Robert Phillips, founder of Jericho Chambers, former European chief executive of Edelman and legendary figure of the British PR industry, died Sunday 13 June, three years after being diagnosed with advanced cancer.

Phillips co-founded and co-led Jackie Cooper PR in 1987 until its acquisition by Edelman in 2004. After leading Edelman for eight years as UK chief executive and then EMEA president, he left to set up Jericho Chambers in 2013.

As reported by Provoke media Phillips was a passionate, generous and immensely funny individual — in many respects one of a kind — who rarely failed to make a profound impression on the people he came into contact with. And, during a 35-year career across the upper echelons of the UK PR industry, there were many, many people that Phillips touched. All of whom he could debate, challenge and occasionally infuriate, always with a glint in an eye that was just as focused on elevating the very notion of what public relations might stand for.

In 2015, Phillips published ‘Trust Me, PR is Dead’, a book that furthered his distance from the mainstream agency industry. Tellingly, the book turned out to be less of an assault on the industry than a romp through its author’s mind, by turns funny, outspoken and restlessly intelligent. Perhaps it was impossible for Phillips to truly disavow the PR world, not least because of the numerous people he influenced, many of whom flourished as a direct result of his trust and leadership.

Phillips also passionately believed that public relations could be a force for good. When naked climate change protestors descended on Edelman’s London office in 2011, Phillips attempted to invite them in for a conversation, before realising that they probably needed to first be clothed. In 2009, he organised the first diversity and inclusion event this writer ever attended, at a time when such ideas were barely considered fringe in the UK.

And, at the height of News Corp’s phone-hacking scandal in 2012, Edelman was called in to provide PR counsel, with Phillips advising, as ever, that full transparency offered the best hope of salvaging the beleaguered media company’s battered reputation.

His family said that Phillips had pushed for progressive leadership, championing the power of citizen collaboration in order to achieve positive change: “Short as it was, Robert lived life to the full. We would love to hear your stories, anecdotes, tales of wonder/defiance, and anything else you have to say about him. We’ve set up an inbox to share your stories at [email protected]. Venetia, Gabriel, Gideon.”