profession who established high standards and a code of ethical practices,” the company said on Tuesday morning. “He also was active in public service. Over the years, Dan Edelman and his company have done work for many causes, including the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS and Save the Children.”
Edelman now has 65 offices and more than 4,400 employees, as well as affiliates in more than 30 cities. Current clients include HP, Microsoft, Pfizer, General Electric, Wal-Mart, Abbott Laboratories, Samsung, Royal Dutch Shell, Kraft, Johnson & Johnson and Unilever.
Dan Edelman is survived by his wife of 59 years, Ruth, as well as his son, Richard, who is currently the firm’s CEO, a daughter Renee, who is a senior vice president, and son John, the managing director of Edelman’s global engagement and corporate social responsibility initiative.