2010 PR People Awards:PR Professional of the Year – Academic

Claire Holmes

Associate Vice Chancellor, University Communications, University of California, Berkeley

Talk about crisis management. In the face of a $40 million budget cut in May, Claire Holmes spearheaded a campaign aimed at continuing to promote the stature of UC Berkeley and communicate the potential damage the monetary loss could cause this revered institution. This on top of her reorganizing the entire PR department, and doing her own budget analysis that included replacing a 3-year print publication with an e-newsletter. Working with a strapped budget that called for extreme creativity and flexibility, she oversaw the “Just Don’t Call Us Berzerkeley” campaign to show that academics were still top-notch.

She managed budget-cut protests and attracted positive media attention, which included 1,200 stories focused on research breakthroughs, 2,100 positive mentions and 200 opinion pieces. —CO

Key PR lesson in 2010: “Minute details make or break you. In the blogosphere and cyberspace, correcting misstatements with facts are critical to credibility.”

Honorable Mention:

Daniel Arguijo Jr., Chief Communications Officer, Houston Community College

Daniel Arguijo has helped HCC achieve more than 15% growth in enrollment, a 34% increase in workforce training programs, all while developing a new strategic branding plan.

Bill Jenkins, Executive Director of Public Affairs and Communications, Grand Canyon University

To elevate awareness of the University’s reputation, Bill Jenkins crafted an umbrella theme, “Canyon Cares,” which resulted in unprecedented enrollment in Fall 2010.