Winner: Russell Thomas, Director of Media and PR, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice
Since joining Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice in September 2007 as the firm's director of media and public relations, Russell Thomas proved his immeasurable value in the face of one of the firm's toughest years. Within his first few months on the job, the firm entered into merger talks, dealt with the onset of a severe economic downturn and faced necessary layoffs. Through all that, Russell managed to navigate all media relations efforts to get Womble Carlyle's reputation through the challenges intact, and then some.
Russell's successes within the firm all came without the benefit of having a full staff at his disposal. Rather, he had to leverage his own skills, as well as those of his ad- hoc virtual team, to boost productivity without a wealth of resources. Regardless, his efforts have almost single-handedly increased the firm's profile, not to mention have led to the following additional accomplishments:
Leveraging earned PR and media relations efforts into an estimated ad equivalency value of $500,000 in 2008;
Increasing news-related stories involving Womble Carlyle by 20% over the same period in 2007;
Distributing 68+ press releases in 2008, a 60% increase over the previous year; and,
Getting the firm's messages to audiences via new media platform by writing for its network of 16 blogs and using social networking sites as client development tools.
Pro Bono Efforts
In addition to his professional responsibilities, Russell finds time to provide pro bono media relations services to both the Council on Legal Education Opportunity and the Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel Association. As if all these commitments aren't enough to keep him busy, Russell also serves on two Womble Carlyle Committees--the Diversity Committee and the Economic Stability and Solutions Committee--as well as acting as a board member of the Washington Chapter of Law Firm Media Professionals association.