Edelman is a public relations agency that was founded in 1952 by Daniel J. Edelman in Chicago originally under the name Daniel J. Edelman and Associates.1A Storied History,” Edelman. “A Storied History,” Edelman. Archived February 9, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/CGJqx

Its early clients included Roche, Nestle, Dow Chemical, S.C. Johnson and Mobil. By 1975 that client list counted more than 100 organizations.2Franz Wisner. “Edelman and The Rise of Public Relations” (PDF), Daniel J. Edelman, Inc. 2012. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Retrieved from Scribd.

It now has offices internationally including Canada, the United States, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific regions.3Global Network,” Edelman. Archived February 9, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/aAo30

As of 2021, according to O’Dwyer’s,4O’D 2021 Directory of Public Relations Firms,” O’Dwyer’s, July 15, 2021. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Edelman topped the ranking of firms with major U.S. operations with more than $800,000,000 in net fees in 2020 and over 5,000 full-time employees. Edelman was #1 on the chart again in the 2022 ranking with $984,921,000 in the prior year and 6,000+ employees.5O’D 2022 Directory of Public Relations Firms,” O’Dwyers, July 15, 2021. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

The Climate Investigations Center described Edelman as “the dominant PR firm for trade associations that promote an anti-environmental agenda,” noting Edelman’s contracting for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), National Mining Association (NMA), and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). Clients have also included the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI).6Edelman PR,” Climate Investigations Center. Accessed February 2023.

Edelman & Tobacco

The Tobacco Tactics project at the University of Bath profiled Edelman’s involvement with the tobacco industry going back to the 1970s and into the 1990s.7Edelman,” Tobacco Tactics, February 4, 2020. Archived February 13, 2023. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/kfiPk

There are more than 11,000 results for a text search of “Edelman” in the Truth Tobacco Industry documents library at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

One 1993 communications plan drawn up by Edelman outlined a strategy for “Communicating the Case for Tobacco” for the Tobacco Advisory Council (TAC):8Communicating the Case for Tobacco: Review and Forward Planning for TAC,” Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, March 27, 1993. Retrieved from UCSF Truth Tobacco Industry Documents Library Bates No. 304043541-304043562.

“The message that the smoker needs to hear is that smoking is a normal and rational activity. We must seek to replace the image of smokers as an embattled minority on the defensive by the recognition that smokers are a significant body of people who choose to smoke and whose wishes should therefore be taken into account.” (Emphasis in original).

View some key documents referenced by Tobacco Tactics below:

The Tobacco Alliance

One of Edelman’s key activities was running the day-to-day operations of the Tobacco Alliance in the UK as part of a contract with the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association. A summary by the Tobacco Advisory Council (TAC) in a 1983 workshop outlined Edelman’s involvement:9How to set up a Tobacco Alliance,” Tobacco Alliance, September 20, 1983. Retrieved from UCSF Truth Tobacco Industry Documents Library Bates No. 2501021530-2501021532.

“Early on we decided that it would be preferable to keep the Alliance at arms length from TAC and the industry and with its own identity and address, to emphasize to supporters, as far as is practical, that it had a degree of independence. thus while the industry determines policy and provides the funds, the day to day management is the responsibility of our P.R. agents Daniel J. Edelman.”

That document outlined “precise objectives” of the Alliance:

“To inform and draw together all those who depend on tobacco products for their livelihood.

“To help put forward the case for individual freedom to counter any moves that might further restrict the right of individuals to enjoy smoking.

“To help put the record straight by providing facts and figures, devoid of emotional comment, to Alliance supporters.”

The contract was taken over by a different PR firm on January 15, 2001.10Tobacco Alliance Account,” Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association, December 19, 2001. Retrieved from UCSF Truth Tobacco Industry Documents Library Bates No. 325133651.

In January 1983, Edelman prepared a storyboard for the Tobacco Alliance that opposed tax increases on cigarettes and framed arguments by the “anti-smoking movement” as a threat to freedom.11Tobacco Alliance Audio-Visual,” Daniel J Edelman Limited. Retrieved from UCSF Truth Tobacco Industry Documents Library Bates No. 303706484-303706506.

“Freedom is based on the right to choose – and that includes whether or not to smoke. To have such rights eroded is to hasten the day when all our freedoms are threatened,” one slide suggested. “The anti-smokers also seem blind to the serious consequences for jobs if their movement succeeds,” another slide added.

