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Meet 22 top public relations pros who are expert at spinning bad news, managing the press — and are on the market

ttop public relations experts CEOs scramble to hire in a crisis 2x1
  • CEOs need good communications advice more than ever as the coronavirus pandemic brings the economy to a halt.
  • Business Insider identified 22 respected PR pros on the market who CEOs should hire if they need help navigating these turbulent times.
  • They include people who were laid off in the wake of the pandemic or other reasons, or are independent consultants looking to join a larger organization.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.
As the coronavirus pandemic ravages the global economy, the crisis leaves questions for CEOs.
Employees wonder when they can return to work amid the pandemic and if their workplaces will be safe. People are looking for products and services to help through the crisis. Companies that got stimulus relief are being scrutinized.
Business Insider identified 22 respected PR pros on the market who CEOs should know if they're looking for help navigating these turbulent times.
The following list is based on our own reporting as well as nominations. It includes in-house communications executives, sole proprietors, and agency veterans like ex-Oracle exec Bob Winslow, former United Technologies' Kelli Parsons, Anneka Patel, formerly of Eventbrite, and more.
Some were laid off in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, others are independent practitioners who want to rejoin an organization full-time, and some recently left their jobs for reasons not related to the coronavirus.
Scroll down to read the full list, in alphabetical order by last name.
SEE ALSO: 18 top public relations experts CEOs scramble to hire in a crisis

Aparna Aswani



Aparna Aswani was director of global corporate communications at Moxie, establishing the function for the customer engagement software company, until she left in April.
At Moxie, Aswani helped get 15 thought leadership pieces across banking, insurance, and financial services, helped get coverage in publications like Forbes and did case studies with Con Edison, Northgate Vehicle Hire and others.
Giacomo Marini, who was chair and CEO of Neato when Aswani ran North American comms there, praised her for raising the company's profile using traditional and digital media under a tight budget. She also expanded its awareness in Europe and Asia.
Aswani was also VP at Bhava Communications and VP of SutherlandGold Group.



Frank Bauch



Telling tech startups' stories without getting bogged down in the jargon can be difficult.
For more than a decade, Frank Bauch has worked in tech startup PR, helping emerging companies establish themselves. Most recently, he led comms and PR at software company Envoy.
Bauch was also senior PR manager at data science company Periscope Data before and after it was acquired by Sisense. Sisense's head of global comms, Rob Banning said he was "trusted by executives and colleagues" and "developed deep relationships with trade and business press. If I were hiring, he would be my No. 1 draft pick."
Bauch was also the comms lead at Metamarkets until the ad tech company was acquired by Snapchat.



Robert Bobo



In fall 2014, the Ebola virus outbreak struck the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital when an infected man arrived at the Dallas hospital and doctors reportedly failed to recognize his symptoms.
Then a top executive at Burson-Marsteller, Robert Bobo helped lead the crisis response as 200 media outlets were staged in the hospital's parking lot. He organized a call from then-President Barack Obama, a visit from former President George W. Bush, and press events.
The number of people saying they'd avoid the hospital dropped by 57% a few months later, while elective surgeries reached their pre-crisis level by December following a 24% drop in October.
Most recently, Bobo led comms at Pioneer Natural Resources when it was scrutinized for fracking and helped it manage through two CEO transitions, divestitures, and workforce cuts.



Duncan Burns



Duncan Burns was VP of external comms at Fannie Mae until 2019, where he helped guide their transition to a new chairman and CEO.
Before that, Burns was SVP of global comms and MD of the Washington, DC office and on the global leadership team for ICANN, the nonprofit organization that maintains the domain system for the Internet.
During his time there, Burns helped ICANN become fully independent from the U.S. government. He led comms as ICANN introduced more than 2,000 top-level domains.
Prior to that, Burn spent 13 years at Hill + Knowlton Strategies. After it merged with Public Strategies, he led the firm's first global energy practice and was general manager for its DC office.
One of his prominent assignments was leading the Nuclear Energy Institute's response during and after the Fukushima Daiichi crisis.



