Mary Beth West

Mary Beth originally launched this 100-percent woman-owned business as an independent practice, with a prior 10-year career that included posts in the banking industry as well as corporate and agency sectors. She ultimately developed a client portfolio with annual billings at nearly three times the national industry average for solo public relations consultancies in the U.S.

Mary Beth and her staff manage a diverse client base in multiple industries, including the manufacturing, construction, architectural, energy, regional planning, financial services, retail, travel/tourism and education sectors. The firm also serves as one of the most vocal proponents of communications best-practices in the regional market through its award-winning blog, “In the Profession,” ( and through active outreach to the business community.

For the past several years, Mary Beth West Communications, LLC has been ranked among the top public relations firms in the Greater Knoxville Business Journal’s Book of Lists. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, the firm was the largest recipient of local Public Relations Society of America “Award of Excellence” recognitions for its peer-reviewed work developing effective communications campaigns and tactics. In 2011, the firm won “Best in Show.”

Mary Beth’s award-winning work has included creation and implementation of national media relations campaigns, employee communications programs, consumer and business-to-business marketing initiatives, and crisis preparedness systems.

A native of Columbia (Maury County), Tenn., Mary Beth lives in Maryville, Tenn., with her husband, Charles, president of West Chevrolet, a fourth-generation, family-owned franchise dealership. They have three daughters.


Accredited in Public Relations (APR) by the PRSA Universal Accreditation Board, Mary Beth holds a bachelor’s degree in communications / public relations from the University of Tennessee, where she was honored as the Sammie Lynn Puett Public Relations Student of the Year in 1994 and received the UT Chancellor’s Citation for campus leadership and service. She has served in national leadership roles throughout the past decade with the largest public relations professional organization, the 32,000-member, New York-based Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), for which she currently serves on the Board of Ethics and Professional Standards. She has also served on PRSA’s national board.

  • 2003-Present Principal, Mary Beth West Communications, LLC.

Manages all aspects of agency business development and financial management / growth. Provides account team leadership for all agency clients in developing strategic plans, execution and budgets, based on client objectives and resources.

  • 1999-2002 Vice President / Regional Marketing, Union Planters Bank of East Tennessee and Southeastern Kentucky (Knoxville, Tenn.).

Oversaw marketing communications for a 39-office region, including public relations, advertising, branch merchandising, sales promotions, special events and charitable giving.

  • 1998-1999 Assistant Vice President / BankFirst (Knoxville, Tenn.).

Produced award-winning work in employee communications following BankFirst’s initial public offering and its acquisition of two other banking institutions in East Tennessee.

  • 1996-1998 Director of Community Relations / Corrections Corporation of America (Nashville, Tenn.).

Created and managed public relations programs for the largest international private-sector builder and manager of prisons, jails and other detention facilities worldwide; created an award-winning crisis preparedness plan that gave CCA its first full-scale communications infrastructure for managing emergency situations that were subject to local, national and/or international media attention.

  • 1993-1994

Entry-level and internship positions with Cohn & Wolfe (New York City) in the public relations firm’s health care division and Ackermann Public Relations (Knoxville, Tenn.)

  • 2016 – East Tennessee Foundation 30th Anniversary Chair
  • 2015 – Emeritus status, University of Tennessee College of Communication & Information Board of Visitors
  • 2015-16 – Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Volunteer Chapter Senior Practitioners Chair
  • 2013 – University of Tennessee Public Relations Alumnus of the Year
  • 2013 – PRSA National Board of Ethics & Professional Standards
  • 2013 – Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, Board of Directors
  • 2013 – East Tennessee Foundation, Board of Directors
  • 2012 – Present – First Tennessee Bank, Advisory Board (Maryville Region)
  • 2012 – Present – Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, Member
  • 2012 – Woman-Owned Business Excellence Award, Blount County Chamber of Commerce
  • 2012-13 – PRSA Volunteer Chapter National Assembly Delegate
  • 2011 – Leadership Oak Ridge class
  • 2011-Present – East Tennessee Economic Council
  • 2001-13 – Board of Directors, Blount County Library
  • 2011-13 – Board of directors, Blount County Chamber of Commerce
  • 2010 – “40 Under 40” Honoree, Greater Knoxville Business Journal
  • 2010 – Recipient of the David Ferguson Award, a national honor from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Educators Academy for support of public relations education
  • 2010-Present – Member, Fort Loudoun Regional Library Board
  • 2008-Present – Member, Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce
  • 2008 – Senior counsel / Advocacy to the national board of the 32,000-member PRSA
  • 2007-2010 – Board of directors, Maryville City Schools Foundation
  • 2007-2008 – Board of directors, Girl Scouts of Tanasi (now Southern Appalachian) Council
  • 2007 – National Chair, Advocacy Advisory Board, PRSA
  • 2006 – Recipient of PRSA Harvey I. Cobert Award for professional contributions in East Tennessee
  • 2006 – Alumna of the Year, Knoxville Alumnae Chapter – Alpha Omicron Pi
  • 2002-Present – University of Tennessee College of Communication & Information Board of Visitors
  • 2002-07 – Instructor, University of Tennessee Personal & Professional Development Program (seminars on strategic planning and media relations)
  • 2002-04 – Board of directors of the Blount County Education Foundation
  • 2001-04 – Board of directors of Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee
  • 2001-02 – National Board of Directors, PRSA
  • 2001-02 – Adjunct faculty member, public relations undergraduate program / University of Tennessee-Knoxville College of Communication & Information
  • 2000 – Chapter president of the 100-plus member Volunteer Chapter of PRSA
  • 1999 – Accredited in Public Relations (APR) certification earned from the PRSA Universal Accreditation Board
  • 1998-Present – Member, National Investor Relations Institute
  • 1997 – Nashville Young Leaders Council
  • 1997 – Board of directors, Nashville Area CrimeStoppers
  • 1996-97 – Board of directors, PRSA Nashville Chapter