NEW YORK: The Council of Public Relations Firms elected Margery Kraus, president and CEO of Washington-based APCO, as its new chair during its annual members meeting in New York today. She will hold the position for one year.
In speaking to PRWeek about her appointment, Kraus noted the need for the Council to champion the efficacy of PR firms at this “inflection point for the industry.” For example, “We're talking about what do we do in terms of social media,” she said. “There's a lot more competition in that space.”
Additionally, the council will be working to help train senior management in running agencies.
Kraus founded her Washington-based firm in 1984. It is the fourth largest independent firm with $62 million in annual revenues, according to PRWeek's Agency Business Report.
“I live on an airplane,” she told PRWeek, jokingly referring to the large amount of time she spends out of the country traveling for clients.
Replacing Kraus as chair-elect is Andy Polansky, president of Weber Shandwick. Also elected to the Council's executive committee were Jens Bang, president and CEO of Cone, as treasurer; and Otis Wragg, principal of Wragg & Casas Public Relations, as secretary. Ketchum CEO Ray Kotcher relinquished the chair to Kraus and now becomes “past chair” for the Council committee.
The elections took place at the Yale Club where the council also held an event for members and non-members, “Aftershock: Rebuilding Trust and Confidence in 2010.” Panelists, moderated by Len Schlesinger, president of Babson College, discussed ways to rebuild public trust in corporate America and how PR could fuel that rebuilding. A panel discussion during the event turned heated when panelist Susie Gharib, an anchor at PBS' Nightly Business Report, suggested that Goldman Sachs could assuage the public by giving away its bonus fund to the unemployed. Fellow panelist, Jim Wiggins, executive director, corporate communications, Morgan Stanley, said that idea was “cuckoo” and many financial firms already give money to a number of charities. Another audience member shot it down, because it would be interpreted as a PR “ploy.”
A number of agency CEOs were in attendance at what the Council said was a sold-out event. Harold Burson and Tom Harrison (head of Omnicom's DAS division) made appearances, as did some in-house practitioners like panelist Beth Comstock, CMO and SVP at General Electric, and GM's now retired Steve Harris.
New additions to the Council's board were also announced at the event. These include: Christine Barney, CEO of rbb Public Relations; Donna Imperato, CEO of Cohn & Wolfe; Jennifer Prosek, managing partner of CJP Communications; Dave Senay, CEO of Fleishman-Hillard; Laura Tomasetti, managing partner of 360 Public Relations; and Melissa Waggener Zorkin, CEO of Waggener Edstrom.
Kathy Cripps remains president of the Council.