Edelman has announced a number of leadership changes this morning.
Matthew Harrington has been named global COO, a new position at the firm, effective July 1. In this role, he’ll oversee the company’s four regions (United States, Europe/Middle East/Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Canada/Latin America), chair the Conflict Management Committee, and manage the legal, IT, and HR areas. He’ll also continue to manage the global practices, clients, businesses, and finance operations. We’re tired just thinking about it.
“At moments, it can appear daunting,” Harrington told us over the phone this morning. But Harrington says he’s an “Edelman vet” (he’s been with the firm for 28 years) and he’s worked with firm president and CEO Richard Edelman for decades, so they have a well-established working relationship.
“Job one is getting to know other parts of the network better than I do,” Harrington continued, referring to the company’s regions abroad. He has worked with Edelman offices around the world, but now he says he’ll be looking at things operationally and structurally, with a focus on good technology.
“I see it all as highly interconnected, so that’s why it seems manageable,” he continued.
The new role was added, according to a statement from Edelman, in order to better manage the growth of the firm over the past decade. Edelman says in the press release the firm size “has more than tripled over the last ten years.”
Edelman told us this morning that three factors went into the decision to add a COO: size, scope, and geography. The firm broke $600 million in December (global revenue was $614 million in 2011, according to the release), the firm has 20 clients over $5 million, and the firm’s work is taking its reach far and wide.
“As a family business, you want to take as much responsibility on your own shoulders, but at some point, you have to take a different approach,” Edelman told us. He later addedthat the company is “not part of a holding company nor will it ever be.”
Harrington was previously U.S. president and CEO for the firm. That role will be assumed by Mark Hass, who has been serving as president of Edelman China, a role he’s held since February 2010. Prior to that, he was global CEO of MSLGroup (then, MS&L Worldwide).
Calling Hass’ experience “valuable,” Harrington said that Hass was able to double the China in business in just a couple of years and he has the ability to pick up work on major clients like GE and Starbucks without missing a beat. According to the release, China revenue grew from about $9 million to more than $17 million in the last couple of years.
“He’s equal parts corporate communications-minded and brand marketing-minded, with a strong digital overlay,” said Harrington.
Finally, Thomas Mattia, previously SVP of global public affairs and communications at Coca-Cola (he retired in 2009) and, most recently, chief comms officer at Yale University, has been named chair of Edelman China, reporting to David Brain, president and CEO of Asia Pacific. The China business, which was launched in 1993, now includes five offices, 210 staffers, and three office affiliates in Chengdu, Dalian, and Wuhan.
For Edelman, further globalization of the firm is next on the company’s agenda. He said the U.S. now accounts for 62 percent of the firm’s revenue, down from the 70 percent range a few years ago, “proof positive that the network is working.” He’d like to see the agency working with more “big multinationals” from around the world.
“We want to compete for that which is the gray area between classic PR and digital,” added Harrington. “We think clients are completely open to whoever has the best idea.”