Profile: Edelman

1- Name of NGO:


2- Brief & Mission:

Edelman, a worldwide communications company established in 1952 by its namesake Daniel Edelman, collaborates with businesses and institutions to advance, market, and safeguard their brands and standing. Recently, it was disclosed that the largest PR firm globally, Edelman, has officially acknowledged its engagement, as reported by PRWeek UK, to enhance the public perception of Saudi Arabia.

3- Bias, Agenda & Motivation:

Saudi Arabia has earned the designation of being among the most unfavorable nations globally for human rights and civil liberties by Freedom House. Under the leadership of the crown prince, authority has become more centralized than ever in Saudi Arabia’s history.

During this same period, the Saudi government has presented an optimistic image to influential American audiences, aided by crucial partners such as Edelman. Since the tragic event of Khashoggi’s murder, this influential PR firm has either received or is set to receive $9.6 million (£7.9 million) in compensation from Saudi government entities and regime-controlled companies. 

4- Links to Governments/Political Agenda:

On May 31, 2022, just a few days before Edelman released his blog post cautioning about the widening gap between democracy and autocracy, he entered into a contract worth $787,500 (£652,609) to offer the Saudi Ministry of Culture with “PR and communications services.”

Edelman’s responsibilities for the ministry encompassed a commitment to “research, identify, and oversee online discussions and media coverage to pinpoint ‘supporters’ and critics,” primarily within the context of US media. The Saudi government has a track record of targeting, intimidating, and pursuing individuals who criticize it, even on an international scale, including in the United States. 

This situation distinctly underscores that Edelman was directly engaged by the Saudi monarchy for political motives and has established connections with the Saudi crown family.

5- Sources of Funding:

Despite being accurately recognized, Edelman has not refrained from entering into contracts amounting to at least $9.6 million (£7.9 million) within the last four years with one of the globe’s wealthiest autocratic regimes: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

6- Activities:

The majority of Edelman’s undertakings on behalf of the Saudi regime have concentrated on revitalizing its image within the United States, a venture that the kingdom had initiated before the demise of Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi operatives. In February 2020, Edelman registered as a foreign agent representing the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, a government-majority-owned chemicals manufacturer, with the aim of promoting the “Business 20” assembly of business leaders, held that same year in Riyadh.

This work encompassed the regular dissemination of press releases that celebrated subjects such as “integrating women in the business realm” and “strengthening efforts to empower women and youth.” One of the releases highlighted a statement from Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, who praised the deep commitment of B20 Saudi Arabia to women’s empowerment, including an “inclusive policy development process” she hoped would leave a lasting legacy from the Saudi presidency. Despite these messages, the Saudi regime persists in incarcerating women’s rights advocates, with some even receiving lengthy prison terms for posting critical tweets about the government.

7- NGO Leadership:

The role of CEO is held by Richard Edelman, while Matthew Harrington serves as the Global President & COO at Edelman.

8- Controversy:

Edelman’s most recent statement reinforces the idea that “upholding human rights is an integral aspect of our business practices.” A document from December 2020, detailing the “human rights policy” of Daniel J Edelman Holdings Inc, the parent company of the PR firm, states that the organization anticipates its clients to adhere to their human rights policy and retains the prerogative to decline collaboration with clients, industries, or sectors that could jeopardize or infringe upon human rights. 

Despite this, Edelman is engaged with the Saudi regime, which is known for not respecting fundamental rights and freedom of speech, as evidenced by the case of Jamal Khashoggi. The level of apprehension experienced by Saudi citizens when it comes to expressing criticism or objections to the actions of Mohammed bin Salman is unparalleled, due to the foreseeable repercussions.

9- Contact Details:

  • Website:https://www.edelman.com
  • Address:USA
  • Email: Kevin.Cook@edelman.com

10- Classification/Blacklist:

Edelman’s association with the Saudi Arabian government has led to multiple submissions to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), including their most recent filing. This submission encompasses a range of PR activities such as research, strategizing, media interactions, forming strategic alliances, and managing social media endeavors. It’s noteworthy that these activities are conducted for an autocratic regime with a record of infringing upon fundamental human rights. As a consequence of these ties, Edelman has found itself placed on a list of blacklisted entities concerning connections to the Saudi government.

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