1. Richard Edelman
President & CEO, Edelman, and chairman, DJE Holdings
If you had to pick one name that epitomized the modern PR industry, that name would probably be Edelman.
Daniel, the founding father of his eponymous agency back in 1952, sadly passed away in January this year soon after the company's 60th anniversary celebrations. But son Richard has more than taken the baton in becoming the best-known PR person in the world since he took the reins of the agency in 1997.
Richard is routinely quoted on global issues, especially in the context of the firm's Trust Barometer, unveiled annually around the Davos World Economic Forum, which has become the de facto reference point on reputation and trust for global media of all types.
It is worth remembering that, since 1997, Edelman the agency has grown more than threefold to become not only the biggest independent PR firm in the world, but also the largest of all.
Much of this should be attributed to the strategy, drive, and leadership of Richard, who stepped into some very large shoes, but built Edelman into something bigger and better than anything before – with 2012 revenues in excess of $665 million and more than 4,650 staff.
Richard's ambition now is to grow his empire to be the first $1 billion PR group: in addition to the Edelman agency, his umbrella group DJE Holdings also includes the fast-growing Zeno Group and conflict shop Krispr.
In the past 12 months, he has faced the challenges and opportunities of integration, convergence, and social media with customary zeal, plunging his agency into the worlds of native advertising and paid media to complement its core communications services.
Once a hardliner in his commitment to keeping advertising and PR separate, Richard has since adjusted his position and believes content creation for brands has changed the game and that his agency needs to reframe its business during the next five years – as long as the context and definition of what it does lies in expanding the scope of PR, not becoming a full-service provider.
He is not resting on his laurels and is remaking the future before it remakes his agency.
*An earlier version of this article contained an inaccurate usage of the phrase "jumping the shark" in relation to the Trust Barometer - this has now been removed.
2. Jon Iwata
SVP, marketing and communications, IBM
Jon Iwata is one of the PR industry's indispensable heavyweights. He leads a team covering marketing and communications – a growing trend he helped to create – at one of the world's most progressive marketers.
In recent years, Iwata spearheaded the Arthur W. Page Society's new communications model and award-winning campaigns for IBM's computer, Watson. He also delegated some duties to Ben Edwards, VP of global communications and digital marketing, earlier this year.
More than a year after working with the Page Society on the new communications model, the industry is wondering what Iwata's next big move will be.
3. Marc Pritchard
Global marketing and brand building officer, Procter & Gamble
Since taking the reins of Procter & Gamble's communications unit last May – following the retirement of global external relations officer Chris Hassall – Marc Pritchard has led marketing and communications through a number of major moments for the CPG powerhouse, such as a partnership with the 2012 Olympic Games and an internal marcomms restructuring.
Pritchard, a 30-year P&G veteran, took on the global brand building officer role in 2009.
He leads a portfolio of 79 brands, 24 of which are worth at least $1 billion. Brand PR, corporate communications, and consumer relations are a major part of the revamped external relations platform Pritchard leads.
Profligate marketing spend was one reason cited by rebel shareholders that led to the return of former CEO AG Lafley. Pritchard's previous good working relationship with Lafley will be put to the test as the CPG giant reassesses its marcomms again.
Chris Christie, New Jersey governor
His plainspoken style plays well beyond the Garden State and images of Christie standing next to President Barack Obama against the backdrop of Superstorm Sandy-ravaged towns continue to speak volumes.
Jason Collins, professional basketball player
In Sports Illustrated's May 6 issue, the 34-year-old NBA center announced to the world he was gay. Along with displaying great courage, he facilitated a dialogue on a subject too many avoided for too long.
Angelina Jolie, actress
Known for her beautifully expressive face, her New York Times op-ed in which she told the world about her double mastectomy was a perfect marriage of platform and message, one women the world over are better for having heard.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO
Facebook's COO masters the art of making tech talk understandable. She also started a movement with her bestselling book Lean In, which has become a bible for all women looking to climb the leadership ladder.
Malala Yousafzai, education champion
Even an assassination attempt and serious injury could not keep the brave 15-year-old Pakistani girl – PRWeek's inaugural Communicator of the Year – from continuing to champion the cause of education and women's rights.
4. Ken Cohen
VP, government and public affairs, ExxonMobil
Ken Cohen's insight into ExxonMobil is fed by a deep rich vein that is more than 35 years in the making.
He began work at the world's most profitable company in 1977 as a lawyer and was asked to develop and run a combined public affairs group when Exxon acquired Mobil in 1999.
Today, he leads a global staff of 460 handling external communications, including media relations, government affairs, and CSR for the 80,000-employee company and is chairman of the ExxonMobil Foundation.
Cohen led ExxonMobil's more proactive use of social media and is bullish on educating consumers about the energy sector and its role in job creation.
5. Gary Sheffer
VP, corporate communications and public affairs, GE
GE consistently ranks high on Fortune's Most Admired Companies list, despite controversies such as coming under fire for paying almost no federal taxes in 2010.
