Power List 2008: Power positions

PRWeek's senior editors look across a range of criteria and industries to devise this year's ranking of 25 industry leaders.

Determining who is powerful within the PR industry is not something that can be decided according to a specific formula. There are some people who will continue to have a spot on this list, given their prominence in the industry. For others who have increased their influence because of circumstances tied to current events, power can be fleeting. As the PR industry faces challenges from the economic turmoil and communicators from all industries are further thrust into the spotlight, PRWeek's senior editors look across a range of criteria and industries to devise this year's ranking of 25 industry leaders.

1. Richard Edelman, president and CEO, Edelman

['07 rank - #1]

As head of the world's largest independent PR firm, Richard Edelman has established himself as a leader of both thoughts and action. If any major communications issue arises, his comments are among the first sought - a position of visibility with which he is comfortable. Whether it is taking on industry critics, breaking down Wall Street's communications failures, or providing recaps of his high-level meetings, Edelman has made the most of his blogging. Always the innovator, he had a key role in the 2008 launch of Edelman Studios, a new unit that allows aspiring filmmakers to pitch and develop creative content for clients. From a business standpoint, his lead role at a firm with 2007 global revenue of $402.6 million, up 22.7% from the previous year, warrants his place atop this list. Throughout the years, he steadfastly has retained his firm's independence. Whether looking at the man or his agency, the name Edelman continues to provide a model for all in the industry to follow.

Defining qualities

Financial stewardship
Thought leadership
External visibility
Innovation
Media influence
Client/company profile

2. Jon Iwata, SVP of marketing and communications, IBM

[‘07 rank - #5]

IBM might have produced a number of esteemed PR pros now leading communications at other blue-chip companies, but Jon Iwata is the one most likely to push the profession forward. Already powerful in his previous role as SVP of communications, Iwata was promoted to run marketing in July 2008, a rarity for a PR lifer at a Fortune 50. He is responsible for IBM's global marcomms function and co-leads its corporate citizenship organization, reporting to CEO and chairman Sam Palmisano. A fixture at IBM for more than 20 years - all in the communications function - Iwata is involved with the Arthur W. Page Society and the Seminar. One senior industry source called him "one of the smartest in the biz" and "the gold standard in CCOs."

Defining qualities

Thought leadership
Innovation
Affiliations
Professional tree (mentoring)
Client/company profile

3. Charlotte Otto, global external relations officer, Procter & Gamble

[‘07 rank - #3]


Leading global PR for the consumer giant, Charlotte Otto's power is apparent. Because of the scope of P&G's products, she likely runs the largest in-house team in the industry. A P&G fixture for 30-plus years, she spent the first 13 on the ad side before switching to public affairs. This background is perhaps what gives Otto unique insight into not only how PR can work along other marketing disciplines, but also how it can lead. Given the current economy, P&G's marketing spend could see changes, especially with Mark Pritchard replacing Jim Stengel as global marketing officer. Having already made significant ad spend cuts, the downturn could allow PR to shine further. Otto is also involved with the Cincinnati community, as well as the Arthur W. Page Society.

Defining qualities

Thought leadership
Affiliations
Client/company profile
Public Service

4. Harris Diamond, CEO, Weber Shandwick Worldwide, CEO, IPG's Constituency Management Group

[‘07 rank - #6]


Being the leader of a stalwart agency like Weber Shandwick is noteworthy in and of itself, but Harris Diamond's CEO role at IPG's CMG division truly cements his place on this list. Diamond's post at IPG gives him oversight of other marketing services. By virtue of his ascendancy at the holding company, Diamond has enormous influence in the way IPG and, as a result, the wider industry, considers PR. While the holding company's other disciplines fluctuate in their performance, PR is highlighted in most, if not all, of IPG's earnings calls as a strong component and business driver. This year, Diamond led his agency's participation in a Harvard Business School 2008 case study focused on WS' Client Relationship Leader program. He is also a former Council of PR Firms chairman. Diamond's role on the board of directors at Business for Diplomatic Action, a nonprofit focused on how businesses can work together to enhance the US' image abroad, is of particular relevance today.

Defining qualities

Financial stewardship
Thought leadership
External visibility
Affiliations
Company profile

5. Ken Cohen, VP of public affairs, ExxonMobil

[‘07 rank - #7]

Ken Cohen had maybe the toughest job in the industry, running communications for the
highest-profile company in 2008. And those savvy communications skills will continue to be relied upon if the economic crisis continues and high gas prices persist. He has also been on the frontlines of trying to convince the company's many critics that ExxonMobil is serious about global warming, energy efficiency, and ecologically beneficial policies. Cohen is also the head of ExxonMobil's charitable foundation. He has long known the complexity in explaining the intricacies of the gas distribution business. And with both presidential candidates adopting populist themes, Cohen's hardest work may be ahead of him.

