1. Leslie Dach
EVP, corporate affairs and government relations, Walmart
Walmart's head of corporate affairs and government relations spent the year cozying up to Michelle Obama for a nutrition charter initiative that launched in January in collaboration with the first lady's "Let's Move!" campaign. It was an association that worked well for both partners and helped position Walmart as a thought-leader in the race to fill the food-labeling vacuum left by the FDA, which has still not issued its own regulations. As Leslie Dach approaches the fifth anniversary of his leaving former home Edelman to join Walmart, the combination of the world's largest retailer and the world's most powerful spouse propelled him to the top of PRWeek's Power List for the first time.
2. Richard Edelman
President and CEO, Edelman
If boundless enthusiasm and unlimited energy defined power, Richard Edelman would undoubtedly top our list. He is a multi-tasking dynamo who keeps all 3,700 of his employees on their toes while simultaneously empowering them with the freedom to be innovative and creative. Even Edelman's detractors grudgingly admire the way he has grown his family firm into a global behemoth that can compete with the largest of the holding company agency networks. In 2010, Edelman consolidated its claim to be the biggest global PR agency, with billings in excess of $530 million bolstered by four acquisitions and a slew of new accounts. You can be sure Edelman's ambition does not stop there.
3. Harris Diamond
CEO, Weber Shandwick; CEO, IPG Constituency Management Group
As the leader of Interpublic's Constituency Management Group, which houses the network's PR shops, Harris Diamond can justifiably claim to oversee more billings than any other PR agency lead. CMG's performance in increasing annual revenues by double digits in 2010 outstripped the three other large networks by a sizeable margin. CMG agency Weber Shandwick, of which Diamond is also CEO, was key in IPG ad agency-led consortium McCann Worldgroup's retention of the Army PR account. Add that to sister firm GolinHarris' recently unveiled ambitious plans to double in size within the decade and it is clear Diamond has a strong idea about how to secure PR's pivotal role in the agency network of the future.
4. Sally Susman
EVP, policy, external affairs and communications, Pfizer
As the top communicator at the world's largest bio-pharma company, Sally Susman is always insanely busy. This year has been – and will be – no exception.
On the heels of CEO Jeffrey Kindler's resignation late last year, Susman led a restructuring of the in-house communications team with an eye on aligning the function more closely with the company's other business units. This also removed a layer of management that had existed under Kindler, thus moving Susman even closer to the new CEO Ian Read.
And the news keeps coming from Pfizer. Last month it announced the launch of the first-ever home-based clinical trial program, which will allow patients to take part in an experimental therapy program through social media. And in November, Pfizer's patent on the hugely popular cholesterol drug Lipitor expires. Susman will have a major role in shaping the messaging around both these major developments.
5. Gary Sheffer
VP, corporate comms and public affairs, GE
Gary Sheffer, who most definitely has the ear of CEO Jeff Immelt, shapes messaging for the multinational conglomerate that encompasses electrical appliances, media, technology, and financial services. But where he truly shines is in his ongoing quest to continually improve his and his team's communications skills. He was instrumental in the April 2008 creation of GE's Communications Capability Guide, a tool that helps individual employees find their strength and weaknesses as communicators.
In June, GE took a major step for solar energy by purchasing a stake in eSolar, which will enable it to develop power plants that can use both solar thermal energy and natural gas. More proof of GE's innovative spirit – a quality its communications head epitomizes.
6. Ken Cohen
VP of government and public affairs, ExxonMobil
Ken Cohen has incredibly broad communications oversight for the number-two company on the Fortune 500. And with gas prices on everyone's mind, he occupies the global stage like few communicators do.
He's proven quite comfortable in that position. From ExxonMobil's "Perspectives" blog, which he played a significant role in creating, to BigGovernment.com's Coffee and Markets podcast, Cohen is a willing engager with the press and public. Everyone wants to know why gas prices are so high; the pros and cons of fracking; alternative energy sources; and more. All complex issues Cohen can turn into understandable answers.
Cohen also serves as chairman of the ExxonMobil Foundation, the company's primary philanthropic arm.
7. Chris Hassall
Global external relations officer, Procter & Gamble
Two years ago, Chris Hassall was asked to fill some big shoes in replacing Charlotte Otto as global external relations officer at the consumer goods giant. What has helped the English-born Hassall make his own mark is his commitment to the importance of brand PR.
