You’d think founding a public relations firm at the young age of 31 and building it into one of the most admired firms in North America might be enough for most PR professionals — but if you think like Doug Spong, that’s the minimum — the role also requires advancing the public relations profession and helping others on their own road to success. That drive for leadership, within his own firm as well as the PR profession, has resulted in PRSA’s recent announcement that Spong will be inducted into the prestigious Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) College of Fellows. The official ceremony will be held this October at the society’s International Conference in Philadelphia.
With the induction into the College of Fellows, Spong will join a select group of just 300 PRSA members in history who have been recognized for their contributions to the PR profession and for distinguishing themselves through their experience and leadership in the industry. Individuals so honored must have at least 20 years’ experience, hold the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential and have demonstrated capability and accomplishment in the practice or teaching of public relations. It is PRSA’s highest honor.
“Doug has made countless contributions, and continues to make them on a daily basis, to the success of our firm and to the greater public relations industry, both locally and nationally. He is an exceptional leader, an innovative professional and a wonderful mentor to me and so many other professionals who are thriving in their careers based on the wisdom he has shared. We are so honored to celebrate this extraordinary recognition for Doug,” said Julie Batliner, managing director of Carmichael Lynch Spong.
Throughout his 32-year career, Spong has favorably bent the public’s perception of the PR profession through his words, work and successes. It began in 1981 at PR firm Colle & McVoy, where in nine years he rose to serve as senior vice president, managing director. Spong was then recuited by Lee Lynch to found the Carmichael Lynch ad agency’s first public relations division in 1990.
Under Spong’s leadership, Carmichael Lynch Spong grew to become one of the top 25 largest PR firms in the nation. The firm operates globally and represents a portfolio of blue-chip clients including American Standard, Calphalon, First Bankcard, Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, Jennie-O Turkey Store, H&R Block, MasterBrand Cabinets, Sherwin-Williams, SUPERVALU, Tempur-Pedic, Thermos and Trane. The firm was named 2013 “Creative Agency of the Year” by The Holmes Report and has grown to become one of the most decorated public relations firms in the world. It was named “Agency of the Year” four times in the last eight years by PRWeek, The Holmes Report and PR News. No other midsize PR firm has won more Silver and Bronze Anvil awards than Carmichael Lynch Spong.
Doug Spong has had a long history of involvement in the overall public relations community. His leadership in PRSA includes serving as co-chair of the 2011 International Conference; two-year chair of the Honors and Awards Committee; senior judge of Silver and Bronze Anvil awards; president of the 500-member Minnesota chapter, and a member of the Arthur W. Page Society. In addition to his support of PRSA as a professional society for individuals, Spong is one of 30 founding agency CEOs who identified a need for, funded and chartered the Council of Public Relations Firms. Founded in 1997, the Council of Public Relations Firms today represents the business interests of 110 of the world’s largest PR firms. Spong is a past director and treasurer.
Recently, Spong received several individual awards for outstanding professional success, including the SABRE Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement from The Holmes Group, the Donald G. Padilla Distinguished Practitioner Award from the Minnesota PRSA and the merit award for outstanding professional achievement from Iowa State University, his alma mater.
If you ask professionals in the industry, they’ll say some of Spong’s greatest achievements include his efforts in helping them advance in their own careers. He is a dedicated mentor to current and future professionals and a frequent guest lecturer for both graduate and undergraduate programs at the University of Minnesota, University of St. Thomas and the Iowa State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.