Much of the time, reporters and public relations folks have a contentious relationship: They drive us crazy, and we are ridiculously hard to work with.
But there are PR Pros out there who really help journalists tell important stories. Some of them are influential in their own right, not simply because of the companies they work for.
And that deserves a shout-out.
We came up with this list in a variety of ways. We put out a call for nominations and were pleasantly surprised at how many tech reporters from other publications submitted names. We also asked companies to nominate their PR pros. And we relied on our own experiences, too.
Mallory Blair is an up-and-comer in the tech PR world, as co-founder of Small Girls PR.
She's best known for her clients Meetup and Gawker, and the Northside NeXT tech festival. Tech journalists also know her from startups like Sherpaa, Flavorpill, DrawQuest, and Uncubed
She was the PR Pro behind GE's promotional 'barista bots' -- robotic arms which drew your face in a latte via facial detection software.
In her free time, she runs an Instagram account of her cat parodying the trials of NSA hacker Edward Snowden.
Patrick Ward started his career in New York, moved to Silicon Valley and then to Denver along the way, doing PR for Canon, Panasonic, HP, Webroot, Digital Chocolate, and MapQuest.
His agency has since become one of the largest and most influential in the Rocky Mountain region, including Boulder's tight-knit startup scene.
Ward doesn't just know a gazillion journalists, he seems to have personal travel and partying stories with all of them. He just expanded with a Silicon Valley office, too.
Kevin Cheng represents companies like HubSpot, Acquia (the creator of Drupal), and Greylock Ventures.
Journalists get dozens, maybe even hundreds, of pitches from PR people a day and most of them fall flat. But Cheng is one of those rare PR people who can really hook a journalist with a pitch.
And once he's done that he delivers an interview with a person worth talking to as promised. Can't get any better than that.
Katherine Hurd is the kind of PR person journalists really appreciate. She goes above and beyond to help with stories, such as asking her clients to deliver exclusive research.
She's one of the original team members of a PR agency called Moxie Communications Group and her focus is early-stage startups like Bright (a data science-based employment site), SHIFT (real-time marketing) and ZipList (a recipe search platform acquired by Conde Nast last year).
Ed Zitron has a knack for getting reporters to listen to his pitches.
In the past few months he's brought the buzz to food site Goldbely.com, weather app Foreseetheday.com, hotspot provider Karma Hotspot
He will soon be sharing his PR wisdom in a book called 'This Is How You Pitch: How To Kick Arse In Your First Years of PR,' too.
PR is important because no matter how cool or life-altering a company's tech might be, it won't succeed unless people hear about it.
Elliot Tomaeno became beloved in the tech startup community because he was always willing to share PR advice for free and sometimes do pro-bono work for startups that couldn't afford a high-priced PR agent.
He formed Astrsk a year ago to codify that ethic, promising that 10% of his work will always be pro-bono. As you might imagine, he's already got a long list of startup clients like Gin Lane, Woven, and dot429.
Sophie Turcotte didn't grow up with cable TV, so she's been a natural spokesperson for all kinds of Web TV and online video startups including The Fine Brothers, TouchCast, INDMUSIC, Tubular, Subblime, Audiosocket, Big Frame, DanceOn, and StyleHaul.
She's become a great resource for reporters tracking the fast-changing online video industry.
Jackie Vettorino works for one of the biggest tech PR agencies, FleishmanHillard, representing one of the tech industry's biggest companies, AT&T.
She works with a bunch of journalists on all things AT&T, helping them get everything from devices to answers on tough stories, day or night.
Lindsey Scott is another PR person who goes out of her way to get the journalist and the story together.
She has a long string of successes helping startups make it big, including Quidsi (acquired by Amazon for $US545M), 5min Media (acquired by AOL for $US65M) and PowerReviews (acquired by Bazaarvoice for $US150M).
Scott represents a lot of startups. One of our favourites is QWave Fund, a new, global venture capital fund for physics and material sciences companies. It's backing mind-blowing technologies like quantum computing.
Nextdoor is a startup that creates hyper-local social networks for individual neighborhoods and Kelsey Grady leads its PR.
