This was my first time being involved in PRWeek's Power List, our annual listing of the industry's top executives. Another first is that this year's compilation has been expanded from 25 to 50. Experiencing how difficult it was to narrow this list down to 50, my hat goes off to those who had to cut it to just 25 in prior years.
There are18 familiar faces carried over from last year, including agency icons such as Richard Edelman and Harris Diamond, as well as leaders from the corporate world such as FedEx's Bill Margaritis and Procter & Gamble's Chris Hassall. It is tempting when doing these types of projects to make room for executives who work with companies that currently fill the headlines, such as Groupon, but no list would be worth its weight without giving due to thought-leaders who steer their businesses and lead their clients though many years of sustained growth. Edelman, Diamond, and Margaritis made the inaugural list in 2007. Odds are they will be on it for years to come.
For many years, the industry has trumpeted its seat at the table and its reach to the corner office. This year's list reflects that status. The majority of the corporate communications executives who made the list report directly to the CEO, a paradigm that is essential to both creating a communications effort that is integrated throughout a corporation and to moving specific business initiatives forward.
Power players on this year's list aim high and break the mold when it comes to choosing the most effective ways to elevate their brand. By partnering with a popular first lady, Walmart's Leslie Dach was able to skillfully dovetail the retailer's nutrition initiative with Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign.
Every individual on the Power List is a master at elevating a brand, but a few of this year's leaders go well beyond that role to shepherd their businesses through transformative times in their history. Merck's Adele Ambrose captained communications efforts through Merck and Schering-Plough's $41 billion merger. CVS' Carolyn Castel handled communications throughout the sea-change that transformed a retail drugstore into a pharmacy healthcare provider.
The list of 50 is indeed an elite group, but I know a few readers will undoubtedly slap their foreheads after reading it and say, "I can't believe they left so-and-so off the list." My response to that would have to be, "Well, you tell me who you would take off." I don't think it would be such an easy call to make.
Bernadette Casey is the senior editor of PRWeek. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.