PR WEEK AWARDS 2001: Personality - PR Professional of the Year 2001. Sponsored by News Broadcast Network




John D. Graham - chairman and CEO, Fleishman-Hillard Communications Consulting Worldwide

Last year under John Graham's brilliant leadership, it all came together for Fleishman-Hillard. PRWeek's 2000 rankings proclaimed Fleishman the largest firm in the US. And a lightning series of hi-tech acquisitions at the start of 2000, coupled with organic growth of 35%, means there's no sign that he will let go of the No 1 spot easily.

It's been a long but rewarding climb for Graham and Fleishman. And it's been done with class. The rise from prominence to pre-eminence in an industry is often accomplished by jettisoning the most important values in the quest for success.

But Fleishman-Hillard has succeeded because Graham has never let himself, his agency or his clients forget its core values of service, respect and integrity.

Graham has infused Fleishman with a culture of creativity, teamwork and entrepreneurship that employees appreciate. At a time in corporate America when loyalty is a precious commodity, Fleishman has managed to retain senior managers and fill key positions by promoting from within.

'John possesses one of the best CEO characteristics - the ability to attract and keep highly talented people. The continuity of talent at Fleishman-Hillard is unparalleled in the agency world,' says Elliott Schreiber, managing partner of Digital 4sight.

But the edge comes not just from having talented individuals but Graham's insistence on promoting teamwork. His commitment to client service extends throughout Fleishman's network. In the 2000 Harris/Impulse survey, Fleishman topped the industry in quality reputation for an unprecedented eighth successive years. The firm also won nine PRSA Silver Anvils.

Graham retains a zest for the PR business itself - he reserves 30% of his time for clients. 'I'm still active in servicing clients because I love crisis and corporate strategy situations,' he says. 'It's an opportunity to really make a difference in what you do.'

Nor has Graham forgotten the importance of staying true to what he knows to be right. A recent high-profile example was his firm's daring but dignified resignation last September of its Bridgestone/Firestone account because the embattled tiremaker refused to listen to the agency's counsel. Graham fully supported the decision, despite the loss of an account worth millions.

With intense demands on his time, Graham makes sure he and his firm give back to the PR industry and society. Graham donates his time to the United Way, Boy Scouts of America and American Cancer Society, while spearheading Fleishman-Hillard 's own multimillion-dollar effort to assist charitable organizations throughout the world by providing contributions and pro bono services.

The list of superlatives bestowed on Graham grows in tandem with his personal accolades as a businessman and PR professional. This award is a fitting addition to the legacy.


Bob Seltzer - Chairman and CEO, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

Statistics tell a big part of the Ogilvy story since Bob Seltzer became CEO in mid-1997. The agency has tripled in size, and it moved into the top ten industry rankings by 1999. The agency's growth has been wise as well as quick. Ogilvy retained 23 of its 25 largest clients while at the same time helping newly acquired units such as Alexander Ogilvy and Feinstein Kean experience greater growth themselves. Marcia Silverman, Ogilvy's president of the Americas, credits Seltzer with having 'reinvented' Ogilvy by 'breaking down silos and nurturing a sense of one company with a shared vision.'


Ken Sternad - Vice President of Corporate Public Relations, United Parcel Service

In mid-1997 the UPS name evoked the same word as its brown uniforms - mud. A paralyzing strike was thought to have done irrevocable damage to the 90-year-old company. But Sternad, a 24-year UPS vet, helped engineer a remarkable reputation turnaround. The company reached out to tech analysts to position itself as a technological innovator in package transportation, and highlighted its commitment to Welfare-to-Work programs, resulting in its inclusion in Fortune's '50 Best Companies for Minorities.' In 1999 Business Week named CEO Jim Kelly one of the nation's Top 25 Managers, and Forbes selected UPS its 'Company of the Year.' And in the coup de grace, UPS sailed through a successful IPO in November 1999.

Winner 2000: Harris Diamond - BSMG Worldwide

The Award

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

Finalists 2001

- John D. Graham - Fleishman-Hillard

- Bob Druckenmiller - Porter-Novelli

- Bob Seltzer - Ogilvy

- Louis Capozzi - Manning, Selvage & Lee

- Ken Sternad - United Parcel Service

- Jonelle Birney - Blanc & Otus/Hill & Knowlton


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