Defining qualities

External visibility
Political influence
Client/company profile
Public Service

6. Leslie Dach, EVP of corporate affairs and government relations, Wal-Mart

[‘07 rank - #4]

More than two years after he left Edelman to work for its client, Wal-Mart, Leslie Dach has settled in as the company's top communicator. Overseeing reputation management, public affairs, corporate communications, marketing PR, the Wal-Mart Foundation, government relations, and sustainability for an organization that is among the most closely watched, and most criticized, is no easy task. And while critics of the retail giant remain, the company's leadership position in areas of sustainability have earned it accolades - something which is likely attributed, at least in part, to Dach's work in this area. In addition to his work at Wal-Mart, Dach also serves on the board of directors of the World Resources Institute.

Defining qualities

Thought leadership
Political influence
Client/company profile
Public Service

7. David Senay, CEO, Fleishman-Hillard

[‘07 rank - Not ranked]

It would be easy to rest on one's laurels as head of one of the largest PR agencies in the world. But Dave Senay, the firm's third CEO, realized major global change was afoot in the industry. Taking an industry-wide leadership stance, Senay "moved" Fleishman's headquarters from St. Louis to Asia for a month in 2008. The 23-year Fleishman veteran has well-defined views about where PR is heading and is considered a leading voice, speaking clearly about the need for digital diffusion through all agency staff. Digital communications' power is not just theoretical for Senay; he uses his internal blog to update staff on the agency's fortunes. Before becoming CEO in 2006, he held top posts at the firm in the US, Canada, and EMEA. He is also a member of the Arthur W. Page Society and the Seminar.

Defining qualities

Thought leadership
Innovation
Affiliations
Client/company profile

8. Sally Susman, SVP and chief communications officer, Pfizer

['07 rank – Not ranked]

The pharma industry is among the most beleaguered and scrutinized. As the largest pharma company in the world, Pfizer is likely to be part of any coverage concerning the sector. That underscores the need for a strong communications function, the purview of Sally Susman's since she joined the company in February. In her post, she oversees worldwide media relations, colleague communications, corporate branding and reputation, corporate advertising, Internet and intranet services, and communications research. Part of a global communications overhaul, Susman has already brought change to Pfizer's PR processes, as evidenced by its recent PR review and consolidation, something which stands to affect the more than 15 agencies with which it works. Prior to Pfizer, Susman was EVP for global communications at The Estée Lauder Companies, where for seven years she directed global communications strategy for the corporation and its 28 brands. She is also a commissioner on the New York City Commission on Women's Issues, a post to which she was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg; a trustee of Connecticut College and the New School University; and is on the boards of Parsons School of Design and The National Partnership for Women and Families.

Defining qualities

External visibility
Affiliations
Client/company profile
Public Service

9. Bill Margaritis, SVP of worldwide comms and IR, FedEx

['07 rank – #15]

Once known as only an air-express carrier, FedEx is now synonymous with full-service transportation offerings. Bill Margaritis remains crucial in the image evolution of a company with $33 billion in annual revenues and more than 275,000 employees and contractors worldwide. Margaritis, who has the ear of FedEx president and CEO Fred Smith, is one of the PR discipline's most enthusiastic champions, constantly touting how PR can impact organizations from the inside out on a global level. His role on various boards, including the Arthur W. Page Society and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Memphis, further solidifies Margaritis' status as a true paradigm of the PR industry.

Defining qualities

Thought leadership
Affiliations
Client/company profile
Public Service

10. Mark Penn, worldwide president and CEO, Burson-Marsteller

['07 rank – #2]

The year 2008 saddled Burson-Marsteller CEO Mark Penn with the loss by his candidate, Sen. Hillary Clinton, in the Democratic presidential primaries. And while the campaign's missteps and in-fighting did somewhat tarnish Penn's image as a political savant, he still runs an incredibly influential polling shop Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, and sits atop one of the largest PR firms in the world. His 2008 book Microtrends was on The New York Times Best Seller List, and was blurbed by Bill Gates and President Bill Clinton. Not having Clinton on the ballot this November will finally give Penn the chance to focus completely on leading Burson through times of industry change.

