Tim O’Brien is a communications strategist and consultant, advising clients from Fortune 100 companies to associations, start-ups and nonprofits. He has provided service to clients across every major sector and has seen programs from conceptualization through planning. He has worked extensively in crisis communications, issues management, professional services marketing, writing and content development, marketing, media relations, message development, and workplace communications.
He formed O’Brien Communications in 2001, a Pittsburgh PR firm, after serving as Communications Director and the Chief Investor Relations Officer at Tollgrade Communications, a telecom firm that played a significant role in the rollout of broadband technology. At Tollgrade, he was a member of the company’s Executive Committee, responsible for all internal and external communications, serving as primary spokesperson.
Before Tollgrade, Tim spent ten years at Ketchum, where he was a Vice President, a member of the PR office’s Management Committee, and a leader in Ketchum’s Crisis Communications and Issues Management practice areas. At Ketchum, he managed corporate, employee and media relations, in addition to crisis communications programs, community relations and marketing communications initiatives.
Prior to Ketchum, he served in account service at Pittsburgh public relations agency Mangus/Catanzano. Before that, he spent two years at local advertising firms. He started his career as a Producer/News Writer at KDKA TV & Radio. Tim earned his bachelor’s degree with majors in Journalism and Speech Communication at Duquesne University.
He was accredited (APR) by Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) in 1990. He has served on PRSA’s national Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS), its Governance Committee, and its Pittsburgh Board of Directors.
He is a regular contributor to trade and business media.
He has presented at professional and trade functions, including the American Bar Association’s Continuing Legal Education programs. Tim has also lectured at graduate and undergraduate programs at institutions including: Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania State University, Chatham University and at other colleges and universities.
Tim is the author of The Essential Crisis Communications Plan: A Crisis Management Process that Fits Your Culture. He contributed to the PR News Crisis Management Guidebook, the PR News Employee Communications Guidebook, and he was featured in Harvard Business School Press’s The Essentials of Corporate Communications and Public Relations. In 2017, he was honored with the inaugural “Indie Award” from the Public Relations Society of America for his contributions to the national independent PR consultant community. His work has been recognized in several competitions, including receipt of the Bronze Anvil Award of Commendation from PRSA for the Shaping Opinion podcast, Public Relations Society of America/Pittsburgh Renaissance Awards, the Association of Business Communicators and the Dalton Pen Communications Award Program for Excellence in Annual Reports, the NFPW Communications Awards, the International Academy of the Visual Arts’ Communicator Awards, and the Pennsylvania Press Club.