We don’t believe in sitting on the sidelines. Our professionals are innovators and thought leaders in their own right, and are actively engaged in industry, business and community organizations.
Chair, The Bliss Group Chair & Founder, The Next Practices Group (NPG)
One of the pioneers of social media marketing, Bob Pearson is globally recognized as a marketing visionary who is focused on identifying and building new digital media and technology models centered on data science.
Bob is Chair of The Next Practices Group (NPG), LLC, a collective of seven founder-driven consulting firms that work together to advance innovation and develop the “next practice” in their respective fields to create an advantage for their clients. This distributed network of firms and talented people has five pillars – analytics/data science, digital media, technology/software services, security and social purpose. Within the firm, it’s R&D center is referred to as “X Labs”, which creates new models that create advantage for clients.
Within NPG, Bob serves as Chair of The Bliss Group, a leading communications firm and Chair of Next Security Group, a firm focused on cybersecurity, physical security and digital protection.
He has played a key role in building two media firms that are ranked in the top 50 worldwide (GCI Health and W20 Group), he led the creation of the Fortune 500’s first global social media function at Dell and he has served as a global leader in communications at Rhone-Poulenc Rorer (now Sanofi) and Novartis, as well as Dell.
He has written four books based on his experience in the public and private sectors. Two relate to digital media innovation (PreCommerce and Storytizing), one focuses on how to build powerful narratives (Crafting Persuasion) and the fourth reflects on how to combat bad actors (Countering Hate). Bob is starting his next business book that is tentatively titled “What’s Next”.
Since teaching is often the best way to learn what’s next and reinforce what works today, Bob designs and teaches new classes as an adjunct professor at The University of Texas McCombs School (new digital media models, persuasive selling), he is a Visiting Scholar at The University of Southern California (analytics models, digital media) and a guest lecturer for the U.S. Government with a focus on digital media and how to counter disinformation and extremism.
He is an investor and advisor for media software companies that are reinventing how we advertise, how we reach our audience and how we unlock content. Advisory board roles include Iternal Technologies, AIMeCAST, REACH and Airtory. Social Purpose is also a big part of Bob’s life. He recently served as Interim CEO of the MedicAlert Foundation and continues to serve as a consultant/advisor in the public sector related to applying technology solutions to counter disinformation and extremism.
Bob resides in Austin, Texas with his wife, Donna.
CEO, The Bliss Group Chair, Next Tech Communications Founder, The Next Practices Group
CEO, The Bliss Group Chair, Next Tech Communications Founder, The Next Practices Group
Cortney is CEO of The Bliss Group, a mid-sized marketing communications firm, with more than twenty years of experience in the industry. She works with companies in technology, financial and professional services to help realize communication goals by developing integrated marketing campaigns that move their clients and prospects to action.
Her background in issues management and professional services, working with accountants, consultants, lawyers and tech providers, has rendered her adept at marketing people, ideas and expertise. Cortney has provided senior counsel to Fortune 500 companies looking for full funnel marketing programs as well as start-ups transforming their industries and middle market companies looking to tell meaningful stories that matter in PS, financial services, business of health and technology sectors.
Cortney is the Chairwoman of women-led Next Tech Communications. A technology focused PR and marketing firm.
As a founder of The Next Practices Group, Cortney ensures Bliss Group clients have access to services across the full PESO spectrum of marketing services including data science and analytics, paid ad buying, SEO, website, cybersecurity and ESG. Cortney also represents one of the founding members of purposewerx, the first collective of marketing and consulting firms focused solely on purpose-driven solutions for clients. She helps companies understand their purpose and how to have a more positive impact on the world.
Cortney, with several of her trusted industry colleagues and former clients, started Exponent Women, an overt networking organization for senior women in the merger and acquisition community.
