2009 PR People Awards: Public Affairs Executive of the Year

Jonathan Collegio, VP, Digital Television Transition, National Association of Broadcasters

You may have heard about television’s analog-to-digital switch that took place earlier this year. If so, it had a lot to do with the work of Jonathan Collegio, the architect behind the broadcast television industry’s public affairs campaign to educate Americans about the forthcoming change. The multiplatform campaign, in fact, achieved a stunning 98% consumer awareness factor and led to nine out of 10 households to make the switch to a digital converter box by the transition date.

Resounding Success

How did he do it? To start, Collegio channeled his vast leadership skills to oversee the 241 organizations comprising the DTV Transition Coalition and engaged with the spread of informational materials. Leaning on his experience as a political campaign operative, Collegio utilized a variety of media outreach options, including broadcast, radio, news channels and grassroots strategies like church engagements. As the primary director of the industry’s $1.2 billion consumer education campaign budget and the National Association of Broadcasters’ $15 million internal campaign, Collegio hired vendors, two PR firms, research firms, as well as production companies, consultants and seven staff members.

Immediate Attention

Collegio’s role in this transformative campaign led him to the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, amid other national media attention. Overall, he directed media relations with more than 16,000 reporters and news organizations, and more than 8,000 local speaking engagements. He also partnered with others in the cable industry to create a toll-free hotline dedicated to the transition. When the program was delayed due to a shortage of federal coupons, Collegio and his team acted with grace under fire and immediately retooled their Web sites and marketing material to indicate the revised launch date. â– 

Honorable Mentions

John Davies, Chairman & CEO, Davies Public Affairs

Davies engages in a strict policy of careful client choice, believing that the integrity of clients can come to define the integrity of those representing them. Major initiatives this year include the approval of California’s first coastal wind farm and client Harrah’s’ receipt of the winning nomination in a race for one casino license in Kansas.

Richard Ramlall, SVP, Strategic External Affairs, Programming & International Marketing, RCN Corp.

Ramlall’s reputation as a workhorse and expert multitasker are legendary. It’s no wonder then that tiny RCN competes so effectively against some of the largest MSOs and DBS providers. Ramlall is the lead negotiator for all of RCN’s programming deals with mammoth media firms like Disney and Viacom, as well as increasingly aggressive and retrans-happy broadcasters.