Oral Histories

Dan Edelman

Interview Segments on Topic: Ethical Decisionmaking/Behavior

Dan Edelman Biography

Daniel Edelman is founder and chairman of Daniel J. Edelman, Inc., the world’s largest privately held independent firm with 45 offices across the globe.  He began his PR career as director of public relations for the Toni division of Gillette in 1948 where he created the first-ever product media tour, taking 12 sets of identical twins across the country.   The success of the tour gave him the confidence to launch his private firm in Chicago in 1952.

Edelman continued his “big ideas” with other products, defining Edelman, Inc. as the expert in marketing public relations and excelling in new product launches, brand building and setting the standard for the direct marketing industry.


Interviewer: In your opinion what constitutes ethical public relations?

Edelman: Well it starts with who you are. I mean are you an ethical person? If you have to bring to public relations what it is you represent the kind of person you are. If you are an ethical person and you grew up that way and your parents; my father was a wonderful role model for me in terms of ethics and standards; he practiced law for over 50 years. And one brother was a lawyer. The other one is a doctor. So, I had a professional environment. And I think that’s critical in making a public relations person.

Interviewer: We spoke earlier about the moral upbringing that people receive as a result of their families or communities. What moral philosophy do you use personally to guide your business decisions or do you?

Edelman: I just, I do what I did, I talked about my father. I talked about other mentors. But mostly it’s the way you were brought up. It’s your moral code. Public relations you know has a few different aspects. Telling the truth, telling it completely, telling it accurately. Getting out the story. But those are little wrinkles. It’s mostly who you are and the way you handle yourself.  I think that this is good. I mean I think we are making very good progress and getting good people.