Edelman has promoted Russell Dubner to global vice chairman and chair of the new Edelman Trust Institute.
Dubner will lead corporate development and manage the firm's mergers and acquisitions and venture investments, alliances and partnerships. He will report to global CEO Richard Edelman.
Dubner's appointment is meant to put the firm back on offense after a tough 2020 in a pandemic economy that only started to turn around in Q4 2020, said Edelman. The world’s largest PR firm by revenue posted a revenue decline of 5.7% last year to $840 million, not including the effect of currency fluctuations.
"Having achieved a V-[shaped] recovery, now is a very good time to think about what's next," he said. "For us, that means acquisitions, partnerships and rebalancing in terms of geography because about 70% of our global revenue is from the U.S. and the U.K."
Dubner will also oversee Edelman's Trust Institute, a center for the firm's continued study of trust and a learning lab for building trust between companies, institutions, brands and people. The institute is set to launch on May 1. The firm produces the highly regarded Trust Barometer series of research reports.
"Trust is such a central part of our mandate, and there is so much action happening there," Dubner said. "We have 150-plus clients who are using our research now to make substantive decisions, so we're tripling down there.”
Dubner will also chair the firm's global investment and innovation committees and will continue to lead holding company DJE Holdings sector-specialist agencies Revere, Salutem, Edifi and Edible and retain a portfolio of key client relationships.
Lisa Osborne Ross will succeed Dubner as CEO of Edelman’s U.S. operations. She was previously COO and led Edelman's Washington, DC, office as president. The firm has not named a replacement for those roles.
Osborne Ross will focus on advancing change through business, something she says gained importance during the pandemic and racial injustice in the last year.
"I will lean into how we can continue to move people, organizations, brands and operations in the right direction," Osborne Ross said. "We can do that by making sure we are there for our clients, our colleagues and our communities, which we don't talk about as much as we should."
Dan Webber took over as president of the DC office in February.
Edelman said this month, in an interview for PRWeek’s Agency Business Report, that he plans to remain as CEO for another decade before handing over the reins to a successor -- who may be a member of his family or a non-family member.