"Brand PR is the top or among the top ways we can effectively connect with consumers," he told PRWeek in January 2010. That philosophy and subsequent efforts have certainly paid off as P&G, widely regarded for its brand management acumen, ranked fifth on Fortune's 2011 list of Most Admired Companies.
Looking ahead, rumors continue to float of a possible P&G-Unilever mega-merger. Those alone should be enough to keep an already busy Hassall on everyone's radar.
8. Bill Margaritis
SVP, global communications and investor relations, FedEx
Now in his 15th year with FedEx, Bill Margaritis helped the company win another top 10 slot on Fortune's annual "Most Admired Companies" this March. The survey judges companies based on their corporate reputation and financial performance. The $37-billion shipping company has appeared in the top 20 of the ranking since 2001.
Margaritis is equally admired among his communications peers. At the start of 2010, he took the helm of one of the industry's leading organizations for corporate communicators when elected chairman of the Arthur W. Page Society.
As the most senior PR professional at FedEx, Margaritis oversees global reputation management, employee communication, IR, and social responsibility. He told PRWeek in April that he expects to continue growing the communications department.
"Communication departments are now starting to deliver more value for our businesses," he explained. "Decision- makers are more aware of this and are committing dollars to it."
9. Elliot Schrage
VP of global communications, marketing and public policy, Facebook
Elliot Schrage understands the vital importance of influence in DC in evolving a technology business such as Facebook and he has moved to considerably boost its public affairs resource.
There were persistent rumors that the giant social network would be the next port of call for President Obama's press secretary Robert Gibbs when he left the White House, but ultimately Schrage settled on another high-profile Democrat communicator in Joe Lockhart, former press secretary and chief communications strategist for former president Bill Clinton.
It's all part of Schrage's strategy to counter potential problems about the social network's attitudes to privacy and navigate the fine line between delivering users useful services that people like while complying with regulatory and governmental guidelines.
10. Jon Iwata
SVP, marketing and communications, IBM
Jon Iwata has been a Power List staple not only due to his title, but also his strategic vision that has earned him the CEO's ear. He leads a global team responsible for communications, corporate affairs, and product and services marketing. He is also vice chairman of the IBM International Foundation.
IBM marked its 100th birthday this year by hitting the $100 billion revenue mark, but also setting in motion a succession plan for Sam Palmisano, who has been CEO since 2002. Until last year, Iwata reported directly to Palmisano. Now he reports up through Virginia Rometty who was promoted to SVP and group executive of sales, marketing, and strategy. Rometty is rumored to be the frontrunner as Palmisano's successor.
11. Ray Day
VP of communications, Ford Motor Company
During what has been a generally difficult period for the US auto industry, Ford has managed to maintain and even bolster its reputation, in no small part due to Ray Day's efforts.
Day played a key role in a very bold decision Ford made this past February. CEO Alan Mullaly, to whom Day reports, bypassed the Geneva Motor Show to deliver the keynote and show off the MyFord Touch technology at the CeBIT Technology Show. Innovative thinking for an innovative product.
The US auto industry is so closely linked to the country's overall economy that any messages out of Detroit get attention. As such, Day stands to remain on this list for some time.
12. Anne Finucane
Chief global strategy and marketing officer, Bank of America
"Who are we kidding? We know we all report to Anne?" The words were spoken, according to a Boston Globe story this past February, by Brian Moynihan at a December 2009 reception just two days after he took the CEO role. If a Fortune 10 company's leader realizes his top communicator's stature, who are we to argue?
The recent recession hit the banking industry hard, but as the nation's largest bank, Bank of America was an easy target for critics, angry shareholders, politicians, and more. However, Finucane has spent the past two years expertly mending fences and repairing a battered brand.
Her job is hardly done, however. Despite Moynihan's optimism, the bank lost $5.8 billion in the past two years, shares are off 78% from their high, and critics are still frothing at the mouth. Finucane will have ample opportunity to ply her craft in the near term – and she'll have most everyone's rapt attention.
13. Ed Skyler
EVP, global public affairs, Citigroup
When news hit a bit over a year ago that Ed Skyler was taking the lead communications role at Citigroup, a New York Observer article noted that Skyler directly reports to CEO Vikram Pandit, serves on the executive committee, and is in charge of all external and internal communications. "He'll have power," the story asserted.
Having spent years in high-profile roles with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, first at his eponymous media conglomerate and then as deputy mayor, Skyler has broad experience and a unique skill set upon which to draw in his continuing efforts to elevate the reputation of a bank that was severely damaged during the financial crisis. And with the more recent data-breach incident of early June, Skyler will have another opportunity to test those skills.
