PR Professional of the Year 2002

Judges looked for outstanding personal achievement in the PR industry, with a focus on the period covered by the award.

Winner
Mike Holtzman, SVP public affairs, Weber Shandwick Worldwide

What a year in this PR professional's career. Not only was he the brain behind Beijing's successful bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, but he was also seconded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and played a major role in devising its response to the September 11 attacks.

This WSW employee moved metaphoric mountains for his client, the Beijing Olympic Bid Committee, which had never put a foreign PR team in charge of its reputation. In the midst of the campaign, a range of potentially fatal news stories broke. The Falun Gong protests, the Wen Ho Lee case, the anniversary of Tiananmen Square, and the US ?spy plane? incident all threatened to derail the bid. Holtzman, however, kept his head and brought in top level opinion formers to help argue the case for China and persuade the judges that Beijing should be host city to the 2008 Games.

The Beijing win is not the only reason why our judges selected Holtzman as the PR professional of the year. They also recognized other global account wins, including work with the Qatari government to promote the historic establishment of a branch of Cornell University in the Middle East. He also led successful pitches to the Houston Olympic Committee and companies such as Broadwing, Benfield, and Evonyx and Invest, based in Sweden.

Holtzman was not all business last year, as he played his part in assisting
FEMA with media relations at Ground Zero. Holtzman's links with the agency go back to the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 when he was the main US congressional liaison. Holtzman's diplomatic skills were honed in roles such as press secretary to the Council on Foreign Relations, and special advisor to US Trade Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky.

During 2001, Holtzman brought in $3 million worth of new business, and helped WSW's own marketing by organizing a series of speeches by prominent world leaders for clients and prospects. Among the speakers were the Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon, historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and former US Commerce Secretary Peter Peterson.

No PR pro, said one judge, can claim to have effected greater change in 2002 than Mike Holtzman.

Honorable Mention
Sabrina Horn, president and CEO, Horn Group

The test of a good businessperson is how they manage in the bad times as well as the good. While everyone else was cutting back on costs in every conceivable way, the Horn Group was flying its employees (and their partners) to Hawaii to celebrate ten years in business. Her firm has recorded one of the lowest turnover rates in the business. She has worked hard to make it an agency where people want to stay. While revenues remained flat, the firm maintained every benefit program, including profit sharing, bonuses and raises for all employees. Horn was also selected one of the top US female PR CEOs by PRWeek. She feels that PR professionals have a responsibility to help businesses get back on their feet.

Finalists 2002
Amanda Mellinger: Text 100 Public Relations

Laura Moore: RadioShack Corporation

Michael Spataro: Weber Shandwick Worldwide

Mike Holtzman: Weber Shandwick Worldwide

Sabrina Horn: Horn Group

Sponsored by News Broadcast Network
News Broadcast Network is the originator of broadcast media distribution services for the PR industry. NBN services include production and distribution of video and radio news releases, radio and satellite media tours; and production and distribution of PSAs for radio and TV, corporate videos and internet broadcasts. NBN is the only company with VNR distribution through CBS News Path, CONUS and FOX News Edge. The company has offices in New York, Chicago, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Milwaukee, and Fairfield County, CT.

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