Jurena Cantrell



Jurena Cantrell runs J. Glass Communications, the Atlanta-based PR agency she founded almost 20 years ago. She's served as lead spokesperson for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WABC News - New York, while being responsible for other clients' social media.
Over her career, she's handled broadcast PR for Coca-Cola, the NFL, Home Depot, Wendy's, Michelob, and more.
At Precise Communications, she was a key liaison for large accounts such as Spelman College, Cracker Barrel, and Essence Magazine.
Cantrell was also a producer and writer for the Dekalb County Government in Atlanta, supporting the county CEO during press conferences and events, and produced news snippets for its show, Inside Dekalb.



Greg Cohen



Patrón has become synonymous with premium tequila, and credit for that status goes to Greg Cohen, who was VP of corporate communications between 2010 and 2018, positioning Patrón for a $5.1 billion acquisition by Bacardi.
"Given the brand's popularity today, it's easy to forget that Patrón Tequila was not always such a well-known name," said then-Patrón COO John McDonnell. "Greg played an important and instrumental role in developing the brand story, communicating that to [the] global press, and ultimately helping to create one of the greatest successes in the spirits industry."
Over  12 years, Patrón increased volume sales by 143%, compared to a 43% for global tequila during the same time period.



Cristin Culver



Cristin Culver was head of local communications at online real estate company Opendoor, launching in 17 of the 21 markets in addition to heading up PR until she was part of a layoff of 600 employees in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Before joining Opendoor three years ago, she was director of PR at OpenHouse, where she built the company's PR from scratch and helped manage a corporate rebrand.
Culver also had a stint as PR manager at real estate website Trulia and comms associate for Pandora.



Ashli Davis



The owner of Type A Consulting, Ashli Davis has handled work for clients such as The Coca-Cola Co., Johnson & Johnson, USAA, Dean Foods.
She's advised dozens of executives, spearheaded six remote networks for comms, and ran at least 30 global internal and external employee engagement campaigns.
Last year, she helped ingredients solutions company CP Kelco on a variety of issues, especially internal comms. Earlier, she helped Johnson & Johnson on employee engagement.
In 2009, Davis had a yearlong stint at digital experience agency Sagepath, following almost three years at Coca-Cola, where she was global project manager of internal comms for worldwide public affairs and comms between 2006 and 2008.
For Coca-Cola, she managed operations for a global network of internal comms and employee engagement experts across 206 countries. Davis was comms and publication manager for the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia between 1999 and 2004.



Cheryl Dixon



In 2015, Coty acquired dozens of beauty brands from P&G in a deal worth $12.5 billion, including CoverGirl and Clairol. Coty later hired Cheryl Dixon as VP of comms and PR to lead a new North America comms unit for part of its consumer beauty business.
Dixon previously was head of comms and brand marketing at Grohe, a German kitchen and bath company, where her work helped it win Amazon's "Most Improved Vendor" award in 2016, which is given to the vendor that has the most growth in year-over-year sales.
Dixon has also had PR stints at Chanel, at Pepsi-Cola in North America, and at Ernst & Young.



Alex Dudley



Alex Dudley was SVP of comms at Charter Communications, where he helped smooth the integration process during its acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks to create the second-largest U.S. broadband provider and third-largest pay TV provider.
After Time Warner and Bright House accepted Charter's terms, Dudley created national and local PR campaigns to push the deal through a regulatory process by the Department of Justice, Federal Communications Commission, 41 states, and hundreds of local municipalities.
Before Charter, Dudley was group VP of PR at Time Warner Cable and an SVP at PR firm DKC.



