Decades of experience aren't a requirement for success in the PR industry. PRWeek profiles 40 professionals, nominated by colleagues, who have already made significant contributions to their agencies, clients, and organizations.
EVP, global director of digital strategy and social media, Porter Novelli, 39
At Porter Novelli, Stephanie Agresta has built a team of social and digital media experts and strategists and driven initiatives for many high-profile clients, including Microsoft, PepsiCo, Hewlett-Packard, and Procter & Gamble. Agresta has also established strategic partnerships with Twestival, Internet Week, and Social Media Week, and was behind the effort that helped the firm win a digital AOR task from Bel Brands. In 2008, she launched "Bloggers Lounge," a networking hub for digital media influencers and cofounded "The TechSet," a networking brand. Agresta began her career at iVillage.com. She ran her own digital media and marketing consultancy before joining Porter Novelli.
John Forrest Ales
Director, global brand PR, Hilton Hotels, 30
John Forrest Ales has already shaped communications approaches for a range of consumer brands, including Taco Bell, Epson, and Chevron. In his current role at Hilton Hotels, he leads the communications strategy for the group's chain of more than 530 hotels across six continents. Prior to his work with Hilton, Ales led the PR strategy for the reopening of the Louisiana Superdome following Hurricane Katrina. He also developed Louisiana's first emergency preparedness and recovery information website. Previously, Ales worked for Wal-Mart in Southern California, where he managed community relations and brand reputation.
VP, Singer Associates, 38
A former political aide, Jason Barnett has worked as a leading strategist and policy influencer across several sectors, including land use development, green energy, and US labor issues. In his current role, Barnett provides strategic direction to a diverse set of clients, among them Chevron, Lennar, Calpine, and Big Lagoon Rancheria Indian Tribe. Among Barnett's accomplishments was his strategic role in the $4 billion redevelopment of a former naval shipyard in San Francisco into a mixed-use housing community. In addition, his work with Calpine led to the company getting approval to build the US' first power plant with a federal limit on greenhouse gas emissions.
SVP, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, 35
Since joining Waggener Edstrom nine years ago, Dawn Beauparlant has worked on its Microsoft account in a variety of roles. She currently manages Microsoft's corporate communications department and previously led its server and tools and developer relations businesses. Regarded by peers and colleagues as a consummate storyteller, Beauparlant managed the communications process for Bill Gates' transition from day-to-day Microsoft leader to his post at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In addition to her Microsoft work, Beauparlant has played a key role in shaping WE's viewpoint on the evolving influence model and has even led industry panel discussions on the topic.
VP, social media strategy, Ketchum, 29
In his four years with Ketchum, Jonathan Bellinger has risen through the ranks from junior account team member to running the agency's US interactive strategies group. His innate understanding of Web culture and the online landscape helped secure some of the firm's largest new business wins last year, including Philips, H&R Block, and Friskies. Bellinger also helps many Ketchum clients capitalize on organic Web conversations, memes, and trends. As an avid gamer, blogger, and member of online communities, Bellinger's passion for the Web extends to most of his life – but he does allow some offline time to write music and play in a band.
COO and partner, Peppercom Strategic Communications, 35
Ted Birkhahn became Peppercom's first COO last year after working his way up from account executive over 11 years. In his current role, he manages more than $3 million of the firm's business, which includes one of its largest accounts, Ernst & Young. Birkhahn is also credited with winning $1 million of new business revenue for the firm last year. In addition to managing the New York office, Birkhahn also created and runs Peppercom's global partner network, a group of 25 affiliate firms across 20 countries. Outside of his day job, Birkhahn sits on the board of Youth About Business, a nonprofit corporation that provides leadership training to youth in underserved communities.