Defining qualities

External visibility
Political influence
Client/company profile

11. Declan Kelly, chairman, FD in the Americas

['07 rank – #25]

Declan Kelly has made even more of a name for himself since last year's list. In addition to overseeing FD Americas and serving as chairman of FD Ireland, in August he was named EVP and chief integration officer at FTI, the agency's parent company. Outside of his posts at FD and FTI, Kelly keeps busy with a variety of activities: he is a main board director of the American Ireland Fund; he serves as director of Glucksman Ireland House at New York University; he is chairman of the US Foundation Board of the National University of Ireland, Galway; and is director of Youth Inc., a New Jersey-based nonprofit.

Defining qualities

Financial stewardship
Affiliations
Client/company profile
Public Service

12. Steve Schmidt, partner of Mercury Public Affairs and senior adviser, John McCain presidential

campaign['07 rank – Not ranked]

Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) campaign was considered quixotic when Steve Schmidt joined in 2006. It was floundering when he took over communications and strategy this July. Schmidt placed the focus back on McCain's perceived strengths: bipartisanship and his maverick status. He helped bolster attacks on Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) inexperience and stance on the Iraq surge. Schmidt's track record includes being part of Karl Rove's reputed "breakfast club," which planned strategy for President Bush's 2004 re-election. He also helped Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) get re-elected in 2006.

Defining qualities

External visibility
Political influence
Client/company profile

13. Marcia Silverman, CEO, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

['07 rank – Not ranked]

As CEO of one of the PR industry's largest agencies, Marcia Silverman has been an example of how to run a firm. Under her leadership, Ogilvy has continued to thrive on the global stage, representing a diverse list of corporations, governments, and nonprofits. The agency is particularly strong in establishing multiple-year relationships with federal agencies, such as the CDC and The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. She has been with the agency for more than 20 years, assuming the CEO role in the wake of the dot-com bust (taking over in 2002 after Ogilvy's revenues plunged 26% compared to the previous year). Silverman is also big on philanthropy, serving on the boards of the Women's Campaign Fund and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. She has also won a number of honors, including being named one of Washington Business Journal's "Women Who Mean Business."

Defining qualities

Financial stewardship
Affiliations
Client/company profile
Public Service

14. Elliot Schrage, VP of communications and public policy, Facebook

['07 rank – Not ranked]

One is likely to question why anyone would leave Google, the blue-chip company of this generation. But Elliot Schrage – the law school graduate turned corporate communicator – does not have the lifer mentality. He joined the four-year-old social networking startup in May 2008 as VP of communications and public policy. He had served as VP of communications and public affairs for Google for about two and a half years. Before that, he was the Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow in Business and Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Schrage is a go-to communications expert for young tech companies that suddenly realize the machinations on Capitol Hill are as important as those in the Bay Area. While at Google, Schrage was also lauded for pushing the company from products-focused messaging to a broader communications strategy, involving privacy issues, charitable concerns, and government affairs.

Defining qualities

External visibility
Media influence
Political influence
Client/company profile

15. Kathy Bloomgarden, Co-CEO, Ruder Finn

['07 rank – #16]

Kathy Bloomgarden, along with co-CEO Peter Finn, leads the third-largest independent shop in the US. Her insight into the executive suite has helped bolster the potential for all communicators to truly serve as counsel for CEOs. Though agency revenue did fall 8% last year, RF still had marquee wins, including Aterian and GlaxoSmithKline. It also won accolades for its interactive work, including a Webby for its loveisrespect.org Web site for client National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. Bloomgarden remains active on the boards at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Partnership for New York City, and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.

Defining qualities

Thought leadership
Innovation
Affiliations
Client/company profile
Public Service

16. Jack Daly, SVP of corporate relations, McDonald's

['07 rank – Not ranked]

Throughout Super Size Me, the obesity epidemic, and other travails, McDonald's has kept to its core message. That continuity is due in no small part to Jack Daly's steady guidance of the communications function. Under Daly, McDonald's has recently avoided the gimmicky marketing of competitors that tout the caloric heft of their products, instead pushing the company's healthy alternatives while still offering the same traditional menu items. The company has also received several industry plaudits for the communications behind its charitable work through World Children's Day. Daly joined the company in 1992, after a stint as VP of public affairs at Taco Bell.

Defining qualities

Innovation
Professional tree (mentoring)
Client/company profile

17. Donna Imperato, CEO, Cohn & Wolfe

['07 rank – Not ranked]


With more than 20 years of experience in the PR industry, Donna Imperato has already had success, serving as C&W's CEO since 2003. That role has taken on even more importance in light of the firm's recent merger with sister agency GCI Group. Now overseeing the newly formed firm, she has the opportunity to not only increase its stature among existing clients, but also help the agency grow even more. Part of that challenge, she recently told PRWeek, will involve hiring more senior-level practitioners so she can "take a higher-level view." Despite her new responsibilities, she still acts as senior counsel to key clients, including ADP, GlaxoSmithKline, Hilton, Michelin, Smuckers, and other key accounts.

