Mar 14, 2017 - News

12 already successful PR agency executives to watch in 2017



Communications has never been more important and more complicated.

As traditional media declines and new media explodes, there’s a huge opportunity for brands that understand culture and evaluates buying decisions.

This consumer shift also creates a big business opportunity for agencies to win new business by providing public relations service that match today’s consumer patterns.

[Agenda story: Complete list of all 30 PR agencies and communications companies in Charlotte]

Here’s a list of 12 proven PR executives who “get it” that our city will be watching to create the next generation of communications agency. These leaders were only selected from agencies, not the brand side.

This list also doesn’t include one person consultancies like Colleen Brannan and Gwen Poth (who are both dominant in this city – the navy seals of PR, IMO).

Barry Finkelstien

Barry Finkelstein SVP | Director, Public Relations at Luquire George Andrews

News: Recently promoted to lead the public relations practices at one of Charlotte’s largest ad agencies, LGA.

Client experience includes: BB&T, Barings, Bojangles’, Snyder’s-Lance and the 2017 PGA Championship

What to watch: With deep relationships in Charlotte, if LGA can manage merging disciplines (media, creative, social), Barry will be able to win significant new business.

Will Boye

Senior Public Relations Executive, Yellow Duck Marketing

Education: Will has an undergraduate degree from Davidson College, a graduate degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and an MBA from Queens University.

What to watch: As a senior staff writer covering development at the Charlotte Business Journal for 12 years, Will understands media and knows the pulse of our city’s business community.

Will believes that The Wire is the greatest television show ever made.

Amanda DeWeese

Account Supervisor at Chernoff Newman

Client experience includes: CDM Smith, Teen Health Connection, Charleston County Aviation Authority and DELOITTE.

What to watch: Well respected by here public relations peers, it’ll be interesting to see how Amanda increases her profile to Charlotte at large and how new Chernoff Newman chooses to position her for new business.

Bruce Hensley

Owner, Hensley Fontana Public Relations & Marketing

What to watch: Bruce has successfully transitioned his boutique communications consultancy from old school to new school. He and his wife also own Charlotte Restaurant Week – it’ll be interesting to see how he grows this popular dining event.

Corri Smith

Owner, Black Wednesday Social

Client experience includes: Share Charlotte, Brixx, Chopt, Wheelhouse Media, Fran’s Filling Station and Plaid Penguin.

What to watch: Widely known as one of the most talented and most creative social media leaders –  Corri recently won the Brixx and Chopt accounts. It’ll be interesting to see how she hires and if she chooses to make Black Wednesday Social more of an ad agency model or more of a consultancy based around her talent. Corri and Black Wednesday have huge potential.


April Smith

President & Owner at Social Ape Marketing

Client experience includes: Charlotte Radiology, Kimbrell’s Furniture, Pearl Dentistry, Rich and Bennett, Consolidated Planning, Keller Williams Ballantyne and Pegg Properties.

What to watch: Through speaking and teaching, April continues to raise her profile in public relations and social media. Here small consultancy is growing. As massive paid media budgets shift to Facebook and Google, it’ll be interesting to see whether April can win business in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  

Natalia A. Flores

PR Director at AC&M Group

What to watch: Natalia understands Charlotte’s growing Hispanic population and is one of the most experienced, well rounded PR executives in the city. Can AC&M win more local communications business?

Drew Porcello

Owner & President at Pivot PR

Client experience includes: Dunkin’ Donuts, Cyclebar, AvidXchange, Craft, Sheraton Charlotte Hotel, Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar and Le Meridien.

What to watch: Drew has quickly grown Pivot PR into a well-known communications firm in Charlotte. He’s a true entrepreneur. How will he choose to grow the agency and what service offerings will Pivot PR launch? 

Drew (left) chilling with the Kevin Pitts, the Publisher at Charlotte Business Journal

Peter Smolowitz

Senior Content Manager, Eric Mower & Associates

Experience: Peter’s journalism experience includes The Associated Press, The Philadephia Inquirer and nine years at The Charlotte Observer. He has a deep understanding of media.

What to watch: Eric Mower & Associates continues to win business and it’ll be interesting to see how Peter chooses to grows and balances the demand for traditional public relations services with the rise of content marketing. 

Torrie Savage

Founder at #thesavageway

What to watch: How will Torrie balance creative services (communications, social media, creative) with her growing clean graffiti, moss art and Cruise Carts lines of business.


Heather Tamol

PR Director, Wray Ward

Experience: Background includes The Martin Agency in Richmond as well as sports marketing at IMG with mega-clients like Bank of America and UPS.

Client experience includes: Belgard Hardscapes, Crescent Communities, Duke Energy, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Rack Room Shoes, Springmaid and Wamsutta.

What to watch: Wray Ward continues to win business and grow its communications solutions. How will Heather and her team balance earned, owned, shared and paid media – to both win national accounts in the home category and regional communications accounts.

Laura Craft

Public Relations Supervisor at Phase 3 Marketing & Communications

What to watch: With hot restaurant clients like O-Ku Sushi, Oak Steakhouse, Babalu and Tupelo Honey – how will Laura and Phase 3 (HQ in Atlanta) choose to grow the business in Charlotte?


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