Prior to her career in marketing and PR, Cortney worked in the non-profit sector and for the state government of Vermont. She sits on the boards of the Council on Accreditation, which accredits thousands of health and human services organizations in the US, and the Alliance for Strong Families & Communities, focused on improving equity by working deep within the social sector nationally. Previously she sat on the board of an anti-child trafficking organization and has done pro-bono work with universities and the United Nations.
In 2019, Cortney was named to PR News’ Top Women in PR list. She graduated magna cum laude from New York University with a MS in international relations and earned a BA in political science and environmental studies from St. Michael’s College. Her studies brought her to three continents.
She resides in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two sons.
Managing Partner, The Bliss Group Founder, The Next Practices Group Chair, NPG Health
Michael is a Managing Partner and Founder at The Bliss Group, where he is responsible for the strategic evolution, digital and social integration and hands-on program development of the firm’s healthcare portfolio. Michael has more than 20 years of corporate and product communications experience across pharmaceutical, biotechnology, healthcare services and medical technology—including device and diagnostics.
Prior to joining Bliss, Michael held executive positions on both agency and client side at Novartis Corporation, GCI/Grey (WPP), Twist (W20/WCG), and his own boutique agency, BMC Communications Group. His diverse experience ranges from hands-on leadership and management of campaigns for blockbuster brands (e.g., Lexapro, Nexium, Valtrex) to strategic oversight of corporate reputation, brand identity, crisis communications and social and digital campaigns.
Michael also has deep experience in challenging therapeutic areas in the rare disease space, including Gaucher disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease (PD) and pulmonary hypertension (PH).
Michael is a lawyer by education, a struggling jazz pianist and an avid Mets, Knicks, Jets and Islanders fan. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends.
Healthcare Practice Leader
Liz DeForest is a Senior Vice President and the Co-Leader of the Bliss Health practice. She guides B2B and B2B2C health companies in explaining what new changes or opportunities might mean to people who may not yet realize why they should care. Her teams define, articulate and showcase our clients’ value to legacy and emerging stakeholders in the evolving value-based care paradigm.
Liz cultivated her expertise in the “business of health” (or how care is discovered, delivered, paid for and promoted) through intentional work across the health industry continuum, with clients including population health data analytics, digital health, government and commercial payers, health care debt financing, medical device manufacturing, and health care strategy and operations consulting clients. She’s continually monitoring how regulatory, legislative, social and economic changes impact health communications and storytelling.
Over her 20+ years in public relations and marketing communications, Liz has also covered city government for the Charlottesville Daily Progress, written for the Associated Press, and built a national thought leadership presence while in-house at a financial services firm specializing in health care and nonprofits.
Liz is currently the Vice-Chair of Communications for the northern California chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives, and she has received writing awards from the Healthcare Financial Management Association and the Associated Press. She holds degrees in journalism and Spanish from Washington and Lee University. She is originally from Syracuse, N.Y. and is based in Northern California.
Head of Growth, Financial Services Practice Leader
Reed Handley is the Head of Growth for The Bliss Group and co-leads the firm’s financial services practice.
A multi-passionate doer, Reed lights up when tackling new and big problems. She has extensive experience helping public and private sector companies boost brand reputation, manage transformation and leverage data to tell insightful stories that increase visibility and inspire action.
For nearly a decade at Bliss, Reed has served as a strategic partner to senior executives across the financial and professional services sectors and has led award-winning marketing communications programs for incumbent brands, industry disruptors and those who live in between. Reed is also responsible for developing and driving strategic initiatives that accelerate the agency’s growth.
Before Bliss, she established the communications and operations functions at Pave, a peer-to-peer start-up aimed at democratizing access to capital for Millennials.
Reed graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in Art History and Correlate Sequence in Hispanic Studies. She began her career at Matthew Marks Gallery and remains an advocate for contemporary art, serving on the Photo Council at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College. She is also a member of the Economic Club of New York and PR Council’s Sales & Marketing Committee.
