Past Winners

The Comeback Kid: Cisco Bounces Back from a Knockdown Punch Winner

A great turnaround story is hard to resist. PRWeek Awards judges certainly concur as they bestowed Cisco’s “The Comeback Kid” initiative with tonight’s highest honor. Cisco also earned top marks in the Corporate Branding and In-House PR Team of the Year categories. “Everybody Hates Cisco.” That headline blared on CNN in the summer of 2011 and it captured the general sentiment. From overexpansion to failing to meet financial targets, criticism of Cisco abounded. “Cisco faced a steep climb,” observed one judge. “And the communications team was clearly up to the challenge.” Led by SVP and CMO Blair Christie, Cisco sought to rebuild faith in its leaders, reestablish relevance, and regain its “one to beat” status. To win back Wall Street, the team prioritized transparency. Raising the profile of key executives in addition to CEO John Chambers (pictured) played a vital role. The company also created two global studies – the Visual Networking Index, which looks at global Internet trends and their impact on telecoms companies’ networks, and the Connected World Technology Report, which focused on young people’s Internet use. To regain sector superiority, Cisco developed two initiatives to showcase its cloud computing and “Bring Your Own Device” products and solutions. The prevailing attitude about Cisco notably shifted, as captured by a subsequent headline on AllThingsD that read “Cisco Fits Back Into its Skinny Jeans.” Cisco’s valuation rose 25%. It also gained 11% of networking revenue share to 70%, while 79% of employees said they had confidence senior leadership could implement its strategy, a 15% boost. “This campaign stood out as it demonstrated a change in opinion,” added one judge.


Cisco Systems and Brunswick and Text 100