The Ones to Watch: PR’s Rising Stars

At the best agencies, great ideas flow from all directions. Here are the rising stars of PR: The next generation of talent.

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At the best agencies, great ideas flow from all directions. Younger, less
experienced team members get equal time to share creativity alongside
more seasoned colleagues. Agency owners tell us newcomers can
become secret weapons, bringing skill sets that cross traditional
boundaries; the AE who’s a Tiktok star may also ace crisis situations
while drafting YouTube scripts and pitching reporters.

This year’s rising stars bring fresh insights to creativity, campaigns, and
capabilities. Nominated by agency owners, colleagues, or supervisors,
they are lighting a trail for a new generation of PR talent while they
blaze their own bright career paths. Some executives have told us they
often learn from younger associates as much as from more seasoned
colleagues. That deserves celebration. Please join us in congratulating
Observer’s 2024 roster of Rising Stars in PR.

Visit our Power Index to view the entire 2024 PR Power Series.

Andrea Baule

  • Jennifer Bett Communications

As a PR manager, Andrea Baule leads pitching for brands across JBC's Design + Sustainability Division. For Thuma, the self-described "Apple of bedroom furniture", Baule secured design features in outlets like Forbes and House Beautiful—coverage that allowed three Thuma designers to renew U.S. work visas, according to Ilana Rubin Dvir, JBC’s head of strategy. Baule has also secured significant coverage for home-goods brand Parachute, generating over 27.7 billion media impressions, Dvir tells Observer.

Andrea Baule Jennifer Bett Communications

Addy Bhasin

As a director at this San Francisco firm, Addy Bhasin manages a portfolio of B2B and B2C clients, leads new business efforts, and mentors junior members of her account team. Her clients have included Uber for Business, Netflix, Rothy’s, and American Giant. LaunchSquad co-founder Jason Mandell tells the Observer, “I'm wowed by Addy’s well-rounded abilities in leading, problem-solving, getting results, and managing people.” Bonus: Bhasin is a registered yoga teacher.

Addy Bhasin LaunchSquad

Sydney Brodie

Sydney Brodie focuses on boutique hotels at this hospitality PR firm, including The Rockaway Hotel + Spa, Kennebunkport Resort Collection, Isla Bella Beach Resort and more. She has also overseen large-scale media events for Vail Resorts, Gurney's Resorts, Glamour and Grupo Gitano. Brodie brings her clients “next-level insight into the latest trends in luxury hospitality, travel, and beyond,” Le CollectiveM founder Melanie Weitzner tells Observer.  

Sydney Brodie Le CollectiveM

Sudie Canada

Tennessee-based Sudie Canada is a social media account supervisor at this travel-PR agency, where digital strategies are key.  She manages social feeds for clients including Kimpton Grand Roatán Resort & Spa, Old Edwards Inn & Spa, Twin Farms, The Newbury Boston, Southall, Half-Mile Farm and The Lytle Park Hotel, among others. “Sudie is a master storyteller, crafting an identifiable, beautiful canvas for each client,” Sarah Evans, partner and co-founder at J/PR, tells Observer.

Sudie Canada J Public Relations

Mikaela Dredden

As a senior associate at The Levinson Group, Mikaela Dredden is a trusted communications advisor to prominent organizations and leaders in the financial industry, entertainment industry, legal industry, sports industry, and higher education, including internationally renowned human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation, entertainment brand LiveNation and others. “When asked to describe Mikaela, her colleagues’ and clients’ most used word is ‘amazing’—and for good reason,” TLG Senior Managing Director Kaye Verville tells Observer. Molly Levinson, founder and CEO of the agency, adds that Dredden  is “beloved and admired by her peers.”

Mikaela Dredden The Levinson Group

Tali Epstein

Tali Epstein was part of the high-powered team that left fin-comms giant Joele Frank to launch Collected Strategies in July. As a vice president and founding member of the firm, she’s advised companies navigating high-profile and complex situations, including friendly and hostile M&As. With a focus on shareholder activism, Tali has gone up against the highest-profile hedge funds, including Starboard, Elliott, JANA and Carl Icahn.