When we put out an all-call for nominations for this annual PR 50 list, we got a lot of impassioned nominations from tech companies who appreciate their PR person. But this one really blew us away, from NextDoor's CEO Nirav Tolia: 'Kelsey is the best. She and her team have generated 2,000 stories for Nextdoor this year alone. Yes, 2,000 stories.'
Two thousand stories in less than a year for a startup? That's worthy of a shout-out.
Brian Gross got his start doing PR for the porn industry and it was a short jump from there into the entertainment industry.
He's represented all sorts of big names and big projects like Def American Recordings, Warner Brothers Records, Reprise Records, Elektra Entertainment Group, Vivid Entertainment Group, The Lollapalooza Tour, Gene Simmons, Penthouse, LA Pop Art ... you get the picture.
As the entertainment industries (adult and otherwise) have moved to the Internet and to smartphones, Gross has been a great source for tech stories.
John McCartney works for New York PR agency Wise PR, whose clients include the New York Tech Council, Dynamix, LiveRail and Spruce Media. And that has put him on the map with a lot of tech journalists.
His considers himself both a social media addict and a gadget guy, two things that help him respond fast when a journalist calls.
Samantha Kops helped with the housewarming party for Yext attended by bigwigs like Major Bloomberg, and she helped SpinMedia get the word out when it acquired Vibe magazine. She also helped Posse become a startup to watch at SXSW.
Recently, she's been focused on ad tech, location services, and data storage companies.
In other words, Kops knows how to create buzz for the companies she represents.
Erin Gleason started her PR career at Google when its New York office just opened, went on to run PR at Foursquare and now is a senior PR exec at Hatch Agency.
There she represented Mailbox, who was so showered with love and buzz from the tech press that Dropbox bought it for multi-millions and hired all 13 employees.
To say she's well-connected is an understatement.
John Earnhardt runs PR for Cisco, one of those important Valley tech companies, which seems to have its peaks and valleys with the press.
Sometimes Cisco is showered with positive press, sometimes it's hammered. But whether it's a tough story about layoffs or a fun story about Cisco interns, Earnhardt will take the call, email or tweet and quickly and cheerfully get the reporter an answer, day or night.
Before Philip Berne was in PR, he was a technology journalist and product reviewer at Slashgear, and he considered himself one of Samsung's harshest critics.
'A month before I started work at Samsung, I tweeted 'I want to get a job at Samsung and work my way up until I can fire everyone involved with TouchWIZ,'' he told us. That was in late 2010.
Today, he makes sure Samsung's execs hear what critical reviewers like him are saying. He gets Samsung devices into their hands and, in contrast to Samsung's biggest competitor, sends review units to smaller sites, even high-school reviewers.
He's obviously doing something right. Samsung is killing it in the smartphone market these days.
Twitter has become such a phenom that even the Pope uses it. That kind of popularity by consumers is in part thanks to Rachael Horwitz, who runs consumer PR for the company.
She brings attention to how celebrities, athletes, and politicians are using Twitter. Some of her highlights include talking about Twitter from the floor of the GOP convention and working with Top Gear's Richard Hammond when he biked to Twitter's HQ.
She's also a well-known film geek and Downton Abbey fan.
Facebook is obviously pounded and hounded by the media who ply it with an endless stream of questions, all needing answers right now, on deadline.
One of our favourite go-to PR people is Alex Hollander, who handles engineering and product questions at Facebook. Facebook is solving some of the toughest tech engineering problems never encountered before and Hollander helps us tell those stories.
Several people nominated Eva Grzesik to this year's list telling us things like, she loves working with the techy enterprise companies as much as the 'sexier consumer' ones.
We heard that she's known for pitching the right story to the right journalist and 'uncovering the reasons' why people will care.
She has become well known in New York's tight-knit tech scene, too, and is helping OutCast PR keep its high profile.
Jamie Keith is one to keep an eye on.
Just a few years into his PR career, Jamie has already made a solid footprint in the business. Working with a number of interesting tech start ups, he's been exposed to high-profile, controversial, and emerging companies. For him, it's more than just telling stories of innovation and disruption, it's helping these companies grow into big players in their niches. He was selected as one of the Council of Public Relations Firms PR Champions for his work at LaunchSquad.
Plus, he's always informed and a pleasure to work with.
