Presidents, Hollywood stars and high-profile CEOs all value PR highly

The caliber of individuals paying tribute to this year’s PRWeek Hall of Fame honorees is a testament to how highly communications is regarded by powerful individuals and organizations.

President George W. Bush pays tribute to Karen Hughes at PRWeek's Hall of Fame 2020.
President George W. Bush pays tribute to Karen Hughes at PRWeek's Hall of Fame 2020.

Where else would you find President George W. Bush, celebrities Sharon Stone, Billy Crystal, Rosie O'Donnell, Billie Jean King and Norah O'Donnell, and high-profile multinational CEOs and business leaders including J&J’s Alex Gorsky, Coca-Cola’s James Quincey, Microsoft’s Brad Smith and CNN Worldwide’s Jeff Zucker?

The answer is PRWeek’s class of 2020 Hall of Fame ceremony, which took place in a virtual environment yesterday afternoon.

All the above individuals and more showed up on video to congratulate this year’s six honorees: Rogers & Cowan PMK’s Cindi Berger, BCW Global’s Karen Hughes, Johnson & Johnson’s Michael Sneed, Coca-Cola’s Bea Perez, ESPN’s Chris LaPLaca and MWWPR’s Michael Kempner.

It was clear from all the comments that PR has not only achieved its aim of taking a place at the top table, but it is also acting as senior counsel in the most important strategic and business decisions being made at that top table.

Consider these selected quotes about the honorees as impressive examples to illustrate my point:

President George W. Bush: “It’s no wonder that Karen [Hughes] is being recognized. She’s smart, capable and honest. I relied on her counsel for many years, both as governor and as president. She made me a better candidate and a better leader.”

Microsoft’s Brad Smith: “Everybody in life benefits from an independent, trusted communications adviser. When it comes to judgment, creativity, always being there and always being prepared, Karen Hughes has always set the gold standard.”

Jeff Zucker, chairman, WarnerMedia News: “There is no one I would rather work with, no one who is better and no one who is more deserving of this induction than Cindi [Berger].”

Sharon Stone: “Cindi [Berger] is the kind of person who started as receptionist and now runs the company.”

Billie Jean King: “She [Cindi Berger] helped shape my career and hundreds of others. You have been a champion in life and in work.”

Rosie O’Donnell: “She [Cindi Berger]’s been there for me through personal triumphs and tragedies, great loss and great success, and she’s always there by my side.”

Billy Crystal: “She’s tough; she’s strong; she has a great sense of humor. And she does not eat the cheese in my green room.”

Alex Gorsky: “As a business leader, marketer and now as our chief communication officer, Michael [Sneed]’s contributions to Johnson & Johnson are countless through many, many years of service. One of his many accomplishments that stands out is his incredible work leading J&J’s purpose statement.

“It’s one thing to call yourself a purpose-led company. But clearly articulating that purpose in a way that can be shared with the world, that’s not easy and it’s no small feat. His visionary leadership has helped bring J&J’s family of companies together in an unprecedented way … He’s equipped our company with communications strategies and tools that ultimately inspired us to be our best and most inspired selves every day.”

James Quincey: “Bea [Perez]’s leadership in the public affairs, communications and sustainability space is monumental. She pushes us every day at The Coca-Cola Company to innovate and improve. Her passion for transparency, authenticity, equality and inclusion drive her success in every area she touches.”

These are super-impressive testimonials that reflect well on our 2020 Hall of Fame honorees, from whom you can listen to some words of wisdom here. And if you missed the ceremony live, you can watch it here on catchup.

It reflects well on our Hall of Fame alumni, from whom you can garner some career advice here (don't miss Jon Iwata's anecdote about his pivotal meeting with then IBM CEO Lou Gerstner, where Iwata himself was the only agenda item.)

It reflects well on all of you out there working hard day to day in the PR profession.

And, yes, it also reflects well on PRWeek – so we’ll take a little bit of that reflected glory too!

As we near the end of a super-tough and challenging year, it’s good to remember the contribution you are all making on so many levels. PR has come a long way, and you should all be very proud of that.

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