Defining qualities

Financial stewardship
Client/company profile

18. Christine Castro, VP of corporate relations, Genentech

['07 rank – Not ranked]

Christine Castro is living proof that a good communicator can take on any challenge. While some communications pros remain within their comfort zone – hopping from one competitor to another in the same industry – Castro has worked for such disparate companies as Disney, Yahoo, Bank of America, and, her current employer, Genentech. Castro runs the communications function, which oversees corporate and product PR, advocacy relations, and internal communications. She is also on the board of directors at the Genentech Foundation, the company's nonprofit. Castro was chief communications officer and SVP at Yahoo from 2002 to 2007, and SVP of communications at Bank of America before joining Genentech.

Defining qualities

Client/company profile
Public service

19. AnnaMaria DeSalva, worldwide director of healthcare, Hill & Knowlton

['07 rank – Not ranked]

For many professionals, a successful career within the very competitive world of healthcare PR would be enough. But for AnnaMaria DeSalva, it is only part of her accomplishments. Last year, she was chosen to be the only PR professional on the FDA's Risk Communication Advisory Committee, which is designed to look at how the agency can better communicate risk to the general public about the many products it regulates. Certainly the FDA has been under enormous scrutiny in recent years, so DeSalva's role on the committee has the potential to alter the way the government agency communicates with the public. Her experience there is also bound to benefit her clients, which include Pfizer, Amgen, Merck, Medtronic, and the National Breast Cancer Coalition. In addition to her work with the FDA, she is also chair of the PRSA's Thought Leadership Committee; is a founding member of the World Summit against Cancer's scientific committee; and serves as director of the nonprofit Project Sunshine.

Defining qualities

Thought leadership
External visibility
Affiliations
Client/company profile
Public service

20. Harold Burson, founding chairman, Burson-Marsteller

[‘07 rank - #13]

Harold Burson, the man PRWeek has described as "the [20th] century's most influential PR figure," remains a powerful voice in the industry. Look around the communications world, both at agencies and corporations, and you'll find numerous leaders - from Doug Michelman, EVP of corporate communications at Visa, to Bob Chandler and Gianfranco Chicco of Chandler Chicco Agency - whose careers advanced under this PR legend. Burson is also well respected for reminding PR pros that technology has not changed the core tenets of the communications industry. However, his greatest contributions to the industry may well be his championing of integrated marketing decades before the term was invented, as well as his development of training programs that set the benchmark other firms now follow. And whether it's the numerous lunches he still has with his firm's interns, the various speeches he still gives around the globe, or his widely read blog on PR's role in an ever-changing world, Burson still has his pulse on the industry and the rapt attention of the entire PR workforce.

Defining qualities

Thought leadership
External visibility
Innovation
Professional tree (mentoring)
Client/company profile

21. Maril MacDonald CEO, Gagen MacDonald

[‘07 rank - Not ranked]

A recognized leader in the area of strategic employee communications and workplace performance enhancement, Maril MacDonald's specialization is one that seems prescient, given many global PR firms' recent attention to these areas. Working with such clients as Accenture, Baxter Healthcare, and United Airlines, MacDonald and her firm have provided assistance that makes them an indispensable part of their clients' strategy going forward. Such client relationships will likely prove useful as the PR industry braces for the effects of the latest economic turmoil. Because of its specialty, Gagen MacDonald is well positioned to weather any potential storms. MacDonald is also a high-profile figure in Chicago, as well as within the industry. She was recently re-elected as chair of the Arthur W. Page Society.

Defining qualities

Thought leadership
Affiliations
Client/company profile

22. Robert Gibbs, communications director, Barack Obama's presidential campaign

[‘07 rank - Not ranked]

Robert Gibbs has been influencing the communications strategy of Barack Obama even before the senator emerged on the national scene. Helping run the campaign that got Obama elected to the Senate in 2004, Gibbs has been able to match Obama's strengths as an orator with a savvy communications plan, as well as realizing the public, hungry for change, would seize upon a message that promised it. Gibbs has run a low-emotion campaign, drawing ire from Democrats who wanted their candidate to show more fire when responding to McCain's attacks. Yet, it is hard to argue that Obama's - and perhaps Gibbs' - message of hope and change has struck a chord with voters around the country. In addition to working on a number of senatorial campaigns, Gibbs also worked as press secretary on John Kerry's presidential bid in 2004.

