Passion, Creativity Lead the Way for Agency PR Pros of the Year Hardin and Madden

PR Professional of the Year Agency_Katherine_Hardin_Ruder Finn copy
Katherine Hardin, Ruder Finn

Co-Winner: Katherine Hardin, SVP, Ruder Finn

Kate Hardin has a passion for working with corporate healthcare clients and has turned that passion into a highly profitable group within the corporate communications practice at Ruder Finn.

It’s been a noteworthy year for Hardin, to say the least. In just a year, Hardin has grown her team from four to 12 people, and corporate healthcare clients now account for more than half of the corporate communications practice revenue. Further, in just six months, Hardin grew her client revenues by more than 40%, with another 16% projected for the remainder of 2017.

In a time when the communications industry faces more competition than ever before and pharmaceutical companies' budgets have become tighter, Hardin has managed to achieve the impossible—a 63% growth target in 2017. She has made it her job to understand everything about corporate healthcare, and her passion and knowledge have made her an unmatched partner for new clients and opened doors with existing ones.

Outside of work, Hardin cares about the community around her and regularly volunteers at the Food Bank of N.Y., a soup kitchen in Chelsea, where she stocks and hands out food to the homeless on Saturday mornings. She is also passionate about her alumni university, Lafayette College, and serves on the alumni network where she helps advise seniors and gives them career advice. She was a member of the Honors Society at Lafayette College, where she graduated with a B.A. in International Affairs and French.

Jane P. Madden, Burson-Marsteller

Co-Winner: Jane P. Madden, Managing, Director, Head U.S. Corporate Responsibility, Burson-Marsteller

Jane Madden is a corporate responsibility practitioner and thought leader with 25 years of experience as an authority on ESG (environmental, social and governance) strategy, performance and communications.

Madden advises Fortune 500 companies in the extractives, energy, CPG, healthcare, food and apparel industries on social impact, executive positioning and stakeholder engagement. At Burson-Marsteller, she holds a unique position offering clients strategic counsel and acting as an internal expert on CR and sustainability, allowing her to direct new business initiatives.

Recently, Madden spearheaded data analysis on ESG disclosures and institutional investors that were presented in a white paper titled “Is Your ESG Report Getting Noticed By Investors?” Key findings from the white paper include the fact that investors believe digital reports make it easier to find data (37%) and share content (36%). The findings have enormous implications for how Burson-Marsteller will advise clients and pursue new business opportunities moving forward.

Madden and her team also developed and recently released a materiality assessment product. The materiality assessment product delivers clients a comprehensive understanding of risks and opportunities in their industries by drawing correlations between issues deemed relevant by stakeholders and internal parties.

Madden spearheaded the product’s creation and it has been met with great acclaim. Madden’s revolutionary creation gives all clients a bird’s eye view of financial and non-financial data and its direct impact on organizational processes. Madden’s team is now able to make leading stakeholder engagement, operations and media relations recommendations to clients.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Darlene Doyle, SVP, PAN Communications—As head of client relations at PAN Communications, Darlene Doyle was able to package the firm’s new services (ie, integrated marketing) and present them to clients, resulting in an upsurge in organic growth, and equating to 12% of the firm’s revenue.
  • Alia Faraj-Johnson, Managing Director, Hill+Knowlton Strategies—Alia Faraj-Johnson's expertise is trusted by lobbyists, law firms, legislators and corporate executives who regularly call upon her for counsel. She is known as strategic, thoughtful, and collaborative leader, and she has worked tirelessly to raise the visibility of the H+K Florida public affairs practice.
  • Julie Murphy, Partner & VP, Public Relations, Sage Communications—Julie Murphy’s involvement in professional organizations has been a major contributing factor to her career. For over a decade, she has been involved in various segments of Women in Technology (WIT), an organization that advocates for women from the “classroom to the boardroom.”
  • Rebecca Reeve, Founder & Principal, Rsquared Communication—One of Rebecca Reeve's clients, Michael Pryor, CEO of Trello, puts it best: "The growth and success of Trello is directly attributable to the work of Rebecca and the Rsquared team. Obviously we had to build a great company and a good product, but getting the press to talk about us and our milestones is not easy (and even harder for a company like ours that isn't based in the Valley)."
  • Lisa Ross, Managing Director, APCO Worldwide—When APCO senior leadership recognized that the Washington, D.C., office needed a reset and recharge, they knew that bringing in Lisa Ross was the best way to inject energy into the headquarters office. Lisa encouraged the office to reclaim its swagger, place a rigorous and deliberate focus on strategic growth by building on its strengths while not ignoring its weaknesses.
  • Dan Simon, CEO, Vested—Dan Simon has been the driver of putting an investment fund and a software development company inside a PR agency, and he’s facilitating the execution of the ventures. This is partially opportunism, but largely creativity and innovative thinking in terms of how to make the ideas actually work.

See all the winners and honorable mentions for PR News' 2017 PR People Awards.