The 13 most fascinating people (in digital PR/marketing) in 2012

For some reason (read: my wife), I got sucked into the annual Barbara Walters special featuring the most fascinating people of 2011 a couple weeks back. Some of the folks on her list I did actually find fascinating (Simon Cowell, for example). Others, not so much (the Kardashians–are you kidding me? Aren’t they the OPPOSITE of fascinating?).

But, the show got me thinking about our own industry (PR/digital marketing) and the people I find fascinating as we head into 2012. So, allow me to put on my Barbara Walter guise for a moment. I give you the 13 most fascinating people (in digital PR/marketing) in 2012 (in my opinion).

Chris Heuer

The Social Media Club co-founder made a big jump in 2011 when he accepted a job at Deloittle Consulting in the firm’s social business unit. Interesting job–and it might signal a shift in firms other than those in the creative industry (Edelman, for example) trying to make headway into the social business arena.

Peter Shankman

The HARO founder sold HARO in 2012 to Vocus, but worked to hold true to his promise not to change the heart of the popular platform.  He also got married toward the tail-end of 2011–always a big life-changing moment. So, what will this mean for the serial entrepeneur in 2012? Not sure, but I know it will be interesting.

Kellye Crane

With 16 years as a solo PR counselor, Kellye (at left above) certainly has the chops to blog about the solo lifestyle. But, she took that a big step forward in 2011 when she launched the “Pro Membership”–content only available to “Solo” members (read: paid content). It’s an interesting concept, and with such an engaged solo community nationwide (check out the weekly #solopr chat for more), I’m curious to see where this heads in 2012.

Heather Whaling

Let’s see. In the last two years Heather has: 1) Started a very successful digital PR business in Geben Communication, 2) led the popular #pr20chat, 3) Spoken at numerous conferences and events across the country, 4) live blogged a trip to Haiti after the earthquakes of 2010. I’ve even featured her as “Rock Star” in a previous post. I’ll stop there. Point is, in the last two years, this woman has bit off a whole heckuva lot. So I’m eager to see what she takes on in the year ahead.

Matt Dickman

The former Fleishman-Hillard senior vice president made a big jump to rival agency, Weber Shandwick this year. Sure, there’s always agency movement, but this seems like a pretty big move. And, he’s playing a key role for the firm’s “Social Business Innovation” group. I’ve never met Matt, but I’ve followed his blog off and on for years–seems like a very smart guy. And, as he teams up with people like Greg Swan, Scott Meis and Stephanie Agresta at Shandwick, I’m interested to see where they can take Shandwick when it comes to “social business.”

Kristina Halvorson

I know, some of you are saying it right now. Kristina doesn’t work in PR/marketing–she works in content strategy. But, without content, where are we as marketers and PR counselors in today’s world? She’s in! In all seriousness, Kristina’s fascinating to me for many, many reasons. She’s running what appears to be a gangbusters business in Brain Traffic here in the Twin Cities. She just put on one of the more success conferences (not just content strategy conferences) in the Twin Cities last year in ConFab. And, well, she’s just damn funny. I mean, I don’t know Kristina (need to change that, by the way), but if you follow her on Twitter you can get a taste for the snarkiness. And, I’m gleaning all this from merely what I see online. I’m sure there’s much more depth to her in person ;)

Chuck Hemann

WGC. Olgilvy. Edelman. Sounds like A-list agency list right? It’s also a list of agencies Chuck has worked for in the last three years. And, in that span he’s also went from a manager of research and online reputation at Dix & Eaton (a mid-sized firm in Cleveland) to vice president of analytics at Edelman, one of the most respected agencies in our industry. I think he’s done OK for himself the last few years. But, what makes Chuck more intriguing to me is his focus: Digital analytics. Go ahead–count the number of people you know that focus on this area? You can’t come up with more than 5, can you? Most can’t come up with 3. Chuck’s a thought leader in an area that has few–and an area that needs more. So, I’m especially interested to see how 2012 pans out for him.

Jeffrey Cohen

I’ve been a fan of Jeff’s work for a while, as one of the founders and bloggers at B2B Social Media (an area I also have a lot of interest in). But, it’s Jeff’s recent move to Randian6 as a social strategist and decision to publish his first book (The B2B Social Media Book with co-author Kipp Bodnar) that puts him on this list. 2012 proves to be an exciting one for Jeff.