Second Hand Smoke

In the late 1980s, Edelman helped produce a booklet that claimed environmental tobacco smoke (secondhand smoke) was not a proven health hazard.12Smoking at Work,Daniel J Edelman Incorporated. 1987. Retrieved from UCSF Truth Tobacco Industry Documents Library Bates No. 500889783-500889789.

“There is no scientific consensus that tobacco smoke in the air (environmental tobacco smoke or ETS for short) is harmful to health,” the document claimed. “In the workplace, where smoking prevalence is likely to mirror that of the population as a whole, anti-smokers are presenting smoking as a minority practice, allegedly hazardous to non-smokers. Anti-smokers hold that the solutions to non-smokers’ exposure to ETS are bans on smoking, restrictions or segregation. This is not so; the issue is not clear-cut and there are insufficient scientific data to justify restrictive measures.”

It concluded: “Environmental tobacco smoke is not a proven health hazard: it may be presented as one by anti-smoking activists whose motives are questionable.”

Steve Lombardo

A representative with Edelman subsidiary StrategyOne, Lombardo appeared in an number of contracts and communications with Philip Morris Tobacco:

Edelman & Energy Citizens

The American Petroleum Institute (API) led a 2009 coalition called “Energy Citizens” to oppose climate legislation. 13Ian Talley, “Lobby Groups to Use Town Hall Tactics to Oppose Climate Bill,” Wall Street Journal “Washington Wire” blog, August 11, 2009.

Energy Citizens was created to block the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 from passing in the U.S. Senate after it passed the U.S. House of Representatives in June.14Dear Mr. Gerard,” Greenpeace, August 12, 2009. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

According to a 2023 Guardian article which interviewed a former Edelman employee, Edelman “Edelman helped launch” Energy Citizens for API.15Adam Lowerstein. “The world’s biggest PR firm claims to be an expert on trust – but is it?The Guardian, January 15, 2023.

Edelman was API’s largest public relations’ subcontractor when Energy Citizens was created with API funding. In a 2014 campaign proposal for TransCanada, Edelman advertised that API had used “digital grassroots tools” since 2007 to “organize and mobilize industry employees” next to an image of the Energy Citizens logo.16Grassroots Advocacy Vision Document,” Trans Canada and Edelman, May 15, 2014. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Stance on Climate Change

Edelman has lost clients and executives in the past for what the Guardian described as its “unwillingness to take a strong stand on climate change” and fossil fuel industry clients.17Marc Gunther. “Edelman loses executives and clients over climate change stance,” The Guardian, July 7, 2015. Archived February 13, 2023. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/vVE4a

On climate, “Edelman resembles most global PR companies who want to play on both sides of the debate over what to do about carbon emissions,” Marc Gunther wrote at The Guardian.

As of 2021, The New York Times reported Edelman was not willing to walk away from its fossil fuel clients like ExxonMobil.18A P. R. Giant Is Caught Between Climate Pledges and Fossil Fuel Clients,” The New York Times, December 10, 2021. Archived February 13, 2023. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/ID4w9

In January 2022, Edelman was among the PR firms19Steven Mufson. “More than 450 scientists call on PR and ad firms to cut their ties with fossil fuel clients,” The Washington Post, January 19, 2022. Archive URL:https://archive.ph/V1e3O named in a letter by 450 scientists calling on public relations and advertising firms to stop working with oil and gas companies. The campaigns made by these forms for the companies “represent one of the biggest barriers to the government action science shows is necessary to mitigate the ongoing climate emergency,” read the letter.20450+ Scientists’ Letter to Agencies: Drop Fossil Fuel Clients,” Clean Creatives. Archived February 13, 2023. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/rX58B

Edelman’s public position statement on climate change is as follows:21Edelman’s Climate Position.” Archived February 9, 2023. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/g4su4

“We believe that climate change is the biggest crisis we face as a society. We recognize that urgent action is needed to mitigate the most dangerous impacts of climate change on both people and the planet. This requires the rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and an orderly global transition to a net-zero-carbon economy.

“Trust is the key to progress and is premised on action. We will partner with clients who are equally committed to helping drive the transition to a net-zero future, helping them act and communicate in more powerful ways.

