Four Women who Changed the Face of Public Relations

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We are in an age of feminism: we see “I Am a Feminist” written on t-shirts in successful fashion campaigns. There are pins, buttons, and Instagram captions. Many young women and girls look up to prominent female figures such as Barbara Walters, Oprah, Michelle Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Emma Watson. But with these proclamations of love for powerful women, we often forget about those working behind the scenes to help get their powerful messages out there: PR Girls. So I’ve compiled a list of four influential women from the world of public relations that deserve recognition. You go, girls!

1. Betsy Plank

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Betsy is often referred to as “The First Lady of Public Relations,” because her career held so many firsts for the PR sphere. From the years of 1960 to 1973, she served as the executive vice president and treasurer with Daniel J. Edelman, Inc. (now known as Edelman Public Relations Worldwide). In 1963, she became the first female president of the Publicity Club of Chicago. In 1967, she helped create the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), (the student affiliate of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). The goal of PRSSA is to help students learn more about the business of public relations and network with professionals in the field. In 1973, Plank became the director of public relations planning for AT&T. After she spent this short amount of time with AT&T, Plank transferred to Illinois Bell (now known as SBC Communications Inc.). She quickly became the head of a staff comprised of over one hundred people in the department and directing external affairs. With this position, Plank became the first woman to head a company department.

2. Barbara Hunter

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Barbara was the first woman to own and run her own Public Relations agency in the United States. Hunter started out as an account executive at Dudley-Anderson-Yutzy Public Relations in 1956. In 1970, Hunter and her sister purchased D-A-Y and Hunter was promoted to executive vice president after all three of the previous owners passed away. After selling D-A-Y, she then went on to open up her own boutique PR agency, Hunter Public Relations, in 1989. She ran it out of her bedroom with only three employees.  In 1993, Barbara received PRSA’s highest honor, The Gold Anvil, for individual lifetime achievement in PR.

3. Muriel Fox

Muriel Fox is a feminist activist as well as a publicist, standing up for women everywhere, especially in the PR field. She first applied for a job at Carl Byoir & Associates, which was then the world’s largest public relations agency, but was rejected by the Executive Vice President of the agency, who stated, "We don't hire women writers.” This sent Fox on a path of feminism, even proving the same company wrong later in life when she was hired as a publicist in their radio-TV department. From there, Fox went on to become the youngest VP of the agency—and a female one, at that! In the past, Fox also co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) with activist and author of The Feminine Mystique Betty Friedan. Fox served as head of PR for NOWm and eventually acted as the Vice President from 1967-1970, the chair of its board from 1971-1973, and served on its national advisory committee from 1973-1974.

4. Shelley Spector

Shelley Spector is one of the names you think of when you think of modern PR women. Spector was the President of Spector & Associates beginning in 1991. She founded The Museum of Public Relations in 1997, which is an awe-inspiring collection that anyone in Public Relations would fawn over. Part of this collection is currently on display at Baruch College here in Manhattan. Also at Baruch, Spector is an adjunct professor of Public Relations History in the M.A. Corporate Communications program, and was formerly an adjunct professor in the PR/CC M.S. program at NYU. Spector is also the proud winner of nearly 40 PR awards on behalf of Fortune 100 companies, such as AT&T, Bayer Corporation, and Philips Corporation. She has been named “Creative All Star” and “Most Innovative Agency” by the Holmes Report.

Take a moment out of your day to appreciate all of the hardworking women in your life, and definitely give some credit to those who deserve it. We have a lot to learn from these women, and this female positivity can only grow. Don’t forget: We can do it!

Three Years: JMGPR Celebrates

This month marks our official anniversary! It’s been three years since I first launched JMG Public Relations, and what an amazing journey it has been. I am often asked, “What is it like working for yourself?” Well, it’s stressful, like everyone else’s work life, but because I love what I do enough to make a company out of it, I look at my career as more of a lifestyle and not just a job. I work with some of the most highly motivated individuals and get to connect on a daily basis with creative thinkers and entrepreneurs who equally love what they do. They inspire me and make JMGPR exciting and fun to go to every day.

It’s amazing to look back at our journey and to think about what work life was like on day 1 and then today, on day 1,095. Of course, the quantity and type of work vary with each day, month, and year, but other than that, the same motivation and eagerness still persist. Everyone’s path to success is different, but no matter what journey you take, there are a few tips I can share: Never stop being motivated. Never become comfortable. Never stop questioning.

  JMGPR's first red carpet event with our first client, BELLA New York Magazine, at their annual White Party in 2015.

JMGPR's first red carpet event with our first client, BELLA New York Magazine, at their annual White Party in 2015.

As a female entrepreneur, I think it’s important to support other females in their quest to conquer the world.  I recently came across a few stats that show how far women have come in the workplace, and the distance we still have to go: more than 11.6 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 9 million people, and generating $1.7 trillion in sales as of 2017. Women-owned firms (51% or more) account for 39% of all privately held firms and contribute 8% of employment and 4.2% of revenues.

