29,VP, Hill & Knowlton
Maureen Davenport's job is, in some respect, to make her colleagues' jobs that much tougher. The 29 year-old Hill & Knowlton VP leads the firm's competitive media services program.
"In the competitive media program, we work with clients who realize there is disconnect between fact and conjecture in the marketplace and the media," Davenport says. "A lot of what we do is making sure our clients' competitors are being held accountable for their words. If there is a disconnect, we correct it with fact."
The competitive media is difficult arena and one that requires much discretion. Thus, Davenport says her clients are "a number of Fortune 500 companies." While a large portion of her energy is expended upon the competitive media program, she still works with the firm's tech clients and is a member of the corporate team With the tech world continually changing, it's important - and sometimes nearly impossible - to keep abreast of the shifting environments.
While conceding that being younger might give her an advantage in keeping up with trends, she attributes this ability more to her nature.
"I like the pace of tech." she says, "It's my nature to want to track trends and discover new things."
Davenport fell in love with the industry during an internship at Ketchum. She had majored in English at James Madison University, with a minor in communications. After working at Ketchum, she decided she wanted to focus more on technology, so she moved on to Blanc & Otus - part of H&K - to broaden her area of expertise.
"We look at what happened in the past and make sure we hold our clients' competitors to delivering on their promises."
Davenport has a no-nonsense approach to PR, according to her supervisor, SVP Michele Quintaglie.
"She's naturally skeptical and thorough, but once she does the research to support [something], she becomes an advocate," Quintaglie says.
What separates Davenport from a majority of her ilk, Quintaglie says, is her ability to talk outside the corporate message and debate reporters on their information if it's incorrect, due to her voluminous amounts of research.
"Maureen is not looking to just push out a message for the client; she really effective at communicating with anyone and understanding where they're coming from," she says, adding that she often uses Davenport as a resource for information about reporters.
"Maureen really understands the psychology of PR," Quintaglie says.
Overextending one's abilities and knowledge base is often a casualty of youth, and it is certainly a challenge, as a young PR professional, to correct an executive when he or she has erroneous information. This requires a level of diplomacy, Quintaglie says.
"You can tell instantly that's she's done all of her homework," Quintaglie says. "It takes an executive 10 to 15 minutes to understand that he or she is in safe hands with Maureen." To return to the list, click here.