FleishmanHillard Partner to Join Collegiate Marketer

PLANO, Texas – Learfield today announced that veteran communications and public relations expert William (Bill) Palen will become its Chief Communications and Marketing Officer effective October 2, 2018.

Palen joins Learfield after nearly 24 years with public relations and communications firm FleishmanHillard (FH), where he was one of the earliest employees in its Texas network. At FH, he has held various leadership roles and responsibilities working with executives at some of the agency’s major clients, including AT&T and Frost Bank. His award-winning work has spanned M&A, crisis communications, speech writing and sports marketing. He received the John D. Graham Award for Excellence, FleishmanHillard’s highest honor for exemplary client service, teamwork, integrity and personal commitment. AT&T/SBC executives presented him with its NOVA Achievement Award for dedication and resourcefulness.

“I’m very pleased Bill will be joining our team,” said Greg Brown, Learfield President and CEO. “He is a highly skilled and seasoned communications executive, and his wealth of experiences will serve us well as we continue to grow our company. Of greatest importance, Bill is an absolute cultural fit and will help us tell our story in a consistent and thoughtful way, both internally and externally.”

At FH, Palen helped launch and promote community events surrounding the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic and the Red River Showdown between Oklahoma and Texas. He helped craft sports sponsorship announcements and messaging at venues ranging from AT&T Center and Texas Tech to the Masters Tournament. He also served as president of the televised Comerica Bank New Year’s Parade in downtown Dallas in conjunction with the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association.

“It is an honor to join the Learfield family as it connects brands to the passion and tradition of college sports,” said Palen. “Like FleishmanHillard, Learfield has a strong team culture with great people who collaborate to do terrific things for their clients and partners. It’s been a blessing to work with amazingly talented colleagues at FH, and I’m excited to begin this next life chapter with a dynamic company like Learfield — which promotes and serves college athletics so well.”

Palen earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Mo., where he was a student reporter for a Learfield/Missouri Network affiliate. He received his master’s degree and the Master’s Prize from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Palen worked for Westwood One in New York City as a research administrator for its Notre Dame and NFL broadcasts and later served four years in the Missouri Governor’s Office as deputy press secretary and speech writer. At Learfield, Palen will report to Chief Administrative Officer Temple Weiss.

Palen will assume a number of marketing and communications duties that have been handled by longtime Learfield executive Roger Gardner, who will remain as senior advisor and executive coach to the senior management team of the company. “Roger is the best and he has played a critical leadership role at Learfield over the years as a partner and executive, and I’m grateful that he will continue in the years to come to provide his counsel and advice to me and our team,” said Brown.

An industry leader for more than four decades, Learfield has a deep presence in the college athletics landscape nationwide. It manages the multimedia and sponsorship rights for nearly 130 collegiate institutions, conferences and arenas, and supports athletic departments at all competitive levels as title sponsor of the prestigious Learfield Directors’ Cup. Learfield also provides its collegiate partners access to professional concessions and ticket sales; branding, licensing and trademark consulting; digital and social platform expertise; campuswide business and sponsorship development; and venue and technology systems through its affiliated companies.