Tali Epstein Collected Strategies

Meg Fitzgerald

Meg Fitzgerald is “an unstoppable force,” Berlin Rosen principal and co-founder Jonathan Rosen tells Observer. Three years after starting as an intern, she ascended through five promotions to her current role as account director. For clients whose mission involves sustainability and real estate, affordable housing, transportation and public affairs, Fitzgerald has earned coverage in outlets including The New York Times, Bloomberg CityLab, Quartz and Fast Company.

Meg Fitzgerald Berlin Rosen

Tucker Gibson

  • Becca PR

“He creates magic for our clients,” Becca PR EVP Lauren Fonda says of senior AE Tucker Gibson. Originally based in the firm’s West Coast office, Gibson now works out of New York, handling everything from collaborations to events and openings. Gibson helped West Elm bring its Billy Cotton collab to life, was instrumental in the Choose Love pop-up at Rockefeller Center, and has been stirring up buzz for the soon-to-open Din Tai Fung in Midtown Manhattan.

Tucker Gibson Becca PR

Adelaide Godwin

Adelaide Godwin joined UpSpring as an assistant account exec in 2017; rising through seven different roles, she’s now associate vice president, serving the firm’s design and architecture clients with internal and external communications, media relations, and crisis management. “Her influence and contributions at UpSpring have been instrumental in shaping the firm's strategic growth,” co-founder Tiffany Rafii tells Observer.

Adelaide Godwin UpSpring

Rikki Kyle

Kyle “is given a lot of responsibility on accounts like Rodney Scott, Francis Ford Coppola Wines, and Citarella,” Lois Najarian O’Neill, The Door’s co-founder and senior partner, tells Observer.  Kyle plays a key role on the Carbone account and landed the first exclusive for the brand’s pasta sauce with PEOPLE. She also co-leads The Door’s internship program.  Kyle “understands the importance of real relationships… She doesn’t hide behind email and text.  This is rare quality in her peer group,” O’Neill says. 

Rikki Kyle The Door

Amanda Leonick

A senior AE at this travel-focused firm, Leonick supported the announcement of a first-ever hospitality partnership between Westin Hotels & Resorts and Abbott World Marathon Majors this year. Leonick also supported with the consumer launch of Crewfare, from the planning and development of the PR strategy to executing the launch day announcement. “Amanda is a total PR rockstar with a bright future ahead of her,” partner Dara Toulch tells Observer.

Amanda Leonick Photo by Jon Cospito

Jenny Macksamie

  • Becca PR

Since leaving New York Times’ T to join Becca PR as a managing director, Jenny Macksamie has rebuilt the agency’s training program, expanded its experiential division, and constantly finds ways to cross-pollinate the network of clients into the cultural conversation around food + hospitality. CEO and founder Becca Parrish tells Observer that Macksamie is “an essential team player,” adding, “She understands production.”

Jenny Macksamie Photo by Bridget Badore

Sophie Merven

As a VP of Brand PR & Events, Sophie Merven has perfected a pop culture PR strategy that’s successfully planted the six iconic brands under her management—Dunkin’, Arby’s, Baskin-Robbins, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic and Jimmy John’s—into the cultural conversations of Gen Z. Perhaps most importantly, Merven guides her peers “to feel confident in their work and inspires them to shoot for the stars,” Alison Brod tells Observer. “She never falls into a mold of what should or should not be—everything feels authentic with her.”

Sophie Merven Photo by Andrew Werner

Maya Minocha

Marriott International, Lark Hotels, Wollman Rink in Central Park, Thompson Central Park and WS Development are all among clients Minocha works on as a senior account executive; she’s also readying to open two hotels in Asheville, The Radical and Zelda Dearest. She also contributes to new-business initiatives and RFPs. “Maya is relentless to meet and surpass client goals,” Berlin Rosen’s principal and co-founder, Jonathan Rosen, tells Observer.

