Top Women in PR: Jill Zuckman

Jill Zuckman, Managing Director, SKDKnickerbocker

Thoughtful, strategic and dynamic—these are three words that best describe Jill Zuckman, a pick for our Top Women in PR list. Zuckman continues to be a trailblazer in public affairs, leading strategy for crisis communications clients and developing broad coalitions at SKDKnickerbocker. In the last year, she has worked to create a sustained media effort on some of the country’s most pressing national and internationally focused issues.

For instance, Zuckman led the communications effort to free Alan Gross, an American imprisoned in Cuba for more than five years. She also has led communication campaigns to help restore our crumbling infrastructure and to fight against violations of Open Skies agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

In Alan Gross’ case, Zuckman led the campaign to build media and public pressure to force the U.S. government to strike a deal with Cuba and ultimately bring him back to the U.S. The SKDKnickerbocker team, under her leadership, began laying the groundwork for the public campaign by creating a new website, using poignant photos of Alan with his wife and daughters. The media campaign continued for years by taking advantage of every birthday, anniversary, hunger strike or other benchmark in order to continually raise Alan’s plight in the media in such a way that the White House could not ignore it.

Zuckman’s team also promoted international political support to bring Alan home, including from the Pope, to enable U.S. officials to position his freedom as an international humanitarian objective while at the same time negotiating the political details behind the scenes.

On December 17, 2014, Alan Gross was released from Cuban prison and landed on American soil to a national media frenzy. Zuckman organized this media effort and continues to coordinate media opportunities—including Alan’s first sit-down interview since coming home from Cuba.