The PROPEL 100 – The Most Influential In-House PR Professionals In The World 2021
The Propel team prides itself on constant innovation and enhancement of best practices. By listening to communications professionals and their struggles with PR management, we made it our mission to deliver PR Management software that our clients actually thank us for. Because we’ve been in your shoes, we created the first public relations management (PRM) software that has changed the game.
While Propel strives to innovate, we do not excel alone. Our team works closely with other communications experts all around the world and constantly seeks opinions and best practices of others that ultimately influence our own.
The power and value we experience from collaborative growth has led us to creating our second Propel 100 list where we recognize 100 in-house PR professionals for their noteworthy standing in the industry. These individuals have what it takes to be some of the most influential, in-house experts among the PR industry.
This Propel 100 list specifically highlights influential in-house PR professionals, as our last list focused on influential PR agency professionals. This allows us to dive deeper into each unique group and get a better idea of exactly what it requires to be able to stand out and join, if not lead, the conversation.
When it comes to PR, one size certainly does not fit all! Successful PR practitioners know that their approach must be tailored specifically to their target audience and region, or they will miss the mark. That being said, we decided to use a methodology that allows us to highlight a diverse group of 100 high-performing, globally based professionals to avoid a degree of such generalizations. We aim to showcase these individuals and their wide variety of industry-altering work so that you can reference their expertise in your own comms roles.
In-house PR professionals, it is your time to shine! While our last Propel 100 list focused only on PR agency talent, this list focuses entirely on you. As you know, in-house PR work can be a separate world from agency work (and vice versa), so it was our priority to give each respective group their individual attention and due recognition.
We used Twitter as the social media platform of choice to arrive at a well-rounded analysis of different practitioners’ influence within the PR industry. This entailed going beyond face-value metrics like follow count.
To establish a baseline for the PR professionals we considered for this list, we initially scanned Twitter for anyone Tweeting consistently about public relations, or who include “PR” in their bios. This search focuses primarily on the U.S. and U.K. From here, we began evaluating these individuals based on a series of quantitative metrics.
We used the following criteria to narrow down our long list it to a rounded 100:
- Audience – Total audience size and audience size specific to the PR industry (we determined the PR-specific audience by including users that stated they work in the PR industry within their bio).
- Relevance - Number of times that they tweet on topics that pertain to the PR industry.
- Engagement - Average engagement rate per post (i.e., likes, comments, retweets, quote retweets etc.).
Considering that these metrics all have their strengths and weaknesses, we knew it was key to consider several of them with a collective approach rather than relying on just one.
The final list we generated below is not ranked in any particular order, as we decided that would take away from, rather than add to our intentions with this project. Our ultimate goal is to bring these influencers to an equal playing field and collaborate as a unit across businesses. This saves unrealistic attempts at deeming some influencers ‘better’ than others instead of seeing each one as powerfully unique with what they bring to the table…
As mentioned earlier, we also find it crucial to compare many of our methods with those of other industry-leading professionals. We incorporate diverse, outsourced knowledge in our methodology to make sure we have done what we can to provide you with the best, most useful data possible. This adds a significant amount of qualitative research to the mix so that we’re careful not to rely solely on quantitative metrics to arrive at a conclusion. Furthermore, we love learning how other PR experts think! So, we took this opportunity for them to share their views on influence and what they believe it means to be influential.
We also invested significant time and effort to create a list that is as diverse as possible, which includes names that may not typically be found on other lists. Diversity is in Propel’s DNA, and we hope that is reflected well in our list. “As someone with a physical disability who wears leg braces to help me walk, I am personally passionate about diversity and inclusion, and appreciate its sacred importance. We made our best effort to find diverse voices to include on our list,” said Propel co-founder and CEO Zach Cutler.
Read below to learn what a few members of this year’s In-house Propel 100 had to say…
Insights from the Influencers
Charandeep Singh, deputy chief executive at the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, speaks wisely about the need for unique voices in today’s world that can help effect positive change.
