Top Women in PR: Sharon M. Reis

Sharon M. Reis, Partner, GYMR Public Relations

Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI) wanted to position itself as a major player in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease. With little visibility outside Arizona when it engaged GYMR in 2011, BAI needed a major breakthrough to draw the spotlight and bolster its reputation. Sharon deftly pinpointed the best opportunity—the announcement of a $16 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for the first-ever Alzheimer’s prevention clinical trial, involving an extended family in Colombia, South America who share a rare genetic mutation triggering Alzheimer’s around age 45. Grant announcements do not typically make news, but Sharon secured widespread coverage that set the stage for future media outreach.

Establishing a relationship of trust and respect, Sharon led Banner on an ambitious global media effort. She guided U.S. and international reporters on a groundbreaking three-day trip to Medellín, navigating multiple languages and cultures, and stricken families. She coordinated a successful press conference, home visits with village families, and interviews with leading researchers. Her creativity secured six high-quality news stories featuring key Banner players, a photo documentary spread in Scientific American, an in-depth feature in the Wall Street Journal and a three-part front-page series in The Arizona Republic, the client’s headquarters market.