14. Dave Senay
President and CEO, Fleishman-Hillard
The genial Dave Senay recently found himself in the south of France chairing the PR section of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity – note, not just advertising anymore – further staking PR's case to be taken as seriously as the ad folks who dominate the event.
The jury is still out on whether PR can earn an adequate share of voice at such an advertising institution, but Senay is determined to prove PR is at the leading edge of a suite of modern marcomms services.
Senay's Fleishman-Hillard has been actively working with Omnicom sister entities across the ad, media, digital, and even PR divide to bring clients the integrated services they crave.
15. Rachel Whetstone
VP, public policy and communications, Google
Chances are you just "Google-d" something. Putting all the tech advancements and battles of one-upmanship aside, that statement alone speaks to the company's brand power and place in the global consciousness. Entrusted to deliver Google's message, Rachel Whetstone indeed is in a position of importance.
Whetstone merits credit for helping Google avoid the mistakes other such entities have made. For example, her less arrogant and non-confrontational approach to establishing a presence in DC has been lauded. Moreover, in Harris Interactive's 2011 Reputation Quotient Survey of 30,000-plus Americans, Google was the top-ranked company overall, earning specific top honors for its financial performance and workplace environment.
Google faces stiff competition from Facebook, Twitter, and others on various business and development fronts, but its brand remains strong. Whetstone's team certainly has something to do with that.
16. Mark Penn
Worldwide president and CEO, Burson-Marsteller
Brought up in the rough-and-tumble world of DC politics, Mark Penn couldn't understand the fuss when the Burson-Marsteller agency he helms got into hot water recently for promoting anti-Google propaganda on behalf of its new – and short-lived – client Facebook.
He kept his head down and rode out the storm in true Washington fashion, counting on other crises to come along and distract the mainstream media from doubts raised by the incident about ethics and poor practice at the WPP shop with the outstanding heritage.
In truth, he is probably right. And he spent the rest of the year basking in the reflected glory of perceived poor performance by other parts of the network's PR offer that cast his own firm's performance in a very positive light.
17. Dave Samson
GM of public affairs, Chevron
Dave Samson could not be getting much rest. Exorbitant gas prices remain a hot-button issue. A decision earlier this year by an Ecuadorian court that Chevron pay Amazon residents $8.6 billion for environmental damages – a ruling his company staunchly opposes after a 17-year legal battle – has tested him. And though the BP oil-spill story is more than a year old, no energy corporation, let alone one consistently in the top five of the Fortune 500, can allow those lessons learned to be forgotten.
Beyond specific crises, however, Samson's broad oversight and industry leadership is practically unrivaled in the in-house PR world. Corporate branding is his team's responsibility, as is the management of the company's global website, Chevron.com. He is also a former chair for the general committee on communications for the American Petroleum Institute, and is a member of the Institute for Public Relations' board of trustees, The Seminar, and the Arthur W. Page Society.
18. Katie Cotton
VP, worldwide corporate communications, Apple
Apple thrived this year despite more health problems for founder and communications icon Steve Jobs that resulted in him taking another sabbatical. He did make a brief reappearance recently to front the launch of iCloud, but the burden of driving Apple's communications has clearly fallen on the capable shoulders of his right-hand woman Katie Cotton, who has long been viewed as Jobs' "gatekeeper."
The Apple phenomenon is such that even when it made a snafu, which it did recently when a website went down unexpectedly, the public actually perceived it with excitement because they – rightly – viewed it as presaging a new product launch.
That's a powerful brand proposition, one Cotton has carefully cultivated while shunning mainstream communications techniques. As such, she merits a spot on this list – with or without her mentor.
19. Julie Hamp
SVP, CCO, PepsiCo
PepsiCo has placed great emphasis on nutrition and helping people live healthier lives. And much like the myriad products produced by the world's second-largest food and beverage company, that mandate is heavily visible in its messaging. As CCO, Julie Hamp sees to that.
However, Diet Coke surpassed Pepsi earlier this year as the second-most popular soft drink in the US, a new and unprecedented challenge for both the company and Hamp.
Fortunately, Hamp is a creative spirit who continues to adapt modern technology to a traditional appreciation of telling an impactful story. In 2010, she was a driving force behind Pepsi-Co's noteworthy decision to eschew Super Bowl ads in favor of its "Pepsi Refresh" CSR campaign. And she continues to be a social media champion, fueled by the belief that companies benefit greatly by using real consumer feedback obtained through digital channels to help inform decisions.
