A Tribute to Dan Edelman: A PR Legend

By: Marisa Dockum

With an innovative vision for the communications industry, and on a quest to offer clients an array of public relations assistance, Daniel J. Edelman started his namesake firm in Chicago on Oct. 1, 1952 with only three employees and one client.Dan Edelman

Mr. Edelman changed the face of public relations not only in the United States, but also all over the world.  He took the industry from small-scale press agents and publicists, to media tours, storytelling, campaigns, and more.

“Which Twin has the Toni?” marked one of Mr. Edelman’s first PR triumphs and successful media tours. By sending six sets of twins around the country, one twin with the “Toni” permanent wave hairstyle and the other without the “Toni” product, Mr. Edelman set the tone for competitive strategies, modern thinking and established a national presence for the Toni Company.  Throughout his beginning years, he    helped build brands such as KFC, Sara Lee and 9Lives cat food.

Today, Edelman has become the world’s largest agency serving clients such as Microsoft, Kraft, Johnson & Johnson, Samsung, General Electric, and more. With a PR army of 4,500 employees in 65 offices, the Edelman firm is built on a foundation of originality, creativity, collaboration and work ethic…all thanks to Dan Edelman and his passion.

Dan Edelman’s legacy offers many take-aways for all PR practitioners:

  • Be enthusiastic about your work, and work hard. If you aren’t enthusiastic, then your clients won’t be either.
  • Participate in community service.  Mr. Edelman was a man who wanted to make his community a better place.
  • Indulge in activities and hobbies outside the office.  The key to success and happiness is leading a balanced life.
  • Strive for the big idea and be creative. Thinking big, or outside-of-the-box, will lead to big results.
  • Never stop learning.  The industry is constantly changing and expanding, and so must our brains.
  • Nothing worthwhile is easy.  Don’t take the shortcut.
  • Value your family and friends.  They will give you the support you need to be successful.

It’s no question that Mr. Dan Edelman shaped the PR industry today by building the world’s largest agency and producing great work. As young professionals, it is our turn to take away his work ethic, passion and drive to keep our beloved industry alive.

Dan J. Edelman 1920-2013

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