Gary Sheffer's ethical stance provides a clue as to how the industrial giant has maintained its brand. "You can't be sort of transparent or have a little integrity – you have to be all in," he explained at a workshop organized by GE, the Ethisphere Institute, and AECOM last year.
Sheffer has been an advocate for transparency during significant turning points for the company over the past year, including the sale of its remaining stake in NBCUniversal, trimming GE Capital (its financial division), and acquiring suppliers such as Lufkin Industries.
6. D'Arcy Rudnay,
CCO and SVP, Comcast
The last 12 months have been intense for D'Arcy Rudnay.
Comcast acquired NBCUniversal, dramatically changing its products and customer experience and giving Comcast a footprint in businesses as diverse as high-speed Internet and theme parks.
Comcast and its CCO embarked on a year-long process to create a new identity for the combined company including new brand values, logo, and corporate website that launched at the end of 2012.
Rudnay and her team are carrying the new identity forward throughout 2013, Comcast's 50th anniversary, with external and internal activities, advertising, and social media.
In addition to her CCO role at Comcast, a company that reported 2012 revenue of $62.6 billion, Rudnay is one of three executive champions of The Women's Network, an employee-run group that started in 2012 to aid career development for women at Comcast.
"I'm especially passionate about true career development for women. My sister and I were very lucky; our parents told us that if we studied and worked hard, we could do anything. It's important to hear that from fathers, as well as mothers," Rudnay told PRWeek.
7. Dave Samson
GM, public affairs, Chevron
You do not get the top communications role at global energy giant Chevron without having the ability to get down in the trenches and fight for your cause against serious and determined opponents.
Dave Samson's mettle has been tested by Chevron's ongoing issue in Ecuador relating to historical activities in the region by Texaco, acquired by Chevron in 2001, which has turned into one of the biggest legal battles ever.
Samson also takes a hard line on client conflicts within his agencies and fired Ogilvy PR last year after a representative of the firm reportedly spoke with a group advocating for the preservation of the Ecuadorian rainforest, resulting in a "serious, material conflict of interest." It reflected views he laid out in PRWeek last May that agency partnerships should be built on "trust, candor, and transparency."
An active member of the Arthur W. Page Society, Samson is working on initiatives to harness data analytics to manage issues at Chevron rather than just consumer engagement.
He likens such "above-the-ground" techniques to the strategy Chevron deploys when it uses predictive analytics to monitor geology below the ground.
8. Ray Day
Group VP, communications, Ford Motor Company
After several tumultuous years, the auto industry has seen a vast turnaround, and Ray Day has been the driving force of communications for Ford every step of the way.
Day, who has worked at the company since 1989, was promoted to group VP of communications in March after serving as VP of communications for five years.
A PRWeek Awards finalist for In-House PR Professional in 2013, Day works on global external and internal communications and reputation and drives communications to engage a wide audience.
9. Dan Bartlett
EVP, corporate affairs, Walmart
Former White House counselor Dan Bartlett left his role as president and CEO of Hill+Knowlton Strategies US in May to become EVP of corporate affairs at Walmart.
Walmart reclaimed the top spot in the Fortune 500 this year, so Bartlett is serving in one of the most powerful communications jobs in the world. Reporting directly to CEO Mike Duke, he is responsible for shaping the retail giant's image amid slowing sales and reputational issues such as a bribery probe in Mexico, employee protests, and increased scrutiny on its safety standards at Bangladeshi suppliers.
At press time, Bloomberg News speculated that Duke was on his way out in the coming months, meaning Bartlett would have to help navigate a leadership transition and gain the ear of a new chief executive at one of the most scrutinized publicly traded companies.
Like his predecessor Leslie Dach, Bartlett has served as a member of the White House communications staff, advising President George W. Bush. Drawing on that experience in high-pressure situations, Bartlett will have to continue Dach's efforts of positioning Walmart as a good corporate citizen in addition to being a leading low-cost retailer.
10. Bridget Coffing
SVP, corporate relations, McDonald's
Throughout her 27-year career at McDonald's, Bridget Coffing has held various communications roles and has seen several changes in terms of product offerings and consumer engagement efforts.
One of the fast-food company's most recent endeavors is its appeal to healthy eaters with the launch of its egg-white breakfast sandwich.
Coffing, who reports directly to CEO Don Thompson, leads a global team of PR pros, helping them communicate with staffers, media, stakeholders, consumers, and NGOs.
She also manages global departments including government and public affairs, external communications, and the system communications group, which includes internal communications, creative services, and archives.
11. Clyde Tuggle
SVP, chief public affairs and communications officer, Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola has been all over the news in the last few months because of its global anti-obesity initiative, which focuses on supporting physical activity programs and offering more lower-calorie beverage options to countries around the world.
Through the wide range of positive and negative reactions from media and consumers about the campaign, Clyde Tuggle, who has worked at Coca-Cola for about 25 years, has handled communications for the soft-drink giant.
In addition to the anti-obesity program, the company has engaged consumers and enhanced its corporate image online with an interactive digital magazine called Coca-Cola Journey that replaced the brand's corporate website at the end of 2012.