Waggener Edstrom is Microsoft's PR agency and Tony Imperati has increasingly become our favourite go-to guy for everything from questions about executives to product-review devices.
His sphere at WaggEd is huge: executives, financial communications, acquisitions, and statements from the board of directors.
Given how much is going on with Microsoft's leadership these days, Imperati increasingly has his thumb on the pulse of Microsoft.
Jennifer Cloer has been leading PR for the Linux Foundation, creators of the Linux operating system, for nearly 10 years. In that time she has helped it grow from something known only to programmers to a global phenomenon that has severely crimped Microsoft.
And she's done it while working with some of the strongest personalities in the tech world, like Linux inventor Linus Torvalds and foundation director Jim Zemlin.
Lately she's been producing videos that help educate the average Joe about Linux, some of which have generated over 1 million views on YouTube.
In the past couple of years, Samsung has become the darling of the smartphone world and that means journalists are all over the company, asking questions, asking for devices to review, etc.
Fortunately, Business Insider has ace-in-the-hole Jessica Redman to help with it all. We're not the only tech site who's noticed her, either. Redmond once jogged in heels to help CNet reviewer Jessica Dolcourt test out the camera on a Samsung Galaxy S smartphone.
Even though Jess Aptman is busy as the head of PR at ZocDoc, she's known for advising other startups on their PR needs, always willing to lend a listening ear.
'Her confidence and strong opinions on my crazy co-founder's ideas on how to promote our company is extremely valuable,' Eric Tarn, co-founder of Onepager told us.
Under her care, ZocDocs is doing well PR-wise, too, landing on multiple 'best places to work' lists as it grew to 450 employees.
Christina Lee, who does PR for one of the industry's most prestigious venture capitalist firms, KPCB, is another one who knows everyone.
She leads PR for some of the firm's more famous partners: John Doerr, Mary Meeker, Bing Gordon, and so on. Plus, she does PR for some of the biggest companies backed by the VC firm like Flipboard, Nest, Mandiant, Beyond Meat, Square, Waze, and Twitter.
She also planned the popular KPCB party at SXSW. In 2013, she has worked hard to remove the cloud of a gender discrimination suit filed against KPCB.
Amber Rowland is known by every enterprise tech journalist. Before launching her own agency, she led PR for VMware for more than seven years, starting when it wasn't even a $US30 million company.
Since being on her own, she's helped make a whole roster of enterprise startups gain buzz like Big Switch Networks, Nimbula, CloudPhysics.
But it's not all geeksville for her. She also represents organisations like the Estria Battle Festival, a national art competition.
The test of true public relations mettle is how a PR person handles a negative story.
When we reported on how Airbnb guests trashed a $US2.5 million condo, Kim Rubey, who runs PR for Airbnb, handled it with aplomb.
She's fast, she's responsive, and most importantly, she shares actual facts and information, not just words and spin. We previously called her 'one of the hardest-working professionals in the business,' and that's still a great way to describe her.
All the Silicon Valley journalists, particularly in tech, know Andrew Kovacs, and that's really the highest praise we can heap on a PR professional.
Sequoia Capital has invested in a lot of hot tech companies and Kovacs works with many of them, from young ones like Chartboost, Skyhigh, and Thumbtack, to big names like Airbnb, Dropbox, Evernote, and Square.
Earlier this year, Brandee Barker struck out on her own and co-founded The Pramana Collective agency. She's well known among tech reporters as the former head of global communications at Facebook in its earlier, growing-pains stages (from 2006 - 2010).
In 2013, she helped introduce Sheryl Sandberg's book 'Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead' and LeanIn.org.
While she loves working startups she's also involved with the hottest tech companies, including Airbnb, Groupon, Spotify, Square, Uber, Quora, Dropbox. Plus, she's an investor in Wavii (acquired by Google), Trippy, Mightybell, Kitchit, BlackJet, Couple, and Cowboy Ventures.
On top of that, she's involved in women's rights issues and sits on the board of the Somaly Mam Foundation.
Yahoo is one of the original important Internet companies and interest in the company has never been higher.
Sara Gorman oversees all of the company's PR messages including financial information, M&A activity, messages sent to employees, and questions from and about executives, including its star CEO, Marissa Mayer.