20. Clyde Tuggle
SVP, chief public affairs and communications officer, Coca-Cola
Three years ago, Clyde Tuggle relocated to Atlanta from his post as Coca-Cola's president of the Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus business unit to fill a void left by the retirement of the company's top communications pro Tom Mattia. A year later, he gained the SVP, chief public affairs and communications officer title. He reports to company chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent. Tuggle joined Coke's corporate communications department in 1989 and cut his teeth on global communications by moving around its international offices.
Coke has been number one on Interbrand's "Best Global Brands" list for the last 11 years. This year, it marks its 125th anniversary with an integrated, classic feel-good Coke marketing campaign. Yet, Tuggle's job is hardly easy. Questions raised about the potential of cancer-causing agents in soft drinks' caramel coloring will continue to challenge the iconic company's lead PR pro.
21. Bill Wohl
SVP and chief communications officer, HP
Bill Wohl kicked off 2011 by jumping into the lead communications post at HP, the world's largest tech company in terms of revenue, just months after its CEO Mark Hurd resigned amid allegations of falsified expenses and sexual harassment. New CEO Léo Apotheker, a former colleague of Wohl's at SAP, where he spent the last decade, praised the tech PR veteran's skills in strategy, crisis, M&A, product launches, and events.
Wohl reports directly to Apotheker, which will serve him well as the company continues to reorganize under new management.
22. Jack Martin
Global chairman and CEO, Hill & Knowlton
Last year, Jack Martin faced the choice of whether to coast gently into retirement and spend the millions of dollars he earned from the sale of the firm he cofounded – Public Strategies – to WPP, or rejoin the fray with renewed vigor and a wider purview. Having merged Public Strategies with sibling agency Hill & Knowlton, network boss Martin Sorrell charged Martin with revitalizing the legendary PR shop and turning it into a genuine global contender.
Months later and Martin is clocking up air miles around the globe far away from his native Texas, where he was honored in 2010 for services to the state, spreading the gospel of research-led strategic consultancy and counsel from a rock-solid digital base.
23. Adele Ambrose
Chief communications officer, Merck
Adele Ambrose, CCO at Merck, orchestrated the communications surrounding the $41 billion merger between the company and Schering-Plough. That merger made Merck number two in global pharmaceutical sales and doubled the size of Merck's communications department.
Ambrose's priorities include employee engagement, a new global CSR initiative, and developing improved external-facing corporate social media programs. She also helped refocus the pharmaceutical giant's message to go beyond just sharing information about its product pipeline to advancing Merck's corporate reputation with customers, government and healthcare professionals.
Prior to joining Merck in December 2007, Ambrose spent 20 years at AT&T.
24. Bridget Coffing
SVP of corporate relations, McDonald's
Bridget Coffing was recently named the head of global communications, a role she had been filling on an interim basis since Jack Daly passed away in January of this year. The 25-year McDonald's veteran will oversee corporate functions, such as media relations, marketing communications, PR, CSR, internal communications, and government relations. She now reports to CEO Jim Skinner, who at the time of her promotion called Coffing "an ideal leader to help shape strategic brand communications and strengthen efforts to make a difference as a corporate citizen."
Her reach extends into Ronald McDonald House Charities, sports and entertainment alliances, and worldwide consumer brand activities, including McDonald's FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games sponsorships.
Coffing joined McDonald's in 1985 from Golin/Harris, where she specialized in food and consumer marketing.
25. Ray Kotcher
The ubiquitous and avuncular presence of Ray Kotcher at industry events combined with Ketchum's deserved reputation for throwing the best PR parties masks a smart operator with steely determination who has led the Omnicom agency through sustained growth.
Kotcher has driven Ketchum's global expansion in recent years with aplomb, recognizing the opportunity for large network agencies to position themselves as professional services firms that cater to clients on a globally integrated basis, with emphasis on the growing BRIC economies. Even last December's reawakening of a decade-old dispute with Greenpeace about corporate espionage couldn't dampen the spirits of the recent first-time grandfather.
26. Joseph Evangelisti
Global director of corporate comms, JPMorgan Chase
Few in-house communicators have the ear and trust of their CEO like Joseph Evangelisti. In addition to being a valued advisor to Jamie Dimon, he has earned a reputation as a straight shooter with staffers, the C-suite, all external shareholders, and the media. That's a good thing when you head up communications for a corporation as scrutinized as JPMorgan Chase, not to mention working with a rather vocal chief executive.
