Are these the most fascinating PR people of 2012?

Move over Barbara Walters. This PR pro has his own list of industry greats to watch this year.

For some reason (read: my wife), I got sucked into the annual Barbara Walters special featuring the most fascinating people of 2011. I did find some of the folks on her list fascinating—Simon Cowell, for example—but others, not so much.

The show got me thinking about the people I find fascinating in the PR and digital marketing industry. Allow me to put on my Barbara Walter guise for a moment as I give you my list of the 13 most fascinating people in PR and digital marketing in 2012.

Chris Heuer

The Social Media Club co-founder made a big jump in 2011 when he accepted a job at Deloitte Consulting in the firm’s social business unit. This 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

Shankman sold Help A Reporter Out (HARO) to Vocus, but worked to keep his promise not to change the heart of the popular platform. He also got married in 2011, which is always a life-changing moment. What will this mean for the serial entrepreneur in 2012? I’m not sure, but I know it will be interesting.

Kellye Crane

With 16 years as a solo PR counselor, Crane certainly has the chops to blog about the solo lifestyle. She took a big step forward in 2011 when she launched some paid content with the pro membership for her blog. It’s an interesting concept, and with such an engaged solo community nationwide—check out the weekly #solopr chat. I’m curious to see where she goes in 2012.

Heather Whaling

In the last two years, Whaling started a very successful digital PR business, led the popular #pr20chat, spoken at numerous conferences and events across the country, and live-blogged a trip to Haiti after the earthquakes of 2010. This woman has accomplished a lot in the last two years, and I’m eager to see what she takes on in the year ahead.

Matt Dickman

The former Fleishman-Hillard senior vice president made a jump to rival agency Weber Shandwick this year to take a key role in the firm’s social business innovation group. Sure, there’s always agency movement, but this seems like a pretty big move. He has a key role the firm’s social business innovation group.

I’ve never met Dickman, but I’ve followed his blog for years and he seems like a smart guy. As he teams up with people like Greg Swan, Scott Meis and Stephanie Agresta at Shandwick, I’m interested to see what they can accomplish when it comes to “social business.”

Kristina Halvorson

I know, Halvorson doesn’t work in PR or marketing; she works in content strategy. But without content, where are we as marketers and PR pros? Halvorson is fascinating to me for many reasons. She runs Brain Traffic, put on ConFab last year—one of the more successful conferences in the TwinCities—and she’s funny.

I don’t know her, but if you follow Halvorson on Twitter you get a taste for her snark. I gleaned all this from what I see online; I’m sure there’s much more depth to her in person.

Chuck Hemann

WGC, Ogilvy, Edelman. Sounds like an A-list agency list right? It’s also a list of the agencies Hemann worked for in the last three years. In that same time span he also went from a manager of research and online reputation at Dix & Eaton to vice president of analytics at Edelman.

What makes Hemann intriguing to me is his focus on digital analytics. How many people do you know that focus on this area? Hemann is a thought leader in an area that has few of them, yet needs more. I’m interested to see how 2012 pans out for him.

Jeffrey Cohen

I’ve been a fan of Cohen’s work for a while. He is one of the founders and bloggers at B2B Social Media. But it’s Cohen’s recent move to Radian6 as a social strategist and his decision to publish his first book that puts him on this list.

Kevin Hunt

Hunt is an interesting guy. He started his career in news, but is now working on the social team at General Mills. His primary job is content creation for the company blog, and a host of other social work including measurement and online engagement.

Mike Stelzner

In 2009, Stelzner started Social Media Examiner. Two years later, it’s one of the most dominant blogs and online publications in our industry.

Stelzner had to reinvent himself a number of years back. He went from the king of white papers to the publisher of one of the most well-read sites in our industry. That’s quite a change. Having heard his story first-hand at BlogWorld this past fall, I’m even more interested to see what’s next for him.

Tac Anderson

There are a few reasons Anderson is intriguing to me. First, I’ve been a fan of his blog for a while. Second, he recently took a job heading up Waggener Edstrom’s digital strategies group in London. Third, he’s a true geek.

I admire the geeks of the world. To me, being a geek means you’re inherently inquisitive and ask a lot of questions. You challenge common perceptions.

Adam Kmiec

I’ve thought for a long time that Kmiec was one of the more interesting people on Twitter. He constantly challenges the status quo, and I love folks who go against the grain. He has spent 14 years with companies like Fallon, Leo Burnett and Con Agra, and is now at Walgreens.

With more than 8,000 locations across the U.S., Walgreens is our nation’s largest drug store. Kmiec is the leading social voice for the organization. He will be interesting to watch this year.

Shelly Kramer

Kramer is the kind of woman who will get in your face, put up a fight, and challenge you. But in the next moment, she’ll go out of her way to help you. That’s been my experience at least, and it’s what I really like about her.

She has a cool Twitter bio (“Luv Milk Duds+Beer”) and has been an entrepreneur for most of her professional career. I find her interesting.

Who do you think will be fascinating to follow in 2012?

Arik C. Hanson is the principal of ACH Communications in Minnesota. He blogs at Communications Conversations, where a version of this story first appeared.

Topics: PR

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