“For me, the most influential people in any industry are the changemakers who act with honesty, integrity and authenticity,” Singh said. “As companies are at the forefront of providing solutions to the biggest challenges facing our generation, we need talent from all backgrounds to help influence and shape the change, not only for our clients, but for our communities, too. Our customers expect us to make an impact across multiple areas, and in my experience, the ‘stand-out’ professionals are those that have an eye on social impact, not just the bottom-line. The true influencers look beyond social media followings and focus towards impact and change.”
Perveen Akhtar, head of PR Europe for Dolby Laboratories, has over 15 years of experience as a PR practitioner and definitely has a strong understanding of what it means to be a PR influencer.
“For me, it’s somebody that has a solid track record of having done great work that has made a meaningful and impactful difference for the organisation that they represent,” Akhtar said. She further explains the importance of their voice, and it being one that people listen to and look out for. A PR influencer should “provide a platform for debate around the important issues of PR,” she said.
Noha Al Afifi, director of fundraising and communications for Arthritis Action charity, additionally stands out in her abilities to stay ahead of the curve as a communicator. “PR continues to evolve in this ever-changing world,” she said. “So, I make it a point to stay up to date with all the news and emerging trends happening across the industry. I continue to attend events and conferences to learn about what other organisations are doing.”
Afifi adds that people who are successful influencers “exude passion and enthusiasm for what they do; are fantastic communicators; and are highly persuasive. Influential people, especially in PR, have mastered the art of communication and can effectively drive their messaging to influence others. Influential people in PR also make visible and positive contributions in their sector.”
Insights from our list
What are the qualities of an in-house PR influencer? Our list revealed many insightful takeaways about what it takes to be a PR influencer today, based on the set of metrics we observed.
We found that the average follower count among these in-house PR influencers was 10,693. This number varied drastically from one account to the next, however. For example, the influencer with the top follower count, Symone Sanders, takes the cake with over 430,000 followers.
Followers to Following Ratio
The PR influencer follower-to-following ratio was approximately 7 to 1. This figure shows that a significant amount of people choose to follow these influencers on their own terms, and not just as a ‘follow-back’ of the masses.
This group of influencers was NOT born yesterday… The average number of years of Twitter experience was about 11, with a maximum of 14 years. We also found that the majority of those on the list had 12 years of Twitter experience. Finally, the newest Twitter user on our list has been active for 2 years now. That being said, don’t be too hard on yourself or expect smashing results from day one! Building a strong Twitter presence tends to take some time.
Number of Tweets
Being a PR influencer requires a significant quantity of high quality content online. This aligns with our data, as we found that the average number of tweets across the influencers was nearly 9,000. Head of Campaigns and Communications Antońia Bance at Trades Union Congress had the most Twitter posts, with over 56,000 tweets in total, since 2008.
Of those who disclosed their location (not all, but most influencers), 40 accounts were located in London, England. Twenty of the accounts were dispersed across North America, with a handful of outliers located throughout Southeast Asia, and more.
Considering that this list spans a wide variety of business and organisation types, we naturally saw a much less unified bio structure for these influencers, as compared to what we saw across those only working in PR agencies (detailed in our previous Propel 100 list of the top influencers among PR agency pros). But, we did find that each influencer tended to have their own unique flare to catch a viewer’s eye. In addition to referring to PR and/or communications in some fashion, many of the influencers also included quick jokes or a glimpse of something they are passionate about, outside of their work.
Didn’t see your name and have what it takes? Bring it on. We are always eager to connect with PR pros like you so that we can aggregate as much data as we can to arrive at a list of the best-of-the-best. Reach out to us because we’re happy to hear from you. If you did make it… gold star! You’re doing something right, and we love learning and teaching others about what that ‘something’ is. Whether you’re leading the conversation or even taking part in it, we’re thrilled to celebrate what you add to this buzzing industry.