Kevin Hunt

Kevin’s an interesting guy. After starting his career on the news side (including 9 years at local outlet, KSTP-TV), Kevin is now working on the social team at General Mills–a pretty interesting job in its own right. His primary job at GM? Content creation for the company blog (A Taste of General Mills) and a host of other social work including measurement and online engagement. And, did I mention he plays a key role for one of the largest Fortune 500 companies in my hometown? Enough to get my attention for 2012.

Mike Stelzner

In 2009, Michael (the guy on the right above) started Social Media Examiner. Two years later, it’s one of the predominant blogs and online publications in our industry with more than 450,000 readers each month. But, the truth is Michael had to reinvent himself a number of years back. He’s went from the king-of-white-papers (at least in southern California) to the publisher of one of the most well-read sites in our industry. Quite the change. And, having heard his story first-hand at BlogWorld this past fall, I’m even more interested to see what’s next for Mr. Stelzner.

Tac Anderson

There’s a few reasons Tac’s (the fella at left above with Minnesota’s own Lee Odden) intriguing to me. First, I’ve been a fan of his blog for a while now (New Comm Biz). Second, he recently (last summer) took a job heading up Waggener Edstrom’s digital strategies group in London. And lastly, he’s a true geek (and I’m really not). I admire the geeks of the world. Why? To me, if you’re a geek, it means you’re inherently inquisitive. And that means, you’re asking a lot of questions. And that means you’re challenging common perceptions. And that basically means I like how you think. Intriguing–at least to me (and someone I’d like to meet, selfishly).

Adam Kmiec

I’ve long thought Adam was one of the more interesting people on the Twitters. He’s constantly challenging the status quo–and I love folks who constantly go against the grain. Then, take a peek at his resume. 14 years with companies like Fallon. Leo Burnett. Con Agra. And now, Walgreens. And that’s no small job. With more than 8,000 locations across the U.S., Walgreens is our nation’s largest drug store. It’s a huge company. It deals with all sorts of issues and challenges. And Adam’s the leading social voice for the organization. Quite the challenge, but I’m guessing he might be up to the task. Should be interesting to watch this year.

Shelly Kramer

Shelly Kramer (at left above with Adria Richards) is the kind of woman who will get in your face. Put up a fight. Challenge you. And then the next moment, she’ll go out of her way to help you out. At least that’s been my (minimal) experience with her. And, despite how I’ve responded and interacted with Shelly publicly, that’s what I really like about her. Oh, also her Twitter bio (“Luv Milk Duds+Beer”). Oh, and also she’s been a entrepeneur for most (if not all) of her professional career–so, I could probably learn a thing or two from her, too. But mostly, I just find her kinda interesting for no concrete reason. Gotta get down to a Jayhawks game this year so I can finally her (hope she’s not a K-State fan).

Who’s fascinating to you as you look at 2012?

Note: Photos courtesy of jdlasica, CC Chapman, Steve Garfield, Mack Collier, Joshua Kulpa, TopRank Marketing, Ben Spark, Adria Richards and Geoff Livingston via FlickR Creative Commons. 

77 comments
crgonzalez
crgonzalez

While the folks cited are notable, your list has a huge gap in it. Where are the Latinos, African-American and Asian leaders in this arena?

Ari Herzog
Ari Herzog

Can you take a step back, please, Arik? Can you define digital public relations and/or digital marketing? You're using the two terms in the same sentence and it's confusing to me because I view PR and marketing as parallel but different roles.

JayBaer
JayBaer

Man i love this list. Genius group of folks. Now, if you can get them all together for a recorded Google Hangout, you've got the makings of a pay-per-view spectacular!

jspepper
jspepper

For those that don't know, the amazing woman in the picture with the (equally amazing) @KellyeCrane is @ShannonPaul .

Shannon is a leader in social media - especially at such a young age - working for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, doing more amazing work there than so-called leaders in the industry. Prior, she was a leader in the sports social media, running the Red Wings (perennial Stanley Cup contenders).

ShellyKramer
ShellyKramer

Can't believe I didn't comment until now - but that's because we were sparring on Facebook, Arik. I'm honored to be included on your list - along with people that I likewise like and, equally as important, respect for their kick-assishness.

Inclusion on your list of fascinating folks when you don't know me very well is -- well, pretty cool. For the record, I own a digital agency, I'm a geek, I love data and analysis, content that rocks and people who inspire - and make me think. And most of all, I love quick repartee with people who make me laugh (like you). And all of the people on your list do one or all of those things.