Dimon has loudly griped about financial reform, taking his complaints straight to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in June. With the financial industry still trying to rebuild its reputation, comments like these present a continuous challenge to Evangelisti.
As a member of JPMorgan's Brand Marketing Council, he assumes a key role beyond handling crisis and outreach. And as an advisory board member at Columbia University's master of science in strategic communications program, he imparts his knowledge on tomorrow's PR pros, a sign of true leadership.
27. Ray Jordan
VP, public affairs and corporate communications, Johnson & Johnson
Ray Jordan has crafted an enviable career. He spent 17 years with Pfizer before joining Johnson & Johnson in 2003. Healthcare communicators are known as the more reticent of PR pros, but Jordan sheds that image as an active participant with groups such as the Arthur W. Page Society and Institute for Public Relations.
As the overseer of the $61.6 billion J&J's corporate image, he wields massive influence for a company with product lines that traverse healthcare marketing from hand lotion and Band-Aids to prescription drugs and medical devices and diagnostics. He was lauded for J&J's march onto the socialized Web, but faced significant challenges in recent months as it wades through a series of recalls.
28. Frank Shaw
Corporate vice president, corporate communications, Microsoft
Microsoft may have drifted out of the spotlight given the meteoric rise of new technology giants such as Google and Facebook, but the Bill Gates-founded software behemoth still remains a very significant player – albeit a more mature, elder-statesman type of player than its hungry innovator roots.
Comms chief Frank Shaw is approaching his second anniversary in the job and is one of several transplants from Microsoft's agency Waggener Edstrom Worldwide who has risen to senior in-house roles. He expertly managed the challenges around Gates moving on to run his foundation in such a way that it became a non-issue.
Everyone in tech is currently focused on "the cloud" and Shaw will be looking to influence perceptions of Microsoft's role in bringing assets together, innovating, and enabling its partners to transform their businesses.
29. D'Arcy Rudnay
SVP of corporate comms, Comcast
On January 11 of this year, Comcast officially acquired a majority stake in NBC Universal. Already the largest cable company in the US, this deal put Comcast in a new league in terms of its status in the media world. As its top communicator, the same can be said of D'Arcy Rudnay, who shapes messages for numerous customers, investors, the general public, and more than 100,000 employees.
The immediate and ongoing challenge facing Rudnay is to ward off critics who feel this merger could lead to a wave of content-distribution unions that don't serve consumers well. Few are better equipped than her to handle such backlash.
One of the most respected leaders in both PR and the cable world, Rudnay was a featured speaker at the Arthur W. Page Society's 2010 Annual Conference. She has also been named twice (2007 and 2010) among the "Most Powerful Women in Cable" by CableFax magazine.
30. Larry Solomon
SVP, corporate communications, AT&T
As the overseer of reputedly the largest PR budget in the US, Larry Solomon is undoubtedly a powerful player in the PR market. And AT&T still uses Fleishman-Hillard as its principal agency, the firm Solomon worked for prior to joining the telecoms giant.
Solomon is set for a busy year ahead with AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile US going through due diligence. It is also navigating the end of its sole distribution agreement for the iPhone and the resulting increased competition from Verizon.
31. Thomas Collamore
SVP, communications and strategy, counselor to the president, US Chamber of Commerce
The latter part of Thomas Collamore's title reflects his value to the top levels of his organization, the world's largest business federation, overseeing the interests of more than 3 million businesses, state and local chambers, and industry bodies.
The chamber is by far the biggest spender on lobbying activity and that gives Collamore quite a bit of clout to shake things up on the Hill. And as jobs remain a major concern, he is an integral force behind the Chamber's "Campaign for Free Enterprise," but he also emphasizes a message of innovation and how crucial it is to US companies' ability to compete with the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, with the Chamber set to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2012, branding has been added to Collamore's to-do list.
32. Olivier Fleurot
Sophisticated Frenchman Olivier Fleurot and his Publicis Groupe bosses have been on a buying spree over the last 12 months that has seen them acquire a slew of agencies, particularly in the digital space. It is all part of Publicis chairman and CEO Maurice Levy's stated aim to make the French-owned network a "human, all-digital group."
Fleurot is sometimes mentioned as a possible successor to Levy, who was talked out of retiring last year by the Publicis board. Fleurot's pedigree as a former CEO of the Financial Times Group and executive chairman of Publicis' ad operations emphasize his credentials, but he will need to continue to build the network's PR operations within MSLGroup into a genuine global player to convince the shareholders that he has the chops to take on the big shoes that Levy will vacate in due course.
