Weber Shandwick CEO to Address UA Students and Faculty

Andy Polansky, chief executive officer of Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s leading public relations firms, will deliver the 19th Koten Distinguished Lecture in Public Relations Tuesday, March 28. The lecture will take place at 9:30 a.m. in Reese Phifer Hall, room 216, on the UA campus. Polansky will discuss “Navigating Through a Dizzying Pace of Change.”

Polansky has guided Weber Shandwick to an industry-leading position in digital, social media and content marketing. The firm also has been recognized as the top Corporate Responsibility Advisory Firm by CR Magazine and was PRWeek’s 2017, 2016 and 2015 U.S. Agency of the Year, PRWeek’s 2016 and 2015 Global Agency of the Year and The Holmes Report’s 2015 and 2014 Global Agency of the Year.

“We are thrilled that Andy will share his vast experience with our students and faculty,” said Dr. Karla K. Gower, professor of advertising and public relations at UA and director of The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations.

Having a deep passion for client service and collaboration, he led the development of Weber Shandwick’s Client Relationship Leader (CRL) program, which has been featured as a Harvard Business School case study, and serves as a senior strategist on a number of corporate client engagements.

Polansky has received several individual honors including The Holmes Report’s Individual Achievement Award in 2016; named #1 on PRWeek’s Power List in 2016 as well as PRWeek’s Global Professional of the Year (Agency) in 2015; inducted into the PR News Hall of Fame in 2010; and received the prestigious Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations’ Milestones in Mentoring Award in October 2014. This honor reflects his people-centric leadership and long-standing personal commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“He is a highly accomplished leader in public relations and a terrific role model for our students,” Gower said. “Andy is exactly the kind of leader that we want interacting with our students and faculty.”

Before joining Weber Shandwick, Polansky was a municipal reporter for the Bucks County Courier Times in Levittown, Pennsylvania, a business and feature writer for the Princeton Packet in Princeton, New Jersey, and a sportswriter at The Trentonian in Trenton, New Jersey.

Polansky earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from The College of New Jersey and sits on the TCNJ Foundation Board of Directors. In 2015, Polansky received the university’s Alumni Citation Award, which is presented to an alumnus who has shown exceptional pride and commitment to the college and has served as a positive role model after graduation.

The Koten Lecture Series is sponsored by The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. It is named after John “Jack” Koten, an inaugural member of the Plank Center board of advisors. The lecture provides public relations undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to hear diverse public relations experts discuss timely and relevant issues in the field.

About the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations

In 2005, the University of Alabama Board of Trustees established The Plank Center, named for public relations leader and UA alumna, the late Betsy Plank, to develop and recognize outstanding diverse public relations leaders, role models and mentors to advance ethical public relations in an evolving, global society through a variety of programs, and in concert with groups and associations.
In addition to national leaders in the practice and education, the Center Board includes an ex officio position for the president of the Public Relations Student Society of America that represents more than 11,000 members in 300-plus colleges and universities.

The Center is housed in UA’s department of advertising and public relations, a division of the College of Communication and Information Sciences. UA’s public relations program, with nearly 1,400 students, is the largest undergraduate degree program within the College. The program is certified by the Public Relations Society of America and for seven years has been ranked among the top five public relations programs in the country by PRWeek magazine.

More information about the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations can be found at