PRNEWS Honors Year’s Top Communicators at PR People Awards

The work of public relations typically happens behind the scenes, but at yesterday’s 2019 PR People Awards and Rising Stars 30 & Under Awards PRNEWS put the spotlight on the communicators behind some of the year’s most impactful work.

While the awards honored individuals, many of the recipients emphasized the importance of their colleagues in their success throughout the year and in their careers.

Carrie Kerpin, the CEO and co-founder of Likeable Media and author of WORK IT: Secrets for Success from the Boldest Women in Business, said it best during her keynote: “Your network is your net worth.”

And networks go well beyond professional relationships. Recipients thanked their families for supporting what may have seemed like an unconventional career choice – many of whom brought their moms to the Georgetown Marriott in Washington D.C. to celebrate with them.

The networks of family and friends that helped award winners on their journey to the stage yesterday proved just as valuable to the 2019 inductees into PRNEWS’ PR People Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame recognizes communicators who have carved out a space for themselves in the collective history of the PR discipline by leading the growth and development of their organizations. Those inducted into the PR People Hall of Fame are shining examples of leadership in PR, and in some cases, nurturing the careers of yesterday’s award winners.

The PR pros inducted into the 2019 PRNEWS PR People Hall of Fame are president of Vanguard Communications Maria Rodriguez, senior vice president of communications at MSNBC Errol Cockfield, vice president of corporate communications with ESPN Katina Arnold and global corporate communications and public policy executive for Bank of America James Mahoney.

Maria Rodriguez said that her life was changed by an internship she took early in her career. It landed her in PR where she said she found her calling. She urged those in attendance to offer paid internships at their organizations so that students and young professionals can have the same chance at success that she did.

Life-changing moments can also come from seemingly unexpected places. PRNEWS’ own Seth Arenstein, who worked with Katina Arnold while reporting on the cable industry, recommended her for a job at ESPN where she’s spent over a decade shepherding the brand’s growth into the household name it is today.

If there was one lesson to take away from yesterday’s award winners, it’s that Kerpin’s advice that “your network is your net worth” is more than a catchphrase. None of the honorees would have been there without the support and guidance of their networks—family, friends and colleagues.

You can find a list of all of our winners at