Here are some of my tips for other femtrepreneurs:

  • Owning a business is a continuous learning process. Continue to read and take workshops to enhance your skills and to evolve as a professional.
  • Be a leader that is respected and not feared. Make the work environment one that you want to spend time in. A leader who is nothing short of mean won’t get very far.
  • Meet and network with like-minded individuals who share the same motivation and drive as you. Together you will inspire and lift each other.
  • Always look for feedback. Even perfectionists have to admit that no one is perfect and that mistakes will be made. Sometimes you need an outside perspective to see them.
  • Minimize the negativity in your life. As a business owner, your schedule is packed with meetings and events and you need to find time for yourself, so don’t waste the little downtime you have on something that doesn’t make you feel good.
  • And most importantly, be fearless. Own your role as an expert, as a business owner, as a female powerhouse breaking glass ceilings.
  The "Fearless Girl" statue which was located across from the old JMGPR offices during its initial unveiling on March 7, 2017.

The "Fearless Girl" statue which was located across from the old JMGPR offices during its initial unveiling on March 7, 2017.

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The last three years have been nothing short of incredible and I can’t wait for the next three years and beyond. I’d like to dedicate these past three years to my grandparents who we lost during that time, and who are a huge part of who we all are today. May my work reflect the honor and respect they so instilled in us.

 

Xo Jenna

 

Anna Medaris Miller: Writer and Editor

Our goal as publicists is to maximize our client's brand awareness. As today's media landscape continues to evolve, it simultaneously intensifies an already competitive market for publicists and their pitching efforts. There are two sides to the publicist/media relationship and today we sat down with writer and dear friend, Anna Medaris Miller, who not only shared with us the background of how she got to where she is today, but also shares with us some media insight, as well as pitching advice for public relations professionals.

 Anna at an editor's tasting for honey. Photo Credit: Amy SussmanAP Images for National Honey Board

Anna at an editor's tasting for honey. Photo Credit: Amy SussmanAP Images for National Honey Board

First, let me tell you a little bit more about Anna. Anna is a New York City based health and wellness editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer advice, stories on fitness, nutrition, reproductive health, medical conditions, mental health and more. She also manages dozens of dietitians, trainers and other professionals who contribute to the Eat+Run blog. Anna frequently acts as a U.S. News spokesperson and health expert on local and national radio and TV, and has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America and Fox affiliates. Anna has written for The Washington Post, Women’s Health magazine, The Muse and Monitor on Psychology magazine, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan and American University.

1. What made you decide to be a journalist?

I don’t know that I ever “decided;” I just always loved talking to all kinds of people and doing all kinds of random things. In fact, I was once called “a weird stuff o-meter” and wore the title proudly.

 Photo Credit: U.S. News & World Report

Photo Credit: U.S. News & World Report

In college, I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but I did know I loved going to the massive computer lab to write women’s studies papers. I also knew that was kind of weird. 

It wasn’t until two years post-college, though, when I went to my first Association of Health Care Journalists’ conference, that I thought, “These are my people.” I knew wanted to be them when I grew up.

2. What was your first official job in the media industry, and how did you secure it?

If official means working full-time at an independent news organization, the job was a health and wellness reporter for U.S. News & World Report – the same company (and almost the same role) I have now, three and a half years later.

Getting here was an un-strategic but ultimately successful path from smaller health trade publications to “mainstream media.” I started as an unpaid intern writing and editing for a university medical center’s online and print publications, and later moved to the American Psychological Association’s monthly magazine. All the while, I freelanced for the Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report, and I also earned my master’s degree in journalism on the weekends. When a spot opened up at U.S. News, they asked me to interview for the role.

3.     What is the most important skill you've learned during your time writing for major media outlets?

Probably time management in the sense that I’ve had to learn how to do the best I can given the deadline and life. If you have a deadline every day, you can’t pull all-nighters and neglect other responsibilities for every story. You have to be OK with the fact that there’s always going to be more to learn and more people to talk to, and that not every story is going to be your favorite.

I’ve also gained plenty of practical writing skills – if you can say it in fewer words, do it. If you can say it with a less “impressive,” but more easily understood word, do it. Short sentences are good; clichés are not. Always sleep between a first and second draft. 

 At the desk of Anna. Photo Credit: Anna Medaris Miller

At the desk of Anna. Photo Credit: Anna Medaris Miller

 4. What is the biggest challenge that comes with being a journalist?

It changes by the year or even month, but right now for the profession, one of the biggest challenges is being trusted and seen as valuable by the public. It’s also tough to navigate your own career growth in a field that’s always changing (and for some publications, collapsing), and that doesn’t have a clear path for advancement. While breaking news reporters or those who talk to people who don’t want to talk would surely have different answers, my daily life is frankly pretty fun. Any stressful bits are fleeting and manageable.

5. You’ve had amazing success as a health expert and have been featured on Good Morning America and the Today Show, among others. What have these experiences taught you?

 Don’t go out the night before, and tuck your hair behind your ears. Oh, you mean something more profound? This isn’t a secret, but preparation is key. Even if you just have one or two lines down to open with, it will make the whole rest of the segment easier. If you start out stumbling, it’s harder to stop. Also, everyone – meaning old high school classmates or other random Instagram followers – decides you’re “famous” if you go on TV just once. I don’t hate it!

