For those PR professionals celebrating International Women’s Day yesterday, you may have stumbled upon the article below from PR Daily: 15 women share advice for success and happiness in PR. We’re proud that our very own CEO Dana Hughens was featured. We think there are some great tips here for both genders and wanted to share the article as today’s Free Advice Friday.
Regarding gender differences, PR has imbalances of population, power, and pay.
As much as 85 percent of the public relations sector in the United States is female, and that percentage will probably hold steady or even grow. A PR professor at one major university said nearly nine out of 10 students in his classes are women.
However, men in the industry earn more than their female counterparts on average, though the income gap has shrunk considerably. According to an infographic from PR Week, the average vice president of PR is female and earns six figures.
“Many don’t realize what a different world it was for women joining the workforce in the ’70s,” said Mary Deming Barber of The Barber Group in Anchorage, Alaska. “But we have come a long way from those ‘Mad Men’ days.”
It’s a good opportunity to mark such progress. Today is International Women’s Day, marking the 101st anniversary of the day men and women in Europe rallied for women’s rights to vote, work, and more.
“More than 100 years ago, women began to fight for the freedoms we have today,” said PR exec Gini Dietrich. “We’re lucky to be able to have a seat at the proverbial table and move our way up the corporate ladders. But there still are some things we can be doing to progress.”
PR Daily asked Dietrich, Barber, and other female PR practitioners what advice they would give to their female colleagues and competitors. Here’s what they had to say:
Gini Dietrich, founder and chief executive officer of Arment Dietrich:
“Be nice to one another. Women tend to be our own worst enemies. Rather than be catty, gossipy, and mean, work together, find common interests, and support one another.
“Learn the difference between business and personal. Men have this down yet we struggle with it. When things happen at work, they’re business. Don’t ever take it personally.
“There is no crying in PR. If you have to cry, go to the ladies room and shut yourself in a stall. We all have weak moments; just don’t let them show.”
Danya Proud, director of media relations at McDonald’s USA:
“Know your customers and know your audience. Don’t be afraid to take calculated risk. Change is often hard, but a necessity to stay relevant and keep your brand top of mind for consumers.
“That said, when big brands have been doing things a certain way for so long, change needs to be incremental. It has to be small steps, not wholesale changes.
“People often rush to the destination of where they want to be, without fully thinking through the journey of how to ultimately get there.
“Think of it as a constant state of evolution—like a book with multiple chapters. All the chapters have to flow and be sequenced, otherwise there’s no story.
“My boss, Heather Oldani said to me recently, ‘When you’re far enough along … the last 2 percent is always the hardest.’
“That rings true to me every time I come up against a hurdle.”
Abbi Whitaker, owner/president of The Abbi Agency:
“Balance. As women, we need to step back, evaluate our priorities and decide what is really important from both a business and a personal perspective. Ask yourself at the beginning of each day what the five most important things are that you need to do that day and do those first. And make sure they are not all business focused. A well-balanced outlook and life tends to lead to a stronger and more successful business.”
Jayme Soulati, president of Soulati Media:
“Use the gifts you’ve been given; I learned my smile was one, but didn’t know that out of the gate. Develop a thick skin, but don’t let the lessons roll off too quickly because these are teachable moments (yes, that cliché still has merit). Glom onto a mentor who is always interested in giving back (ahem, hi!). Don’t be shy; step out of your comfort zone. Lastly, never, ever be embarrassed to call yourself in PR. After 27 years, I’m still proud.”
Laurel Moffat, communications specialist at Southwest Airlines:
“If I could give two pieces of advice, the first would be to just be yourself—know who you are and own it. The workplace can sometimes feel like a competition; focus on one-upping yourself instead of others (men or women). When you take on a project, find a new and innovative way to approach it every time. You’ll learn more about whom you are and challenge yourself in the process.
“The second comes from my mom who reminds me that I need to stop saying sorry all the time. Why do we always apologize for everything? Only say sorry when you have truly made a major mistake.”
Donna Vincent Roa, managing partner and chief strategist for Vincent Roa Group:
“For success in the workplace, I have five maxims:
1. Never underestimate the power of initiative and innovation in playing the impossible;
2. Be known for your creativity;
3. Abandon fear, outdated ideas, bad bosses, and procrastination;
4. Wholeheartedly embrace the role of change agent and ‘why not’ thinking;
5. Always work to position communication as a key enterprise asset that buttresses business goals.
“Everything in life, and in the workplace, is about the choices we make and how we execute those choices. So, in practice: determine your passion, build meaningful relationships, and always deliver outstanding results. These, too, bring success.”
Stacey Acevero, social media community manager at Vocus/PR Web:
“Success in the workplace really comes when you work outside of your job description. Don’t be afraid to be creative and try new ideas or create something new—they’ll push you over the edge and get you recognized in your workplace, as well as in your industry.”
Dana Hughens, CEO of Clairemont Communications:
“The best advice I can give a young woman starting a career in PR is to surround herself with other supportive, professional women. One way to do that is to join a communications association. I started with the Public Relations Student Society of America, continued with the Public Relations Society of America and now PRSA’s Counselors Academy.”
Deirdre Breakenridge, CEO of Pure Performance Communications:
“One of my most important lessons for success as a senior executive and a woman in business is to find the perfect balance between boardroom strength (being tough when you need to be) and showing compassion for people (being in tune with your human side).
“When you can strike a balance, you will be appreciated for your strategic and critical thinking, and also for your ability to stay human and build great relationships with your employees and/or your peers.” Continue reading “Free Advice Friday: Lessons from some of PR’s Leading Ladies”