Gary Sheffer


The Arthur W. Page Society last night announced plans for a high-level professional development program aimed at “senior communicators.”

Gary Sheffer, VP of communications and PA at General Electric, who is co-chair of the program with Thomas Martin of the College of Charleston, said, “We continually hear from Page members that a gap remains between the needs of most senior communicators and the learning and networking opportunities available.”

Sheffer, addressing the Spring Seminar dinner of Page at the Conrad hotel in downtown New York, said recent member surveys showed “a desire for a quality learning and networking experience for the next generation of chief communications officers and PR firm CEOs.”

Conrad Hotel lobby

Conrad lobby

Page members apparently are dissatisfied with the training programs being offered by other PR groups, feeling they are aimed mostly at junior or mid-level PR people.

Initiation: $3,750; Dues $2,500

The scope of the program is indicated by the costs that are being proposed.

Initial cost is expected to be $3,750 per participant ($3,500 for early applicants) in 2013 and 2014. Annual dues would then be $2,500.

Page members would be able to nominate up to three senior staff members although larger staffs might be able to appoint more than that number.

Planned is a “large” annual in-person event in the fall that would be similar to the Page annual conference. Such an event is currently planned for mid-November, 2013.

Thomas Martin


Said Sheffer: “This will be a socially-enabled community. It is anticipated that the organization will have an independent website that is optimized for mobile viewing and an app that supports member engagement.”

Preference Given to Seniors

Nominees are expected to have the “realistic potential to advance to a Page-member qualifying role.” Page has about 400 members, mostly from companies with more than $1 billion in sales.

Nominees should be considered “corporate communications experts and may have demonstrated thought leadership in the profession,” says literature on the new program.

Preference will be given to “senior leaders generally with more than 15 years in PR” although there will be no minimum number of years of experience required.

200 at Spring Meeting

About 200 Page members attended the Spring Seminar.

Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist, MIT’s Center for Digital Business, spoke about “Big Data,” the tracking of buying habits of millions of Americans. He is the co-author of a recent article in the Harvard Business Review on the topic.

Kelly McGinnis, VP of global communications, Dell, and co-chair of the Spring Seminar, said “Earned media remains one of the most critical ways of building belief and advocacy.”

The session explored how media outlets use social media to influence belief and told attendees how to obtain earned media as well as how to create “more interesting” owned media.

Dennis Whittle, of the Ashoka Changemakers Leadership team, founder and president of The Whittle Group, talked about crowdsourcing and stakeholder engagement.

Whittle said new social platforms are creating unprecedented opportunities for companies to engage in new ways of building advocacy and executing ideas.

“Organizations can now easily do things at scale such as crowdsource projects, encourage social activism, raise venture funds, and locate specialized talent,” he said.

Rachel Haot, New York City chief digital officer, described how Mayor Bloomberg has used new approaches in advocating various programs.

She said SM was “instrumental to the city’s approach to handling Hurricane Sandy.”
SM is being used to “make New Yorkers feel connected, well-informed and listened to by government workers,” she said.

Richard Edelman was the facilitator for Haot’s talk.

Bob Safian, CEO, Fast Company, described current approaches to building advocacy and predicting what might come in the future.

Welcoming attendees was Page chair Jon Iwata, senior VP, marketing and communications, IBM.

Alan Marks, senior VP, global communications, eBay, was chair of the Seminar. Roger Bolton, Page president, also addressed the meeting.