Strategic Partner

During a 30-year career in public relations, marketing and corporate communications, Mark Smith has created and delivered communications solutions for companies and clients in a variety of industries, with a focus on business-to-business markets and information technology-related businesses. He has spent most of the past 20+ years as a consultant or manager for companies in the computer, software, data communications and I.T. services industries, including six years as corporate and marketing communications director for U.S. Robotics.

Most recently, Mark was a senior vice president in the public relations practice of leading b-to-b marketing agency Slack Barshinger, where he managed a growing account team that served clients such as Underwriters Laboratories, Hostway Corp., the Official Airline Guide, Orbitz for Business and Hoffman Enclosures. He also led new business development teams and provided pro bono public relations counsel to the Chicago Innovation Awards.

Earlier, Mark was a principal and co-founder (along with Paul Battaglia) of the public relations agency StrongForce Group, which was acquired in 2004 by Slack Barshinger. At StrongForce Group, Mark provided counsel and service to clients including Hostway Corp., The Solutions Group, Telelogic, the University of Illinois Executive MBA Program and AtomWorks.

Before co-founding StrongForce Group, Mark was a senior vice president at PR21, where he led the Chicago office’s business-to-business marketing public relations practice, directing a 15-person account staff on behalf of clients such as W.W. Grainger, Classified Ventures, Visual Insights, Invensys Software Systems and Bosch Tools.

Mark earlier was a vice president at the Chicago office of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, where he supervised business-to-business and technology marketing programs for videoconferencing leader VTEL Corp. and transportation equipment manufacturer Navistar International.

Mark also spent two years as marketing manager for international computer training franchiser Productivity Point International. Earlier, he was an account group supervisor and vice president with the Chicago office of an international public relations agency, where his responsibilities included CompuServe, Borg-Warner, Ryder System and Cummins Engine Company. He also operated his own communications consultancy for more than four years.

In addition to extensive marketing communications experience, Mark also has created and managed community affairs programs and events, internal communications programs, dealer/distributor special events, direct-marketing programs and a variety of print collateral projects.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb.

Contact Mark at or 312.371.6443.


Kraig Smith founded PReturn in 2006, and has executed successful PR campaigns for nearly 20 years.
Addie ReedAccount Supervisor
Addie Reed joined PReturn in 2006 and serves as the primary day-to-day contact for many of our clients.
Nick OlsenSenior Account Executive
Since 2012, Nick leads the account team, and delivers effective and engaging communications strategies for our clients.
Paul BattagliaIndustry Analyst Relations Director
With a strong marketing communications background, Paul directs and manages analyst outreach and relationships.
Mark SmithStrategic Partner
Mark has more than 30 years in PR, marketing and corporate communication, with a focus on B2B and IT.