Thirty-year Weber Shandwick veteran Andy Polansky was recently elevated to chairman and CEO of holding company Interpublic’s Constituency Management Group, succeeding the retiring CFO Frank Mergenthaler in the CMG role. Longtime business partner Gail Heimann, who had served as Weber’s global president since 2013, took over the role of CEO at IPG’s largest PR firm, still reporting to Polansky.
CMG oversees Interpublic Group’s specialty marketing firms across a variety of disciplines, including PR, sports marketing, experiential marketing, brand consulting and digital and entertainment marketing.
What would your advice be for a young person entering PR in 2020?
The PR field is a great career opportunity for intellectually curious individuals. Follow your passions and apply your skill set to make a difference inside and outside your organization. Be an active listener and take initiative. Understand context and have a global view.
What role should the industry play in government, society and business?
PR counselors are more than ever playing a vital role in boardrooms as companies face reputational risk in an increasingly complex operating environment around the globe.
At the same time, businesses have a responsibility to consider the public interest as they go to market, and internal and external stakeholders expect business leaders to take leadership positions on policy and societal issues.
How are the founding principles of PR relevant in today’s fast-moving and febrile comms environment?
The Page Principles, in particular, always serve as a sound framework for communicators, and they are more relevant in today’s fast-changing environment. "Tell the truth" and "Prove it with action" are two of the principles that have particular resonance in today’s environment, where "fake news" is prevalent and where credibility comes with action not just words.
How different would your life have been if you’d stayed in journalism at the Bucks County Courier Times?
I’d be kayaking on the Delaware River instead of Barnegat Bay.
And, perhaps, I would have aspired to be a business reporter for The Wall Street Journal or a sportswriter covering the New York Yankees.
What keeps you excited about working in the PR industry?
The pace of change is unrelenting and often unpredictable. What’s exciting, and has me jazzed about coming to work every morning, is that we seemingly always have an opportunity to reimagine how, when and where we bring creative solutions to clients. We get to learn something new every day.
Dire Straits and Neil Young. Along with so many others old and new.
You’re a neighbor of Joe Pesci — how amusing is he?
Haven’t you seen My Cousin Vinny?
Which three people, living or dead, would you like to host at a dinner party?
Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.