And baby makes 41: The story behind the first PRWeek 40 Under 40 baby

Comms execs Joseph Cohen and Jaime Schwartz Cohen said PRWeek's 40 Under 40 award has played a big part in their love story.

The Cohens on their first date night following their son's birth
The Cohens on their first date night following their son's birth

A new life came into the world this year, and a lot of the credit for it goes to the PRWeek 40 Under 40 awards. Proud parents Joseph Cohen and Jaime Schwartz Cohen say the annual awards ceremony has played a big part in their love story.

The couple’s relationship started back in 2006, when they met online through JDate. Jaime Schwartz Cohen, now SVP and director of nutrition at Ketchum, was brand new to PR at the time, having just started a gig at Ketchum. Joseph Cohen, meanwhile, was a VP at MWWPR.

But when they initially connected, they didn’t realize they worked in the same industry.

"I didn’t put too much thought into it at the time; I looked at it as a funny coincidence," said Joseph Cohen, on when he discovered the PR connection.

The two met at New York’s Gotham Bar and Grill for their first date. They kept up the relationship for a few weeks, but it soon fizzled.

"At the time, I was really focused on work and travel," said Joseph Cohen, now chief communications officer at Axis Capital.

They still kept in touch, seeing each other at various PR events. As the years passed, Joseph Cohen said he felt like he had made a mistake by letting the relationship end. 

Then, in 2013, he was named a PRWeek 40 Under 40 honoree for his work as an SVP and food and restaurant division practice leader at MWW.

"Around that time, I was thinking about [Jaime Schwartz Cohen], and I thought, ‘I wish I could date her now because I would appreciate the relationship a lot more than I did when I was 28,’" he said.

After PRWeek sent out an email announcing the 2013 40 Under 40 honorees, Jaime Schwartz Cohen emailed Joseph Cohen to congratulate him.

"That was my opening," he said.

The two quickly set up a meeting, both unsure if it was a date or friendly catch-up. It quickly became clear that it was, in fact, a second "first" date.

Joseph Cohen said he realized when they reconnected that there were a lot of benefits to having a partner who worked in the same industry.

"There are certain lifestyle and work aspects to being in PR that you can only appreciate if you’re in the business," he said. "When we first started dating, when I was still on the agency side, I had to explain to her why I had to drop everything for a new business pitch, or had to make an unexpected trip somewhere. At the same time, when she had to do that with me, we instantly understood why."

One year later, on December 13, 2014, the couple got engaged. Joseph Cohen said his proposal was "like a PR stunt."

One day after buying a condo in Hoboken, New Jersey, together, the couple planned to go furniture shopping and top off the day with a trip to one of their favorite spots: Magnolia Bakery. That was also where the proposal was to take place, with help from Sara Gramling, the bakery’s VP of PR and a friend of Joseph Cohen.

"[Jaime Schwartz Cohen] always orders banana pudding," he said. "I had a cup that had pink frill in it instead of banana pudding, and I planted the ring in the cup. I entrusted [the bakery] to hold the ring when I went shopping with her."

Although Jaime Schwartz Cohen admittedly "kept throwing curveballs" throughout the day, the two finally reached Magnolia, the proposal happened, and she said "yes."

The wedding took place August 15, 2015. That same year, Jaime Schwartz Cohen, then VP and director of nutrition at Ketchum, was named a PRWeek 40 Under 40 honoree.

And on February 3, 2018, the couple had their first baby, a boy. Their first date night after their son’s birth was, fittingly, at the PRWeek Awards in March.

"We took flak from that from friends," Joseph Cohen said. "They were like, ‘That was your night out?’ But at this point, I have been in the industry almost 20 years. [Jaime Schwartz Cohen] has been in it 11 years. You go out, you see friends. We had a nice night."

The Cohens said their now 8-month-old son shows early signs of having the right qualities — outgoing, verbal, energetic, active — for a career in communications.

"We often talk in PR jargon around the house," Joseph Cohen said. "We say, ‘I’m aligned.’ Or if we are getting lunch with someone, we call it ‘a meeting.’ When our son starts talking, we imagine he will start spitting back PR terminology at us."

Out of tradition, the couple continues to go to the 40 Under 40 dinner as a date night outing.

"PRWeek’s awards kept the connection between us for 8 years that ultimately led to us dating again, getting married, and having a baby," Joseph Cohen said. "PRWeek, in a very interesting way, became part of our story."

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