MD, New York corporate and public affairs division, Edelman, 38
Since Justin Blake took over Edelman's 160-person corporate and public affairs division in New York two years ago, the group has doubled its profits and grown by almost 20%. Under Blake's leadership, the practice brings together a diverse range of professionals to solve clients' problems, including experts in corporate, green, financial, technology and crisis. A proud native New Yorker, Blake worked on the Lower Manhattan Public Information Campaign in the aftermath of 9/11, which won several industry awards. Blake also represents the World Economic Forum and is a Young Leader of the BMW foundation and Milken Institute.
SVP, director of issues and crisis management, MS&L, 38
At MS&L, David Chamberlin leads a multi-office account team responsible for developing strategy in employee communications, product marketing, branding, government relations, corporate and financial communications, sales, and social media for clients that include Citi, Samsung, and Heineken. His 15 years in PR, with stints in several industries, are strewn with highlights. At Edelman, he led the team responsible for Advanced Medical Optics' 13-country recall of 2.9 million units of eye-care solution in Asia-Pacific in 2006. At Nortel Networks, Chamberlin drove the communications strategy for its largest ever growth period.
Deputy director of communications and manager of digital strategy, Business Roundtable, 35
In his three years at Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs from leading US companies, Joe Crea has led the communications transformation from a traditional top-down approach to one that uses social media to reach stakeholders. As well as driving its digital presence, Crea also launched its first online ad campaign. He also contributed to a media plan that established Business Roundtable as a leading voice in the healthcare debate. A former journalist, Crea keeps his reporting expertise in check by contributing regularly to the DC blogging community and his own food blog, Passion Fruits. Crea also uses the blogosphere to host and raise awareness of charity fundraisers.
MD, US consumer marketing practice, MD/EVP, Chicago, Edelman, 38
Caroline Dettman joined Edelman in 1997 as an account supervisor. Over the next 11 years, she was the force behind several award-winning launches and significant business expansion, which led to her appointment as MD of Edelman Chicago. Recognized as a strategic counselor and creative thinker, in her current role Dettman oversees a $93 million portfolio of blue-chip consumer brand clients including Unilever, Xbox, Jim Beam, and Quaker. She has helped build the consumer practice to 45% of the agency's business, the largest practice in the firm. After being appointed GM of the Chicago office in 2005, she has helped to expand the business 105% over the past four years.
Director, social media marketing and strategy, business communications, National Hockey League, 38
Michael DiLorenzo's background in sports and technology PR, coupled with his entrepreneurial spirit, has proved an excellent foundation to propel the National Hockey League's Web presence. Since joining the NHL in 2008, DiLorenzo has expanded the league's reach on social networks from a zero base to almost 1 million. Last year, he spearheaded the NHL's tweetup around the Stanley Cup playoffs, which resulted in more than 1,200 participants in 23 cities. DiLorenzo has also been an active public speaker on social media issues at such events as TWTRCON, Social Media Week, and Social Media + Communications 2.0 Strategies.
Director, Emanate, 31
Before she turned 30, Katherine Ducker had been named Emanate's youngest VP and director and played a leading role on two of Emanate's and parent company Ketchum's largest clients, FedEx and Bank of America. As one of Emanate's founding members, Ducker has helped expand the firm across four offices and generate double-digit growth for four consecutive years. In her current role, leading the bank's corporate positioning and reputation work, her team has received the company's highest client satisfaction score three years running. In fact, she moved to the Los Angeles office in late 2008 to lead the launch of Bank of America's home loans after it purchased Countrywide.
President of APCO Insight, APCO Worldwide, 37
During his 11 years with APCO, Bryan Dumont has been a driving force in building the firm's research division, APCO Insight, into a multimillion-dollar part of the agency's business. With a reputation for outstanding client service, Dumont has managed global opinion research programs for such leading brands as Hewlett-Packard. Dumont's work is focused on linking corporate reputation to tangible business outcomes and he has developed APCO's "Reputation Insight" and "Emotional Linking" tools. He most recently developed the Return on Reputation Indicator – a device that measures the impact reputation has in driving business success, focusing on the retail sector.
