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From the Campaign Trail to Political Office: Breaking Down the Lifecycle of PR in Politics

Blair Cardinal | Published on 1/17/2023

From the Campaign Trail to Political Office: Breaking Down the Lifecycle of PR in Politics 

Kick off 2023 with PRSA Philadelphia as we dive into the complex lifecycle of political communications. We will explore John Fetterman’s recent groundbreaking win for U.S. Senate, how to launch a gun violence communications campaign with 150 civic leaders and the Mayor’s Office, thoughts about the upcoming transition of Pennsylvania Governor-elect Josh Shapiro, and management of day-to-day PR from Wilmington to Washington for Delaware’s sole Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.). Register Now!

And we’ll hear about it all directly from the professionals who oversaw or played a role with these most critical communications strategies behind the scenes!

Wednesday, January 18, 2023 - 8:30 - 9:30 a.m. Panel and Q&A
  • Brendan McPhillips, Partner, Hilltop Public Solutions – campaign manager for Fetterman for PA
  • Sue Jacobson, President, Jacobson Strategic Communications – immediate past chair, Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, Executive Board of the Civic Coalition to Save Lives, and transition committee member for Governor-elect Josh Shapiro
  • Andrew Donnelly, Communications Director & Senior Advisor, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.)
Moderated by: Blair Cardinal, President, PRSA Philadelphia Chapter 

Register Now!

About Our Panelists 

Brendan McPhillips joined Hilltop as Partner in 2022 and helps lead the firm’s Pennsylvania practice. As a campaign manager, McPhillips has a record of winning critical races on the national stage that have shaped the way campaigns are run. Most recently, McPhillips was the campaign manager for John Fetterman’s groundbreaking victory for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, winning a seat that had not been held by a Democrat since 1969 and helping to secure a Democratic Senate majority. The Fetterman campaign was praised for charting a course for how Democrats can run competitively in other swing states, particularly its strategy to campaign in every county which resulted in Fetterman improving on President Biden’s performance in 64 of 67 counties.

In 2020, McPhillips led President Biden’s successful Pennsylvania campaign as State Director where his team had to rewrite the playbook for successful organizing to adapt to campaigning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also in the 2020 cycle, McPhillips served as Iowa State Director for Pete Buttigieg, winning the Iowa Caucuses with an historic victory for the first openly LGBTQ candidate to ever earn delegates in a presidential primary. McPhillips also managed Andrew Gillum’s come from behind victory in the 2018 Democratic primary for governor of Florida.  He has held senior positions on a number of Pennsylvania campaigns, including campaign manager for Philadelphia Councilmember Helen Gym (2015), senior advisor for Councilmember Gym (2019), campaign manager for John Fetterman’s first bid for Senate (2016), and both the Obama and Clinton presidential campaigns. 

Susan Jacobson is an award-winning communicator, strategist, and advisor, bringing decades of experience to her work on behalf of private and public sector clients, as well as those in the nonprofit and advocacy spaces. As the president of Jacobson Strategic Communications, a leading Philadelphia-based public relations, public affairs, and crisis management firm, Susan’s signature approach to message development and strategy helps clients navigate some of their most complex communications challenges. 

Prior to joining the communications sector, Susan oversaw government relations as Deputy Chief of Staff to former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell and to Chief of Staff David L. Cohen. During her tenure, the Mayors of Pennsylvania presented Susan with the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities Award for Outstanding Service. Susan and her company – which began with the simple vision of bringing together the brightest communicators in their field by offering maximum workplace flexibility – have won numerous awards and recognitions, including securing a spot on the Inc. 5000 for three years in a row, a Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year, and the Most Admired CEO Award from the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Actively engaged in the community, Susan was the Chair of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and serves as Vice Chair on the National PBS Foundation Board and as a Commissioner on the Governor’s Pennsylvania Commission for Women. She is a contributor to and her company was profiled in the New York Times bestseller, The Real Life MBA, by Jack and Suzy Welch.

Andrew Donnelly
is the Communications Director & Senior Advisor for Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.). Prior to joining Blunt Rochester’s office, Andrew served as the Legislative Liaison to Delaware Governor Jack Markell (D-Del.), advising on legislative and press strategies while serving as the youngest member of senior staff in the Governor’s office. 

Andrew has advised Blunt Rochester since shortly after her historic election in 2016, when she became the first woman and first person of color elected to represent Delaware in Congress. Andrew has been the primary strategist for Blunt Rochester’s media strategy through some of the most turbulent and historic times in Congressional history – including two impeachments of former President Trump and the January 6th insurrection. Andrew also served as the primary communications advisor to Blunt Rochester as she served as the National Co-Chair of the Biden 2020 campaign and a member of the Vice Presidential Selection Committee.