People

Leading editors, Walkley-award winning journalists, communications experts and digital natives form a formidable reputation management team.

Team grid
Mark Forbes Headshot

Mark Forbes
Director of Reputation

Mark is a Walkley-award winning journalist and former Editor-in-Chief of The Age in Melbourne. He has also worked at Four Corners and Channel Seven, in the Federal and State parliament press galleries and as an overseas correspondent.

Mark brings almost 30 years of success at the highest levels of communications practice to his strategic communications services, including issues management, crisis management, interview coaching and media relations.

Specialising in reputation building communications strategies, he has raised the profile of major companies, guided global manufacturers through controversial issues and assisted CEOs enhance their reputations.

Ben Haslem Headshot

Benjamin Haslem
Director of Media and Public Affairs

Ben is one of Australia’s leading public affairs specialists with over 30 years of experience in public relations, government affairs and journalism. He is well-versed in all aspects of public and government relations, with strong networks in media and political circles.

During his 20-year consulting career, Ben has advised CEOs, C-Suites and Boards to help them address complex commercial, public policy and public relations issues through government relations, issue management, media marketing and crisis management services.

Ben’s career included a decade at The Australian, where he worked as a senior reporter in the Federal Press Gallery and was the High Court Correspondent.

    Shannon Oneill Headshot

    Shannon O’Neill
    Digital and Social Director

    Shannon is a highly experienced communications professional specialising in social media and digital channels.

    She has an extensive background in leading multi-channel digital and social media programs across both government, corporate, and consumer brands in Australia and the Middle East.

    Shannon excels in using social and digital channels to build brand reputation, navigate crises, and steer public sentiment. She is skilled at crafting integrated campaigns that leverage organic, paid and influencer channels, creating impact and building brand affinity.

    Justin Armsden Headshot

    Justin Armsden
    Media and broadcast consultant

    Justin has almost 30 years’ media experience across print and broadcast, both in Australia and internationally with CNN.

    Over the past six years he has been providing presentation advice to leading companies, along with guiding communications strategies and issues management.

    Justin started his career with News Limited’s Brisbane Sun newspaper, then joined the Gold Coast Bulletin as a Police and Crime Reporter. During his time on the Gold Coast he was awarded Journalist of the Year and Story of the Year, and made his transition to broadcast reporting with Channel 9’s local news.

    He then became an Anchor and Correspondent for CNN International in London, travelling the world covering major news events and hosting live breaking news for CNN International.

    Justin returned to Australia in 2010, where he joined Channel 9 as an investigative reporter for A Current Affair, then became Victorian Bureau Chief for A Current Affair.

    Rania Aissaoui Headshot

    Rania Aissaoui
    Account Director

    Working across top-tier international communications agencies, Rania has led global teams based in London, Paris, Berlin, Dubai and Doha to design and deliver impactful campaigns, issues management, crisis preparedness training and stakeholder engagement programs.

    Rania’s experience spans diverse industries including arts and culture, tourism, healthcare, and technology. She is well-versed in navigating complex business landscapes and advising clients on how to build, enhance and protect their reputation.

    Before joining Icon Agency, Rania advised clients in Qatar on the effective management and mitigation of issues and crises, with a specific emphasis on addressing cultural and religious sensitivities. She also led the development and execution of crisis preparedness training exercises in Qatar ahead of the FIFA 2022 World Cup.

    Rania has a master’s degree in Arts and Culture Management and is fluent in English, Arabic and French.

    Sian Evans Headshot

    Sian Evans
    Account Director

    Sian has nearly a decade of experience in designing and delivering strategic communications and issues management campaigns.

    Working predominantly across the government and not-for-profit sectors in the UK and Australia, Sian is experienced in positive behaviour change campaigns with a focus on the education, health and social care sectors. Her expertise lies in integrated communications, from traditional media relations and content development, through to complex stakeholder engagement and issues management.

    From supporting one of the UK’s leading drug use charities, Change Grow Live, through crises, to managing negative media attention around the teaching profession, she is adept at managing issues and mitigating damage to clients.

    Sian has worked for organisations including the Victorian and UK Departments of Education, AccessEAP, Public Health Network, Special Olympics Australia, Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and Sustainability Victoria.

    Ellen Deng Headshot

    Ellen Deng
    Senior Account Manager

    Ellen operates at the intersection of crisis and issues management, social media and comms, with extensive market knowledge in the UK and Australia.

    Her expertise extends across diverse sectors, including finance and banking, fashion and retail, property and technology. She consults organisations on multi-channel crisis responses through her strategic understanding of traditional, digital and emerging media.

    She has delivered PR and social communication programs for Slack, national construction giant Hansen Yuncken, Australia’s sovereign wealth fund, Future Fund, global dermatological skincare company Ego Pharmaceuticals, and stakeholder engagement for a major Department of Health and Aged Care initiative.

    Ellen has recently provided crisis support for a major Australian property developer, a global banking organisation, a large franchisee operation and a national manufacture.

    Joanne Painter Headshot

    Joanne Painter
    Managing Director

    A leader in Australia’s PR and communications industry, Joanne has over 30 years experience across media, strategic communications and public relations.

    Formerly a senior journalist with The Age, Joanne now consults on strategic communications, issues and reputation to government and corporate clients nationally.

    A digital communications specialist, Joanne brings a deep understanding of digital transformation and how new technology is reshaping citizens’ relationship with brands – and the relationship of brands with their target publics.

    Photo of Chris Dodds

    Chris Dodds
    Managing Director, Growth & Innovation

    Chris is a designer, digital producer and company director with more than 20 years’ experience.

    An expert in digital strategy, UX theory and practice, project planning, marketing and brand communications, Chris consults with corporate and government clients to deliver digital transformation and communications strategies, digital products and services, brand and behaviour change campaigns.

    Chris is a member of RMIT University’s Digital Media Program Advisory Committee and is a passionate technologist and researcher.

    Supporting team

    As part of the Icon Agency group, we’re backed by a team of integrated communications professionals.

    • More than 90 staff

    • Full production and design studio

    • In-house digital web design, UX, SEO and SEM capacity

    • Global Digital PR Agency of the Year at PRovole SABRE’s

    • Creative and brand strategist

    • Behaviour change specialists

    • Global PR partner network

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    Australia's leading integrated agency offering best-in-class PR, digital and creative services in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra.

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