Oh, and we bleed Jayhawk Crimson and Blue chez moi, so come down any time for a game ... I'll even buy the beers.

Thanks again for the kind words - you officially made my week.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

I love @ShellyKramer she is so smart sometimes her tweets fry the Twitter Server Farm. Enough said.

And @petershankman is one of the only truly genuine Social Media rockstars out there. I hate using that term because most of them are false prophets stealing people and client money. But he is humble and cares about people and is passionate about social media and has great insights.

chrisheuer
chrisheuer

@colehutch in Dallas this week, remembering your beautiful wedding (srsly) love to you and the family (great Christmas photo this year btw)

chrisheuer
chrisheuer

@arikhanson thanks so much Arik. Great year ahead. Echoing @prsarahevans' comment, nice to see some different folks mentioned for once!

cr8tivejen
cr8tivejen

Well deserved. RT @tacanderson Humbled to make this list: The 13 most fascinating people (in digital PR\/marketing) in 2012

adzflowers
adzflowers

@valeriesimon Strange, the names show up as basic text in my version of IE. Might have better luck with Chrome. Thanks!

JennaSmythe
JennaSmythe

The rationale as to how someone might make this 'list' seems rather suspect and (extremely) subjective. It really should have included www.briansolis.com and a slew of other (actual) notables. But, just my two cents.

AaronTinklenberg
AaronTinklenberg

Interesting stuff. It's always good to read what others are doing, especially when it's innovative. But this list makes me wonder ... is PR a white guy/gal field? In school PR, we're always trying to be sure our work (photos, stories, videos, etc.) reflects our student and staff diversity (not over-emphasize, just reflect). Does this list reflect PRs diversity or lack thereof? Is that an issue in the PR world?

jspepper
jspepper

Oh, and the guy with @Mike_Stelzner is Steve Garfield, who is one of the original web video guys and written a bunch of books on the subject.

LuxuryPRGal
LuxuryPRGal

@chrisheuer My pleasure, Chris! Always happy to support the industry & great people in it! Happy 2012!

SandraSays
SandraSays

@kellyecrane moving whre I live over this weekend; moving to new office at end of month... so starting 2012 with change.

arikhanson
arikhanson moderator

@JennaSmythe It's 100% subjective and I had no hard-and-fast "process" for putting this list together. But, I did try to feature a number of folks I haven't highlighted before--and some who have particularly big years coming up (books, new jobs, etc.). So, I guess there was some process. But, much like other lists I put together, this is completely based on who I know/follow/read, who I find interesting/fascinating and who's captured my attention, for whatever reason. It's my blog after all, right? :)

arikhanson
arikhanson moderator

@AaronTinklenberg That's a fair question. I guess I didn't go out of my way to exclude other ethnicities, if that makes any difference. Just as I did with a similar list last year, these were just people that popped to mind when I thought of folks who were "fascinating" to me. What's not reflective in this list is the men/women ration (especially when it comes to PR). Up here in Minny, I'm in a huge minority when it comes to guys in PR. But, if you're talking about digital PR/marketing, I think that tilts the other way. I may be wrong, but that's my take.

ShellyKramer
ShellyKramer

@jspepper and if you want to know anything about video, Steve's the man! <waving hello to you!>

KellyeCrane
KellyeCrane

@sandrasays Wow, that's a lot of work, but I'm sure the rewards will be worth it. Hope all goes super-smoothly!

AaronTinklenberg
AaronTinklenberg

@arikhanson I didn't mean to imply that you intentionally excluded non-white people, so I apologize if it came across that way. I'm sure you didn't. I didn't mean it as a question of your choices in any way, actually. It just stuck out that they are all white people. Truthfully, at MinnSPRA conferences/get-togethers (you were at this fall's!), it's a pretty color-less crowd, with Mpls and St. Paul schools being clear exceptions. I'm not sure if that lack of diversity reflects PR in general, school PR, school PR because it's mostly suburban school districts represented, or what.

And then, if there is a lack of diversity among us, the follow up question is whether the "PR Professional Community" should be concerned about that and do anything to address it. Just questions, probably best dealt with at professional organization levels.

pachladis
pachladis

@chuckhemann down 30 huh? That's awesome! Happy New Year. Hope 2012 brings you more success!