The American PR Firm Helping the Saudi Government Clean Up Its Image
Edelman’s CEO warns of a “global rift between democracy and autocracy”—while his company takes millions in fees from the autocratic regime.
This morning The Guardian published my latest story, “The American PR firm helping Saudi Arabia clean up its image.”
The story investigates how Edelman, the powerful public relations firm, cultivates a reputation of promoting human rights and democracy—even as the company earns millions of dollars in fees from its work for the government of Saudi Arabia, which Freedom House described as one of the “worst of the worst” nations in the world for human rights and civil and political liberties.
Richard Edelman, the CEO of the $1 billion public relations firm Edelman, published a blog post in June reflecting on his trip to the elite gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Russia had invaded Ukraine only months earlier, and Edelman’s report focused on his geopolitical observations. “I left Davos inspired by the bravery of the Ukrainians and Poles,” Edelman wrote, “[and] more convinced than ever about the global rift between democracy and autocracy.”
That rift is real. Around the world, “autocracy is making gains against democracy,” as the human rights nonprofit Freedom House put it. Yet the rift between democracy and autocracy that Edelman rightly identified has not stopped his company from signing at least $9.6 million worth of contracts over the past four years with one of the world’s richest autocracies: the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. […]
Edelman is far from the only U.S. professional services firm doing business for the government of Saudi Arabia—McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, Hogan Lovells, and Qorvis Communications are among the many others—but Edelman’s work for the regime is particularly notable given Edelman’s reputation for producing the “trust barometer,” an annual survey of public trust in government, business, the media and other institutions.
You can read the full story here: “The American PR firm helping Saudi Arabia clean up its image.” Thanks as always to Dominic Rushe and the team at The Guardian.