Interesting Stuff

PR giant Edelman loses big by failing to live its values


Top employees and clients head for the door, citing a lack of values and ethics.

This past week, The Guardian reported on a huge loss for global PR firm Edelman. Several prominent members of staff from the Edelman Social Purpose team, along with top clients like Nike – who increasingly understand the need to ‘do well while doing good’ – have cut and run.  According to the article, a key reason has been the firm’s engagement with unethical clients.

This is possibly one of the best examples of not walking the talk. Through the launch of Edelman’s Business and Social Purpose practice, the firm had publicly proclaimed its dedication to bringing together profit and purpose – and yet, how can it do that without clearly expressing what their own values are?

There’s no way a company can survive if its values are at odds with each other. Establishing meaningful values – and the rewards in staff productivity, retention and client retention – requires authenticity. Taking a stand may mean you lose one or two clients, but at least it won’t be your entire company reputation.

At minimum, this situation is going to seriously impact the firm’s reputation and that all important trustworthiness. In a stroke of irony – the annual global ‘Trust Barometer’ is the brainchild of guess who – Edelman.

The lesson for all organisations here is: find what values you believe in, live those values authentically, and then – and only then – can you reap the rewards.


Written by Sarah Hernandez

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