Consider this time last year.
You will see that a great deal has happened to and within the PR industry during the past 12 months. This year's Book of Lists is a somewhat cheeky chronicle of the highs and lows during a remarkable period for the industry.
Among the most interesting changes to have taken place during the past year is the way in which PR is now covered in the mainstream media. Perhaps the new era of scrutiny began with Armstrong Williams, or maybe it has been incubating for some time. But the fact remains that those who have long maintained that PR is an ignored discipline have been proven woefully wrong. If there is some good to come out of all the ethical questions that have been raised in the past year, it is that PR's power and presence is blindingly apparent, even to the industry's harshest critics.
But some stories about the industry tell a very different tale about the heart and soul of this profession. Many people find ways to use their skills, contacts, and strategic powers for work beyond their companies and clients. Following are some of the profession's brightest stars, who have committed their time and energy to worthwhile endeavors, while still keeping their day jobs.
1. John Deveney, Deveney Communications. Many got to know the head of this New Orleans-based firm when the PRSA hosted its annual conference in his city. But when he and his firm's staff were evacuated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Deveney became the tangible link to this horrific disaster for many in the industry. Now Deveney is back, and his firm is working with the city of New Orleans, as well as the state, to bring tourists and business back to the area.
2. Eric Yaverbaum, Jericho Communications. Yaverbaum launched a campaign called "Walk a Mile in My Shoes," an effort to convince President Bush to reconsider his position on public funding of stem-cell research. The initiative was inspired by Yaverbaum's wife, who has multiple sclerosis, and focuses on the caretakers of the sick or disabled, asking them to send a pair of old shoes to show support for the cause.
3. Ogilvy's New York office. When a colleague was felled by a mysterious ailment and needed an urgent liver transplant, the Ogilvy team mobilized to get her story out to the media, hoping to increase her chances of finding an organ - which we're happy to report she did. Though their efforts were not without controversy, their motives were honorable and their work no doubt helped increase awareness of organ donation shortages.
4. Gloria Dittus, Dittus Communications. In the aftermath of Katrina, Dittus chartered a bus and drove 21 hours to Louisiana with four staff members and several medical professionals. The team worked with The Home Depot, grocery-store chain Harris Teeter, and others companies to transport 8,000 pounds of supplies on the trip. Dittus also hosted a hurricane fundraiser at her home in September.
There are undoubtedly many more inspiring professionals out there, but these will hopefully serve as a useful reminder that some gifts should be shared with more than just our companies and clients.
Happy Holidays. See you all in 2006.