 6. What has been your favorite story that you’ve reported on?

 This is tough – I’ve probably written around 300 for U.S. News alone, and many have been really satisfying, particularly those that have made groups of people struggling with various health issues feel validated and less alone. But the experience that challenged and ultimately fulfilled me the most was a piece for the Washington Post magazine about – get this – pole-dancing competitions (men and children allowed!).

I completely immersed myself in the community and the experience, and worked with an editor I really jibed with. I remember talking to him on the phone and barely being able to finish my sentence without us both doubling over in tears of laughter.

 Photo credit: Anna Medaris Miller

Photo credit: Anna Medaris Miller

But the process was wildly challenging in unexpected ways. Most notably, after my editor and I thought the story was pretty much good to go, his editor thought it needed to be “reimagined” – and fast. Meanwhile, I needed to complete my final graduate school project AND my apartment became a do-not-enter zone, thanks to the neighboring strip club that collapsed (how ironic?).

To cut to the chase, I holed up in my office (I couldn’t go home, anyway) and cranked out a new version of the story – after plenty of panic attacks, tears and beers. It was published on time in full, glossy form, and life was good – roof over my head or not.

 7. What is the best advice you can give to publicists looking to obtain a media placement?

 Photo Credit: Amy Congalton

Photo Credit: Amy Congalton

 Know what your “pitchee” actually covers, and how he or she actually operates. I, for example, rarely mention brands in my stories, and yet at least 80 percent of the pitches that come to me are intended to get a brand mention. I also don’t cover news-news, and yet get tons of pitches related to recent legislation that passed. I write for a national publication, so I’m not going to cover a local event. I also don’t often care that it’s “national day of unplugging” or “national frozen foods month” – yes, these both apparently exist and were pitched to me just this week.

My best advice is old-school: Build a relationship with the reporter. I, for one, always say yes if I get invited to a cool event that either will just be plain fun (a North Face-sponsored party that included brushing elbows with Olympic athletes was a favorite) or helpful/interesting to my own work (a metabolic assessment from Lifetime was an eye-opener). I met the PR folks at the events and continue to use them regularly to connect with sources.

8. What are the type of PR pitches that catch your eye the most?

Honestly, very few catch my eye – I do a lot of deleting without reading much. Pitches that are clearly personalized (i.e. not mass-emailed) have the most luck, as well as those that are short, sweet and tell me something I find interesting and potentially useful to my beat (which of course, is pretty subjective).

That said, other reporters are more open to pitches. I just take a lot of pride and get a lot of enjoyment out of coming up with my own story ideas, so in a way taking yours – no matter how good it is – feels kind of like cheating.

 9. What are some of the things you notice a lot in PR pitches that are major “dont’s?”

You wouldn’t believe the number of “Dear [First Name]” pitches I get, and far more come in addressed to a different name. Obviously, that’s a don’t.

 Anna testing out an obstacle at the launch of a new fitness class created by Life Time and Spartan Race. Photo Credit: Life Time

Anna testing out an obstacle at the launch of a new fitness class created by Life Time and Spartan Race. Photo Credit: Life Time

Everyone has a different philosophy, but calling me – especially multiple times – is a don’t. I actually never answer the phone (unless I know it’s a colleague or I’m expecting a source to call me).

I know it’s unfair and maybe not even possible, depending on your own duties, but follow-up emails – and again, especially multiple – are a don’t in my book. If I haven’t responded to your email, it’s because I’m not interested. If I responded to every email saying, “Thanks but no thanks,” I’d never have time to do my job. Nothing means no; a response means maybe.

 10. What do you notice that publicists can be doing better?

I’m going to come back to point No. 7 – for me, relationships matter, and are becoming a lost art between media and PR pros. If I know you, a lot of my earlier advice goes out the window. For example, I will respond to your emails, even if it’s a no, if we’re pals. At that point, it’s just the decent thing to do. Plus, you’re a real person, not just the “from” entry on a very easily delete-able email. 

Of course “making friends with reporters” is not something you can just do; you need to be authentic and actually enjoy one another. My friendship with the fun, talented and helpful Jenna Guarneri is the perfect example. :)

Click through for our top 5 favorite articles by Anna:
·    How to Get Your Fitness Groove Back
·    The 13 Best Diets For Your Heart
·    The 13 Best Diets to Prevent and Manage Diabetes
·    What All Plant-Based Eaters Need to Know About Vitamin B12
·    7 Traditional Chinese and Indian Eating Principles That Can Help You Lose Weight

To continue to hear more from Anna, follow her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Xo Jenna

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to #SecretLifeofaPRGirl!

Welcome to #SecretLifeofaPRGirl!

Welcome to the first post on the #SecretLifeofaPRGirl blog! This blog will tell you all you need to know about public relations, including all the behind the scenes work that isn’t often shown anywhere else. You can expect to hear from team members, interns, and industry experts about what makes PR such an exciting and fascinating business to be in. To get started, here’s a little bit inside of my own lifestyle as a PR girl.