Public Relations Lab

Beyond the Press Release: Using PR and Communications to Build Your Business

In today’s world, communications is more important than ever. From corporate reputation to executive visibility to crisis preparedness, this panel will discuss the most important things business owners can do to build and protect their reputation.


Cynthia McCafferty
President & CEO
Hawthorne Strategy Group

Cynthia McCafferty is President & CEO of Hawthorne Strategy Group, an award-winning public relations agency that uses communications to achieve business goals and solve business challenges. Working with clients across all industries and of all sizes, Hawthorne specializes in strategic communications, issues management, public affairs, and community and media relations. With a senior leadership team supported by a robust team of communicators, Hawthorne provides the experience of a big public relations firm with the tailored attention of a small firm. Prior to joining Hawthorne, Cynthia was a Senior Partner and Senior Vice President at FleishmanHillard International Communications.


Matthew Doubleday
Senior Vice President of Marketing
Wintrust Financial Corporation

Matthew Doubleday is Senior Vice President of Marketing at Wintrust Financial Corporation. With banking assets of almost $30 billion, and more than 160 banking locations in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana, Wintrust is currently the second largest bank group headquartered in Illinois. A 21-year veteran of Wintrust, Matthew leads the 40-person Wintrust Marketing team. Structured as an internal agency, this team supports all Wintrust brands and business lines with messaging, strategy, creative, data, digital, media buying, and production.


Melissa Harris
Harris & Co

Melissa Harris is the founder and CEO of M. Harris & Co., a marketing and communications agency. She is a winner of numerous public relations and creative awards, including a 2018 Clio Award for the Cards Against Humanity Saves America campaign. As an Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Melissa Harris advises hundreds of startups annually on all aspects of marketing and communications. Prior to starting her own company, she capped her 15-year journalism career as a business columnist at the Chicago Tribune.


Michelle A. Johnson
Director, Issues and Reputation, Global Public Affairs
SC Johnson

Michelle is a seasoned communications professional with more than 20 years of experience in developing and leading strategic global communications programs across diverse industries, including consumer goods, healthcare, telecommunications, and technology. She is currently Director of Issues and Reputation on the Global Public Affairs team for SC Johnson, a leading manufacturer of household cleaning products and products for home storage, air care, pest control, and shoe care, as well as professional products. She has held previous public relations roles at leading global companies and agencies, including Abbott, FleishmanHillard, and Cohn & Wolfe.



Cameron Potts
Vice President of Public Relations and Communications
Deluxe Corporation

Cameron Potts is Vice President of Public Relations and Communications for Deluxe Corporation. With nearly 30 years of communication experience, he oversees all internal and external communications for Deluxe and its affiliated companies, as well as the Deluxe Corporation Foundation. He has led all communication efforts for Small Business Revolution – Main Street, Deluxe’s online reality TV show in which each year one small town receives a $500,000 makeover. Prior to joining Deluxe, Cameron was a Vice President with Weber Shandwick, the world’s largest public relations company, where he worked for clients from the Mayo Clinic to the U.S. Army. Cameron began his career as a journalist, working for several publications before moving into public relations work.