April Fools’ Day was an interesting time for Damon Jones to take over communications at the largest consumer goods company in the world, a "battlefield appointment" in the midst of a virulent health pandemic.
The 23-year P&G veteran now oversees more than 500 people and six major PR agency partners. His widespread experience across the company includes regional roles in the UK & Ireland, Western Europe (out of Geneva, Switzerland) and Asia.
He also had a stint in Boston overseeing comms at P&G’s Gillette, Venus, Braun, Old Spice and The Art of Shaving brands, before returning to HQ in Cincinnati in 2015 to take on global roles that culminated in the top position. That’s why he’s no. 1 on the PRWeek Power List 2020.
Jones jumped straight into the fray in helping P&G continue to be a beacon of light in demonstrating purpose at the heart of its mission across multiple dimensions. Nowhere has this been highlighted more than the torrid recent months of COVID-19, economic recession and racial injustice.
Jones also becomes the first Black PR pro to top the Power List in its 14 years of existence. His presence there is a sign of progress in diversifying the senior levels of the PR industry, especially on the client side, and Jones will provide a great role model for BIPOC communicators to aspire to. As has often been stated by diverse PR pros, it’s so important to see faces that look like yours in the upper echelons of organizations.
As has also been well-documented recently, PR agencies still have much to do in terms of diversifying the senior levels of their firms. Most of the rest of the ethnic diversity on the 2020 list comes via the in-house side, from new faces including Symone Sanders on the Joe Biden 2020 Campaign, Rhonda Spears Bell at the National Urban League and Kristal Howard at Kroger, to regulars such as Michael Sneed, Bea Perez, Torod Neptune, Fernando Machado and Kim Hunter.
Other newcomers among the 21 new faces on the list represent the sectors that have really stepped up in the provision of essential services during the coronavirus pandemic, the companies working furiously to provide a vaccine for this horrible disease and those who will play a key role in the future of physical workspaces.
The former includes Melissa Brotz at Abbott, Patricia O’Hayer at RB, Janine Pelosi at Zoom, Katie Boylan at Target, Elizabeth Jarvis-Shean at DoorDash and Michael McNally at Lego (ask those home-schooling parents). Amy Flood at Gilead joins regulars Sally Susman and Sneed on the vaccine trail.
Then there’s a nod to the social media platforms and tactics that are reshaping what it means to be a communications expert, from Hilary McQuaide at TikTok, Dave Jorgenson at The Washington Post, Pearl Gabel at the State of New Jersey, Emma Tully at Savage X Fenty and Steak-umm’s social media manager Nathan Allebach.
It’s a great list of PR professionals that really represents the diverse and multi-disciplined nature of the modern communications industry.
Oh yeah, we also included White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on the list. It is an election year, after all.
I’m sure you’ll let me know what you think about that.
But, please, I welcome your feedback on all of our choices here.