As PRWeek Magazine has inducted Jenn Michaels into its exclusive 2019 Hall of Femme class, the MGM Resorts International PR rep is asked if she has experienced an “epiphany moment.”
She’s experienced many.
Michaels, MGM Resorts International senior vice president of public relations, was nominated in a field of 100 execs across the country. She was among 13 women across the country selected by PRWeek, which has been building its Hall of Femme over the past four years. The publication launched in the U.S. in 1998 and is the leading trade magazine in the PR industry.
“These women are inspiring trailblazers and storytellers. They create innovative work that not only elevates business, but also has a tremendous positive impact on society,” says Bernadette Casey, executive editor at PRWeek. “Their outstanding leadership skills set the standard and, even more important, their efforts to mentor the next generation will ensure a robust talent pipeline for the future.”
Michaels has worked in the MGM Resorts in different capacities over 26 years, a span covering the openings of Treasure Island, Bellagio, Beau Rivage, MGM Detroit, ARIA/CityCenter, Borgata, MGM National Harbor and MGM Springfield. She was also a consultant on the openings of MGM Macau and MGM Cotai.
She has also overseen dozens of restaurant and venue openings, concerts at T-Mobile Arena, eight Cirque du Soliel productions, title fights, major motion pictures and the opening of Bellagio Fountains.
Asked to whittle her career highlights to her Top 5, Michaels, responded with the following:
5: “Hurricane Katrina was absolutely devastating to our resort, Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi. MGM Resorts made a commitment to have the property back open in one year,” Michaels says. “It was an incredibly audacious promise and a huge undertaking to get there, but in August 2006, I was brought to tears as we watched the employees walk up the driveway and enter the doors to get back to work. Seeing our company make a difference in the lives of so many reinforced that what we do is about much more than being a casino.”
4: “The No. 1 missed opportunity, John Cleese called years ago looking for help with reservations. I was walking around Costco talking to him on the phone and took care of what he needed,” Michaels says. “He then asked if I’d like to have dinner with he and his wife that night. I assumed he was just being kind so I graciously declined. What a moron I am! I’m a huge Monty Python fan. The questions I wanted to ask … .”
3: “We pursued the movie studios like crazy for two specific projects – CBS Films for ‘LAST Vegas (with Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline and Robert DeNiro) and Warner Brothers for ‘Jason Bourne,’ Matt Damon’s return to the role he made famous. We just knew we HAD to get them!” Michaels says. “I was over the moon with both – ‘Last Vegas’ is such a fun movie with those major icons and turned out to be an absolute commercial for Aria. If I wasn’t a PR person, I would have been embarrassed by the over-the-top product placement.
“And ‘Jason Bourne’ was huge! I was the last person in the theater on premiere night because I wanted to see our company’s name in the credits and was absolutely floored to see my name up on the big screen in the credits. I had to go see the movie a second time so I could get a picture of my name. That was a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
2: “The 2009 opening of CityCenter was one of the most challenging, unpredictable, stressful windows of time in my career. There was a moment where we would either go bankrupt and put a fence around the project or complete it and open our doors,” Michaels says. “Thankfully it was the latter and welcomed hundreds of media from around the globe to cover this development that was tremendously different than anything built in Las Vegas previously. We had to change the paradigm of the Las Vegas story to talk about public art, world-class architecture, pocket parks and a new kind of pedestrian experience. The coverage was outrageous and Las Vegas once again proved its ability to reinvent itself, giving visitors new reasons to come.”
1: “In 2016, the MGM Resorts PR team was the first corporate department to be awarded our company’s highest honor – the Chairman’s Service Excellence Award – in recognition of work incredibly well done,” Michaels says. “I think we may still be the only corporate team to have received this award. I was so incredibly proud to see (MGM Resorts Chairman) Jim Murren stand on stage and recognize our team of absolute rock stars for all they do to make our brands famous the world over.”
Michaels and her fellow inductees will be profiled in the March/April issue of PRWeek, and honored at an event in June in New York.
“I thought I’d spend one year in Las Vegas and move on,” says Michaels, an avowed Vegas Golden Knights fan who wears lucky glasses and shoes to the team’s home games at T-Mobile. “But the city is changing, evolving, and I feel like I’m in a new job every day.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts.Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.