PRWeek’s “Power List” Overlooks Minnesota and Fly-Over Country…Again

Earlier this week, PRWeek unveiled its annual “Power List”–a list of people they believe are power brokers in the PR business across the U.S. (of course, I can’t read more about the list because PRWeek is gated and I’m not paying $350 a year to read all their content).

The list includes senior leaders at Weber Shandwick, Edelman, Microsoft and General Motors, just to name a few. It skews male (just 18 of the 50 are women) and caucasian/white (just six minorities represented in the list).

This post could be a rant about that first stat above–after all, this is an industry completely dominated by women. Yet, only 18 of the 50 on a POWER list are women? Seriously? I’ll let Gini Dietrich take that one and run with it.

But for the sake of this post, I want to tackle a different angle. Another aspect the PRWeek folks completely missed. The fact that just SIX of the people on this list DO NOT work on either the East or West Coast.

Put another way, 88 percent of this list works in New York, Boston, DC, San Fran, and Seattle.

And, even more astonishingly, there are just THREE people from the Twin Cities and Chicago on this list.

Three.

That’s ridiculous.

Consider the following:

  • Minneapolis is the 15th largest market in the U.S. and 17 Fortune 500 companies are based in the Twin Cities including Target, Best Buy, 3M, General Mills and United Health Group.
  • Chicago is the third largest market in the U.S. and Illinois is home to 36 Fortune 500 companies like Walgreens, Allstate, State Farm, Caterpillar, and McDonalds.

That’s a lot of big businesses based in those markets–almost all of which have senior-level communicators that could most likely make a list like this (and, communicators with big PR/comms budgets, most likely).

To be precise, that’s 53 Fortune 500 companies between the two markets. For comparison, New York is home to 55 Fortune 500 companies. California has 53. So, I get that New York and San Fran are going to be well represented in lists like this. But 88 percent of the people from the Coasts?

I believe a few different factors are at play here, including:

  • PRWeek is based in New York. So, chances are, the PRWeek editors may know many of the NY folks on this list personally. Relationships matter, as always.
  • New York, DC, and San Fran are the biggest PR markets. No one is going to argue that. They should make up a sizable portion of the list. Maybe not 88 percent though.
  • I don’t read PRWeek religiously (see above and $350 price tag) but I’m just going to go out on a limb and say the PRWeek reporters would probably want to talk to a decent number of the people on this list for stories in the future. Greasing the wheels a bit, perhaps?

So, I can’t say I’m surprised. After all, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest have been dubbed “flyover country” by New Yorkers for a reason. Why should we start getting respect now?

But then I think about the Fortune 500 list.

And then I think about the PR/creative talent in this town (and in Chicago).

And then I think about our history.

Yeah, I think we’re owed a little respect, dammit.

And yes, Carmichael Spong Relate’s Julie Batliner is on the list. And that’s fantastic. But that’s one notable leader from Minnesota (the 15th largest DMA last I checked). And, just one more from Chicago (the 3rd largest). And, to add insult to injury: Just one from Dallas (5th), too. And NONE from Atlanta (10th) or Denver (17th)–not necessarily “flyover country”, but definitely in the mid-section of the country.

To recap: 44 of 50 leaders from New York, San Fran, DC, Seattle and Boston.

Six from the rest of the country. And only one from Minnesota.

With all that said, I thought I’d offer up a few suggestions to the PRWeek folks for next year’s list. I know it’s too late for 2017, but these leaders would be ideal candidates to put on the 2018 list. It’s time the Minnesota PR community gets some much-deserved respect (I’m sure Chicagoans have their own ideas, but I just don’t know that many people down there):

  • Lynn Casey, CEO and chair of Padilla–a fixture in Twin Cities PR for more than 30 years.
  • Matt Kucharski, president of Padilla–been with the firm for almost 30 years and poised to take it the next 20.
  • Matt Furman, chief communications and public affairs officer at Best Buy (he’s also spent time at Mars and Google–not a bad resume).
  • Jorg Pierach, founder of Fast Horse–one of the best PR shops in all of Minnesota including a roster that boasts Coca-Cola, Heineken and Deluxe.
  • Katie Boylan, lead communicator at Target (following Dustee Jenkins’ exit in June)–only the second biggest retailer in the country. No big deal.

Just a few idea, PRWeek editors. Take em, or leave em. Any way you cut it, I’d love to see Minnesota (and the Upper Midwest, in general) better represented in next year’s list.

Note: Photo courtesy of Olgilvy PR via Creative Commons.

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One comment on “PRWeek’s “Power List” Overlooks Minnesota and Fly-Over Country…Again

  1. Why, oh why, is this so hard?! I imagine some of it has to do with advertisers, too. It’d be interesting to dig into it from that perspective. And it’s interesting that most are from global agencies and gigantic companies. Not like anyone else is doing any good in the industry if they’re not a gigantic organization.

    But not even half are women? I just can’t.