Another Star Rises at Sweeney

Too many years ago (38 to be exact), Harold Burson informed me that I had been identified as one of two rising stars in the BM/Chicago office. It meant the world to me to receive such high praise from someone I held in the highest esteem. Of course, I had no idea what it actually meant, but it fueled my confidence and drove me onward and upward.

Earlier this year, our digital marketing manager, Rachel Dill, was honored by the Cleveland Chapter of the PRSA as its lone Rising Star in 2019. Now, less than six months later, PRNews selected our own Hollyn Page as one of its 30 under 30 Rising Stars as part of its national awards program PR People Awards.

Interestingly, both Rachel and Hollyn, much like me, are almost embarrassed by the attention and the accolades, but I believe both are secretly proud of their accomplishments. I sat down with Hollyn to learn more.

JS: Hollyn, Groucho Morx once said “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” Your thoughts?

HP: Wait, what?

JS: So how does it feel to be nominated and then selected as an elite member of a national group of the PR industry’s best and brightest?

HP: Oh, I was shocked. But I am also very grateful for this amazing honor. At the moment, this is all a bit surreal. I mean one day you are in school, the next day you are in grad school, then you are at the agency and suddenly you win this prestigious award… it’s probably a mistake.

JS: Why do you think you were selected?

HP: I believe it is two things. First, I am very focused on setting goals and getting results. Second, I am driven to achieve the goals I set for myself. That sounds obvious and simplistic, but it is critical to success. As it relates to my work at the agency, I am likewise focused on setting goals for every client project and tenacious about achieving them. I am very determined.

JS: Who or what inspires you?

HP: Well for sure, my mom and dad; they taught me that hard work leads to great results. But also, many of my peers – young women who found the courage to start their own businesses and build them into careers. I truly admire their drive and their achievements.

JS: What advice can you offer to young(er) professionals or even students who are looking to establish themselves as future leaders in the PR industry?

HP: It is critical to build relationships. Talk to people. Network! It is so important to realize how connections can help you every step of your career. So, do not be afraid to talk and build relationships.

JS: As a Rising Star, what do you see for the future of the PR industry?

HP: You’re an idiot (I know). There is a general consensus that the traditional state of the agency business and the PR business in particular is at a critical crossroads. But I think it is just the natural evolution of things. The lines between advertising and PR and everything else are blurred. Integrated marketing communications is the new reality. That’s not to say that every marketing strategy is required for every campaign, but rather every strategy needs to be considered for every campaign. The idea of one tool in the toolbox is outdated.

JS: If you could win any other award – for anything, no matter how crazy – what would it be?

HP: So, over the years, I have been fortunate to win several awards that were and remain very important to me. And the PRNews award is the biggest and the first national award. But if I could give myself any award, it would be “The Wittiest Comeback Ever” award. Sometimes I just kill myself with my comebacks.

JS: Tell me something about Hollyn that I didn’t know.

HP: I play the piano, I was a high school track star (or at least a bright light), I love the color turquoise and “Habits” (Stay High) is one of my favorite songs.

JS: Whoa.

HP: Well, you asked.


Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.