Golin CEO Fred Cook will lead USC Annenberg's Strategic Public Relations Center.
Golin / Logan Futej

Golin CEO Fred Cook to lead the Strategic Public Relations Center at USC Annenberg

USC Annenberg School of Journalism Director Willow Bay announced today that Fred Cook, the CEO of Golin, one of the world’s largest public relations agencies, has been named the Director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism’s Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center. Cook will also become a professor in PR Studies, focusing on innovation and leadership.

“This is the first time USC Annenberg has had an active CEO as Center Director,” said Bay. “We are thrilled to have someone with Fred’s credentials and experience join our team. We look forward to him bringing his passion for the communication industry to one of the nation’s most dynamic PR programs.”

Cook will continue in his role at Golin, where he oversees the agency’s consistent growth, global expansion and business transformation.

“I’ve spent the past 30 years building one of the most successful PR firms in the business through innovation and experimentation,” said Cook. “I’m looking forward to applying what I’ve learned in the agency world at a prestigious school like USC Annenberg. I’m very impressed by their faculty, their vision and their ambition.”

The Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center (SCPRC) advances the study, practice and value of the public relations profession by conducting practical, applied research in partnership with other visionary organizations. One of the SCPRC’s signature efforts is the biennial Generally Accepted Practices (GAP) Study, which provides senior communicators with timely guidance as they manage their organizations, develop strategy, and prepare for the future. The Center also focuses on leadership training and career development for communicators.

“USC Annenberg is intensely focused on being at the forefront of industry trends to guarantee our graduates are ready to lead in the rapidly changing world of communications,” said USC Annenberg’s Dean Ernest J. Wilson III. “Fred’s track record and commitment to constant innovation during this dynamic era matches our own.”

Cook joins the faculty of a school that offers world-class undergraduate and graduate public relations studies programs. USC Annenberg has produced thousands of highly skilled practitioners working at the top of the field. The professional experience they acquire through top-notch internships contributes to their success, as does the enormously powerful USC alumni network.

Under his leadership, Golin has been voted agency of the year more than a dozen times and Cook has been named one of the most powerful people in PR. Four years ago, Cook replaced Golin’s traditional hierarchical structure with a radical new model called g4, where communities of specialists deliver insights, ideas, engagement and integration to their clients.  

“Fred has never been one to accept ‘business as usual’ in life or at work,” said Al Golin, founder and chairman of Golin. “His new relationship with USC Annenberg offers him another interesting challenge, which will allow everyone at USC Annenberg and Golin to benefit from his vision and leadership.”

In 2014, Cook authored a book titled “Improvise – Unorthodox Career Advice from an Unlikely CEO,” which shares the wisdom he learned as a cabin boy on a Norwegian tanker, a doorman at a five-star hotel and chauffeur for drunks.

“Since my book was published, I’ve spoken at dozens of colleges around the world,” says Cook. “Through that exposure, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for the pressures students are facing and the dreams educators are striving to fulfill. I hope to play a meaningful role in this important work.”