Reed resides in Ossining, NY with her Emmy Award-winning husband, two tiny humans and a giant dog. When not working, you’ll for sure find her either nesting in Westchester, weaving in Wisconsin or honing some other type of useful retirement skill in Florida.
Financial Services Practice Leader
Greg has worked closely with financial services clients across the industry—including commercial real estate, insurance, corporate finance, asset management and wealth management—for more than 12 years. He has supported the development and execution of integrated PR/marketing campaigns that reach B2B, B2C and B2B2C audiences.
His interest in financial services stems from challenges disrupting the industry, like new and better technology, regulatory shifts, and ever-changing economic conditions. Navigating those challenges with clients and effectively reaching their target audiences—through traditional, digital, and/or social media channels—are responsibilities he embraces.
He cut his teeth in media relations and helps elevate companies’ brands and develop key executives as credible thought leaders and experts in their respective fields.
Greg graduated from Boston College with a B.A. in English and Communication.
Head of Account Excellence, Healthcare Practice Leader
Alexis co-leads the Healthcare Practice and serves as Head of Account Excellence for the firm.
For her clients and across the Healthcare Practice, Alexis is a strategic counselor helping clients build and maintain their brands, develop and execute impactful thought leadership strategies, and drive measurable business results. With a background in servicing Fortune 500 companies, she partners with clients to reach consumers and key constituents as they work to achieve personal and financial health.
In her capacity as the Head of Account Excellence, Alexis works across the firm to sustain our distinctive approach to client service, unlock professional development opportunities, and support efficiency and profitability.
In the midst of the Great Recession, Alexis worked closely with Bank of America. It was through this work that she found her passion for helping clients in regulated industries navigate an environment that increasingly requires transparency and clear communication.
Prior to joining Bliss, Alexis was a Vice President at Ketchum and Emanate – part of the Omnicom Group of companies – where she managed a variety of financial services and insurance accounts across the B2B and B2C spectrum.
Alexis received her B.A. in public communication from American University in Washington, D.C. She lives in New York City but never misses an opportunity to explore the world. Alexis developed a passion for sports at a young age and continues to root passionately for the New York Rangers and New York Yankees to this day.
Head of Innovation
As Head of Innovation for The Bliss Group, Sally focuses on developing new strategies and solutions that drive better outcomes for clients. She continually evaluates new technologies, trends and media models to address clients’ evolving marketing and communications needs.
Sally also works directly with Bliss clients across the professional services, financial services and healthcare practices. She specializes in branding, content strategy and digital marketing, working with companies to build demand generation, full-funnel and precision marketing strategies underpinned by data and cohesive storytelling.
Prior to Bliss, Sally worked with a wide range of growth stage companies in ICR’s technology practice, leading writing efforts for the firm and its clients. Before she joined ICR, Sally worked with top financial services and technology clients in FleishmanHillard’s corporate financial practice in New York City.
Sally graduated from Northwestern University with a B.A. in political science. When she’s not at work, she writes (and reads) fiction. Her debut novel, Paladin, is a #1 Amazon bestseller in three categories and has been read online over 14 million times.
Head of Integrated Earned Media
Bill C. Smith is a Senior Vice President and Head of Integrated Earned Media at Bliss. His team focuses on media strategy and corporate storytelling for C-suite executives and organizations through trade, regional and national media.
Prior to Bliss, Bill was a Group Vice President in the Financial and Professional Services Practice at Makovsky, leading strategy for the largest and longest-tenured clients, including Russell Reynolds Associates, Mercer, Kearney, Bracewell, UHY Advisors and Debtwire. Before that, he started his career at Dukas Public Relations, where he developed media strategy for the Credit Union National Association, EisnerAmper and several registered investment advisors.
In 2015, Bill received the PR News’ Rising PR Stars 30 & Under Award, and he contributes to Talking Biz News, an industry blog focused on business journalism news. He currently volunteers with Rising Leaders, a nonprofit mentorship organization co-founded by U.S. Representative Mondaire Jones.