Global CCO, Euro RSCG Worldwide, EVP, Euro RSCG PR, 33
Hailed by his peers as a PR trailblazer, Eric Edge, just 32 at the time, was named global chief communications officer for Euro RSCG Worldwide after spending only two years as Euro RSCG director of communications in Chicago. Edge is committed to promoting the agency's belief that social responsibility is at the core of business success. Earlier this year, he led the communications effort for the first One Young World summit. He was also a key member of the team that ran the hugely successful TckTckTck campaign – Kofi Annan's global campaign for climate justice. Out-side of work, Edge is a committed volunteer and works with children and animal organizations.
Director, corporate relations and media, Union Pacific Railroad, 36
Raquel Espinoza is Union Pacific's primary media spokesperson in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. In addition, as primary Spanish-language spokesperson for the company, she has established stronger relationships with Hispanic-focused media. Prior to Union Pacific, Espinoza held PR posts across companies in the healthcare sector, including Shriners Hospital for Children in Houston. Espinoza is also committed to giving back to her community. She is involved with several volunteer organizations, including Operation Lifesaver, a public information program aimed at educating people about rail safety, and a drug prevention program aimed at young people.
SVP/director, New York consumer group, MWW Group, 37
Cheryll Forsatz has used her career to build up expertise in consumer lifestyle marketing. She has extensive big brand experience including McDonald's, 1-800-Flowers, and ING Direct. During her 13 years at MWW, Forsatz led communications on several key McDonald's initiatives, including the launch of McCafé. She also oversaw the opening of its flagship restaurant at Times Square and leads the "VIP Moms" initiative to strengthen brand trust. Over the past year, Forsatz has built the firm's consumer practice in New York and an entertainment portfolio that includes such assignments as Alicia Keys' "Keep a Child Alive" and Usher's New Look youth empowerment charity.
President, COO, CooperKatz & Company, 39
Anne Green joined CooperKatz shortly after it opened in 1996 and, as her repeated promotions testify, she quickly established herself as the firm's rising star. Throughout her career, Green has displayed an exceptional ability to extensively learn about her clients' vastly different subject matters, ranging from bioinformatics/cheminformatics for Oxford Molecula to financial services for TowerGroup to the wireless industry for Virgin Mobile USA. She also led the creation of the firm's social media practice, Cogence, which has developed creative viral campaigns for MSN, Coldwell Banker, and Polar. A respected mentor and manager, Green is a regular public speaker on PR and social media.
VP, worldwide communications, Salesforce.com, 35
Since joining Salesforce.com eight years ago, Jane Hynes has led the company from a start-up through its IPO to the $1.3 billion company that it is today. Hynes has guided the company through several acquisitions and also built Salesforce.com's global communications operations, which has involved implementing PR and analyst relations teams across the globe. Using the company's own technology, Hynes created PRforce, a best practice for PR infrastructure and communications that allows companies to manage multiple agencies efficiently. She also leads volunteer activities for a family support shelter as part of the company's philanthropic efforts.
Communications director, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 31
In three years with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Gina Ivey has established and driven its multicultural communications initiative. Her efforts have exposed the philanthropic organization to more than 41 million people and led to strong relationships and partnerships with black and Hispanic communities. Ivey has also been pivotal in the creation of the foundation's multicultural newsroom, a service that provides ethnic media with relevant healthcare information. Prior to the foundation, Ivey worked at GYMR, a DC-based PR agency where she led grassroots campaigns for clients such as the American Diabetes Association and the American Legacy Foundation.
Senior director, global immunology, pharmaceutical comms, and public affairs, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Services, 36
At Johnson & Johnson, Brian Kenney has initiated several consumer initiatives that have pushed boundaries in the often-risk-averse healthcare environment. His achievements at J&J include the launch of Innerstate, a documentary featuring patients with autoimmune diseases, and New Way RA, an online talk show that provides support for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. While at J&J's Centocor division, he led the company's first product launches in a decade. In his current role, Kenney has overseen J&J's global alignment across marketing partnerships with Merck and Janssen-Cilag.
