In ‘Creative’ twist, ‘Zimmerman/Edelson’ is no more

Then: Zimmerman and Edelson in 1988, possibly before there was color film and definitely before "Zimm/Ed" became a household name on Long Island -- and a national media relations powerhouse.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

From the Physician, Heal Thyself file comes the strategic communications powerhouse formerly known as Zimmerman/Edelson Inc., henceforth rebranded as ZE Creative Communications.

The longstanding Great Neck public relations, public affairs and content-production house – launched in 1988 by co-founders Robert Zimmerman and Ron Edelson and a media/marketing mainstay ever since – flips the switch today on its new brand identity, including a new company name, logo and website.

But the focus remains the same, according to ZE Creative Communications’ executive leadership, which trumpets the same innovative and effective portfolio of “Zimm/Ed” strategic services, now under the spiffed-up “ZE” banner.

That portfolio has served the company well. Under Zimmerman and Edelson’s guiding hands, Zimmerman/Edelson has assembled an impressive client list – not only Long Island stalwarts like Hofstra University and Rechler Equity Partners, but regional and national powerhouses, too, ranging from Verizon to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to Canon USA.

…and now: Zimmerman and Edelson, still punching.

So, maintaining connections to the past – while speeding toward the future – is a big part of the ZE refresher, according to Edelson, who understated slightly when he noted that “things have changed significantly” since the two-man show got busy 31 years ago.

“We were the company,” the co-founder told Innovate LI. “And we still play important roles, and always will, but it’s not just us anymore.”

And there’s the rub of this rebrand: The hands-on founders still rock, but the firm truly rolls on the strength of its expanded staff – an “entire contingent of very talented people,” Edelson noted.

“‘ZE’ pays homage to the fact that we founded this company, but now we’re stating that when you hire the company, you’re not just hiring Robert and Ron anymore,” he added. “We’ve grown, and the rebrand communicates that.”

David Chauvin: Switching channels.

As with any good corporate refresher, this one also reflects shifting market forces and other external changes. Information channels – how people receive and digest their news – have fundamentally shifted over the last three decades and especially over the last 10 years, creating a “new ecosystem” for strategic communications, according to ZE partner and Executive Vice President David Chauvin.

“The importance of brand messaging, storytelling and other fundamentals the company was founded on remain the bedrock of the communications industry,” Chauvin noted. “But now we’re looking at different delivery systems – different ways to reach micro audiences and macro audiences, different kinds of collateral that speak to how people consume their content.”

This is the playing field of the 21st century PR consultant – and a company that promises modern messaging expertise has to keep its own house up to snuff, according to Zimmerman.

“Becoming ZE Creative Communications reflects the fact that we’ve evolved with our industry,” the partner said. “Not just that we’re current, but ahead of the curve, developing new ways to communicate to a broader market.”

Ron Edelson: Contingency plan.

The brand evolution, he added, was fueled by fresh talent. In addition to its co-founders, ZE Creative Communications is led by a core of young executives – including Chauvin and Vice President Jake Mendlinger – and a host of hands-on creators, all of whom have added their own modern sizzle to the company’s fundamental steak.

Zimmerman, in fact, largely credited the corporate makeover to two ZE middle managers: Creative Services Director Michael Fales and Operations Manager Samantha Chillemi-Berenz, who developed the sleek new website, the spiffy logo and the rebrand’s concise messaging.

“They led the effort and they conceived and created the whole layout,” Zimmerman said. “What has really helped us evolve is our young and dynamic team, which has brought us into a new era.”

That “new era” is well underway – it doesn’t suddenly begin with today’s rebrand, according to Mendlinger, who stressed that the refresher “reflects how this company has changed over the last three years, not how we’re going to change.”

“This is not a reaction to the changing landscape,” the VP said. “Developing campaigns and executing communications over multiple platforms not a new thing for us.

Robert Zimmerman: Youth movement.

“We’ve done the diligence and had our boots on the ground,” Mendlinger added. “This is stuff we’ve been doing for years, and doing well.”

Doing it under a new brand identity simply reinforces the company’s dynamism and creativity. And while changing a name as well-established as “Zimmerman/Edelson” is certainly risky – “Zimm/Ed” carries a cache not easily dismissed, particularly on Long Island – “legacy doesn’t define the future,” according to Zimmerman.

“Legacy makes a foundation,” the cofounder said. “We’re a company of 23 employees now and we have represented some of the most significant companies in the world.

“We’re proud of that heritage,” he added. “But this is about the future.”

And ZE’s future appears bright: With the new website going live today and its new identity revealed, “it’s safe to say our company is in growth mode,” according to Chauvin, who referenced a “vast network of strategic partners across the country” and plenty of opportunity for an established firm with a 30-year heritage and a new-age mien.

“This was an internal look at who we are and who we will be moving forward,” the executive VP said. “And we are always looking for new opportunities.

“Ron and Robert taught us to think big.”