Berger Celebrated by The Communications Industry, Colleagues, and Clients for Her Countless Contributions and Iconic Career
Earlier Today, R&CPMK Chairman Cindi Berger was inducted as a member of PRWeek’s 2020 Hall of Fame class, recognizing her countless contributions to the industry and society throughout her storied career.
The PRWeek Hall of Fame annually recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions to the development of the communications industry and paved the way for the modern world of PR. In the eight years since the Hall of Fame was founded, fewer than 50 individuals have been honored.
As part of the ceremony, Berger delivered a powerful acceptance speech highlighting her career and the importance of communication in breaking down barriers and cultivating lasting cultural change throughout society.
In addition, a collection of Berger’s R&CPMK colleagues and clients, including The Chicks, Billy Crystal, Billie Jean King, Norah O’Donnell, Rosie O’Donnell, Sharon Stone, and Jeff Zucker, all shared congratulatory messages and admiration for Berger on this momentous occasion.
FOLLOWING IS THE FULL TRANSCRIPT OF BERGER’S ACCEPTANCE SPEECH:
“I’m truly honored to accept this award and to be recognized among this wonderful class and esteemed collection of previous Hall of Fame honorees. Thank you so much.
I’d like to thank Steve Barrett and the staff at PRWeek. I also want to recognize my entire team at R&CPMK, as well as Octagon and IPG. I’ve been fortunate in my career to surround myself with a strong and smart team, including Alan Nierob, Mark Owens, Marian Koltai-Levine, Shirley Hughes, Bill Rosenthal. I’m appreciative for your leadership, guidance and friendship. It’s been quite a journey for all of us.
Thank you to my precious family. Mitchell, you’ve been my greatest supporter and partner. I could not have accomplished what I have without your love and encouragement. And thank you to my children, Sydney and Spencer, my greatest accomplishments of all. You’ve both grown up witnessing me juggle life at home, work, and everything in between. Your love and support is immeasurable.
I recently had the great honor of delivering the 125th commencement address for my alma mater, Ithaca College. In preparing that speech and now this one, I have had the opportunity to reflect on the path that got me to where I am today.
I have been privileged to meet so many extraordinary people throughout my career, and I’ve never taken that for granted. I remember as the receptionist for PMK, striking up a conversation with tennis legend Billie Jean King. What began as small talk 30 years ago is now a trusted client relationship and a meaningful friendship. Billie Jean wrote a book called Pressure is a Privilege. The title and the book resonated with me.
The passing of a baton is also a privilege. The late, great Lois Smith, who had also represented Billie Jean King, met a young and up and coming actor in a 1962 off-Broadway play. She slipped him her business card backstage and told him one day he would need a publicist and that he should call her. He eventually did call her. That up and coming young actor was Robert Redford. Lois represented him for over 40 years and passed the baton to me…this didn’t happen without me first being tested. Out of the many clients the company represented, Robert Redford had never been into the office. I vividly remember our first meeting. He told me that he was in New York and wanted to meet me, and he would be in my office in one hour. My reaction was what you would have expected, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to be meeting with The Sundance Kid.’ He sauntered down the long hallway wearing a baseball cap, his signature aviator sunglasses, and was escorted into my office. He took his cap and glasses off, flashed his famous movie star smile and sat on my couch. We talked. I passed the test, and we’ve been together ever since. Cue Billie Jean King: Pressure is a Privilege.
I have had the honor of working with Barbara Walters. As you know, Barbara was the first female co-anchor for The Today Show and later became the first woman to be named a co-anchor for a network evening news program. She paved the way for every female broadcast journalist that has followed her. The years that I have spent with Barbara gave me tremendous insight into the political arena and gender equality. My world’s collided when Barbara Walters asked my other client, Rosie O’Donnell, to return to daytime TV as a co-host and moderator of The View. It was quite a roller coaster as this piece of history also involved the 45th President of the United States, and all I will say is, Pressure is a Privilege!
I’m often asked by younger staff and those I mentor what got me to where I am today. My answer is always: passion, purpose, hard work, strong organizational skills, and understanding the importance of relationships. Real, meaningful, and honest relationships.
The public relations and marketing landscape have changed a lot since my career began. One thing that has not changed is what I have always told both my clients and staff, “Do not lie, because the truth will always come out. So, if you mess up, fess up.”
Communication takes place in real time. Social media is the catalyst that propels stories to grow bigger and faster than ever before. The days of putting a newspaper article at the bottom of a birdcage are long gone. You must think carefully and strategically, and know that once something is out, it’s out forever. The quality of communication and truthful storytelling is more important now than ever before. We are living in a transformative time and must look at our work with our eyes toward the future. We need diversity, parity and must open the doors for opportunity. I encourage all of you to break down walls, shatter glass ceilings, shine a light on worthy causes, social activism, and injustice. We are the gatekeepers of culture and we need to open those gates. The biggest impact we can make is to provide opportunity and be the change agents making room for the next generation.
And remember, Pressure is a Privilege. Thank you all so much!”
— R&CPMK —