12. Jake Siewart
Global head of corporate communications, Goldman Sachs
Often painted as a symbol of Wall Street greed, Goldman Sachs has been working to rebuild its reputation in the years following the financial crisis.
Leading these efforts is Jake Siewert, who notably served as counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and as White House press secretary for President Bill Clinton.
Siewert's communications influence is already evident. Goldman Sachs now operates a Twitter account and has been more proactive in engaging the media.
CEO Lloyd Blankfein said at a recent Investment Company Institute gathering that he had "a lot of regret for not having a lot of dialogue with the public." President and COO Gary Cohn told an audience at a financial services conference in May that he had become a "better listener."
It might be a while before Goldman Sachs escapes negative headlines, but Siewert has clearly made progress in revamping the company's image in an industry still largely distrusted by the public.
CEOs Who Get It
Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway
How seriously does the Oracle of Omaha consider communications? He writes his own shareholder newsletter. His famous ability to connect with all audiences never wanes – a helpful trait for a man who has the world's rapt attention.
Reed Hastings, Netflix
If listening is vital to communicating, Hastings "gets it" in spades. From 2011's uncertainty, he has led the charge in heeding customer input, which has led Netflix to focus on original content – and a Q1 profit of $3 million.
Ginni Rometty, IBM
"Likable" and "memorable" are commonly used to describe IBM's first female CEO. Her March speech at the Council on Foreign Relations not only epitomized her communications style, it solidified her leadership role in today's data revolution.
Howard Schultz, Starbucks
In a 2011 Forbes interview, Schultz claimed, "We're not in the coffee business, we're in the people business. It's all human connection." If his company's java won't wake up communicators, that philosophy certainly should.
Hamdi Ulukaya, Chobani
How does a yogurt company grow from nothing to $1 billion-plus in five years? From CHOmobiles to Facebook and Twitter, Chobani's focus on community and word of mouth, led by Ulukaya, have proven effective and lucrative.
13. Joseph Evangelisti
Head of corporate comms and media relations worldwide, JPMorgan Chase
More than a year after JPMorgan Chase's multibillion-dollar trading loss, the bank's shareholders voted to keep Jamie Dimon as chairman and CEO in the culmination of one of the most closely watched corporate contests of the year.
The vote cleared the path for Joe Evangelisti, who has served on JPMorgan's communications team since 1986, to change the narrative surrounding the nation's largest bank.
As the turbulent years following the 2008 financial crisis have shown, strong revenue figures are not enough to inspire confidence among investors.
Evangelisti must help Dimon mend relationships with regulators in Washington and overhaul the bank's culture amidst a continuing push for greater transparency in the financial industry.
14. Blair Taylor
Chief community officer, Starbucks
The acronym CCO in a PR context typically means chief communications officer, but Blair Taylor at Starbucks is blazing a trail with a new definition of CCO: chief community officer.
This wide-ranging role reports directly to CEO Howard Schultz and encompasses culture, community, philanthropy, ethical sourcing, government relations, diversity, and global responsibility.
Formerly president and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League, Taylor joined Starbucks in July last year and quickly made an impression, with leadership of HR added to his remit in February. His pedigree stretches across brand marketing, strategy, and sales, including stints at PepsiCo and IBM.
Schultz has long pioneered a philosophy of balancing profit with social good. Taylor's role is an extension of that and includes growing ethical supply chain initiatives, investing in US manufacturing jobs, and a skills, apprenticeship, and leadership fund. He plans to take previous Starbucks successes to another level, such as developing more stores in inner-city areas that put profits back into community initiatives.
15. Dave Senay
President and CEO, FleishmanHillard
After a year that saw peers at Weber Shandwick, Ketchum, and other major agencies move on to new roles, Dave Senay remains entrenched as the head of Omnicom communications giant FleishmanHillard.
However, Senay is captaining a different, rebranded agency than he has in the past, one that will work across the lines that had split marketing, advertising, and communications.
As Fleishman continues to evolve, he will have to define what the firm does and how it differentiates itself from a growing pool of competitors. He'll also have to begin grooming the next generation of Fleishman's leadership.
16. Jeff Jones
EVP and CMO, Target
Jeff Jones is Target's third head of marketing in its 51-year history, and while he's only been with the company since April 2012, he has already made a huge impact on its marketing and PR strategies.
One of Jones' main objectives is to "modernize" Target's marketing efforts by shifting from campaigns to content and focusing on tools that engage consumers. In March, Target formed an exclusive partnership with singer Justin Timberlake for the launch of his album, The 20/20 Experience, and filmed the reactions of 20 of Timberlake's biggest fans when he showed up unannounced. It was made into a commercial, as well as a social media campaign.
A Target platform that Jones thinks is strategic for PR is the company's A Bullseye View blog, which gives consumers a behind-the-scenes look into the brand through content creation.
17. Bonin Bough
VP, global media and consumer engagement, Mondelez International
There are few places where integration and convergence of marketing communications has been more evident in the past 12 months than at Mondelez International, the snacks company that used to be part of Kraft Foods, but was spun off in October 2012.
