January 15, 2013
Daniel J. Edelman, APR, Fellow PRSA, the distinguished founder of what would become the world’s largest independent public relations agency, died this morning in Chicago of heart failure. He was 92.
He founded Daniel J. Edelman, Inc. in Chicago in 1952, and helped to grow the company into the world’s largest privately held independent firm with 66 offices worldwide and more than 4,500 employees. He retired in 1996.
“We’ve lost a true icon,” said Mickey G. Nall, APR, Fellow PRSA, PRSA’s 2013 chair and CEO. “Dan Edelman helped shape the public relations profession as we know it today. For more than 50 years, he demonstrated his commitment to public relations, inspiring generation after generation of practitioners. We are all grateful for his passion and creativity through the years.
“On behalf of PRSA, I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the entire Edelman family,” Nall said.
Edelman began his career as a reporter in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., before he was drafted during World War II, where he received four battle stars and the Commendation Medal. He later became a news writer for CBS. He then served as PR director for the Toni division of Gillette, where he created the first-ever product media tour.
His accolades include: The PRSA Gold Anvil Award, the first-ever Outstanding Achievement Award presented by the China International Public Relations Association, the Lion of Finland, the PRSA Lifetime Achievement Award and the PR Seminar Group Award for Distinguished Service. He joined PRSA in 1950, and was a longstanding member of the Chicago Chapter.
"On behalf of PRSA Chicago, our hearts go out to the Edelman family," said Chapter President Abby Lovett. "Without question, his vision shaped the industry and this city; his legacy will continue to have a profound impact on all PR professionals – both here and abroad. He will truly be missed."
Many past and present Edelman employees took to Twitter this morning to remember their founder. “A real testament's to Dan Edelman's extraordinary legacy is the kindness shown by former staff & competitors as they acknowledge his loss,” wrote Stephen Lock, CEO of the Daniel J. Edelman businesses in Indonesia.
There’s a simple tribute on the Edelman website this morning: “There will never be another Dan Edelman — indomitable, ever modest, always resilient, ready for the next challenge. His story inspires us all.”
Edelman was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1920. He graduated from Columbia College and earned a master’s degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
He is survived by his wife, Ruth; a daughter, Renee; sons Richard and John; and granddaughters Margot, Tory and Amanda.
Richard now serves as the agency’s global chief executive, while Renee is a senior vice president and John is managing director of its global engagement and CSR initiative.
Ed note: Please share your memories of Dan Edelman in the comments section below.