What makes Edelman the number one international firm in India

Edelman, Delhi

Continuing with our series that focusses on Indian PR giants during May.

Edelman was a late entrant in India. While they made inroads through the Roger Pereira joint venture in 2004, they fully acquired the firm in 2009 and were the first to invest in a full-time expat as country head in the form of Robert Holdheim. However, from $1 million in revenue back in 2004 to a 15 times that amount in about a decade is a giant leap. No other international firm grew at that pace in such a short span of time. There are various reasons that one can attribute to this success story. The question is, what next for this global giant in India?

The firm has grown in India from strength to strength in the last six years. The jewel in the crown was the Tata mandate that it got in November 2011. It has seen three Chairpersons during the time and handled multiple changes and launches for the Group. It’s recent wins of HP as part of a global alignment, Microsoft more recently and the PepsiCo mandate have also ensured the growth of the NCR office. Edelman India could well be on its way to becoming the second Indian PR firm to cross the 100 crore mark soon.

It has a solid set of leaders in Rakesh Thukral as Managing Director and Amit Narayan as the National Reputation Lead. There have been several young leaders in the firm including the likes of Ashutosh Munshi, Ambereen Shah and Bhavna Thapar who have helped take the firm to higher levels. The Digital and Public Affairs practices have also been strong areas for this independent firm. The recent hires of Sachin Talwalkar, Himanshu Saxena and Shane Jacob have ensured added strength to the firm.

While growth globally was under 3%, the India office with multiple branches has seen double digit growth year on year. And there is something that Edelman does differently from the others. Its young talent comes from diverse areas and the fact that close to a dozen of its young employees featured in the PR Moment 30 under 30 speaks volumes of the way it hires. I have had the chance to meet some of them and they are impressive. The Trust Barometer annual event is another signature event where clients and potential clients get to meet in the three metros, something no other firm has been able to build as an intellectual property which is then curated as an event.

Clients have come to respect Edelman for its pioneering thinking. The company has moved on to now call itself a communications marketing firm and making that a clear differentiator. It does not call itself a public relations firm as PR is just one of the services it offers. In India it also has a sister consultancy, Zeno that is led by Papri Dev who has a strong consumer marketing background.

Well, with 2% of the global revenue coming from India there is immense potential to tap into. There are multiple unicorns, conglomerates and governments to tap into in the sub-continent. The race for the numero uno spot is still an open one. The next three years will be defining for the Top 5 PR firms in the country. Edelman India is clearly a front-runner in this race.

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Amith Prabhu
Amith Prabhu is the Founder of the PRomise Foundation which organises PRAXIS, India’s annual summit of reputation management professionals.

He is also the Dean of the Indian School of Communications & Reputation.

He can be reached at @amithpr on twitter.

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