2015 PR People Awards: PR Professional of the Year/Nonprofit

Winner: Patrick R. Riccards, Chief Communications and Strategy Officer, Woodrow Wilson Foundation

At the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Patrick Riccards has demonstrated leadership through his ability to step in, on day one, and build a full-service PR operation for a foundation that had lacked such a proactive effort for seven decades.

Riccards quickly won over senior leadership and staff with his plans, demonstrating how growth in earned media, social media, and other engagement activities could benefit the foundation as a whole and the success of each of Woodrow Wilson’s individual programs.

One of Riccards’ primary tasks was to successfully launch the Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning, a graduate school and education research lab that stands as the largest single investment the foundation has made in its seven decades.

In June 2015, the WW Academy was launched at a small MIT event. As a result of Riccards’ work, the foundation secured 350 total media articles, representing more than 50 million media impressions. On social media, the #woodrowacademy hashtag Riccards created garnered more than 10 million total Twitter impressions in the first two weeks.

The launch of the WW Academy was included in major media outlets such as Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, Christian Science Monitor, Associated Press, McClatchy, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Education Week. Equally important, the media coverage of the launch resulted in more than a half-dozen potential funders proactively reaching out to discuss supporting the WW Academy.

Thanks to Riccards, media coverage for the foundation has increased dramatically, as he regularly secures mentions in publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, Chronicle of Higher Education, Education Week, The Atlantic, and countless others.

On a quarterly basis, the foundation now secures more than 25 million print impressions. And, in just 10 months, Riccards took a Twitter feed that started with just 400 followers and built a 30,000-plus following. With each major Woodrow Wilson social media announcement, the foundation secures more than 4 million Twitter impressions, on average.

Honorable Mentions:

•             Christine Bragale, Mercy Corps

•             Bridget Weston Pollack, SCORE