President/managing partner, Lambert, Edwards & Associates, 38
From humble beginnings in his basement in 1998, Jeffrey Lambert has built Lambert, Edwards & Associates to a top five Midwest-based firm with 100-plus clients across 20 states and five countries. In 2005, Lambert bought out cofounder Brian Edwards and assumed sole leadership. Since its inception, the firm has posted 11 consecutive years of record sales and earnings. Its 2009 billings were $5.7 million. Lambert has also helped expand the agency's capabilities, adding environmental/sustainability and brand communications specialties. His entrepreneurial spirit runs in tandem with his commitment to community involvement and he mandates pro-bono work to all of his staff.
Director, PR and marketing services, GE, 37
Over the past two years, Deirdre Latour has played a key role in improving the perception of GE with multiple stakeholders, including the press, social media communities, government agencies, and academics. Despite pessimistic press surrounding GE's financial performance, Latour's efforts have resulted in a drop in negative coverage – from 50% in fall 2008 to 5% in spring 2010. Her key accomplishments include "Energy Smart Miami," an initiative aimed at saving consumers money. Latour was also involved with "healthymagination," the company's approach to changing healthcare around the world. Outside work, Latour volunteers with the Special Olympics and Best Buddies.
President, global digital media practice leader, Cohn & Wolfe, 39
Despite being in his role for less than a year, Chad Latz has already accelerated the growth of Cohn & Wolfe's global digital media practice, which represents some of the biggest brands in the world, including Wal-Mart, MasterCard, and Nike. Latz has also been key in landing several new accounts, including Lincoln Financial. He has advanced C&W's own digital strategy, which has expanded its social media presence. Latz previously spent 10 years at Ketchum, where he founded Ketchum Interactive and helped establish Ketchum Digital. Prior to Ketchum, he founded the creative design and tech practice of Stromberg Consulting & Communications, which Ketchum acquired in 2004.
Deputy MD, Ruder Finn West, 34
In her 10 years with Ruder Finn, Rose Maciejewski has risen from account executive to her current position, where she manages the West Coast offices and directs strategic communications programs for Demand Media, Napster, Evite, and StubHub. As part of her work with Demand Media, Maciejewski oversaw the successful 2008 launch of livestrong.com, for which she scored several high-profile broadcast and print placements. In addition to her hands-on client work, Maciejewski started the agency's training program, which encourages staff to think like clients, anticipate their needs, and deliver outstanding results.
Consultant, Gagen MacDonald, 34
Morgan Marzec joined Gagen MacDonald six months after it opened and over the past 11 years her creative approach to business challenges has created multiple award-winning programs. Able to excel at every level of a company, Marzec has led several clients through sensitive employee engagement campaigns, one of which resulted in $229 million in cost savings. As part of the executive management team, she helped broaden the firm's capabilities in reputation management, strategic planning, and operational turnaround. She is also one of 20 PR pros chosen to take part in the Arthur W. Page Society's inaugural Future Leaders Experience, a two-year program to prepare future CCOs.
Stanislas Neve de Mevergnies
Partner, Brunswick Group, 35
Stanislas Neve de Mevergnies has become one of the youngest partners at Brunswick Group by successfully managing some of the world's biggest M&As. Career highlights include Delta's acquisition of Northwest ($3.6 billion), the combination of Interbrew and AmBev ($11.4 billion), and the pending acquisition of Millipore Corporation by Merck ($7.2 billion). In recent years, he has helped clients with financial communications related to shareholder activism, hostile bids, and proxy fights. Since relocating to the US from London in 2001, he has helped expand the agency's presence from 12 employees in one New York office to 89 staffers in three markets.
Valerie Banks O'Neil
VP, global partner communications and engagement, Starbucks, 39
Since starting at Starbucks in 2006, Valerie Banks O'Neil has worked on creating a unified voice for the company as it navigated its way through various transformations. These changes have included Starbucks' founder Howard Schultz's return as CEO and president, the company's first store closures and workforce reductions, the launch of Pike's Place Roast and VIA Ready Brew, and key international market expansions. In her current role, O'Neil is focused on enhancing communications and engagement with Starbucks' partners/employees across the globe. She is also active in the company's mentorship program, PRSA, and the Junior League of Seattle.
