Edelman's global revenue increased 15.4% in 2021 to $984.9 million in terms of constant currency growth, as the independent firm neared the benchmark of becoming the first PR agency to hit $1 billion in annual revenue.
In terms of actual growth, the firm’s revenue increased by 17.2% for the year.
In the last pre-pandemic year of 2019, Edelman’s revenue grew by 2.1% to $892 million on an organic basis without taking into account the impact of currency fluctuations.
The 2021 earnings include the revenue of United Entertainment Group but not sister DJE Holdings agency Zeno Group.
Edelman’s U.S. revenue grew 15.5% to $613.2 million on both an actual and constant currency basis. Canada and EMEA saw higher growth at 17.8% and 17.1% to $33.1 million and $209.2 million, respectively, on a constant currency basis. APAC revenue increased by 7.4% on a constant currency basis to $105.9 million.
The turnaround from 2020, when its revenue fell 5.7%, reflects the agency's work pulling out of the pandemic-induced recession, hiring back the nearly 400 staffers laid off during the pandemic and then bringing on more than 800 hires in 2021.
Global CEO Richard Edelman said he "couldn't be more thrilled" with the growth.
"The financial results are impressive, and they reflect a hell of a lot of hard work by my team across all regions," Edelman said. "It's the fastest growth we've had since 2011."
Edelman named a focus on existing clients as the main growth factor, citing 18% growth in 2021 among the agency's top 100 clients. The agency’s burgeoning health and tech practice was a close second.
"We've had a single-minded focus on clients working smoothly across geography, practice and specialty areas," Edelman said. "We got knocked on our butts [in 2020], and we got up, squared our shoulders, we ran forward and we did it."
The agency's healthcare business grew 22% in the last year, making it the largest sector. Edelman attributed the growth to building trust in vaccines through the implementation of the agency's Disinformation Shield, which was created to monitor and combat disinformation, and creating programs to connect with multicultural communities.
The financial communications practice grew by 35%, and Edelman Data & Intelligence, the intelligence unit it created in Fall 2020, saw 24% growth through integration across the Edelman business with the promise of a new trust tool to be launched in Summer 2022.
Edelman’s client wins in 2021 included Avis Budget Group in the U.S., SodaStream in Canada and Tinder in Europe.