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Remarks by Richard Edelman PRSA Foundation Paladin Award Dinner New York City April 24, 2013

Thank you, Harold. Im especially pleased to accept this award from one of our industrys founding fathers. One might say Harold Burson and Dan Edelman are the Hamilton and Jefferson of PR. Dan was distinguished through the practice of marketing PR, and Harold through corporate reputation. Different approaches, but both men, and their philosophies, have shaped the industry we know today. And both recently celebrated 60th anniversaries of the firms they founded. Harold, my congratulations to you on reaching this milestone.

A special thanks and appreciation also goes to John Harris of Hillshire Brands and Jonathan Blum of Yum Brands for your support of our dinner tonight, and for being such terrific long term clients. You are both true friends of our family.

Of course, I want to express my profound gratitude to PRSA and the PRSA Foundation for this honor. PRSA was an important organization to my dad. He attended the PRSA annual meeting for twenty years without fail, he served as chapter chairman in Chicago, and he was actively involved, in PRSAs educational efforts throughout his career, including establishing the Daniel J Edelman scholarship. There are many people here from Edelman tonightI accept this award on my fathers behalf because of the work you do every day. Dan Edelman had a vision, but YOU are the ones who bring it to life. And thank you to all of our clients who trust us to deliver excellent work around the world.

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It has been just over three months since Dan Edelman passed away. I worked side-byside with him for 35 years. Not a day went by that my dad and I didnt talk about the state of the firm. Its a loss that still feels fresh.

In these last three months, my mother Ruth, my sister Renee, and my brother John and I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, by the letters weve received, by the media coverage of Dans life, and perhaps most of all by the stories that people have shared about their interactions with him. No one appreciated the value of a story more than Dan. And so tonight Id like to share with you just a few stories about him.

Fundamental to everything is the story of his upbringing. Born in Brooklyn to a family of first-generation Americansgrowing up during the Great Depression, Dan learned early on the value of hard work. His father was a bankruptcy lawyer, and his mother a concert pianist. They had four other children; Dan had to be the best to get attention.

He showed early on a talent in the art of communication. By the age of five he was using a typewriter. When he was confined to his room with the mumps, he slipped typewritten notes under the door to his mother, requesting lunch and more blankets.

He took three different subway lines to DeWitt Clinton High School, where he shared a seat with another student. Half a cheek is all I got, he would tell me.

By 16, he was on his way to Columbia College, earning membership in Phi Beta Kappabefore entering the Columbia School of Journalism.

After graduating, he became a sports editor in Poughkeepsie for the Hudson Valley Sunday Courier.

These experiences prepared him for a job in World War II as a public relations specialist for the US Army. His job was to stay up all night listening to Nazi propaganda, then to recommend strategies to respond via leaflets and radio.

Following the war, Dan went back to journalism at CBS Radio. But he eventually determined that he needed a job that didnt require an overnight shift.

So he moved into PR at Musicraft Records, promoting artists such as Mel Torme and Ella Fitzgerald.

He was stuffing press kits for a Musicraft promotion with the Toni Company, maker of the DIY home permanent, when he was discovered by the Toni advertising manager who needed a PR director.

It was at Toni that Dan had his big breakthrough. He recognized that the credibility of earned media could help differentiate brands.

So for Toni, he created the first ever media tour, sending six sets of identical twins across the United States to appear in print, on TV and radio interviews. As you saw in the video, it was a venture that even involved an unexpected trip to jailluckily not for Dan.

His success with Toni became the impetus to start Edelman Public Relations in 1952. Dan may have launched his business on the basis of the media tours success. But he fed and grew it with entrepreneurial energy. In the early days, hed ride the train from Chicago to Milwaukee, visiting clients. In the notebook he carried with him hed write down the businesses he passed. Within a few days, theyd get a letter from Dan Edelman asking them why they werent investing their money in PR. The clients he added over time became friendssome such as Charlie Lubin of Sara Lee for decades. He made an effort to truly understand each of their businesses; he went to every franchisee meeting for KFC for 20 years.

Yet despite the heights to which Dan took his firm, he was eternally modest. He wore his suits until they were shiny and drove his cars for more than a decade. He was a true salesman, but in a most genuine way. He was a voracious reader, and before any meeting with a prospective client, hed read all that he could about them. When he went to pitch the Church of Latter Day Saints to help them reintroduce their church to the world, the President of the Church asked Dan whether a Jewish man could represent the Latter Day Saints. Dan replied, Ive read the Book of Mormon, and Ive studied your religion carefully. Ive concluded that Jews and Mormons are similar. Both have been discriminated against for generations. I want to work with you to repair that situation. We won the account that day.

He insisted that we bring the most creative thinking to every client; few people were more creative than Dan himself.

