12 Days of Christmas: Nine PR Pros You Must FollowOn the ninth day of Christmas, Spin Sucks gave to me…nine PR pros to follow, eight podcasts to subscribe to, seven blogs to read, six online courses, five effective storytelling rules, four productivity tools, three books on writing, two marketing trends, and a professional goal for 2019.

This is one of our favorite posts to write every year.

Because man….there are so many awesome PR pros out there. Like really, truly fantastic humans. So it’s fun to show them off.

Our tradition is to have last year’s nominated PR pros pick this year’s group.

Thus the below compilation of awesome PR pros have all been hand-selected by last year’s compilation of awesome PR pros.

So much awesome in one post.

And without further ado (because you all know I can “ado” for just about ever)…I give you our nine PR pros to follow.

Daria Steigman: Advice Giver Extraordinaire

Daria Steigman is the founder of Steigman Communications and according to Betsy Decillis, who nominated her, one of the best advice givers this side of Gini Dietrich.

As Betsy says,

” I don’t know anyone (besides Gini) that gives better advice. Every time I talk to her, I’m mad at myself for not talking to her more. I could go on and on about how smart she is.”

Obviously, the competitive side of me plans to start giving Betsy advice ALL the time now so someday she’ll rave about how smart I am. But I digress. This is about Daria, not me.

If having Betsy as the president of your fan club wasn’t good enough, Daria is also a writer, speaker, and data-nerd…so we like her here already.

Karelia Pitts: Pizza Loving PR Pro (Not Geographic Region)

The lovely Karelia Pitts defines her own name as follows:

Karelia (KUH-REL-yuh): Public relations professional with a passion for visual communication. Avid traveler, crafter and designer. Lover of the outdoors, live music and pizza for breakfast.

I also learned from stalking her that Karelia (pronounced differently) is also a region of NE Europe comprising areas of both Finland and Russia.

So basically Karelia has taught me a ton and I haven’t even met her yet. But she’s one of the favorite people of one of my favorite people, Samantha McCain.

Samantha says of Karelia,

“I’ve been lucky enough to watch Karelia grow from a student in the PR Capstones class I taught into her budding career. She knows the difference between a flashy campaign and a campaign that makes an impact – while paying great attention to a need for content that resonates with its intended audience. Her skill level and approach to work resembles that of many seasoned pros I know, and both the USM Foundation and Hattiesburg are lucky to have her.”

And now I’m super inspired to make an official definition of my own name. Maybe you all can help me (but once again…alas, this post isn’t about me).

Cynthia McCafferty: “All-Around Awesome” PR Pro

According to another one of my all-time favorite people, Jennifer Phillips, Cynthia McCaffery is “brilliant and funny and all around awesome.”

So obviously she needed to be included here.

Cynthia is the President of Hawthorne Strategy Group and was a close colleague of Jen’s at Fleishman-Hillard. She’s an expert in strategy and integrated campaign management.

I also learned a new word from Cynthia, cèilidh – a Gaelic term meaning an informal gathering of friends, often referred to as a “kitchen party.” (see her bio to see why she loves a good cèilidh).

Honesty, Cynthia’s background, experience, and proven track record of success in our industry is impressive, but she would have been more than qualified to be included here without all that.

All you really need to know is that she has a yellow lab named Pippi Longstocking. So she’s awesome. The end.

Deirdre Breakenridge: The PR Pro You Can’t Help But Love

Deirdre is one of those people you kind of want to not like. She’s crazy smart, super duper amazing, and so stunning she looks like she just walked out of a fashion magazine. Not to mention she is one of the most exceptional and well-respected PR pros around.

But here’s the thing, you absolutely CANNOT not like her. It’s impossible. She’s ridiculously likable and one of the sweetest, most genuine people you’ll ever meet. The moment you talk to her you’ll want to make her your friend (and learn a ton from her).

Ken Jacobs (who also looks like he just stepped off the Paris runway) says this about Deirdre:

Deirdre Breakenridge is definitely a PR Pro to follow. More specifically, she’s someone that anyone who prides themselves on being a “modern communicator” must follow! (And yes, Answers for Modern Communicators is the title of her latest, highly valuable book)

Why do I follow her on Twitter and her blog, PR Expanded?

  1. Her posts are always thought-provoking;

  2. Her advice is always practical; and

  3. She’s so dang effective, not just because she understands PR, marketing, social PR, social media marketing, and how they’ve all evolved, but because her true calling is to teach. This imbues everything she writes, as well as her LinkedIn Learning courses, and explains why those of us who follow her learn so very much.

