VP, MWW Group
Joe Cohen began his career with MWW Group as an entry-level account coordinator seven years ago and has made his way up to VP. His secret is no secret at all: he works hard.
"Joe is the perfect combination of skill, perseverance, and work ethic," says Michael Kempner, MWW Group president and CEO. "Every client says, ‘He's the hardest working person in PR.'"
Cohen can give thanks to chance as well. Early on, he was chosen to be Kempner's publicist and says he "learned a tremendous amount watching him in action."
After being on the job for about a year, and with all of the senior executives out of the office, Cohen was responsible for the media outreach for a major client's press conference… taking place in three days. He and a co-worker lived in the office until the job was complete.
"Fortunately, I was presented with opportunities, and I became vested in the success of the company and the success of my clients," says Cohen.
Today, much of his energy is focused on integrated marketing, and his clients include The Palm Restaurants, Bally Total Fitness, and Sara Lee. He has also become someone that others can learn from.
"Some of our best employees [come from] Joe's leadership and mentoring," says Kempner.
Before stepping into the world of PR, Cohen had plans to work in broadcast journalism. While he was a student at Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communication, he applied for a job at MWW after seeing an opening in a career newsletter.
"The work seemed fun and exciting," says Cohen. "I came in with the perspective of what goes on in a newsroom and that gave me an edge in my contact with the media."
Not all of his work is fun. In the winter of 2001, Cohen was working with a major airline client that was grounded by a storm. No flights were moving in or out of Newark Airport. People were stranded and the airline needed to talk about the status of both delayed flights and the flights that were due to arrive.
With negative circumstances like this, companies may be reluctant to face the media.
"It was an opportunity to use crisis communications to let the media know about the good programs that the airline had been using to accommodate its passengers, and let the families of the passengers know that they were safe and being taken care of," says Cohen. "The media is going to have a story to tell and it is crucial that you are able to tell your side of the story."
Fortunately, not everything about the job has been about managing a bad situation. Kempner likes to tell the story of how Cohen got a Marvel artist to draw Spider-Man on the wall at client The Palm restaurant, in time for the comic character's anniversary. Cohen's infective charm eventually led the artist to include the restaurant and its general manager in an issue of the comic book.
"He goes the extra mile for them, so they go the extra two for him," says Kempner.