Edelman has hired Alex Thompson as global chair of its corporate affairs and impact practices, effective immediately.
Thompson will oversee roughly 1,500 Edelman staffers. He replaces Dave Samson, who is leaving the agency September 1 to spend more time with his family. A U.S. COO, Samson’s other role, has yet to be named.
Thompson started his career at Edelman U.K. as an assistant account executive and left the New York office as EVP of corporate and public affairs more than a decade later.
“It’s an honor to be returning to Edelman, tackling the hardest problems for the best clients,” Thompson said via email. “Reputation and impact have never been more important to business and the world we live in. Leaders face a daunting array of issues that will shape society for many years to come, and we are here to help them navigate this complexity.”
Most recently, Thompson was Thomson Reuters’ chief communications officer. He spent three years at the company, responsible for managing comms, purpose, government and regulatory affairs, environmental, social and governance strategy and the Social Impact Institute. He was replaced by Jeannine Befidi.
Earlier in his career, Thompson spent five years on the leadership team of outdoor retailer REI as VP of brand stewardship and impact.
Edelman has also promoted Julian Payne to global chair of crisis, in addition to his current role as chair of corporate affairs for Edelman EMEA. Payne succeeds Hugh Taggart, who left the business at the end of May after six years.
Taggart’s departure also saw his fellow co-CEO, Ruth Warder, move to the sole U.K. and Ireland chief executive role. He could not be reached for comment on his next career move.
“Crisis and risk management is one of the fastest evolving areas of the communications business, as corporate reputations can be irrevocably damaged in an instant,” Payne said in an emailed statement. “It is an area I have worked in and studied for many years, so I am utterly delighted to have the chance to lead the team.”
As well as Payne, Edelman has also promoted Courtney Gray Haupt, a 13-year Edelman veteran, to global COO of the agency’s health sector, a newly created role. She will continue to serve as chair of the U.S. health sector.
Gray Haupt’s new position reflects growth in Edelman’s health division over the last few years. She, Thompson and Payne and will report to Kirsty Graham, Edelman global president of practices and sectors and global chair of health.
Edelman reported a revenue increase of 10% to $1.07 billion globally and 14% increase to $703 million in the U.S. in 2022, according to PRWeek’s 2023 Agency Business Report. Last year, the firm became the first PR agency to pass the $1 billion revenue mark as it celebrated its 70th anniversary.