Much of this is driven by Bonin Bough, a communications pro who made the switch into media and is pioneering a distinct, innovative, and engaging approach. A big focus for Bough is mobile and he instigated a Mobile Futures program where large brands including Trident, Ritz, iD Gum, and Oreo teamed up with startups to scale existing programs and incubate new mobile ventures.
He is committing 10% of his global marketing budget to mobile and wants Mondelez to become one of the top mobile marketers in the world. Brands will create and incubate new ventures with their startup partners and seek seed funding from VC firms and angel investors.
Mondelez also gained acclaim for its real-time marketing efforts with Oreo at the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans, when a clever tweet went viral after the lights had gone out at the stadium.
Bough's watchword is engagement and he is betting on mobile as the principal route to stimulating that interaction with consumers.
18. Selim Bingol
VP, global communications and public policy, General Motors
Selim Bingol is in charge of writing the auto industry blue chip's ongoing comeback story – one of the most complicated tasks in communications.
For instance, the company said it will forego its annual summer factory shutdowns due to increased consumer demand. The automaker also gained market share in April and through the first third of the year.
Yet Bingol's job is as difficult as ever, having to explain issues from the Chevrolet Volt to GM's increasingly complex international structure – while fighting off a hungry pack of automotive rivals.
19. Anne Finucane
Global strategy and marketing officer, Bank of America
In February via video, Anne Finucane reportedly told Bank of America staffers, "We have fundamentally reshaped who we are."
Post financial crisis the company is reportedly readying a new ad campaign, logo, and slogan to help rebuild its image and is conducting internal employee training, bank renovations, and new customer service efforts.
She oversees the Bank of America Foundation and also sits on the boards of the JFK Library Foundation and the American-Irish Foundation, among others. Finucane was honored in April with a Matrix Award from New York Women in Communications as one of the women who change the world.
20. Andy Polansky
CEO, Weber Shandwick
Longtime Weber Shandwick number two Andy Polansky took the Interpublic Group firm's top role in November when Harris Diamond moved across to IPG ad agency McCann Worldgroup. Now it's up to Polansky to put his own stamp on the agency, which has won a number of lucrative public affairs contracts for states putting together their Affordable Care Act exchanges.
While Polansky's transition into the top role at Weber was long planned, he took over the firm at a time with great opportunities and challenges for large agencies. The March launch of its Mediaco content-creation unit shows he understands the stakes of expanding into new areas for many PR firms such as content creation and paid advertising.
Polansky also moved Gail Heimann into the president's role at Weber, adding a well-respected industry player to the top rungs of the firm's leadership structure and positioning the agency well for the future.
As it expands into new areas, Polansky will have to keep the firm's eye on corporate reputation, a longtime agency bread and butter and area of increased concern for companies.
21. Shannon Stubo
VP, corporate communications, LinkedIn
Shannon Stubo has quickly made the jump from PRWeek's 40 Under 40 list, where she appeared in 2011, to the Power List.
Stubo is one of the most well-respected communications pros in Silicon Valley and made her bones at Intuit, Yahoo, and eBay, before moving to OpenTable and taking it public, a feat she repeated successfully at LinkedIn in May 2011 when shares more than doubled on the firm's opening day of trading. It was telling that LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner brought Stubo on board and then announced the IPO just three months later. Since then, Stubo has continued to play a key role in the evolution of the social networking website's growing value and profitability, extending its reach to position LinkedIn as a media owner and vehicle for CEO thought leadership.
LinkedIn has prospered by adding content to its existing networking and professional development mix, and the company's post-IPO fortunes are in stark contrast to the much higher profile Facebook, a factor due in no small part to the smart communications and storytelling stewardship of Stubo.
While at eBay, Stubo had a two-year stint abroad in Bern, Switzerland, as director of European corporate communications – experience that stood her in good stead to oversee LinkedIn's global expansion.
22. Sally Susman
EVP, policy, external affairs, and comms, Pfizer
Last year, Sally Susman was on a mission to make sure the average consumer had a better understanding of what Pfizer was all about.
To do this, she oversaw the launch of the Get Old campaign – an effort that focused on the changes people go through as they age.
The company also streamlined its corporate identity, shedding non-pharmaceutical units such as its animal health business that was renamed Zoetis and subsequently launched an IPO.
23. Zenia Mucha
EVP and CCO, The Walt Disney Company
Zenia Mucha spearheads all global communications at The Walt Disney Company. She also manages the messaging for business units within Disney, including networks, studios, and consumer products, as well as for Disney-owned brands including ESPN, Pixar, and Marvel.
Mucha finesses communications around initiatives as diverse as the pending acquisition of Lucasfilm for more than $4 billion and the company's leadership role in advancing standards for food advertising on programming targeting kids and families.
She also once served as director of communications and senior policy adviser to Gov. George Pataki (R-NY).
24. Rob Flaherty
Senior partner and CEO, Ketchum
Rob Flaherty moved into the top job at Ketchum last July after a long-planned transition that saw predecessor Ray Kotcher become chairman of the Omnicom Group agency.
