2014 PR People Awards: PR Professional of the Year: Agency

Co-Winner: Christopher Penn, Vice President of Marketing Technologies, SHIFT Communications

Christopher Penn is a veteran in the communication and technology industries with more than 15 years of experience guiding companies through the muddy waters of the ever-changing technological landscape.

Penn speaks at many PR, marketing, business and professional development events each year, often speaking on the topic of measurement. He was even one of the first speakers asked to participate in the first MarTech Boston 2014 conference, recognized for his measurement chops.

There are many words that are used to describe Penn, and “innovative” is always at the top of the list. For example, in March 2014, reports indicated that Facebook had throttled the organic, non-paid reach of brand pages. In a nutshell, if brands wanted their page posts to appear on existing fans’ timelines, they would have to pay to expand reach.

The industry erupted with commentary, with marketing bloggers and reporters across the board attempting to explain what Facebook had done and what the changes meant for PR and marketing professionals. Penn took it a step further, creating the Facebook Cost Calculator, allowing brand managers and PR professionals to measure just how much their brand would have to pay to reach their existing Facebook fans.

Penn’s initial blog post about Facebook’s organic reach problems and the Facebook Cost Calculator was posted on the SHIFT agency blog and reached a substantial audience, subsequently receiving 7,714 page views. The calculator itself was viewed 6,757 times and used by close to 3,800 brands since its inception. Penn’s thoughts on the topic and calculator tool were picked up in the media and blogosphere, appearing in Adotas and Social Media Explorer.

Co-Winner: JP Schuerman, Executive Vice President, General Manager, Western Region, MWW

John Paul (JP) Schuerman has led a complete transformation of the MWW Los Angeles office. When he first started in 2011, the LA office consisted of a public affairs practice with a small portion of clientele in the sustainability and energy industry. He was charged with quickly building not just the LA office, but also the entire Western region, including the San Francisco office.

And, in just two short years, Schuerman has efficiently recruited and mentored a deep bench of PR professionals, growing MWW’s Western Region from a staff of seven people into a team of 38 strong. With the growth of the region, the caliber of the clients also rose, including marquee consumer, tech and LGBT brands signing on with MWW LA as agency of record. Through Schuerman’s infectious charisma and strategic leadership, MWW’s Western Region is enjoying unprecedented success (68% YOY revenue growth).

Schuerman was the mastermind of an extremely creative and successful bid for the Air New Zealand business, which included a fully immersive client experience, staging the pitch meeting in MWW’s custom commercial airplane fuselage replica.

Beginning with personal boarding passes embedded with QR codes sent to the prospective client to build excitement prior to the pitch, the experience included faux flight attendants and ticketing personnel. Once scanned, the personalized boarding passes launched an eye-popping customized message displayed on MWW’s large lobby’s TV screens.

From airplane row-style seating, to a signature orange aisle running down the middle, the clients knew they were about to experience a new business pitch presentation like no other. MWW, under Schuerman’s leadership, made their pitch, showing Air New Zealand that MWW was an agency with an attention to detail and a passion for the airline industry.

As a result, Air New Zealand signed on with MWW as agency of record and in just a few short months, has benefitted from billions of impressions secured by MWW.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Katie Blair, Vantage PR
  • Nicole Dunn, Dunn Pellier Media
  • Matt Kovacs, Blaze PR
  • Drisha Leggit, Drisha Leggitt & Co. Communications & LCS Technologies
  • Ravi Sunnak, Havas PR
  • Jenna Thomas, Nebo
  • Teresa Villarreal, Newlink Group