PR People Awards: PR Professional of the Year: Corporate

Winner: Chris LaPlaca, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, ESPN

As ESPN’s senior vice president, corporate communications, Chris LaPlaca is responsible for the company’s worldwide internal, public and media relations strategies, including oversight of consumer, corporate and employee communications for ESPN’s 50 business units.  He also oversees the company’s day-to-day working relationship with The Walt Disney Company’s corporate communications and investor relations groups.

As ESPN competes in an ever-changing industry, there’s much at stake and LaPlaca is at the center of it all, leading external and internal communications and reinventing the way ESPN PR operates. This past year, big events, new businesses, major competition and groundbreaking technology were among the milestones of what has been LaPlaca’s best professional year ever—and that’s saying something.

The work of LaPlaca has resulted in unprecedented publicity for ESPN’s products and people. The daily flow of stories around the world led to higher ratings, brand strengthening and new business growth, impacting ESPN’s growing bottom line. A showcase of ESPN PR’s effectiveness came in August 2014 when the three biggest daily print outlets—The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today—all published features about three different ESPN topics on the same day.

For the 2014 World Cup, a lengthy strategic PR plan placed more than 200 stories in the top 75 newspapers. In addition, Google search shows about 7.5 million results for mentions with ESPN and the 2014 World Cup in the same story (up from 4.67 million in 2010).

Honorable Mentions:

  • Christopher Ian Bennett, Guitar Center
  • Misty Dangel, USANA Health Sciences
  • Melissa Drake, ERA Real Estate
  • Seth Oster, KPMG LLP