Michal Habdank-Kolaczkowski



Michal Habdank-Kolaczkowski was at the center of the crisis facing the bee population as head of communications at BeeHero, an AI company that helps farmers maximize crop yield by optimizing pollination. He also rolled out its new branding and tagline, "Pollinate and Prosper."
Before that, Habdank-Kolaczkowski spearheaded the PR launch of the San Francisco Mayor Office's Civic Innovation Entrepreneurship-in-Residence Program to improve public transportation, healthcare, and other pressing issues for the city.
Habdank-Kolaczkowski was head of comms at Spire Health, a remote patient monitoring company that received a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He previously was at Waze through its $1.1 billion acquisition by Google.



Andrea Holland



Andrea Holland re-enters the job market after most recently holding an interim position for senior global corporate communications at Intuit.
Holland led product and thought leadership campaigns at Intuit's small business and self-employed groups.
She also founded Remote PR Jobs, which helps PR professionals find remote work; and tech consultancy DialedPR. Her work has placed clients on the cover of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, helped them secure positions on Forbes' and Fast Company's lists of the most innovative companies, and speaking engagements at SXSW and CES.
Holland also led the PR launch for EverlyWell, bringing at-home diagnostic test to the world at TechCrunch Disrupt 2015, introduced the world's first Driver's Ed mobile app, Aceable, to market through the WSJ, and other things.
Holland worked at FleishmanHillard, Access Communications, and Horn Group, handling PR for Intuit, PayPal, and Visa.



Brian Levine



As founder of Game 7 Comms, PR veteran Brian Levine has clients including Comcast, Cinch Home Services, and ADT.
For Comcast, Levine supported executive messaging, weekly communications, engagement activities, and recognition programs. He helped rebrand Cross Country Home Services to Cinch and unveiled ADT's new brand positioning.
At Office Depot, Levine rose from director of PR to VP of global communications, leading comms, community relations, environmental strategy, and its in-house TV and video production studio. Levine also supported Office Depot's acquisition of OfficeMax.
Levine started his career at Sony Electronics, rising to VP of corporate communications, and introducing Sony's consumer and business products in the U.S. market, including 12 new categories.



Amanda Livingood



For the past five years, Amanda Livingood has run comms at ticketing company Eventbrite through its skyrocketing growth, 2018 IPO, and $200 million acquisition of Ticketfly from Pandora.
She landed speaking opportunities and media placements in places as The New York Times' Corner Office and Financial Times "How I Lead," while developing social media content and bylines.
Before Eventbrite, Livingood was senior manager of corporate comms at Pandora, helping burnish its profile and contain reputational threats as the company grappled with the likes of Spotify, Apple, and Beats Music.
Before that, Livingood was senior manager of consumer comms at Ask.com and Dictionary.com.



Sarah Maxwell



The crypto space is noisy, crowded, and confusing.
But during her almost three-year tenure at Blockchain.com, Sarah Maxwell helped it become the world's most popular crypto wallet and retain its position, rising to VP of marketing, communication, and expansion.
Maxwell helped lead the company through a fundraise, executive hiring, rebrand, product launches, and one of the largest ever crypto giveaways.
At Uber, she got the first ridesharing regulations passed in Colorado, California, and other states. She also led comms for UberEATS.
"Our small team turned it into a small experiment delivering deli sandwiches in the LA area, to launching a standalone app, and when I left UberEATS, it was available in over 100 cities," Maxwell said.
She also has worked on President Obama and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaigns.



Kelli Parsons



Kelli Parsons led comms during a historic defense industry deal — Raytheon's $135 billion acquisition in 2019 of United Technologies' aerospace business, Rockwell Collins.
The deal resulted in the second largest defense contractor in the world with $64 billion in annual sales, while spinning off subsidiaries Carrier and Otis into standalone companies.
She was chief comms officer and SVP at United Technologies before leaving the combined company, Raytheon Technologies Corp.
Earlier, she had top communications and marketing roles at New York Life Insurance,  Fannie Mae, and Warburg Pincus.