Diana Littman Paige
MD, practice leader MMC Health and Well-Being, Marina Maher Communications, 33
Since joining Marina Maher Communications as SVP in 2007, Diana Littman Paige has merged her healthcare insight with the agency's consumer marketing expertise to help build the agency's well-being business. Thanks to her leadership, one of the agency's key clients, Kimberly-Clark, this year received national attention for its Poise and Kotex campaigns. As testament to her success, she has been promoted three times in the past 12 months. Previously, Paige worked at Cohn & Wolfe, where she was appointed SVP at 28. She is a member of New York Women in Communications, PRSA, Healthcare Businesswomen's Association, and Step Up Women's Network.
VP and CCO, Ally Financial, 38
Gina Proia was just 37 when she was named VP and CCO of GMAC (recently rebranded as Ally Financial), a company that represents more than $172 billion in assets and 19,000 employees. Proia assumed this role during a turbulent period for financial services companies and successfully managed several critical communications issues, including CEO transitions, capital market and liquidity actions, the company's transition to a bank holding company, and government investments in the company. She also helped frame the story for GMAC's key role in auto financing to aid economic recovery for dealers and consumers. Previously, Proia was a core member of General Motors' global financial communications staff.
Chair of US corporate practice, Burson-Marsteller, 35
Over the past 15 years, Jason Schechter has provided counsel for some of corporate America's biggest crises and change assignments, including President Clinton's impeachment, the AOL/Time Warner merger, and United Airline's restructuring. In 2008, he guided AIG through what was then the largest restructuring in corporate history. In his present role, Schechter oversees 10 offices and client engagement for several multinational clients. Since he joined Burson in 2007, he has also counseled Accenture, Intel, and Thomson Reuters. He previously served as SVP at Robinson Lerer & Montgomery and assistant press secretary for the Clinton administration.
Consultant, global product communications, Eli Lilly and Company, 34
As part of his role at Eli Lilly, Jamaison Schuler leads the PR strategy for the company's largest global brand, Zyprexa, which is worth $5 billion. Since he joined the pharmaceutical giant in 2004, Schuler has had several high points, including supporting the United Way campaign and increasing response rates from 73% to 96% in two years. Schuler is also involved with driving forward the company's digital presence and he has developed a global social media network for internal and external communications across 142 offices. Schuler is a regular media commentator and is the current president of the PRSA chapter in Indianapolis.
EVP, director of public affairs, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, 37
Alan Sexton has come a long way since he arrived in the US from Ireland in 1999 as a relative newcomer to the PR industry. Today, Sexton is the youngest EVP in Ogilvy's New York office, having cofounded its multimillion-dollar public affairs practice, which he now manages. Despite the challenging economic climate, Sexton was able to increase revenue for his group by 6.5% year on year, while also expanding the team. In addition, he is the global client relationship lead on two of the firm's major accounts: LexisNexis and FM Global. Sexton has also helped solidify PR's role in an integrated marketing mix through his work with BP, American Express, and DHL.
Founder, principal, and CEO, Matter Communications, 37
After holding several senior roles at various PR agencies and companies, Scott Signore founded Boston-based Matter Communications in 2003. In the years since, the agency has grown rapidly and now boasts revenues of more than $5 million, 35 clients, and a staff of almost 40. Clients for the firm include CVS/pharmacy, Verizon Wireless, and Harris Corporation. Signore believes in encouraging his staff to maintain a healthy work/life balance and he regularly organizes sporting events for his employees. As a committed philanthropist, Signore is involved with several charitable organizations, including the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, the Salvation Army, and Feeding America.
