NEW YORK — Edelman will be cutting staff by roughly 240 employees, most of whom are senior level, as part of a larger reorganization resulting from a “cooling down” the firm is experiencing.

“Saying goodbye to members of the Edelman community is an extremely difficult decision,” CEO Richard Edelman said in a staff memo PRovoke Media obtained from an employee of the firm. “We will support our impacted colleagues with outplacement support to help with career transitions and an additional six months of support through ComPsych, our Employee Assistance Program, in addition to separation pay.

“This is a hard day for the firm, but I want all of you to know that I am confident in our future. I truly believe we will become THE communications advisory firm because trust drives growth and action earns trust,” Edelman said.

The employees being laid off represent roughly 4% of Edelman’s workforce. Edelman had a hiring freeze in effect over the last several months, but that “wasn’t enough to counterbalance the hiring we did to meet the post-pandemic surge of business,” Edelman said.

The agency beefed up its staff by 25% “to meet unprecedented growth” from January 2021 to June 2022, creating a top-heavy structure in some regions, Edelman said. In turn, the firm will restore a classic pyramid structure to management “to operate from a period of strength in in FY24,” he said.

Edelman’s announcement comes barely 12 months after it became the PR industry's first $1bn firm. But Edelman is not alone in terms of the lagging economy, with other firms also reducing headcount across the PR sector.

Tech firms big and small were among the first to feel the pinch. WE Communications confirmed to PRovoke that it has reduced its staff, which was listed as 1,477 in our 2023 global agency PR rankings, by less than 5%.

The slowing economy is now being felt more broadly. Ketchum confirmed the agency has “made staff reductions to ensure our team structures are aligned with our client needs,” but did not disclose details.

Edelman said the business is seeing “growth, significant success and opportunity” but the recalibration is necessary to invest in its future.

“We are a firm built on the premise of family ownership, and together we’ll focus on supporting one another and rallying as only we can to enable clients to meet the needs of their customers and serve the broader society,” he wrote.

“I remain — and always will be — proud of the people of Edelman. I’m deeply grateful for all that you do every day for our clients,” Edelman said.