2015 class will push diversity and innovation even further

Congratulations to everyone on the list who has taken innovation another step further and inched the industry closer to a diverse future.

The August issue of PRWeek features one of our, and the industry’s, favorite features – 40 Under 40. It’s something we have been doing since 2007 when communications pros at 24 agencies and 14 brands made the list. Some of the reasons for being on the list remain the same – landing new clients, boosting revenues, and mentoring junior colleagues.  

And while some of the skills flagged up in 2007 – establishing company blogs and expanding word-of-mouth advertising – may seem outdated, they laid the foundation for the work that followed, ultimately leading to today’s CEO Ask Me Anything interviews on Reddit and the latest edgy strategies of real-time marketing.

Looking back at our inaugural class of 2007, 18 out of the 40 have left the company they were at when they made the list. Of those switches, the majority were moves from one brand to another, followed a distant second by executives moving from agency to brand.

And in an industry where staff retention and recruitment is the bane of most CEOs, a look at last year’s list reveals that only six out of the 40 have switched to another company. That six represents 15% – much less than the industry turnover standard of about 25%.

The breakdown of agency versus brand remains consistent between 2007 and 2015, as does the median age – 35 in 2007 and 36 in 2015, but what did change significantly is the number of women making the list. In 2007, 27 men and 13 women were named, compared to this year’s 40 Under 40, which stands at 23 women, 17 men, a number that better reflects an industry made up of 75% women.

And while there is still room for improvement, nine PR pros on this year’s list are diverse, compared to just four in 2007. More importantly, the CVs of many on the list including Cohn & Wolfe’s Kerri Allen, who turned a cross-cultural practice into a multimillion-dollar division, and Shanté Bacon, who runs a minority-owned firm, 135th Street Agency, which works to break down color lines in Hollywood, will help ensure that the future face of PR will reflect the diversity of the communities it serves.

So congratulations to everyone on the list who has taken innovation another step further and inched the industry closer to a diverse future, and to the agencies and brands that may have realized the need to nurture and reward the incredible talent in their midst. 

Bernadette Casey is executive editor of PRWeek. She can be contacted at bernadette.casey@prweek.com


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