Plus, she’s just one of the finest people walking this planet.

That’s some powerful combination. ‘

Honestly, I couldn’t have said it any better.

Sara Rude: PR Pro, Instructor, Industry Leader

Sara Rude is Vice President, Public Relations & Social Media Supervisor at Cramer-Krasselt . She is also an Adjunct Instructor at Marquette University and serves on the Board of Directors of the PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin chapter.

Jen Novotny, who nominated Sara, met her when they shared a cubical while working as lowly Account Executives at Bader Rutter.  

She says this about Sara:

Sara is quick-witted, sarcastic and has great instincts. She actually left the PR world for a time and worked for the American Red Cross. Then she re-joined agency life and has quickly moved up the ladder. She is a bad a$$.

I personally am a tad jealous of Sara because I’d love to be a cube mate with Jen Novotny. I’ve never had a cube mate before and now I feel like I missed out on an important rite of passage. But had I had the opportunity to have a cube mate, I would totally choose Jen to cube it with.

Bob Reed: B2B PR Pro Extraordinaire

Bob Reed is a long-time friend of the crew here at Spin Sucks and so when Roger Friedensen nominated him I was like….um duh, of course, everyone should follow Bob, I thought that was just implied with being a PR Pro.

But then I realized maybe some of you hadn’t gotten the memo (there are so many memos nowadays). So just in case you’ve missed out on Bob’s amazingness…now’s your time to jump on the bandwagon.

Bob is communications strategy lead for Element-R Partners, a strategic, integrated marketing and PR firm focused on mid-sized B2B businesses.

Bob is a pro at helping the B2B market get their message heard in a relevant way by their customers. Working with B2B is cool now, but Bob started doing it when it wasn’t. When it was considered dull, boring, and possibly pointless.

One thing I’ll always remember about Bob is in 2016 he chronicled the evolution of one tree in his neighborhood from the end of summer through winter on his Instagram. Ever since he did that I’ve wanted to do the same, but always lose interest and attention span (read: I forget) about three weeks in.

Sabina Hitchen: Mom, PR Pro, Motivator

Sabina Hitchen is a mom, PR pro, and former high school teacher/curriculum creator. She teaches small business owners and entrepreneurs (I quote):

how to get publicity and share their message and business with the press and the world, which allows them to increase their visibility, grow their business, and ultimately, impact a bigger audience via their passion and purpose.”

She does this in her “Press for Success: PR Prep School

She also shares our philosophy here at Spin Sucks that mindset is a good 90 percent of the secret to success. So she serves her trainings on a platter of motivation and mental training to help her students improve their confidence levels and get out of their comfort zones.

Here’s why Kimberly Crossland, who nominated Sabina, believes she should make this list of PR pros:

“Sabina’s a pro at leaving her audience feeling empowered. She’s energetic, inspirational, and fun to learn from.”

Lynn Shepherd: The Yin/Yang of PR Pros

Lynn Shepherd is head of communications at CareCloud and has a long history of amazingness in healthcare communications (which we all know can’t be an easy field to do our work in).

Kate Childress, who nominated Lynn has this to say about her:

Lynn is the quintessential PR yin/yang. It goes without saying that she is smart, a great writer and creative—those qualities are common in PR pros. However, Lynn is tough, while being incredibly nice. She’s one of those rare people who can criticize you and make you feel good about it. I’m amazed every time she does it, and I’m often on the receiving end. Lynn has great style. She blends fashion with professional to create her own sassy, but what most people don’t know about Lynn is she is a complete geek. Nothing makes her happier than digging into a three-inch briefing binder to understand a complex problem…all while wearing 3.5 inch heels!

As I told Kate….walking around in 3.5-inch heels alone is enough to applaud anyone for. I couldn’t stand in them for longer than about 30 seconds, little less focus enough on something other than the complete and utter pain in my feet. Solving complex problems in heels of any type feels like the most Herculean of accomplishments ever.

So well done Lynn. Both for being an exceptional PR pro and a fashionable superhero.

Community Choice: Who Would You Add?

We had one more slot and I thought about filling it in with one of my PR pros (I have soooo many), but I couldn’t choose. So I figured this spot was best filled by YOU!

What PR pros do you adore and know everyone must follow and learn from?

Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

View all posts by Laura Petrolino