That's a lot to shoulder and she and her team have helped Yahoo win back a reputation as a company that's back.
Julie Mossler became known in the tech PR world when she worked at Groupon as its first PR person. She was the public voice of Groupon through its IPO.
In April, Mossler moved over to another hot company, Waze, bought by Google this summer for $US1 billion.
One tech editor told us that Mossler 'always seems to be at the company that's just had a big exit.'
If reporters have a question about any of Facebook's products, Meredith Chin is a great resource. She covers things like Photos, Places, and Groups.
She's been with Facebook since 2005, way before its IPO, and helped spread the word about everything from News Feed to Messages.
When she's not helping Facebook with its next product, she's been known to help musicians grow their Facebook fans. She shares those same tips on her Huffington Post blog, too.
TJ Snyder is a partner at one of the most influential tech PR companies, OutCast. Under his watchful eye, his company works on a lot of high-profile projects such as the launch of the new Dolby Theatre in Hollywood where the Oscars are held, and Valley parties for HBO for the 'Game of Thrones.'
Other clients include TurboTax, robotics startup ANKI (featured on Apple's WWDC), Samsung's Accelerator in Silicon Valley, Amazon (particularly the Kindle), EMC, Facebook, GE, Pinterest, and the new VMware/EMC spin-off called Pivotal.
Reema Bahnasy has done PR for a huge list of important tech companies: Dell, Cisco, Jawbone, Facebook, Nvidia, Nest, Oracle, and Yahoo before launching her own agency with Amy Swanson.
She also serves on the board of Global Press Institute, a non-profit that teaches journalism to women in the developing world.
All of that gives her a powerful network among tech reporters and tech companies alike.
If that weren't impressive enough, she also speaks French, Italian, and a little Arabic.
Amy Swanson is co-founder of the Hatch Agency along with Reema Bahnasy.
In her career she's done PR for Amazon, Facebook, Nike, and Salesforce, though more recently she's known for helping put startups like Karma and Path on the map.
Before launching Hatch, she was a partner at The OutCast Agency and before that, she cut her teeth doing PR at Oracle and PeopleSoft.
All of this has given her a huge network of influence with journalists, startups, and big tech companies.
When she's not working, she's chasing her twin toddlers.
About five years ago Gavin Skillman started the New York branch of LaunchSquad, a prominent Valley agency.
Today his team has grown to 18 employees, and handles some buzzy tech companies' accounts including Aereo, iHeartRadio, AOL on, Outbrain, and KeyMe.
One of his employees told us that Gavin is always cool-headed but also 'kind and perceptive' and a good writer, too.
The press tends to swarm around Facebook, and in the midst of that is Adam Isserlis.
He works on the company's ads PR team, based in the nation's advertising capital, New York. And that's a tough crowd indeed.
He's helping Facebook talk to industry leaders about its sales, marketing, and partnerships across areas as diverse as M&A, engineering, and design.
Box, and its charismatic young CEO Aaron Levie, are rising stars in the tech world, and Ashley Mayer is working hard to keep it that way.
Mayer (who went to Levie's high school in Seattle) is fast to respond to questions and, in a world where PR people often try to 'handle' their executives, Mayer doesn't. Levie can speak for himself, often doing interviews one-on-one with reporters (no PR handlers in the room).
This year, Mayer and her team navigated through two acquisition announcements, a Charlie Rose interview, a Forbes profile, and an onstage appearance at D11.
Lesley Gold is the co-founder of Sutherland Gold, an agency she launched with her husband Scott Sutherland. This year, her agency has been on fire.
In the past 12 months, the firm has helped to launched more than 20 startups and products. These include companies like Myfitnesspal.com, Zendesk, Lookout, Whistle, Pebble, and Atheer (which debuted onstage at this year's D Conference).
Her team has also worked with Brightcove, Chegg, and Control4, plus Fab and Birchbox in New York.
Sutherland has decided to leave the agency and launch a new consulting practice, so Gold has stepped up to become sole CEO.
For a long time, Foursquare had a PR problem. Its tiny $US2 million 2012 revenue figure got leaked. News of a dwindling interest in the app paired with troubles fundraising dominated headlines.