Bill graduated cum laude from Cornell University with a major in Communication and a minor in Africana Studies. He is a Mets fan, an Eagle Scout and a resident of Brooklyn.
Business & Professional Services Practice Leader
Ken has spent the majority of his career building impactful communications strategies that position professional services organizations for success.
An award-winning reputation counselor and storyteller, Ken’s career has seen him hold leadership positions at some of the world’s largest public relations agencies. And for nearly 11 years he was a director on the Americas Communications and Marketing team at Ernst & Young.
He is the author of Our Future in Public Relations: A Cautionary Tale in Three Parts and a fervent believer that in a stakeholder economy effective communications strategies must be purpose-driven, audience-centric and measurable.
Ken is a board member of the New York chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, and for more than a decade he has been a faculty member at New York University, where he teaches classes in rhetoric and communications management to graduate students in the school’s Public Relations and Communications master’s degree program.
Ken holds a master’s degree in Communications Management from the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. A die-hard Mets fan, he is also the lead singer in a classic rock cover band and often performs in venues across New York City.
Business & Professional Services Practice Leader
Keri first joined Bliss as an intern and today is an SVP and Head of our Professional Services practice, which ranks in the top 10 in the country by O’Dwyer’s.
She has more than a decade of experience working with growing and leading Accounting, Business Services, Consulting, SaaS, Human Capital, Legal, Risk and other professional services firms to define a niche and punch above competitors through differentiated insight and a more innovative approach to marketing.
Keri is passionate about data-driven storytelling and helps public and private companies with brand positioning, content marketing, thought leadership development, media strategy and outreach, digital strategy, executive visibility and sales enablement.
She has special focus in the accounting, consulting, and B2B tech sectors and has developed and executed integrated PR and marketing programs targeting senior executives across numerous industry verticals including private equity, retail, healthcare, technology, nonprofit, energy, education and manufacturing.
When not behind a keyboard, Keri is raising two boys, volunteering for the PTA, and pedaling fast on a Peloton.
Leader of Bliss Impact Specialty Group
Megan works with companies to find and talk to the market about their services and people, as well as their values and purpose. As the leader of Bliss Impact, her team launched the first ever company focused on measuring the impact of ESG investments and has worked with numerous established brands to dissect, determine and promote their values and purpose to relevant audiences.
In addition to Bliss Impact, she focuses on financial services and health-related companies, where she is responsible for overall strategy and program development, as well as media relations and content creation for her clients.
Megan sits on the board of Six Hundred & Rising, a non-profit advocating for Black voices to advance in advertising and public relations.
Before joining Bliss, Tuck held previous public relations positions in the consumer, lifestyle and travel sectors. She also spent time in communications at a non-profit organization. Tuck graduated from Duke University where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a certificate in Markets and Management Studies.
Leader of Bliss Workplace Specialty Group
Meghan leads The Bliss Group’s Workplace Specialty Group, which specializes in the intersection of employee experience and the evolving workplace. Leveraging her experience with benefits consultants, HR administrators and insurers, Meghan leads integrated external communications programs for clients impacting the workplaces of today and tomorrow. She also works with clients to build programs that communicate to and effectively engage employees internally.
With expertise managing communications for large, complex organizations, Meghan leads programs that drive brand awareness, corporate reputation and employee recruitment and retention. She has managed cross-channel executive thought leadership strategies for C-suite of Fortune 50 companies and is committed to building impactful, results-driven approaches with her client partners.
Meghan previously worked for the First Lady of Tennessee on marketing efforts around the State of Tennessee’s childhood education initiatives and continues to focus on advancing childhood education as a board member of Fannie Battle Day Home for Children in her home of Nashville, Tennessee.
She graduated cum laude from Denison University with a B.A. in English Literature and Religion. Outside of work, Meghan can be found exploring restaurants in Nashville and on her latest travels, and then attempting to recreate her favorite meals in her own kitchen.