Defining qualities

External visibility
Political influence
Client/company profile

23. Joele Frank, managing partner, Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher

[‘07 rank - #24]

In the current financial climate, it seems as though there is another M&A as each day passes. If the economic situation eventually leads to a winter of retrenchment and few acquisition prospects, Joele Frank and the firm she founded in 2000 will be among the first to whom those companies turn. As many financial experts will attest, clear communications are essential to any successful deal - something Frank has spent her career perfecting. She has advised clients on a wide range of matters and transactions, including representing Microsoft in its proposal to Yahoo.

Defining qualities

Financial stewardship
Client/company profile

24. Aedhmar Hynes, CEO, Text 100

[‘07 rank - Not ranked]

In an industry where innovation is key to agencies' survival, Aedhmar Hynes is someone who lives by example. Leading her firm's entrance into Second Life in 2006, Hynes went out on a limb proclaiming the importance of the virtual world in PR's future. While that prediction didn't turn out to be entirely true, her willingness to take chances and her foresight to recognize that the way PR practitioners communicate needs to change, is noteworthy. A fixture at the firm for 18 years, and CEO for eight, Hynes has a direct relationship with many of the firm's coveted and long-standing clients, including Xerox, IBM, Cisco, Philips, and Fujifilm. She is also a board member of the Council of PR Firms; a member of the Aspen Institute Roundtable on technology; a member of the Board of Trustees of the Arthur W. Page Society; and a member of the Foundation Board at her alma mater, the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Defining qualities

Thought leadership
Innovation
Affiliations
Client/company profile

25. Brian Lewis EVP of corporate communications, Fox Television Stations

[‘07 rank - Not ranked]

Brian Lewis has been at the helm of Fox News Channel's often criticized, but admirably consistent, PR operation since before it even launched in 1996. In 2006, he was promoted to EVP of corporate communications for Fox Television, which comprises FNC, the Fox Business Channel, and Twentieth Century Fox. Certainly, Lewis' job is not an easy one. Few media entities can elicit the strong emotion that Fox News has since its debut. Its supporters praise it as the only "fair and balanced" news operation in a sea of partisan media bias; its detractors view it as a conservative mouthpiece for the Bush administration and the Republican establishment. In the middle of it all - alongside FNC president Roger Ailes - is Lewis, who has assembled arguably the most aggressive PR team that has ever existed. In spite of criticism, Lewis and his team keep the message consistent. He also acts as an adjunct professor in the graduate PR program at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Defining qualities

Affiliations
Political influence
Client/company profile

Supporting Power Players

Bill Heyman, president and CEO, Heyman Associates.
As talent continues to be a huge issue for the PR industry, Heyman's impact stands to be that much more important. He's also on the board of advisers at The Plank Center at the University of Alabama, designed to help develop leadership values and skills in both PR education and practice.

Richard Marshall, MD, Korn/Ferry Intl.
Marshall's influence in the industry is apparent. In the past two years alone, his company has filled the top communications jobs at AIG, Yahoo, Microsoft, Pepsi, BMW, and others.

Dan Orsborn, senior partner, Select Resources Intl.
New business remains key for agency growth. Managing such 2008 RFPs as New Balance and California Milk Advisory Board, Orsborn and his company wield great influence.

Katie Paine, CEO, KD Paine and Partners.
Paine has long been a champion of - and thought leader on - measurement. Though the ability to prove ROI has long challenged PR pros, Paine has taken steps to make it a bit easier.

Shoba Purushothaman, CEO, THE NewsMarket.
The decline of traditional broadcast television PR may have companies who based their business model on that medium scrambling, but Purushothaman has remained calm. As an early proponent of broadcast-quality Internet video, she is a thought leader in the ever-evolving market.

Emerging Power Players

Matthew Harrington, US CEO and president, Edelman.
An 18-year veteran of the firm, Harrington has entered the realm of the industry's elite as head of US operations. Working with clients from Starbucks to Charles Schwab, he is often cited for his financial communications acumen.

Jolie Hunt, global head of comms, ThomsonReuters.
Hunt's career has taken her through a variety of senior-level positions at The Financial Times, IBM, and Thomson-Reuters— all before turning 30.

Zenia Mucha, EVP of corporate comms, Walt Disney Co.
Mucha is respected in the entertainment industry for her strategic intelligence, as well as her tenacity when dealing with the media.

Andy Polansky, president, Weber Shandwick.
In this position since 2004, Polansky has managed to serve as a global ambassador for the IPG firm, while also ensuring that the day-to-day operations run smoothly.

Dave Samson, GM of public affairs, Chevron
Samson is helping the energy company launch innovative, energy-efficiency campaigns, like its Energyville partnership with The Economist and willyoujoinus.com.

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