Flaherty made a number of moves early in his tenure, naming Barri Rafferty CEO of North America and Rob Lorfink president, and buying Raleigh, NC-based Capstrat in January. Flaherty has also emphasized the importance of measurement, speaking at AMEC's Fifth European Summit on Measurement in June and positioning himself as a thought leader on the topic.
At the helm of one of the industry's blue-chip firms, which turned 90 this year, Flaherty is attempting to show he's taking on the issues that will define the industry in the future, and where clients demand new solutions.
Ketchum also has a unique opportunity to define itself globally, from Ketchum-Pleon in Europe to Brazil, where it opened the first international office of Ketchum Sports & Entertainment before the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.
25. Kate James
CCO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
As nonprofits go, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is set apart from similar organizations, given the wealth of its founders and resources they're pumping into the largest private foundation in the world.
The challenge for CCO Kate James is to translate philanthropy into messages and projects that deliver long-term sustainability. Her aim is to harness resources to extend the foundation's reputation into a coherent brand that will help persuade big partner donors to keep spending.
Paul Argenti, professor, Dartmouth College
Whether it's the industry elite, C-suite leaders, or tomorrow's practitioners, the professor of corporate communications at Tuck School of Business continues to educate a wide swath of pros on the evolving PR discipline.
Dave Armon, president, Critical Mention
Through the technologies his company provides and his understanding of the needs of marcomms pros, few are better equipped to help clients manage their brands.
Ninan Chacko, global CEO, PR Newswire
With his global oversight and appreciation for the power of content, Chacko continues to cement his place as an ally to all communicators.
John Doorley, academic director, New York University
As head of NYU's MS degree in PR and corporate communications program, he is preparing tomorrow's PR pros. And through efforts such as his book, Reputation Management, today's leaders also benefit from his wisdom.
Bill Heyman, president and CEO, Heyman Associates
His day-job contributions of placing senior-level PR execs at leading companies is complemented by his advisory roles at the Institute for Public Relations and the University of Alabama's Plank Center for Leadership in PR.
26. Rachel Whetstone
SVP, public policy and communications, Google
Amid fierce competition from Apple, Amazon, and Facebook, Google has proven it remains on the bleeding edge of innovation with its recently launched Google Glass capturing the technology world's imagination.
But the Internet giant's top communicator Rachel Whetstone and her team have had a testing year, dealing with regulatory probes on both sides of the Atlantic, ongoing backlash over privacy issues, and a tax row with the UK government, which will remain a challenge going into 2014.
27. Larry Solomon
SVP, corporate communications, AT&T
At AT&T, Larry Solomon is at the forefront of communications innovation to help the second-largest US carrier stand apart in the hotly competitive telecoms market.
This year AT&T has seen higher smartphone sales, mobile data growth, and increased Internet subscribers, but it still lags behind Verizon Wireless in subscription growth and continues to vie for airwave spectrum.
A focus on mobility is a priority for Solomon as AT&T plans to expand its wireless and broadband services, such as its 4G LTE network, in the next few years.
28. Frank Shaw
Corporate VP, corporate communications, Microsoft
Microsoft's launch of Windows 8 last year was the most significant in its history, according to CEO Steve Ballmer, and a communications feat for Frank Shaw, despite the disappointing sales that followed.
Shaw was also in the spotlight over a Twitter spat with Google PR exec Jill Hazelbaker over comments made by Hazelbaker about Microsoft hiring Mark Penn.
29. Blair Christie
SVP and CMO, Cisco
For Cisco veteran Blair Christie, last year was another where she proved her marketing prowess, overseeing the launch of a major global integrated marketing campaign in a departure from its Human Network Effect positioning.
Cisco's new Internet of Everything marketing strategy aims to reflect the value the company delivers in connecting the physical and digital world.
Christie also oversaw Cisco's sponsorship of the 2012 Olympic Games, with activity including a UK digital business legacy program and a customer experience center overlooking the stadium in East London. She also led the team that won PRWeek's Campaign of the Year for Cisco's The Comeback Kid effort.
However, Cisco faces tough competition from other networking players to innovate, while job cuts continue, with the most recent round cutting 500 staff.
30. Paul Gennaro
SVP and CCO, AECOM
PRWeek's In-House PR Professional of the Year Paul Gennaro has been at the helm of communications at global design and engineering firm AECOM for seven years, during which it has enjoyed dramatic growth, tripling revenue and doubling its workforce.
But last year was the most demanding for Gennaro, who helped facilitate an enterprise transformation initiative and was involved in a global reorganization of operations.
Gennaro, who manages a global team of 200 and oversees budgets in excess of $42 million, was also the master planner for the 2012 Olympic Games, helping AECOM secure the contract for the 2016 Olympics.
AECOM saw revenues of $8.2 billion in 2012. But alongside this growth, Gennaro has built the firm's reputation as an ethical business, earning a place on Ethisphere's most ethical business list for a third consecutive year.