But since Brendan Lewis has joined, faith in Foursquare has started to be renewed. He came over from Living Social in early 2013. Now Foursquare is telling the world the story of its data, its popular API, and its highly trafficked website. There have even been rumours that big companies want to invest in Foursquare.
Whether Foursquare is actually turning around or Lewis is very good at his job remains to be seen.
Carolyn Penner left Google for Twitter in 2010 and since then she's helped Twitter really change its strategy toward journalists.
In the old days, Twitter would post a blog and some Tweets as a public statement and call it good. Penner has helped Twitter learn to do better -- to answer actual questions and do so in a timely way, and create actual relationships with journalists.
Journalists love Krista Canfield because she's easy to work with. She is one of the original members of LinkedIn's PR team, joining back in 2008 when LinkedIn only had about 200 employees (today it has over 4,000).
In 2013, her star has really been shining, pitching countless interesting stories, from tidbits on interns to LinkedIn's 10-year anniversary special run on Bloomberg TV.
She's also known as a shoe-a-holic, high heels in particular.
Barry Schnitt has been a powerhouse in tech PR for more than a decade.
He's always at a hot tech company helping it go ballistic. He was at Facebook from 2008-2012, at Google from 2000-2008, and before that he was a legislative aid to California State Senator Byron Sher, who had most of Silicon Valley in his district.
Since starting at Pinterest he's been busy hiring more PR folks and setting up international PR resources in six countries.
Reyes has worked with the rock stars of the tech industry.
He's currently leading communications for Square, the mobile credit card reader created by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. With Reyes at his back, Dorsey has become a media darling, even the subject of a recent profile on TV news show, '60 Minutes.'
Before Square, Reyes ran communications for Elon Musk's Tesla Motors and before that, he did PR for Google (GOOG) and YouTube. Do we need to say more about his connections?
Apple's Steve Dowling is another name that came up over and over again in our nomination process.
Apple has never been known for being great with the press. Getting Apple PR to answer questions can be impossible. Getting new products to review before they hit the shelves? Even harder.
But Dowling is well respected by the tech press in part because, before his PR days, he was a journalist for CNBC. He's greatly helped Apple -- and the throngs of companies that cover it -- work better together.
Margit Wennmachers literally knows everybody in tech. Someone once described her to us as 'the best PR person in the world.'
Wennmachers co-founded OutCast Communications (now The OutCast Agency) with Caryn Marooney, a PR company that represented companies like Yahoo, Facebook, and Andreessen Horowitz. It was bought by Lond0n-based Next Fifteen Communications Group for over $US10 million in 2005.
Today her network of power is still growing, helped a lot because she's now a venture capitalist at one of the most powerful Valley VC firms, Andreessen Horowitz.
Everyone in the world writes about Microsoft. That's an awful lot of reporters to work with.
While most of the day-to-day items are covered by Microsoft's PR agency, when push comes to shove, tech reporters in the know go to PR top dog Frank Shaw, vice president of corporate communications.
He's known from coast to coast as one of the best PR people in the nation, and working for a company as watched as Microsoft, that's saying a lot.
Caryn Marooney has been a tech powerhouse for years.
She co-founded prominent tech PR agency OutCast with Margit Wennmachers and the pair sold it to Next Fifteen Communications Group in 2005 for over $US10 million.
Two years ago, she joined Facebook to lead all of Facebook's tech PR including new product/feature launches and communications for engineering, technical, and security matters. She was a natural fit. OutCast had been doing PR for Facebook and Marooney led that account.
When we asked New York tech reporters to give us suggestions for the top tech PR people, Hammerling's name came up over and over again.
She seems to know everyone from Silicon Alley to Silicon Valley and is well liked by them all, too. (That's impressive!)
'As for the rundown of her work, clients managed out of the Brew PR NYC office include: Wealthfront, Smartthings, August, Code.org, Refinery29, BaubleBar, Quantcast, NetSuite and Oracle,' one nominator told us. Her influence is huge already and is still growing.
Rachel Whetstone is the power behind Google's communications team.
She's also a political powerhouse in her home country of England, married to Steve Hilton, former director of strategy for the U.K.'s Prime Minister David Cameron and has been known to dine with Cameron.
Although she's not the one on the phone with reporters, she's steering the search giant's image with not just the media, but with the governments of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Now, that's power.
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