Maya Minocha Berlin Rosen

Elise Nikolaisen

A St. Louis transplant who’s risen to account supervisor at this New York-based travel-PR agency, Nikolaisen helps oversee a client roster that includes Seabourn, the ultra-luxury cruise line; onefinestay, the luxury rental brand; a&o Hostels, the largest hostel brand in Europe; and Santo Collection, earning coverage in outlets like The New York Times, Travel + Leisure. She’s also helped land new business, including a partnership with Kuoda Travel.

Elise Nikolaisen Hawkins International, Finn Partners

Jasmine L. Pierce

In 2023, with a decade of experience, Jasmine Pierce left her VP role with Becca PR to start her own company, JLP Consulting, where she focuses on creating media strategies, brand partnerships, and events for hotels, restaurants, chefs, interior designers and beverage brands. Of Pierce’s departure from Becca PR, founder Becca Parrish tells Observer “She’s killing it, naturally,” adding that the agency misses her terribly but is thrilled to watch her succeed independently, building upon her already impressive roster of accomplishments with brands including The Standard, Rockhouse and André Balazs properties; high-profile restaurant groups like José Andrés’ former ThinkFoodGroup and Daniel Boulud’s DINEX; and celebrated beverage brands including LOUIS XIII, Ten To One Rum and Louis Roederer.

Jasmine L. Pierce Photo by Bridget Badore

Henry Robins

An account director working with real estate, public affairs and lifestyle clients, Henry Robins’ track record of success highlights work with several government offices and political campaigns, including for New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Secretary Hillary Clinton. “Henry is an exceptional communications strategist and leader—especially for teammates just getting started in the industry,” Berlin Rosen EVP Matt Tepper tells Observer. Of course, his drive for success may have presented long before his career in PR officially began: as a child, Robins stared in Spaghettios commercials. 

Henry Robins Berlin Rosen

Emily Rodriguez

In her two-year tenure at this generalist firm, Emily Rodriguez has led earned media strategy development, integrated media campaigns and influencer marketing initiatives for clients like “tiny cabins” Instagram sensation Getaway and organic snack brand MadeGood. Now a director, “Emily has made her mark on teams and clients alike, with her infectious enthusiasm, go-getter attitude and strategic chops,” Lydia Voles, chief of staff at Confidant, tells Observer.  

Emily Rodriguez Confidant

Lindsay Shedlin

In just over four years with Mona Creative, senior director Lindsay Shedlin has led media campaigns for some of New York’s buzziest restaurant openings (Bad Roman, Libertine, Kimika, Saint Theo’s and Rolo’s), cultivated culinary partnerships (Food Bank For New York City), launched best-selling cookbooks (Pepper Teigen’s The Pepper Thai Cookbook), and spearheaded large-scale paid influencer campaigns.

Lindsay Shedlin Photo by Karen Obrist Photography

Courtney Stewart

As associate director and chief of culture, Courtney Stewart has led pitching and partnerships on this boutique firm’s marquee clients, including P.volve, Loverboy, SLT, and Clean Market. She also helped launch Powers PR’s first multi-client holiday market and started its internship program. “Courtney’s unwavering positive spirit, innate passion for PR, motivational disposition and determination to get the job done is unmatched. She’s a powerhouse,” founder Lana Powers tells Observer.

Courtney Stewart Powers PR

Camille Villafañe

At this globally-minded public affairs firm, Camille Villafañe focuses on international policy developments and issues management, including at the United Nations and at the intergovernmental level. While at APCO, she’s advised organizations in the technology, financial, and consumer goods industries with reputational challenges, complex geopolitical issues, and social impact strategies. Bonus: Villafañe is a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow from Carnegie Mellon University.

Camille Villafañe APCO Worldwide

Emily Williams

Since joining RHC in 2021, Emily Williams has overseen media around the openings of bars, restaurants and “experience” clients worldwide. From the widely publicized launch of Milady's in Soho to a New York Times real estate feature for theater company Spiegelworld in the small town of Nipton, California, to helping Botanist Bar, a cocktail bar at Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver, land a spot in North America's 50 Best Bars, “Emily is a creative force in the evolving media landscape,” agency founder Rachel Harrison tells Observer.

Emily Williams Rachel Harrison Communications

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