Daniel J. Edelman, Public Relations Pioneer, Dies at 92

PAN Media

This post is courtesy of Laurence Arnold and originally appeared on Bloomberg.

January 15, 2013

Daniel J. Edelman, founder of the world’s largest independent public-relations firm, with a client list that includes Microsoft Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and General Electric Co., has died. He was 92.

He died today of heart failure, according to a statement from his company, citing his wife, Ruth Edelman.

The firm that Edelman started in 1952 in Chicago now has 66 offices and more than 4,500 employees worldwide, according to its website. It is part of closely held Daniel J. Edelman Inc., of which he remained chairman.

Edelman “was the acknowledged leader in public relations for consumer products and gained fame in the USA as the creator of the media tour -- a PR technique in which a company spokesperson visited key markets, performed store openings, did radio and newspaper interviews and, most important of all, participated in a talk show on local television,” according to “The Global Public Relations Handbook: Theory, Research and Practice” (2009), edited by Krishnamurthy Sriramesh and Dejan Vercic.

Edelman’s choice of Vincent Price as spokesman for the California wine industry in 1966 was one of the first deployments of a celebrity in a PR campaign, according to the firm.

Firm's Milestones

Other milestones the firm cites include repositioning Kentucky Fried Chicken as KFC in 1975, establishing the first free consumer help-line with the Butterball Turkey Talk-line to help holiday-season cooks in 1981, managing the release of the Iraq Study Group Report in 2006 and helping Starbucks run its 40th anniversary campaign in 2011.

Edelman retired as chief executive officer in 1996, handing the reigns to his son, Richard Edelman.

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