10 people with the toughest jobs in communications

1 Lisa Marie Bongiovanni, corporate comms VP, Mattel
The upside is millions of kids will be spared harmful holiday gifts. But Mattel's next challenge is regaining the trust of skeptical, frightened parents. Happy New Year, indeed.

2 Anne Tyrrell, Blackwater spokeswoman
Tyrrell has been defending the company against grisly allegations with hard-charging PR phrases, like "stringent accountability." But even a newly softened logo can't solve the image woes of the Iraq war's most vilified contractor- though Halliburton was likely glad to pass along the torch.

3 Dana Perino, White House press secretary
With so much attention focused on next year's presidential election, the White House had perhaps its easiest year since the Iraq war started - though not by much. And with Scott McClellan's upcoming memoir guaranteed to stir up old controversies, Perino can expect to spend 2008 revisiting some of the administration's darkest days.

4 Rick Simon, corporate comms VP, Countrywide
Countrywide's dubious lending practices came to a screeching halt this year with the sub-prime market meltdown. But with government intervention on the way and a rebound in the company's stock price, at least the media coverage has shifted from "whoever thought this would be a good idea?" to fixing the debacle.

5 Dan Whiting, comms director for Larry Craig
Poor Whiting had to explain the most confusing political scandal of 2007: lewd allegations, a coy admission of guilt, followed by an abrupt backpedal. Whiting can take some solace knowing that Craig will probably not run for re-election, though he is tightly hanging on to that Senate seat.

6 Greg Aiello, spokesman, NFL
It's becoming impossible to play Michael Vick's criminal activity as an isolated incident. This year's shootings and ongoing arrests point to a larger problem within the league. Maybe giving those retired players health coverage would help the NFL with some much-needed positive press.

7 Leslie Sloane Zelnik, partner at BWR and spokesperson for Lindsay Lohan
Zelnik had her work cut out for her in a year where Lohan had more than one stint in rehab, an arrest for driving while intoxicated, and continuing family drama, making her
popular fodder for the tabloids.

8 Jason Wright, SVP of comms and public affairs, Merrill Lynch
Not even the world's largest brokerage firm can protect itself against an economic calamity - the SEC is investigating the firm for reasons related to its holdings of high-risk mortgage debt. At least Wright can say the company is cooperating fully.

9 Jonathan Supranowitz, VP of PR, New York Knicks
It's his second year on the list, and things have gotten worse for the franchise. From a sexual harassment trial and guilty verdict for GM Isaiah Thomas to numerous losses, Supranowitz is challenged with winning back disgruntled fans.

10 Monica Orbe, VP of corporate comms, BearStearns
While the Wall Street firm dealt with a monstrous hedge fund collapse, CEO James Cayne was reportedly off playing bridge and golf in Nashville, with no access to e-mail or cell phones. We pity the corp comms person who had to explain that absence to reporters.

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