New Boston Fund, Related Beal, Skanska – at first glance, this may seem like the start to a list of leading names in the Bay State real estate community. But they, along with many other top dogs in the industry, share another important connection: They’re clients of communications and public relations company Solomon McCown & Co. Inc. (SM&) And at the head of the company sits CEO Helene Solomon.
Solomon founded SM& in 2003 along with her business partner and SM& President Ashley McCown. In addition to representing real estate firms, the company also works with clients in the health care and nonprofit sectors.
SM& has received 84 awards since its founding, and Solomon has been personally recognized with numerous honors, including the 2015 Lowell Richards Award from the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership. She was also inducted into YW Boston’s 2014 Academy of Women Achievers.
What’s the secret to her success? Wendy Pierce, senior vice president at SM&, has a few ideas: “Helene is unfailingly honest,” Pierce said. “She is smart and always willing to not just ask the hard questions but help you answer them.”
Solomon also always strives to grow the practice’s offerings. In the last few years, SM& has opened a New York office and created a digital division and video department. In January, the company established a government relations practice, which helps advance its clients’ projects through the permitting process and gets them involved with shaping public policy. In other words, “Helene runs a one-stop-shop for her clients’ ever-evolving needs,” Pierce wrote in her nomination of Solomon.
Solomon is quick to share SM&’s success with her “great” business partner, McCown, with whom she has worked for 25 years. “I am not doing this alone,” Solomon said. “This would be impossible without her.”
But perhaps Solomon’s greatest asset is the heart that she brings to her work inside of the office and beyond.
“She cares deeply and is passionate about a number of issues and topics, including real estate and especially affordable housing,” Pierce said. “She thinks about what projects mean [and] what they can mean.”
Solomon led SM&’s communications strategy for Massachusetts’ 2010 “Vote No on 2” campaign to preserve the state’s affordable housing law. When the election came, residents voted to preserve the law by a 16-point margin, the largest among the three ballot questions that year.
Solomon serves on the board of directors of the Commonwealth Institute, Building Impact and the Massachusetts Health Council. She is also on the board of advisors for the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston and a member of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and the Urban Land Institute.
“Throughout her three decades here in Boston, Helene has fought to keep affordable housing, supported the development of much-needed diverse housing and has been a prominent voice for Bostonians of all incomes to live in the city where they work,” Pierce wrote in her nomination. “She is truly a Woman of FIRE in the eyes of all her employees and clients who she works with and fights for every day.”