Aaron Sherinian

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Aaron Sherinian was appointed Vice President Global Communications Transformation at Philip Morris International (PMI) in September 2018.1
He also publishes a personal blog called ‘Global Extrovert’, where he describes himself as a “…Global PR relations guy” who loves “…the challenges that a new world of communications means for those of us who work across borders and time zones to try and create powerful conversations that will make the world a better place”.2
Sherinian was one of several senior PR people recruited by PMI in 2018 to help the company promote its ‘smoke-free’ harm reduction narrative globally, including PMI’s Senior Vice President Communications Marian Salzman.3

Revolving Door

Before accepting the position at PMI, Sherinian served one year as Director of Global Communications at the Aga Khan Development Network. Before that he spent eight years as Vice President of Communications and Public Relations at the United Nations Foundation, an organisation that aims “to work by building communities and incubating initiatives to support the UN United Nations and its priority issues, including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”4
Sherinian is also a former diplomat for the US State Department, where he worked from 1996 to 2006.5 According to his LinkedIn profile he has worked at U.S embassies in Ecuador, Columbia, Costa Rica, Armenia, and Vatican City, and served two Assistant Secretaries of State in Washington.6
Sherinian is an example of a Revolving Door case, a term used to refer to public officials leaving office and going to work in private sector lobby roles. Recruiting Revolving Door staff is a tactic repeatedly used by the tobacco industry to facilitate privileged access to influential figures, in order to achieve policy influence.7 For a list of all documented Revolving Door cases on TobaccoTactics, click here.
Reflecting on Sherinian’s previous work experience in relation to his role at PMI, the tobacco company’s website stated that it had given Sherinian “long experience in opening doors that at first were stuck”.5

Plays Role in PMI’s Rehabilitation Efforts to Promote ‘Industry As Part of Solution’

Sherinian’s appointment came in the wake of PMI’s push to communicate its ‘smoke-free’ narrative to the world,8 with Sherinian’s role focused on “reshaping views of the company held by NGOs and activists”1. According to Sherinian:

“Everything in our world seems to be painted in black or white from a moral and political standpoint, and that is true of the conversation about smoking. But we need to challenge people with a simple question: ‘What can we do, together, to help people make better choices? That resonates with people emotionally’.”5

In addition to “reshaping views held by NGOs and activists1, Sherinian has attended prestigious policy events to promote the company’s smoke-free narrative and public-private partnership working.

Society for International Development

In October 2019, it was announced in the press that PMI had become a member of the Society for International Development (SID) Washington, a “membership society for development organizations and professionals”.9 PMI said at the time that SID membership was “in line with our efforts to advance sustainability and further dialogue with different parts of society. We engage with various sectors of society and different stakeholders; SID is another platform that facilitates conversation, encourages constructive discussion and fosters collaboration”.9 According to a SID spokesperson, Sherinian led on PMI’s SID membership.9

World Government Summit 2019

In February 2019 Sherinian and several PMI colleagues attended the World Government Summit in Dubai, an annual event “dedicated to shaping the future of governments worldwide”.10 Sherinian, who frequently communicates on Twitter under a PMI profile “Global PR Comms Transformation -VP @insidePMI”, tweeted that he was there “to listen & learn about how govt’s & companies can & must transform to meet the needs of people everywhere #WGS19”.11 Earlier he had tweeted “…People are looking for solutions – they have come to the right place”.12 As of November 2019, Sherinian had 19K Twitter followers, only five thousand fewer than PMI’s corporate Twitter account (@InsidePMI) with 24.2K followers.

World Economic Forum 2019

In January 2019 Sherinian and colleagues attended several “events, side-lines and after-parties” at the World Economic Forum, an annual event held in Davos and attended by senior leaders from policy, academia, governments and media organisations. Sherinian and his colleagues used the event to call for a “new approach in addressing major global health issues”.13
On the eve of the event, Sherinian tweeted: “I am arriving w/ high hopes that this can be a time to move forward on solutions. The backdrop may be a world that feels fractured…but that does not mean that our future has to be. #Davos #WEF #Progress”.14

TobaccoTactics Resources

Relevant Link

Philip Morris International website

References

  1. abcT. Moore, Philip Morris International hires Aaron Sherinian, PR Week, 10 September 2018, accessed February 2019
  2. A. Sherinian, Global Extrovert, blog, last updated 25 October 2019, accessed November 2019
  3. S. Barrett, PMI’s Marian Salzman: ‘I wasn’t bought’, PR Week, 18 July 2019, accessed November 2019
  4. UN Foundation, What we do, unfoundation.org, undated, accessed November 2019
  5. abcPhilip Morris International, Six things about… Aaron Sherinian, undated, accessed February 2019
  6. A. Sherinian, LinkedIn Profile, linkedin.com, undated, accessed February 2019
  7. S. Ulucanlar, G.J. Fooks, A.B. Gilmore, The Policy Dystopia Model: An Interpretive Analysis of Tobacco Industry Political Activity, PLoS Med, 2016; 13(9): e1002125
  8. Philip Morris International, Designing a Smoke-Free Future, PMI website, undated, accessed February 2019
  9. abcM. Igoe, Exclusive: Philip Morris International continues its development charm offensive, Devex.com, 31 October 2019, accessed November 2019
  10. World Government Summit, World Government Summit 10-12 Feb, 2019, undated, accessed February 2019
  11. A. Sherinian (@ASherinian), Tweet, 11 Feb 2019 12:39PM, Twitter
  12. A. Sherinian (@ASherinian), Tweet, 11 Feb 2019 4:03AM, Twitter
  13. M. Salzman, Life is better with tough conversations, Philip Morris International website, undated, accessed February 2019
  14. A. Sherinian (@ASherinian), Tweet, 21 Jan 2019 2:04AM, Twitter