Far from the old stereotypical cigar-chomping male flack of yore, today’s PR professional is more than likely female and leading the PR force at an agency or company in a managerial capacity.
Nearly three-fourths of the 21,000 members of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) are women. According to a PR industry story at Ragan.com, about 85 percent of PR professionals are women. The UK experiences a similar situation. The Institute of Public Relations (IPR) noted PR women (60 percent) now outnumber PR men (40 percent).
In the world of public relations, both at agency and corporate levels, the key elements of PR are primarily about developing business relationships and fostering influence. Industry leaders propel their influence forward with websites and a social media presence. They even rely on good old fashioned networking tactics like business card distributions, luncheons and thank you cards. This influence carries over to media placements, brand exposure, campaign awareness, and increased business deals. Today’s women leaders take the industry to new heights. Here are spotlights on today’s top female PR execs who are admired for their skills, genuine friendliness, responsiveness, and goodwill.
Kendra Bracken-Ferguson is Co-Founder and Chief Operation Officer of DBA (Digital Brand Architects). She was initially a leader on the emerging digital media team at Fleishman-Hillard agency in its global communication area. She began working in new tech companies when she helped the PR campaign launch MySpace in 2003. Eventually, she moved to the top of the digital consumer group at the agency and managed campaigns for brands like AT&T, Reebok, PepsioCo, Motorola, and DKNY. More recently, Kendra was named as one of the winning executives in the 2013 Mashable-WiCi awards.
Her advice for young industry women: “Innovation is disruptive!” Bracken-Ferguson said in an interview with MadameNoire.com. She reminds other female entrepreneurs that entrepreneurship is crucial for economical and community growth. “Innovate, explore and creating something new,” she advocates.
Gini Dietrich founded and runs the marketing communication agency Arment Dietrich. She also has turned the term Spin Sucks into a mini cottage industry of sorts. Dietrich founded and writes the award-winning PR and marketing blog Spin Sucks, and she also launched the offshoot development site Spin Sucks Pro. Online rankings service Klout and TechCrunch recently named her one of the best PR people in the business. Follow her on Twitter as @ginidietrich.
Her advice for beginning women bloggers: Deitrich suggests using social media, friends and family to build early readership. More importantly, she states is an interview with branding professional Craig McBreen, “every blogger has to learn search.” Taking a crash course or having an SEO-savvy friend teach you the basics of search engine science can make all the difference between first-page Google results and invisibility. Deitrich suggests using Google Analytics to measure results.
Debbi Jarvis leads the corporate goodwill efforts for utility firm PepCo Holdings as its Group VP for Corporate Citizenship and Social Responsibility. She develops and manages corporate goodwill strategies and helps the company increase its philanthropic work. Her philanthropy includes the company’s initiatives in the development of policies and programs for the utility’s corporate social responsibility efforts.
Her advice for business women facing challenges: Jarvis started as a journalist and used that experience to understand the business world and community. Jarvis was honored as one of the 25 Powerful Women in Business in 2007, especially for her ability to overcome obstacles and become an industry leader, according the the Washington Business Journal. “I don’t like to look at things as challenges,” she said, “I like to look at things as more opportunities.”
Deborah Brenner is the co-founder of Women on the Vine, a site and community for spotlighting women entrepreneurs in the wine-making field. She gained exceptional PR and marketing skills for her current role while working for several successful high-end technology startups. Between 2002 and 2005, Brenner ran SmallFishBigPond (her own PR firm) and worked on accounts like NBC, CNBC and Quantel.
Her advice for women doing something new: Brenner was a successful executive in New York and followed her passion for food and wine to research women in the wine industry. She discovered more than just her ‘Women of the Vine” project. “I found a career that feeds my soul,” Brenner said in a Mashable article. She and other pioneering women can serve as excellent examples for women stepping into new territory.