“We are committed to creating a ‘Trusted Transition,’ where we guide ourselves and genuinely committed clients to action and transformation, built on a foundation of trusted communication.”

In 2015, Edelman included in its position on climate change that “we do not accept client assignments that aim to deny climate change.”22Suzanne Goldenberg. “Edelman formally declares it will not accept climate denial campaigns,” The Guardian, August 7, 2014.

Below are some of Edeman’s past clients’ statements relating to climate change:

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)

“The NAM believes that mitigating the impact of global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a significant and important goal for all nations. Any initiatives to achieve this goal, however, must not put American manufacturers at a relative competitive disadvantage. If actions are not taken by all significant emitters, there is substantial risk of carbon leakage that could nullify the effects of unilateral domestic action.”23“NAM POLICY POSITIONS” (PDF), National Association of Manufacturers, February 2016.

NAM helped launch the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) in 1989, which went on to represent 40 fossil fuel corporations and associations24Andrew Revkin. “Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate,” The New York Times, April 23, 2009. Archived September 22, 2009. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/LSWKm

1996 “Overview” document outlining the GCC‘s position on climate change said:

“The GCC believes that the preponderance of the evidence indicates that most, if not all, of the observed warming is part of a natural warming trend which began approximately 400 years ago. If there is an anthropogenic component to this observed warming, the GCC believes that it must be very small and must be superimposed on a much larger natural warming trend.”25Global Climate Coalition: An Overview,” Global Climate Coalition, November 11, 1996. Archived April 25, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/txH8X

American Petroleum Institute (API)

Edelman’s contract with API made up a significant portion of its revenue until 2016. In 2010, Edelman’s contract with API constituted over 10% of its total income

The API, another former client of Edelman, was also a member of GCC.

A 1998 Communications Plan suggested API was actively working to promote “uncertainty” about climate change science and links to fossil fuels.261998 American Petroleum Institute Global Climate Science Communications Team Action Plan,” ClimateFiles.

According to the document, “victory will be achieved when […] Average citizens ‘understand’ (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom.’”

Climate Files reported the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) was among the funding sources identified for the plan. EEI has been a client of Edelman.

Edison Electric Institute (EEI)

EEI’s former chairman, Tom Fanning, previously declared that it was not proven that CO2 was the primary driver of climate change:

“Has it been proven that carbon dioxide is the primary cause of climate change?” Fanning was asked on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in 2017.27Matthew J. Belvedere. “Like the new EPA chief, Southern Company’s CEO doesn’t see CO2 as main reason for climate change,” CNBC, March 28, 2017. Archived April 28, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/E8CMO

“No, certainly not. Is climate change happening? Certainly. It has been happening for millennia,” Fanning replied.

At the time, EEI’s official stance on climate change said the following: “Global climate change presents one of the biggest energy and environmental policy challenges this country has ever faced. EEI member companies are committed to addressing the challenge of climate change and have undertaken a wide range of initiatives over the last 30 years to reduce, avoid or sequester GHG emissions.”

American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM)

AFPM has fought against the regulation of greenhouse gases:

“Greenhouse gases are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act, even though the Clean Air Act never authorized such regulation. AFPM believes that using this 40-year-old law to control of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions threatens our nation’s economic and energy security,” AFPM wrote in its former “policy position” on greenhouse gas regulations.28GREENHOUSE GAS REGULATIONS,” AFPM. Archived October 11, 2016. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/6hOia

Its revised statement on climate claims “AFPM is committed to engaging in the discussion and development of sound climate change policies.”29Climate,” AFPM. Archived February 10, 2023. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/FSMtn

National Mining Association (NMA)

NMA, a former Edelman client, once released a “Crisis Communications Template” that emphasized climate change as a “natural phenomenon.”30“Media and Community Crisis Communication Planning Template” (PDF)NMA, August 2016.

In a climate change statement on its website, as of 2023, NMA positioned the mining industry as part of a “low-carbon future” yet also promoted coal as “a significant portion of reliable and affordable baseload energy in the U.S. and across the globe, ensuring energy access and security in support of global sustainable and economic development goals.”31NMA Climate Change Position,” NMA. Archived February 10, 2023. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/9b07k


The information below was collected from publicly available 990 tax forms.