33. Oscar Suris
EVP of corporate communications, Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo is one of the Big Four banks in the US. As such, it will always receive prominent attention, which makes Oscar Suris an important figure to watch. And with the fallout of the recession still ongoing, Suris will have plenty about which to communicate.
On June 9, the US Treasury Department announced it would withhold financial incentives from Wells Fargo (along with two other Big Four banks) for failing to take the required steps to prevent foreclosures under an Obama administration program. The company staunchly disagrees. Suris' purview is to craft the company message amid such volatility.
Where Suris excels is in his basic understanding of what his role entails. Earlier this year, he told PRWeek, "Customers want to see that we're the source of problem-solving, not of problems. We have a lot more work to do for our industry to regain public trust." With such candor, however, Suris is an excellent bet to be among the leading voices in achieving that goal.
34. Peter Thonis
Verizon was finally able to start getting a share of the lucrative iPhone telecommunications connection market in 2011 when AT&T's exclusive arrangement ended, thus starting a concerted communications war between the two carriers.
The high-profile telecoms company's head of communications Peter Thonis has been in the business for more than a quarter of a century, working on blue-chip brands such as IBM and GTE before joining Verizon. However, he still displays the passion and appetite for hard work that all of our Power Listers do, particularly in the burgeoning social media sphere that is so key to modern communications, especially for technology brands.
Thonis has received various industry accolades throughout his 25-year career, including the IABC Communicator of the Year Award in late 2010.
35. Margery Kraus
Founder and CEO, APCO Worldwide
A clutch of agencies have bought themselves out of their holding companies in the past year and each one mentions what Margery Kraus has done at APCO since she extricated herself from Grey Global in 2004 as the template they aspire to.
Since regaining independence for the firm she cofounded, Kraus has grown APCO from about 350 to more than 550 staffers, with commensurate revenue hikes as well. Kraus is one of two women whose firms rank in the top 12 of PRWeek's annual Agency Business Report, and she has done this in the hurly-burly world of Washington, DC, which is a testament to her skill, fortitude, and energy.
36. Selim Bingol
VP of global communications, General Motors
When America's top auto company (according to the Fortune 500) sought a communications leader last March, it dipped into the agency world to tap Selim Bingol from Fleishman-Hillard, where he worked on the GM account.
With GM being a front-runner in auto innovation – the Chevy Volt is the top-selling fuel-efficient compact car sold in the US – Bingol will have much to communicate about in the near future and beyond. The Volt's claiming of four major industry awards in 2011 (Motor Trend Car of the Year; Green Car of the Year; North American Car of the Year; and World Green Car of the Year) also speaks to the broad impact of his efforts.
Of course, there will always be some crisis or controversy Bingol has to deal with. The latest such case involves GM's CEO Dan Akerson calling for a gas-tax hike to cut US oil consumption. With gas prices where they are, this is certainly fodder for debate and a good test for Bingol's message-shaping acumen.
37. Christine Cea
Director, marketing communications, Unilever
With brands such as Dove, Axe, Lipton, and Suave under her purview, Christine Cea is a standard bearer of marcomms for American consumer packaged goods. She oversees PR, social media, and health and wellness marketing for dozens of brands at CPG giant Unilever, where she has held a leadership position since 2006.
A champion of social media's role in customer engagement, Cea has helped propel these venerable brands into the digital age. While providing communications counsel across Unilever's US portfolio of food and personal care products, she has vocally promoted the expertise of PR practitioners in managing social marketing.
"You must truly have two-way communication because it creates loyalty and advocacy that at the end of the day will help grow business," Cea told an audience at PRWeek NEXT.
Additionally, Cea serves on the board of directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, which advocates for the discipline within the greater marketing industry through education and other programs.
38. Zenia Mucha
EVP, corporate communications, The Walt Disney Company
Zenia Mucha's role as head of communications for The Walt Disney Company reaches across a diverse number of strategic global divisions, including media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, and consumer products. The company made various high-profile announcements in those areas in the last few months, including breaking ground in Shanghai on the first Disney theme park to be built in mainland China and selling its Miramax Films division to Filmyard Holdings for about $660 million in mid-2010.
Mucha joined the company in May 2002 as SVP, corporate communications. Prior to Disney, she held senior communications roles at ABC. She also has vast experience in politics, serving as senior policy advisor to former Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) and man-aging US Sen. Alfonse D'Amato's (R-NY) successful reelection campaigns in 1986 and 1992.
