Part trusted adviser, part street fighter, comms pros raise bar

The 2017 PRWeek Power List features a woman in the number one position for the first time -- Omnicom Public Relations Group's CEO Karen van Bergen.

The 2017 PRWeek Power List features a woman in the number one position for the first time — Omnicom Public Relations Group’s CEO Karen van Bergen.

That achievement reflects a pivotal role in a holding company advocating for PR and overseeing a $1.4 billion portfolio of agencies with the smarts born of working on the client side on high-profile assignments.

The list also portrays an industry that at the elite in-house level is demonstrating its value to the C-suite and beyond. And it reflects a sector that is evolving rapidly, with new entrants from the consulting, holding company, digital, and fast-growing midsize agency sectors.

Another first is the inclusion of two individuals from the same firm — Weber Shandwick’s Andy Polansky and Gail Heimann: recognition for an agency that achieved an unprecedented three-peat in 2017 as PRWeek’s U.S. and Global Agency of the Year.

It says a lot when business leaders such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GE CEO Jeff Immelt, Procter & Gamble chief brand officer Marc Pritchard, and Johnson & Johnson global CMO Alison Lewis step up and pay tribute to their heads of communication.

Barra praises GM SVP of global comms Tony Cervone for combining "leading-edge communication skills with top-notch business acumen to become a trusted adviser to the entire C-suite and beyond." Immelt says of working with VP and CCO Deirdre Latour: "A good communicator is invaluable. They must be a strategist, a coach, and a street fighter — in equal measure."

I can’t think of better testimonials for those exceptional individuals and for the PR profession overall.

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