PRWeek looks to initiate new PR discussions in debuting its new annual fixture, Who To Watch

In-house communicators often ask PRWeek for guidance on how other teams are structured or measure success. Agency leaders frequently say, "I don't know what goes on in other firms."

In-house communicators often ask PRWeek for guidance on how other teams are structured or measure success. Agency leaders frequently say, "I don't know what goes on in other firms."

The lack of competitive insights these statements reveal is puzzling and somewhat disingenuous, given the intelligence and relatively small size of the industry, as well as the plethora of organizations created to foster learning and dialogue - from PRSA to Arthur Page, from PR Seminar to the Council of PR Firms. But it is a fact that throughout the year, the question we will most often be asked from our contacts, from all types of organizations is, "Who are you hearing about?" PRWeek's Agency Excellence Survey, which debuted last year, is one way of getting to that, albeit solely offering the perspective of clients on their own firms. This week's Who to Watch feature, which will be an annual fixture in this issue, aims to let the reader in on which people, companies, and agencies have shown distinct signs in the past year of making significant strides, but who are set to have a defining year in 2005. The determination of these entities is, of necessity, made through a process of discussion and debate with the entire editorial team. Layers of perspective offered by our reporters and editors, including bureau chiefs representing four US regions, generated the final list. WPP is not, as one editor put it, a "quirky choice," nor is it an emerging entity, celebrating its 20th anniversary as it is this year. But it is setting an agenda for the next year that the entire industry should be mindful of, and is an intriguing story at multiple levels. Our only hesitation in selecting WPP was that it might appear precedent-setting - that a big company will naturally claim this spot each year. But that is most definitely not the case, as evidenced by the selection of Weber Shandwick president Andy Polansky as an honorable mention. Some will be disappointed they were not included, and ask how they can secure a place next year. As the reader can see, we do not intend to turn this feature into a laundry list of organizations and individuals simply to be inclusive, nor are we attempting to characterize anyone as the "best." It will continue to focus on a few that represent critical themes for the industry as a whole. That's not something you can pitch, nor is it something that anyone should focus on when engaging with PRWeek throughout the year. We do hope, however, that this feature might spark a new level of discussion about the direction of the industry as a whole. Next year, we will not only present a new slate, but review how well we did this year. I expect our opinionated and passionate readers will help us do that. Looking forward to 2005 PRWeek Awards PRWeek will next week publish the shortlist for the PRWeek Awards 2005. Jack Bergen, SVP at Siemens and chair of the judges, and I are preparing to judge the Campaign of the Year, which is chosen from the winners across categories. The dedication that he and all of this year's judges have shown is truly exceptional, especially given how busy things have been. Shortlisted companies should be proud they have triumphed in such a rigorous process.

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