NEW YORK: Margi Booth, Lisa Caputo, David Drobis, Steve Harris, John Onoda, and Patrice Tanaka are set to be inducted into the PRWeek U.S. 2016 Hall of Fame.
PRWeek set up the Hall of Fame in 2013 to recognize those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the communications industry. Inaugural honorees were Harold Burson, Al Golin, Charlotte Otto, Jon Iwata, Marilyn Laurie, and Marcia Silverman.
The 2014 inductees were Ofield Dukes, Dan Edelman, Margery Kraus, Marina Maher, and Bill Nielsen. Last year saw Mike Fernandez, David Finn, Joele Frank, Ginger Hardage, Betsy Plank, and Gary Sheffer added to the roll of honor.
The individuals honored are chosen because of their outstanding contribution to the communications industry and establishment of the PR profession; significant impact on the PR field beyond their organization; recruiting and mentoring a generation of comms professionals; contributing thought leadership that shaped the profession or redefined the field; and leadership of the organizations that unify and drive the profession's development.
Steve Harris is an automotive communications legend who is named as a mentor by many individuals in the close-knit sector.
General Motors thought so highly of Harris the embattled auto giant brought him back in 2014 as a temporary consultant on its ignition switch recall crisis. Harris advised CEO Mary Barra and consulted on the running of the communications department while GM searched for a permanent PR lead, ultimately settling on one of Harris’ mentees and protégés, Tony Cervone.
Harris held the automaker's top communications spot twice, including during 2009 when the company descended into bankruptcy. He came out of retirement in March 2006 at the behest of then-CEO Rick Wagoner and led global communications through July 2009. Prior to that, Harris was GM's VP of communications from 1999 until 2003.
John Onoda also led corporate communications for GM, as well as Charles Schwab, Visa USA, and Levi Strauss. Prior to that, he oversaw global media relations for McDonald’s, Holiday Inn, and Harrah’s Casinos.
Like many PR pros, Onoda started as a journalist, reporting for the Omaha World-Herald in Nebraska, which he left after a year to work for The Houston Chronicle. His first job in PR was working for Mitchell Energy & Development Corp., which in the 1980s was the largest independent oil and gas company.
Lisa Caputo leads Travelers’ marketing, research, corporate communications, creative services, and customer experience functions. She joined the financial services company after over 11 years at Citigroup, where she was Citi's first corporate CMO and led global marketing, public affairs, and community relations as EVP, global marketing and corporate affairs.
She founded Citi's leading women's financial services business, Women & Co., and was its chairman and CEO from 2000 to 2010. Caputo also held senior executive marketing and communications positions at The Walt Disney Company and CBS Corporation.
A pioneer in the PR industry, David Drobis joined Ketchum in 1967 and rose from account executive to CEO. During his 36-year run, he helped grow the now Omnicom-owned firm from a single office in Pittsburgh and established its significant global presence.
In 1996, Ketchum Communications was acquired by Omnicom and the advertising part of the business moved its HQ to New York, where the PR division had already been led from since 1981.
The ad operations were eventually subsumed within Omnicom, but Ketchum PR continued as a separate business and thrived. Drobis gave up the position of CEO of Ketchum in 2000 and retired from the firm in January 2004, but stayed on as chairman emeritus.
Margi Booth started out as an assistant in Ruder Finn's television/radio department and worked her way up to become a VP at Ruder Finn, heading that very same broadcast department, and then became president of Public Interest Public Relations in 1977.
In 1985, she founded her eponymous firm M Booth with a view to creating innovative communications programs for consumer, lifestyle, and corporate brands. In 2009, M Booth was acquired by Next Fifteen Communications and Booth assumed the role of AWC (Active Working Chairman), setting the firm’s strategic direction, client counseling, and new business.
Patrice Tanaka’s eponymous full-service PR firm, Patrice Tanaka & Company, was founded in 1990 in New York. Tanaka led a group of colleagues in a management buyback from Chiat/Day Advertising to cofound the employee-owned PR agency with 12 colleagues.
Carter Ryley Thomas Public Relations & Marketing acquired Patrice Tanaka & Co. in 2005, creating a 72-strong firm called CRT/Tanaka with then combined revenues of $10.5 million.
In 2013, Padilla Speer Beardsley acquired CRT/tanaka and the firm rebranded as PadillaCRT, with Tanaka as chief counselor and creative strategist. Last year, Tanaka departed the firm to launch career coaching company Joyful Planet.
The fourth group of stellar inductees will be recognized at a celebratory dinner to be held in New York City on the evening of Monday, December 5. Click here to find out more about joining the celebrations on the night.