Gennaro also has become a champion and thought leader in ethical business through his work as chairman of the communications advisory board at the Ethisphere Institute.
31. Oscar Suris
EVP, corporate communications, Wells Fargo
As head of communications for the nation's largest home lender, Oscar Suris is in a unique position to help create dialogue about problems plaguing the US mortgage market.
In May, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman announced plans to sue Wells Fargo and Bank of America for allegedly violating the terms of a multibillion-dollar settlement intended to end foreclosure abuses.
With the ear of senior management, Suris and his team are tasked with championing the bank's commitment to assisting customers in an uncertain environment.
32. Torod Neptune
Corporate comms head, Verizon Wireless
First-time Power Lister Torod Neptune was promoted mid-year and now leads social media and digital strategy, national media relations, executive messaging, employee communications, and community relations.
He oversees a team of 50 reporting to president and CEO Dan Mead and retiring CCO Peter Thonis.
The company recently made headlines for very different reasons – a mobile brand partnership with Jennifer Lopez and a report that the National Security Agency collected records from Verizon's US customers.
33. Don Baer
Global CEO, Burson-Marsteller
For years, Burson-Marsteller was identified with CEO and political player Mark Penn. But with his elevation to the CEO role now nearly a year in the books, Baer has made some hallmark moves, such as winning a lucrative amount of business from Bank of America in January.
He also hired Steve Lombardo, former Edelman StrategyOne CEO, to run a joint US public affairs and crisis practice in April, bolstering Burson's research capabilities that had been hit hard by the losses of Penn and Michael Berland.
Baer has a unique opportunity to write the next chapter of the storied firm's history, and his record in his first year in office indicates he's off to a good start.
34. Ed Skyler
EVP, global public affairs, Citigroup
Under the leadership of Michael Corbat, the bank has laid off employees and closed numerous branches.
But if anyone is equipped to tackle these challenges, it is battle-tested Ed Skyler, who joined Citigroup in 2010 after eight years with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration.
In the past year, Citi has sponsored its first US Olympic and Paralympic teams and also supported New York City's much anticipated bike-sharing program.
35. Renee Wilson
President, North America, MSLGroup
MSLGroup promoted Renee Wilson to president of North America in September 2012 and she was added to the agency's global board in January.
Prior to that she served as MD of the Publicis Groupe agency's flagship New York office and worked with the firm's largest client, Procter & Gamble, as well as big-name brands including General Motors and Bayer. Wilson also spent four years based in London managing pan-European programs for Kellogg's and J&J.
"The appointment of a strong, client-centric woman is the best thing that could have happened for MSLGroup," said Marian Salzman, CEO for North America at Havas PR.
Wilson also made significant hires. She brought on Stephanie Agresta from Weber Shandwick as MSLGroup's first global leader in social and digital, among others.
She replaces Jim Tsokanos in the role, who had been with the firm for 11 years.
Under Wilson's watch the agency has been expanding its expertise in the social and digital sector creating real-time news centers charged with providing relevant content for social and mainstream media. "Social and digital are the big drivers now," explains Wilson. Both now account for more than 20% of MSLGroup's business.
Dan Roth, executive editor, LinkedIn
As LinkedIn transitions into a media company, the former Fortune digital editor heads up the professional network's content offering that includes its influencer program, boasting President Obama and Richard Branson among writers on the site.
Betsy Stark, MD, content and media strategy, Ogilvy Public Relations
Emmy award-winning journalist and former ABC News correspondent Betsy Stark made the transition from the world of journalism to PR this year to help Ogilvy's clients tell their own stories through content creation.
Steve Rubel, chief content strategist, Edelman
In his newly created role, Rubel is in charge of developing new content programs and best practices internally and externally as the agency giant looks to capitalize on the move toward content-led communications.
Liya Sharif, senior director of marketing, Qualcomm, publisher of Qualcomm Spark
As head of global marketing at Qualcomm, Sharif has pioneered an original content marketing strategy in the form of tech site Spark to help the brand have wider appeal.
Scott Roen, VP, digital marketing and innovation, American Express
Roen was part of the team that built American Express' small business and entrepreneurs' platform Open Forum six years ago. Following its success, he oversaw its relaunch in May this year.
36. Ginger Hardage
SVP, culture and communications, Southwest Airlines
Year in and year out, Southwest Airlines appears on many best-of lists and no wonder, the company has never had any lay-offs – an astounding feat in today's economy.
The airline recently passed United Airlines as the largest carrier of local passengers to Denver, having only begun service in the area seven years ago, and there is significant buzz in the news about Southwest going international – although executives remain tight lipped about future plans.
And one of the cornerstones of a corporate culture and employee morale envied by most businesses is Ginger Hardage, who has been with Southwest since 1990.
Hardage and her team have built a robust slate of initiatives to recognize employees that "live the Southwest way." One example is Heroes of the Heart, a program that recognizes a behind-the-scenes employee or department that goes above and beyond by painting the names of winners on the side of an airplane for a year.
"I don't think there are many companies that spend as much time as Southwest does on direct employee contact," she proudly asserts.