For instance, when Arospatiale, manufacturer of the supersonic Concorde airliner, wanted to be granted landing rights in New York, there were fierce protests regarding the amount of noise the aircraft would generate on takeoff. Urban legends about bleeding eardrums swirled around town. Dans creative response? Lets organize community meetings, and play tape recordings of the 747, the 727, and Concorde alike; it was his version of the Pepsi Challenge. With audiotapes, he was able to convince them that the Concorde was the least noisy of the three planes.

Dan was also fiercely competitive. No matter the new business pitch, winning was of utmost importance.

Dan once insisted that our former US CEO Pam Talbot drive his new Cadillac to a new business pitch in Southern Illinois. Halfway there, the engine light went on. Pam turned off the AC and continued on. As she was checking in at her destination, she looked out to the parking lot and saw the car was in flames.

She arrived back in the Chicago office and delivered the bad news to Dan. His reaction? Its only a car. Youre okay. Thats what matters that and the pitch. How did it go? Did we win? At the same time, no prospectwhatever the feewas more important than integrity. PR is not like law, Dan would say. Not everyone deserves representation. He became the voice for ethical practice in our industry.

His other principles?

Hire the best talent, and retain them by giving them the chance to be entrepreneurial. Every account is a team effort, and everyone, regardless of title, should do client work. Everyones an account executive. Its great to the biggest firm, but we must always strive to be the best. Remain independent so you serve no ones interests but those of your clients, and never take on debt. Expand in new markets by reinvesting all of your earnings each year. Not a year after Tiananmen Square, he had the guts to open an office in China. In six decades, he opened Edelman offices in 65 cities outside the US.

And oh yes, whatever you do, dont wear short socks. When Dan went to London to hire Michael Morley to run the UK office, he told him he was hired but with one caveat: Dont ever let me see you wear short socks to work again. A gentleman should never show his calves. Dans work was so important to him. But it wasnt all. There are three legs to the stool hed remind us. Work, family, and community. Marrying my mother Ruth was the best decision he ever made.

She was not only the great love of his life, but best friend and business partner.

My father took great pride in his family, and he believed his firm should always be family owned. It was a privilege for him, and a great honor for me, my brother John, and my sister Renee to all work with and for him. He knew, and was very happy, that my daughters Margot and Tory would start working for the firm this summer.

In the community, he devoted his time to boards such as the Lyric Opera, the University of Chicago Library and the Art Institute. And he ensured that giving back to the community was also reflected in our programming...recommending initiatives such as a partnership between KFC and the March of Dimes, taking on pro-bono clients, and encouraging Edelman colleagues to volunteer in their communities.

Being part of the community also meant supporting his local sports teams. He was an avid sports fan, even rooting for the woeful Chicago Cubs. He wasnt just a sports fan: No matter how busy he was, there was never an excuse to miss exercise. In his 80s, after a fall that required stitches, he took to wearing a hockey helmet on the racquetball court, just so he could keep on playing.

But there was one final thing. He had a deep belief in the potential of public relations. Dan believed that public relations occupied a superior place in the marketing mix, above advertising, which spoke only to consumers.

PR establishes a connection to all of the stakeholders and is a matter of great importance to the CEO, he would say. He was unabashedly proud of our profession. As you saw in the opening video, he was quick to correct anyone who referred to him as an ad guy. Dan was a PR guy and proud of it.

He believed that at its very best, PR could help move business and society forward. And in the final decade of his life, the world caught up with Dans idea. In todays world, business must engage in an evolved form of public relationswhat Dan believed business could and should do. Deliver for both shareholders and society alike. We see many companies practicing this todayfrom Walmart taking on societal issues such as sustainability, hunger and nutritionYUM addressing the issue of high school graduation ratesGE creating partnerships around returning Iraq veteransStarbucks engaging employees and consumers through initiatives such as My Starbucks Idea and Create Jobs USA. Dan Edelman lived to see the 60th anniversary of the firm he founded. But more than that, he lived to see public relations fulfill the promise he knew it could.

This was the way my dad lived. It was what he believed. It was how he operated the business he built.

And he was engaged in operating the business until the very end. In our weekly meetings in his hospital room, we reviewed the numbers and then we played catch.

He met the heads of each region, asking about the clients, the fees, and most important of all...about the best work being done.

Last summer, just before he became ill, he put his hand on my shoulder and said, Son, I think youre ready to take over now. Its your turn. Here I had thought that Id been doing something meaningful as CEO for the last 16 years.

In that moment, they were words from a father to a son.

But they are, in a larger sense, words for all of us in this room and in this field. It is our turn now. It is on all of us to carry forward the work Dan Edelman began.

It is our time to lead.

On behalf of my family, thank you very much for this award.

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