Casey Kaplan wanted a job in PR so badly he offered to work for free. How could Phil Morabito, president of Houston's Pierpont Communications, turn down an offer like that?
Kaplan completed two internships at Pierpont in 1998 while attending Houston Baptist University, so Morabito was already well acquainted with the younger man's ambition. After graduation, Kaplan had left Texas for Boston and a summer internship at Greenberg, Seronick, O'Leary & Partners.
He also worked briefly as an assistant account executive for Porter Novelli Convergence Group, but soon returned to Texas and knocked on Pierpont's door. Morabito promised him a job when one opened up, and hired him full-time early last year.
It was a decision he has not regretted. Morabito calls Kaplan 'a lean, mean pitching machine. Casey demonstrated then the kind of dedication and tenacity he applies to his client work today,' he says.
In his first year on the job, Kaplan developed an analyst tour template for technology clients. The process sets a framework for face-to-face meetings, client coaching, briefing booklets and analyst follow-ups. Kaplan even taught in-house professional development workshops on media relations and story pitching.
Kaplan's pitches are already legendary. One garnered accolades on PRWeek's diary page, as well as mentions in The Wall Street Journal, The Industry Standard and other publications. A firm believer in the power of strong e-mail subject lines, the story came about after Kaplan sent out a message to financial and technology trades titled '100,000 Pounds of Beef Lungs on Sale at Salvage-Sale.com.' The Internet start-up sells commercial salvage online, and creative ideas like this earned Kaplan the kind of respect from the company's CEO not often afforded recent graduates.
Other accounts Kaplan serves include Penta-Safe Security Technologies, a network security management firm, and World-Oil.com, an oilfield services equipment procurement portal.
Kaplan thinks fearlessness is one key to success. 'The scariest thing for young pros isn't pitching the toughest reporter out there, it's offering strategy and counsel to clients,' he says.
'To do it well, you must believe in yourself and your abilities.'
Kaplan eagerly volunteers for community and professional activities.
He is a founding member and vice-president of the YoungGuns program developed by Houston's chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.
He also is an active member of 'ebuddies,' an e-mail pen-pal program for physically and mentally handicapped young people.
Executives at Pierpont describe Kaplan as a dedicated, hungry, self-starting team player who takes responsibility and makes things happen. 'Pierpont is thrilled that Casey came home to us,' Morabito says.
Morgan Marzec - Matha MacDonald
Morgan Marzec has spent her first two years in PR helping a company that makes big trucks move its corporate culture down the right road. Marzec joined Chicago's Matha MacDonald in March 1999 and was assigned to help International Truck and Engine (formerly Navistar) with internal branding and communications. She served as chief of staff for the company's new VP of branding, increased participation in employee surveys and assisted with an audit saving International dollars 1.4 million annually in dealer communication costs. When not driving corporate change, Marzec writes poetry, paints and plays guitar. She earned a liberal arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College in 1998 and is writing a book about her experiences caring for a family member who died of AIDS.
Winner 2000: Larry Barrios of the MWW Group for his work publicizing the 1999 National Conference on Women and HIV
Open to PR professionals who entered the profession no earlier than November 1, 1997, this category's nominees are judged on achievement in handling clients or dealing with senior staff, in developing PR strategy, and in business savvy, creativity, knowledge of PR tactics and contribution to business objectives.
- Elyse Blazey - Athlon Communications
- Jeff Olson - Fleishman-Hillard
- Morgan Marzec- Matha MacDonald
- DeAllous Smith - Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport
- Casey Kaplan - Pierpont Communications
- Sabine Heller - UGO Networks
Magnet Communications is proud to sponsor PR Week's Young PR Professional of the Year Award. A full-service communications company specializing in public relations, investor relations, and meetings and events, Magnet Communications is committed to attracting and developing the next generation of PR professionals. We have created one of the best work environments in the business. Our people-centric culture fosters fun and freedom of expression while providing a comprehensive training program and the support needed for employees to grow and develop personally and professionally. As a result, Magnet is able to attract great people. Great people achieve great results, and great results attract great clients.