37. Christopher Graves
Global CEO, Ogilvy Public Relations
While Asia-Pacific has been the strongest growth area for Ogilvy in prior years, a comprehensive revamp helped Europe take top billing in 2012 according to global CEO Christopher Graves.
He was also one of the early engineers of the agency's expanded expertise in social and digital, which culminated in Social@Ogilvy's 38% top-line revenue growth within PR and 43% growth across all disciplines last year.
Looking ahead in 2013, Graves is eyeing further growth in Nigeria and Angola.
38. Adele Ambrose
Under Adele Ambrose's leadership, Merck spent 2012 working to better the health of women around the world.
Last summer, the company launched a website to help women in Mexico become more aware of issues such as depression, cancer, and more. And it teamed with HealthyWomen, a health information source, to launch Lifetime of Vaccines.
Ambrose was also vital in Merck becoming more proactive in aligning CSR efforts with the firm's role in global health.
39. Jack Martin
Global chairman and CEO, Hill+Knowlton Strategies
The story for the WPP-owned agency for the last 12 months has been a global one, with significant expansion in Africa and India.
The tough Texan and veteran PR strategist has his work cut out in the coming months.
WPP's PR business was down 4.1% in Q1 2013 and just last month Martin found himself with a new right-hand man at H+K. Andy Weitz was promoted to president and CEO after only eight months as the agency's corporate practice chair, replacing Dan Bartlett who left to go to Walmart.
40. Kim Hunter
President and CEO, Lagrant Communications
Kim Hunter champions diversity in the communications industry. His firm, Lagrant Communications celebrates 15 years in business in 2013.
On the client side, as part of its 110-year anniversary, Harley-Davidson tapped Lagrant to highlight Latino bike riders, commonly called Harlistas. Other clients include MetLife, the American Cancer Society, and H&R Block.
This past spring, The Lagrant Foundation awarded $250,000 in scholarships to 36 ethnically diverse students. Hunter also launched KLH & Associates, an executive search firm specializing in the recruitment of mid- to senior-level diverse candidates.
41. Margery Kraus
Founder and CEO, APCO Worldwide
Margery Kraus' APCO Worldwide turned heads in late April when it won an estimated $10 million account from BlackBerry – but not just because of the account's size. The firm showed a willingness to partner with Text 100, a Next Fifteen agency, on the major pitch.
But Kraus faces a challenging year despite the landmark win. With the public affairs market slowing due to the federal government's reluctance to spend, the firm will have to emphasize its overseas strengths to keep pace with rivals in the sector. She must also define the role of Strawberry Frog, the ad agency APCO acquired in 2012.
42. Mike Fernandez
Corporate VP, corporate affairs, Cargill
As communications head for the US' largest privately held corporation by revenue, Fernandez manages the high-profile role with a consistent, steady hand, as evidenced by how he led Cargill through last year's pink slime frenzy.
A Power List fixture since 2010, Fernandez serves as 2013 co-chair of the Institute for Public Relations, where he plays a crucial role as the group spearheads key industry agendas, measurement standardization among them.
A leading light in the Hispanic PR community, he also remains a key facilitator in Cargill's CSR efforts, such as its $100 million investment to construct a cocoa-processing plant in Indonesia.
Jay Carney, White House press secretary
Carney has been working hard to put out the fires of two scandals related to the administration trolling through reporters' phone records and emails.
Stephanie Cutter, President Obama's former deputy campaign manager, and Teddy Goff, digital director
Widely credited as contributors to the success of President Obama's second presidential campaign, the pair launched a new consulting firm, Precision Strategies.
Mark Penn, corporate VP for strategic and special projects at Microsoft
Penn has made it his business to tout Bing as the Web's superior search engine. He helped create the phrase "Don't get scroogled" to criticize Google's ad-filled search returns.
Wayne LaPierre, EVP, NRA
Following the mass shootings in Aurora, CO, and Newtown, CT, the Senate failed to pass gun-control legislation in mid-April with many reports attributing its demise to the power of the National Rifle Association.
43. Donna Imperato
CEO, Cohn & Wolfe
Cohn & Wolfe has had many highlights in the last few months, being named PRWeek's 2013 Agency of the Year and posting a 6% revenue increase year over year for 2012. Behind the firm's recent achievements is the leadership of Donna Imperato.
Cohn & Wolfe bought a 40% stake in Middle East agency BPG | pr earlier this year, allowing the firm to broaden its services in the Middle East and North Africa.
The agency also retained all of its top 20 clients in 2012, and brought on a slew of new accounts, such as Burger King in the UK, BMW in China, and Iroko Pharmaceuticals and Sensa Weight Loss System in North America.
44. Karen van Bergen
Global CEO, Porter Novelli
It's safe to say the last couple of years have been turbulent ones at Porter Novelli, with numerous high-profile client losses and senior management departures, culminating last July in the exit of CEO Gary Stockman.