CCO/MD, Citadel, 39
In the three years Katie Spring has led communications for Citadel, she has overseen a rebranding effort that launched the company into investment banking and managed the expansion of its hedge fund platform. She works closely as a strategic counselor to the executive management team, including CEO Kenneth Griffin. Spring's other accomplishments at Citadel include helping to launch "The Kenneth and Anne Griffin Foundation" and establishing the firm's first employee volunteer program. In her previous role, Spring led PR for financial services company USAA. While there, she increased positive media coverage by 300% and message delivery by 153%.
EVP/GM, Hill & Knowlton (San Francisco), 39
Jennifer Temple combines her skills as a communications consultant and business leader for one of Hill & Knowlton's flagship operations. Since arriving at H&K in 2003, she has played a leading role in some of the largest tech mergers, including Hewlett-Packard's acquisition of Compaq and Electronic Data Systems. In addition to overseeing the San Francisco office, Temple provides significant, day-to-day counsel for clients Dolby and SanDisk. Temple is currently guiding the global team for one of the industry's most closely watched deals, the Yahoo-Microsoft alliance. She regular speaks at local industry events, promoting PR as a career and initiatives surrounding women in business.
Senior manager, marketing communications and PR, Del Monte Foods Company, 28
Bryson Thornton oversees PR programs for more than a dozen multimillion-dollar brands at Del Monte and serves as communications counsel to the executive team, which includes the CEO, COO, and CMO, among others. Since arriving at Del Monte in 2006, he has worked on a number of high-profile and successful campaigns, including Milk-Bone's cause-related campaign, "It's Good to Give," and "Think Like a Cat Game Show" for Meow Mix. Thornton honed his PR skills at Jack Horner Communications, where, among other clients, he served as an account lead for H.J. Heinz's US consumer products and foodservice divisions.
VP, digital communications, Weber Shandwick, 38
Chris Vary initially joined Weber Shandwick's Detroit office in 2006 and worked primarily on General Motors' social media efforts with significant success. Vary's reputation quickly spread and he was soon recruited to the agency's Southwest office to lead the regional group's digital and social media programs. One of his noted accomplishments has been leading American Airlines' entry into social media. Last year, he led a campaign to celebrate the airline's 10,000th Facebook fan by offering a 10% discount code solely by social media; it generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales. Vary is a regular conference speaker and a member of the Dallas Social Media Club.
Director of PR, AirTran Airways, 39
In just over a year with AirTran, Christopher White has led communications around several key initiatives, such as the introduction of Wi-Fi on every flight. He has also developed the company's social media strategy, including a Facebook page and YouTube channel, built up its internal communications programs, and introduced a "breaking news pager" to improve press access to company spokespeople. Prior to AirTran, White worked for the Transportation Security Administration. As an airline industry specialist, White has worked on some of the most high-profile safety and security issues of the past decade, including 9/11 and the total ban on liquids at security checkpoints.
VP, Weber Shandwick, 39
For the past three years, Brooke Worden has led the PR program for the government's largest peacetime mobilization – the US Census. Leading a team of 50, Worden has earned impressive coverage across multiple media – including more than 102 million media impressions in the first week of the 2010 Census "Portrait of America" road tour campaign. Worden began her career in financial services and journalism, serving as staff reporter for Twin Cities Business. Outside work, Worden donates her time to several organizations, including the Girl Scouts and the Citizens League, and serves on the board of the PRSA's Minnesota chapter, for which she is president-elect for 2011.
SVP, GolinHarris, 37
A 16-year veteran with experience in PR, branding, and Hispanic marketing, Zandra Zuno used that insight to devise a strategy for creating and developing Confianza, GolinHarris' Latino marketing division. Since Confianza's inception two years ago, Zuno has helped secure Hispanic AOR clients and led teams for Wal-Mart, McNeil Nutritionals, and BBC Mundo. In her previous role as marketing director, Zuno led the agency's global rebrand across 30 offices. She also developed the firm's thought-leadership initiative. Zuno is actively involved with a number of nonprofits and speaks regularly to minority and inner-city high school and college students about PR as a career option.