39. Ginger Hardage
SVP of culture and communications, Southwest Airlines
It might surprise some to learn that Southwest Airlines flew more domestic passengers in the US than any other airline in 2010 (according to US Transportation Department data). And that was before this past May, when it finalized its $1 billion deal to acquire AirTran, which increased Southwest's traffic by about 25%. Combine all those interested consumers with a leading brand in a highly scrutinized sector and you'll likely find a communicator whose message carries some weight.
In 2010, Ginger Hardage was honored as one of Texas' Most Powerful and Influential Women by Texas Diversity. Southwest's top-20 "best in class" ranking in a national corporate public affairs survey also validates her efforts.
The 30-year PR veteran describes leadership as such: "Communicating the mission, supporting your team with necessary resources, and getting out of their way so they can achieve great things."
40. Susan Kahn
SVP of communications, Target
The best retailers are able to adapt their goals to a changing marketplace. Target built its success on selling trendy fashion at affordable prices, but the big-box retailer needed to adjust its business plan as the marketplace changed and shift its message to focus more on a one-store-shopping experience. Making that kind of shift appear authentic and credible to "guests" and business partners is all about shaping communications effectively and that effort has been led by Susan Kahn, SVP of communications at Target.
Kahn joined Target in 1982 and is responsible for internal communications, PR, reputation management, and IR. In addition, she serves on the board of trustees of Minnesota Public Radio.
41. Mike Fernandez
Corporate VP, corporate affairs, Cargill
Having served as a keynote speaker at the 2010 Hispanic PR & Social Media Conference, Mike Fernandez has cemented a place as a leader in the Hispanic PR community –a role he accepts with great honor.
His professional affiliations include the Institute for Public Relations, where he is a co-chair, and the Arthur W. Page Society, where he serves on the board.
Slightly less than a year since he left State Farm to join Cargill, Fernandez has already left his imprint on a company that employs 131,000 people in 66 countries and produces and markets food, agricultural, financial, and industrial products and services. He was one of 14 featured speakers at this past June's National Summit on Strategic Communications, where he continues to champion the importance of multicultural outreach.
42. Carolyn Castel
VP of corporate communications, CVS Caremark
Carolyn Castel has been a key player in shaping CVS Caremark's message during some transformative years. The business has evolved from CVS, a top drugstore chain, to CVS Caremark, a pharmacy healthcare provider with nearly $100 billion in annual revenues and 200,000-plus employees. CVS Caremark also has extensive philanthropic programs that offer free vaccinations, investments in disaster relief, and support for the disabled.
Castel joined CVS in 2006 and leads efforts in corporate reputation, media relations, crisis planning and issues management, and CSR. Prior to CVS, Castel worked as an SVP, corporate and public affairs, for Edelman.Clearly Castel and her team's efforts to communicate a compelling corporate message have resonated with the business world – CVS Caremark ranked 30 on Forbes' 2011 Most Reputable Companies list.
43. Richard Sorian
Assistant secretary for public affairs, US Dept. of Health and Human Services
When he was nominated by President Obama for the post in March 2010, Richard Sorian delivered a three-page statement to bolster his candidacy. "Public affairs can play a key role in making sure critical reforms are implemented successfully," he said. "Helping people understand their rights and responsibilities is essential to success."
That philosophy will serve him well as healthcare reform remains top of mind to all Americans. In fact, through being charged with communicating to stakeholders and citizens the implications and changes connected to the new system, Sorian will be busy for the foreseeable future.
However, few are as equipped to handle this responsibility as Sorian. His career has been dedicated to explaining complex healthcare policy as a reporter, writer, government official, and researcher, so his ability to craft clear messages for the press and public alike is unquestioned.
44. Chris Graves
Global CEO, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide
Broadcasting veteran Chris Graves cuts a smooth and suave figure on his newly adopted PR stage, having crossed over in 2005 to take on the role of president and CEO of Ogilvy PR in the Asia-Pacific region before assuming the helm of the WPP agency's worldwide operations from veteran PR pro Marcia Silverman, one of the most respected figures in the industry, at the start of 2010.
His challenge then was to bring the rest of the network up to the excellent levels it continues to demonstrate in Asia, and it's fair to say this is still a work in progress.
However, with the axis of power in the marketing and communications industries steadily turning eastward, Graves has the knowledge and experience to exploit this opportunity fully in the coming years. He will certainly be counting on Ogilvy's US operations to up its game to similar levels in order to keep holding company boss Martin Sorrell happy.