After a stabilizing transitional period under Michael Ramah, Karen van Bergen was elevated from senior partner and MD of the firm's New York office to global CEO in January. Since then, there has been a fresh spirit of optimism around the place, fueled by impressive new hires, client wins, and eye-catching extensions of existing work with the likes of HP.
Van Bergen has mobilized her senior executive team and put a strategic plan in place for the next three years. She claims the agency achieved high single-digit growth in Q1 this year and is looking to turn that promise into a solid annual performance by year end.
45. Jim Weiss
Chairman and CEO, W2O Group
The roots of W2O Group lie in the specialist healthcare agency Jim Weiss founded back in 2001 called WeissComm Partners, which subsequently grew organically and through acquisition to become WCG and now W2O Group, with constituent agencies and offices in San Francisco, Austin, New York, Los Angeles, and London.
The agency has flown largely under the radar up to now, but its posting of "compound growth of 40% over the last 11 years," according to its CEO, is mightily impressive and a tribute to Weiss and his leadership team, including W2O president Bob Pearson – both of them have client-side backgrounds. Revenues in 2012 stood at $62 million, and Weiss aims to break the $100 million mark within five years.
The secret is a smart mix of integrated communications and big data insight that is flavor of the month now, but a recipe that Weiss and company have championed for years.
Other factors to which Weiss attributes his success include operating a one P&L model and being independent, which allows him to invest in the agency ahead of the curve – something he says would be impossible within the confines of a holding company network.
46. Katie Cotton
VP, worldwide corporate communications, Apple
The once untouchable Apple is facing heightened competition in the smartphone and tablet arena from Samsung, amid reports of weakening demand.
It has also attracted negative attention over its tax affairs in the US. Despite this, Apple is still the most valuable brand in the world, according to a recent BrandZ survey, which noted customer loyalty for the tech brand remains strong.
As its lead communicator, Katie Cotton has been instrumental in sustaining the brand's strength, while transitioning Apple into an era of greater transparency.
47. Elise Mitchell
CEO, Mitchell Communications Group and Dentsu Public Relations Network
After a stellar year for Elise Mitchell, she received the accolade of PRWeek's PR Agency Professional of the Year. Her story was described as "inspirational," by one of the judges.
In the 15 years since she founded Mitchell Communications Group, it has enjoyed exponential growth, with gross revenue increasing 500% in the last five years, while maintaining an impressive blue-chip client list that includes Walmart and Procter & Gamble.
Such a success story has not gone unnoticed and the eponymous agency was acquired at the start of this year by Japanese network giant Dentsu as its first foray into the US PR and communications market. Testament to the strong brand and reputation Mitchell has built, the agency retained its name after the acquisition.
Mitchell is well-respected in the industry and her entrepreneurial spirit has helped her agency thrive in tough business conditions. For this reason, Mitchell appeared before a full congressional hearing in Washington, DC, last year about what small businesses can do to succeed during the recession.
Being nimble, taking risks, and harnessing the power of a great team make up her recipe for success.
Now in a dual role, Mitchell will have to maintain the agency's momentum while helping Dentsu build out its own PR network in the US.
48. Melissa Waggener Zorkin
CEO and president, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide
Melissa Waggener Zorkin has grown her firm from two people to more than 900 staff in 20 global offices while remaining committed to maintaining the agency's independence.
Under her stewardship, the firm has continued to boost its expertise in the digital and integrated space.
There were, however, a number of senior-level exits last year, presenting a challenge for her, but the agency remains focused on hiring diverse skill sets with 225 new joiners in 2012.
49. Susan Gilchrist
Group CEO, Brunswick
Susan Gilchrist is in her second year as head of Brunswick, an agency known for advising companies through highstakes corporate issues and crises.
Facebook's troubled IPO, Groupon's CEO transition, and Heinz's $23 billion sale to Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital are deals where Brunswick has been called upon to lend its expertise.
Gilchrist has helped Brunswick broaden its services through a number of key hires, such as Keith Burton, the longtime president of GolinHarris' internal communications unit Insidedge, to oversee the agency's employee engagement practice.
She also continues to eye global growth, overseeing the firm's expansion into Latin America and Asia.
50. Barby Siegel
CEO, Zeno Group
Barby Siegel, PRWeek's 2012 PR Professional of the Year, is leading an agency that is on fire.
Zeno Group, which was named PRWeek's Midsize PR Agency of the Year for the third year in a row in 2013, saw a 48% increase in US revenue last year to $20.8 million.
The agency also expanded its footprint around the world in 2012, opening offices in Singapore, Jakarta, New Delhi, Tokyo, and London, which joined the firm's existing global outposts in Toronto, São Paulo, and Amsterdam. Zeno's global revenue last year was $24.4 million.
Siegel puts a big emphasis on the agency's culture, which focuses on fearlessness, creativity, and a work-life balance. In March, she promoted Chicago MD Grant Deady to the newly created role of chief culture officer to make sure Zeno has collaborative and entrepreneurial values across its global network.
From 2011 to 2012, Zeno's total headcount around the world went from 77 to 205, and Siegel attributes much of the firm's success to its talented team members.