Anneka Patel



As director of communications at Eventbrite, Anneka Patel led external comms for the ticketing company's C-suite, scoring numerous speaking opportunities for executives and creating a crisis playbook around fraudulent events, site outages, and the coronavirus pandemic.
Prior to Eventbrite, Patel was head of corporate comms for North America at marketing platform InMobi, during which the company was recognized as a CNBC Disruptor 50 for 2018 and 2019, as well as Fast Company World's 50 Most Innovative Companies for 2018.
Patel also was at Edelman from 2009 to 2015, where she did in-house PR for Samsung.



Mindy Rubinstein



Mindy Rubinstein built Ketchum's corporate comms function from scratch, helping cement the Omnicom PR agency as one of the best in the industry. She left the agency in 2019.
"Mindy is the best chief communications officer I've ever worked with and I've worked with many in my career," said Rob Flaherty, chairman of Ketchum.
In her 18 years at the firm, Rubinstein led comms for several CEO transitions and numerous mergers and acquisitions. She helped tamp down some of the most high-profile controversies in PR, including its work for the Russian government.
She also helped the company through two rebrandings, as well as a restructuring that had Ketchum focus on industry-specific expertise instead of geographies.
Before Ketchum, Rubinstein worked at Pfizer, then-known as Warner-Lambert, helping launch Lipitor, which became the first drug to achieve $1 billion in sales in less than 12 months and developed its first corporate branding and reputation management initiative.



Michael Selvidge



Michael Selvidge was head of communications for software company Lob until February and director of comms at mobile marketing platform AppLovin' before that.
But he's probably best known for his Callin' Oates stunt.
While at software company Twilio from 2011 to 2014, Selvidge built an app where you could call into 719-26-OATES to hear a song from Hall and Oates. It was featured on the Today show, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, TMZ, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and more.
"Selvidge is either a meme genius or a very very lucky communications manager," The Atlantic wrote in 2011. "And the truth is, it's a little bit of both."



Abbe Serphos



Abbe Serphos has been an independent consultant, advising Columbia Journalism Review, the Paley Center for Media, and legal and private equity clients.
She also spent six months at Hiltzik Strategies, working with tech, finance and private equity clients as a senior consultant.
Before that, Serphos handled PR for Reuters and The New York Times, handled everything from earnings to workforce cuts to reputation management issues.
Previously, she was director of PR at Barnes & Noble and senior manager of corporate affairs in the U.S. at Kraft Foods North America.



Karl Stetson



A former media relations and content creation director at W2O Group until earlier this year, Karl Stetson has made a career at the intersection of healthcare and technology.
Stetson has focused on AI, blockchain, cloud computing, consumer electronics, data science, healthcare, the Internet of Things, mobility, SaaS, security, and software development, for clients including Cambia Health Solutions, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, and Microsoft
Besides W2O, Stetson also had roles at Ketchum, Zeno Group, Edelman, and WE.



Bob Winslow



A long-time technology industry vet, Bob Winslow has witnessed the dot com era and the rise of social media and the cloud.
As chief communications officer at Oracle until July 2019, he advised some of Silicon Valley's biggest stars: Oracle founder and CTO Larry Ellison, co-CEO Mark Hurd, and president Thomas Kurian, who is now Google Cloud CEO.
Winslow helped steward comms there while the computing giant transitioned to the cloud, launching SaaS applications like Enterprise Resource Planning and Customer Experience.
Earlier, Winslow was EVP and senior partner at FleishmanHillard. While overseeing the tech practice, revenue increased by 100% to $120 million across 80 clients and 600 consultants. He advised then-SAP CEO Bill McDermott, the current SAP CEO Jen Morgan, HP CEO Leo Apotheker, and Huawei CEO Ken Hu, among others. He was previously president of North America at Text100.





* This article was originally published here

https://www.businessinsider.com/the-top-pr-pros-you-can-hire-2020-4

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