Blue Advertising & Fossil Fuel Industry

Edelman subsidiary Blue Advertising was responsible for much of Edelman’s work with the American Petroleum Institute (API). 2013 was the first year Blue Advertising appeared on API’s tax forms, while according to Greenpeace, Blue Advertising was managing the API account as early as 2012. Blue Advertising reportedly divested from Edelman in 2015.32DC-Based Blue Advertising Divests from Edelman; Edelman’s Relationship with API is Set to End, Reports the Holmes Report,” Capitol Communicator, February 20, 2015. Archived February 14, 2023. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/FlDhU

Key People

Edelman Leadership

The following data is also available as a spreadsheet outlining key Edelman people year over year (.xlsx).


December 2022

The Guardian reported on Edelman’s work in Saudi Arabia.33Adam Lowerstein. “The American PR firm helping Saudi Arabia clean up its image,” The Guardian, December 22, 2022. Archived February 13, 2023. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/GbF6i

“[T]he powerful PR firm has received or is contracted to receive $9.6m (£7.9m) in fees from Saudi government agencies and companies controlled by the regime, according to a Guardian analysis of US Department of Justice documents made available by the watchdog group OpenSecrets,” The Guardian reported.

Records show that Edelman registered as a foreign agent for chemicals manufacturer Saudi Basic Industries Corporation in 2020. Also in that year, they registered to assist the city of Neom with “strategic counsel,” “media relations,” and “stakeholder identification and engagement,” among other work in the US.

February 2015

API was reportedly set to drop the American Petroleum Institute (API) as a client. Much of Edelman’s work for API was done through a subsidiary called Blue Advertising.

A Center for Public Integrity investigation found that API had paid $327.4 million to Edelman for advertising and PR services from 2008 to 2012. 34Erin Quinn and Chris Young.35Who needs lobbyists? See what big business spends to win American minds,” The Center for Public Integrity. January 15, 2015. Archived February 13, 2023. Archived February 13, 2023. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/ENPIF

May 2012

PR Week reported that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) had hired Edelman to “help it deal with recent corporate fallout and opposition to its legislative positions.”36Under-fire advocacy group ALEC works with Edelman,” PR Week, May 10, 2012. Archived February 9, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/xJ2qt

A source told PR Week that ALEC hired Edelman on the recommendation of one of its clients and did not search out other PR firms. The hiring followed complaints with the Internal Revenue Service alleging ALEC had violated laws in lobbying state lawmakers.37Under-fire advocacy group ALEC works with Edelman,” PR Week, May 10, 2012. Archived February 9, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/xJ2qt

Daniel J Edelman Holdings (DJEH)

The below companies have been listed as part of DJEH38The DJEH Family of Companies’ Code of ConductDJE Holdings, October 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  • Daniel J. Edelman, Inc.
  • *StrategyOne, Inc. d/b/a Edelman Data & Intelligence
  • Zeno Group, Inc.
  • Assembly Media, Inc.
  • Matter, Inc.
  • United Entertainment Group Holdings, LLC
  • Edible, Inc.
  • Edelman Miami Latin America Corp.
  • The H & W Group, Inc. d/b/a Salutem
  • The R Group Public Relations Company, Inc. d/b/a Revere
  • First & 42nd, Inc.
  • [email protected]
  • BioScience Communications
  • DJEScience

*StrategyOne, Inc. has appeared in the Truth Tobacco Industry Documents library as a contractor to Phillip Morris, according to a June 2000 document.39STRATEGY1 – MEDIA MONITOR INFOFLOW.DOC,” June 13, 2000. Retrieved from UCSF Truth Tobacco Industry Documents Library. Bates no. 5000967780-5000967784.

As of 2022, PR Week in partnership with PRTalent released a map of PR Industry ownership that listed the following companies under DJE Holdings:40Agency Business Report 2022. Agency family tree,” PRWeek. Archived image on file at DeSmog.

Edelman Clients

In addition to the data available in 900 tax forms, O’Dwyer’s magazine used to display a number of Edelman’s clients until 2010:


Contact & Address

Edelman maintains offices in Canada, the US, Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia Pacific.41GLOBAL NETWORK,” Edelman. Accessed February 2023. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/YncNG

Social Media

Edelman US

Edelman Canada

Other Resources


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