18 June, 2021
We first met Robert, a good 15 years ago when he was running his own PR agency and we shared a client, O2. From the moment we sat in that first meeting with him, I knew I had met a kindred spirit, passionate about the potential for business to be better (and as we would say make good things happen).
He was a thinker, a big thinker, in ambition and scope and he had a work ethic akin to Florence Nightingale (on a busy night!)
He went on to lead Edelman, playing an ever-increasing role in persuading global businesses here and around the world of the importance of putting sustainability at the heart of their businesses. He also did more than almost anyone to propel forward the importance of listening to stakeholders, of engaging with them (however much they may dislike you) and communicating with them around how the business is evolving and why. This he turned into an art form at Jericho Chambers once he had left PR behind (with some frustration at its lack of speed to change).
The world will be less kind, less progressive and less good without Robert. He was a great inspiration to many, he challenged, he made difficult choices, he worked far too hard, but it was what he loved and he was very good at it.
If he taught us one thing it was listen really hard first, be open to conversation with the people and society you are hoping to serve; engage however difficult it may feel. And through dialogue will come a way forward.
His book, Trust Me, PR is Dead makes a powerful case for a more transparent and accountable corporate narrative, as power shifts from corporation to “citizen consumers”, and draws on his immense experience and wisdom to argue for change. It’s a wonderful, and inspiring, read.
I hope we can maintain his legacy for this journey has only just begun.
Thank you Robert.
By Giles Gibbons