Mark Winter is many things—a visionary, a leader, a mentor. He’s an innovator and an entrepreneur. A co-founder of Identity. And now, he’s a member of the PRSA Detroit Hall of Fame.
Mark was inducted into the PRSA Detroit Hall of Fame this week, almost exactly 25 years after Identity officially opened its doors as a two-person operation focused largely on media relations. I’ve been wanting to nominate Mark for this honor aligned with this milestone anniversary for a few years now. It was our sincerest hope that with a strong nomination, the committee with PRSA Detroit would recognize Mark’s contributions to the industry here in the region with this honor.
While he would be the last to admit it, he has had a monumental impact on the field of public relations in Detroit. Mark’s founding vision was to do it better, and he started with an unwillingness to be confined by formulas or industry convention. Identity’s first hire was a creative graphic design professional, an innovative move not often seen in the PR agency vertical. That same visionary mentality led to Identity eventually becoming the first PR agency in Southeast Michigan to have a dedicated social media department.
Concepts like integrated communications, integrated PR, and the Modern PR Mix—proven public relations strategies combined with best practices in marketing and creative design—have been part of Identity’s operational blueprint since its founding and are now standard practice across the industry. Mark was articulating these ideas and working toward making these concepts a reality decades before they became popular or widespread.
Through it all, Mark has always been focused on people and relationships. His ability to identify and recruit promising PR talent—and subsequently coach them, empower them, and help them grow into leaders and groundbreakers in their own right—is a big part of how Identity has stayed ahead of the industry curve for 25 years. He is a natural mentor and coach, counseling up-and-coming professionals in all aspects of the business.
Mark has personally had a hand in guiding almost all of Identity’s senior leadership team from industry newcomers and young PR professionals to seasoned leaders, but he has also created an environment where professionals from all different stages of their careers have found their place to thrive. For an experience-based profession, providing opportunity is imperative. By envisioning the future through Identity, Mark is responsible for launching and cultivating careers of what I consider to be the best PR pros in the business today.
It’s important to note that Mark’s leadership, mentorship, and influence haven’t been limited to Identity alone. Mark has been a coaching and mentorship engine: creating and contributing to successful PR careers in Metro Detroit and beyond. As a past President of EO Detroit, the local chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a global, peer-to-peer network of more than 18,000+ influential business owners, he has coached and mentored entrepreneurs all over the country, and he continues to serve as a trusted counselor and a sounding board to many. He was also the Chair for the EO XCentric Detroit event held this year.
Beyond the work, his greatest talent might be his humility and his personal and professional generosity. His generosity manifests itself in philanthropic endeavors and a spirit of service that animates both his own contributions and the charitable work of his agency. He has served or is serving on boards for The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW), the Holtzman Wildlife Foundation, the Michigan Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), and Reggie Jackson’s Determined To Assist Foundation.
His generosity doesn’t just fuel philanthropy—but also ingenuity and creativity. Mark isn’t threatened by the success of others; he is invigorated by it. He has a natural talent for helping others identify, hone, and fully realize their own unique gifts and abilities. With a relationship-based leadership style, he inspires a rare degree of loyalty from employees, peers, and clients alike. With an average employee tenure of five years and a leadership team who has been with the agency for a minimum of 12 years—virtually unheard-of numbers in the PR industry—it’s clear that loyalty and leadership resonate and pay very real dividends.
Today, the startup Mark founded has become something special—and nationally recognized. Identity has evolved into a national leader in the industry: a driving force behind award-winning public relations programs, marketing campaigns, and creative moments that leave a mark. Mark’s mentorship, vision, and values place him squarely in the center of a regional PR landscape he has helped shape. To understand Mark Winter is to understand the story of the PR industry in Metro Detroit. And there is no better testament to his impact, influence, and industry than that.
We’re tremendously proud of Mark and hope you will join us in congratulating him on this incredible honor of joining the PRSA Detroit Hall of Fame.