2014 PR People Awards: MARCOM Professional of the Year

Winner: MaryBeth Vrees, Director of Customer Communications and Marketing, Pepco Holdings, Inc.

MaryBeth Vrees co-led the major corporate reputation turnaround for Pepco Holdings, Inc. (PHI) with innovative strategies recognized nationally. As director of customer communications and marketing, she played a critical role in transforming PHI’s reputation from “Most Hated Company in America” in 2011 to “Energy Company of the Year” in 2014.

The reputational rebuild required a foundation set by Vrees in 2012. She became primary author and director of the company’s new integrated communications plan composed of more than a dozen strategies aimed at improving reputation. She used her expertise in crisis and reputation management, rebranding and positioning to develop strategies where they did not exist; outdated, ineffective tactics were overhauled.

This year, Vrees orchestrated the final phase of the massive rebranding effort for PHI. She also directed dramatic improvements to PHI’s digital media presence, culminating with this year’s launch of four new company websites, which are customer-focused and have proven early success.

In the midst of all of that, Vrees flawlessly co-led all communications for a surprise acquisition announcement between PHI and Exelon Corporation, including press releases, fact sheets and a live, internal CEO announcement.

All of this work supported a transformational gain in customer satisfaction of 27 percentage points for PHI’s largest utility, Pepco, since summer 2011.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Judy Davies, Advantest
  • Sasah Hefler, UBIC
  • Taryn Holowka, US Green Building Council