Nick Papas: The Innovation 50

Director, public affairs PR, Airbnb

Nick Papas joined Airbnb last year as the accommodation rental website expanded its Washington presence and geared up for PR battles around the world. Papas came from the Obama administration, where he served as assistant press secretary and communications director for the White House Office of Health Reform. He also held communications roles for former Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), the California gubernatorial campaign of Phil Angelides, and Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD).

Papas’ political chops are what Airbnb needs as it faces opposition from the hotel industry and authorities in cities including New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, Berlin, and Barcelona. The hotel industry fears a bite out of its business due to Airbnb’s cheap accommodation offerings, while city authorities contend the service violates local housing and tax laws. Papas and his team are fighting back, with PR campaigns such as one in New York that includes subway ads and a website that declares, "New Yorkers support Airbnb."

In May, Airbnb appointed former Coca-Cola marketing exec Jonathan Mildenhall as CMO, just a couple months before the company rebranded to create a more emotional connection with consumers.  

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