45. Linda Schoumacher Rozett
VP of communications, American Petroleum Institute
Last year, the country's attention was transfixed on the Gulf of Mexico for an excruciating three months as oil company BP and the government worked to stop what soon became the largest oil spill in US history. The ongoing cleanup and resulting fallout severely wounded the petroleum industry's reputation.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) and its communications head Linda Schoumacher Rozett, who joined the trade group days before the BP oil rig exploded, utilized a crisis communications response that emphasized safety, but also the continued value of offshore oil and natural gas development.
Now, as gas prices near another two-year high and regulation threatens the industry as a whole, API implemented a series of "Rally for Jobs" to fight legislation. Rozett, who led communications for the US Chamber of Commerce for seven years beginning in 1999, is no stranger to Washington. That experience will serve her well as all eyes remain focused on the country's gas and oil policies.
46. Melissa Waggener Zorkin
CEO and president, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide
Seattle-based Waggener Edstrom draws heavily on its heritage supporting Microsoft, but cofounder Melissa Waggener Zorkin has ensured all its client eggs aren't in one basket.
Her alums are sprinkled liberally among blue-chip in-house operation such as Starbucks and Verizon, as well as Microsoft.
In growing their firm from the two of them in 1983 to more than 800 associates globally, Waggener Zorkin and partner Pam Edstrom have created a truly distinct working environment in which women are able to thrive and develop their careers to senior levels not seen at every large agency.
Her commitment to philanthropy also shines through in everything she does, making her a role model for all communicators.
47. Miles Nadal
Chairman, president, and CEO, MDC Partners
Miles Nadal kept his checkbook in his pocket a little more in 2011 than he did last year, when the entrepreneurial Canadian's MDC Partners operation went on a buying spree and acquired agencies including PR firms Allison & Partners, Sloane & Co, and Kwittken & Company, as well as experiential marketing shop Relevent.
An avid networker, Nadal is a member of the Marketing 50, Global 50, and G100, and says one of his golden rules is not to partner with someone you don't trust enough to make executor of your estate. At the Cannes Advertising Festival last year he challenged entrepreneurs to impress him enough to invest $1 million in the best start-up in return for a 51% stake in the business.
48. Sean Garrett
VP of communications, Twitter
Twitter's ubiquity and role in establishing the art of thinking in 140 characters in the mass consciousness of media-consuming publics around the world cannot be denied. However, it masks a handful of genuine challenges the mobile micro-messaging company faces on a business and organizational level as it attempts to turn its incredible popularity into sustainable revenues.
As the still relatively recently in-stalled face of its communications efforts, Sean Garrett deals with inquiries ranging from the ludicrous – dogs that tweet – to the ultra-serious – Twitter's role in the street protest in Egypt in January.
His egalitarian philosophy helped build a team that is now coping with the incredible flow of requests for interaction with the company and can finally get on the front foot in convincing stakeholders and investors that Twitter's leadership has the chops to turn the hype into a real business.
49. Suzanne DeFrancis
Chief public affairs officer, American Red Cross
Suzanne DeFrancis joined the American Red Cross as its chief public affairs officer in July 2007 to oversee all communications, government affairs, and public outreach. Her mother, a Red Cross volunteer during World War II who drove wounded soldiers to DC-area hospitals inspired her passion for the organization she works for today.
Prior to the Red Cross, DeFrancis was assistant secretary of public affairs for the US Department of Health and Human Services. She managed communications on issues including disaster preparedness and response, pandemic planning, and the rollout of the Medicare prescription drug benefit. She was also deputy assistant to the president for communications from 2002 to 2004. On the agency side she served as SVP and director of public affairs at Porter Novelli.
50. Gary Stockman
CEO, Porter Novelli
Want to annoy Gary Stockman? Start by suggesting that Porter Novelli is the "third string" in the Omnicom PR agency pantheon. While it may be third in terms of size and revenue after Fleishman-Hillard and Ketchum, Stockman is adamant that it can more than punch its weight in terms of the effectiveness of its work and the quality of its people.
Omnicom appeared to back Stockman in February when it bankrolled Porter Novelli's acquisition of the well-regarded West Coast tech firm Voce Communications, thus stemming persistent rumors over the past couple of years that the network was considering folding the agency into one of its larger siblings. Stockman will be looking to build on this vote of confidence over the next 12 months to prove that Porter Novelli can genuinely compete with the big global agency players.