Women’s equality in PR: Recognizing Women’s Equality Day in the PR industry
By Alexandra Morris, Brand & Marketing Manager
Today is Women’s Equality Day, the day in which women in the US were given the constitutional right to vote, 51 years ago. Women’s Equality Day commemorates the passage of women’s suffrage in the US and reminds us of the hurdles overcome by the heroic women who faced violence and discrimination to propel the women’s movement forward.
As a business with a strong female leadership team, we believe it’s so important to recognize this day and the opportunities that the movement has enabled us and our careers.
So, what does women’s equality in PR look like today?
Getting started and moving up
Junior Vice President, Alyssa Pallotti, majored in communications with a focus on PR and journalism and secured herself an exciting technology PR opportunity in the final weeks of her undergrad back in 2013. After falling in love with the tech industry and spending 5 busy years at Montner, Alyssa sought out her new role with Touchdown PR as a Senior Account Supervisor, relocating from Connecticut to Austin for the opportunity. Only 3 years later she is now proudly flying the flag of Junior Vice President for the business.
Global Executive Vice President, Emily Gallagher started her PR career as a receptionist at a PR agency back in 1996. From then, she was focused on gaining life experience rather than working towards qualifications, and whilst studying on the job, achieved her CAM in Marketing. Emily joined Touchdown PR back in 2009 and by “working hard, focusing and loving every minute” she was asked to move to Austin to head up the US office. After 3 successful years, and with her biggest achievement to date in tow, she now manages the US team back in her home country.
Business Operations Manager Katie Schaeffer joined Touchdown last month after being in the PR and communications industry for close to 15 years. Majoring in PR at Loyola University New Orleans and minoring in Entrepreneurship, Katie was headhunted for her first PR opportunity at Dell’s PR and digital agency where she spent 4 years in communications. Fast-forward nearly 15 years and she’s approaching her 10th anniversary with her husband Adam, who she met at Dell, while busy raising their 6-year-old son, Luke, and 3-year-old daughter, Grace.
A work in progress
Emily says that traditionally, back in the late ’90s when she first started in PR, it was a more female-based industry. Nearly 30 years later she notes: “it has become more diverse and you can definitely see the increase of women’s equality in PR and I think that’s great.”
Katie agrees that “while there are still gender equality issues to contend with in our and many other industries, I do believe we’ve seen some progress. Improved family leave policies at many companies and the increasing popularity in flexible work arrangements have contributed to more opportunities for female PR leaders, especially working mothers – although there is more work to do!”
Alyssa adds: “While I think public relations offers amazing opportunities across genders and both of my bosses have been awe-inspiring women (Deb Montner at my first firm and Emily Gallagher now), our focus on the technology space has shed a light on the lack of women founders, executives and even board members at tech and security organizations. There could definitely be more of a focus when it comes to women’s equality in PR”.
For Client Services Director, Lesley Booth, it was her first boss and MD, Sally Costerton who inspired her to get to where she is today. She explains, “over the years I’ve learned that tech PR can be like Marmite. Some days you love it, some days it frustrates the heck out of you, but Sally inspired me to get to where I am today.”
“I had a great female boss at my second agency, Bridget Trayling,” adds Emily. “It was a small agency, so I got a lot of one-on-one training and exposure to some great campaigns. We also worked with some exciting brands. She made things happen, delivered great results, and had some strong relationships with her clients – that was very inspirational.”
Katie reflects on her own inspiration, her mother: “I still to this day have no idea how she did it all in an age where working mothers were still expected to do most of the housework, all without Amazon, Daniel Tiger on demand, grocery delivery, or the like to help! She was always doing more than “it all.” Even though she worked full time, she still managed to volunteer in the classroom, volunteer at church, hand sew our Halloween costumes, make dinner from scratch every night, help us with our homework… the list goes on. While I admire every bit of this, and I am so grateful to have such an incredible example to look up to, I am also grateful for how times have changed so that more women feel more support.”
Advice for the next generation
“My advice to the next generation of women in PR is, if you want an interesting, challenging career, be sure to stick with it,” says Lesley. “When I started at Kaizo back in 1994, I knew nothing about B2B technology, but I knew it could be interesting. I stuck with it and soon realized… I was right!”
Katie shared the 3 main pieces of advice she would give to the future generation of women in PR:
- Women in business have a tendency to over-apologize. Don’t do that!
- “Negotiate like a man.” A mentor told me this once, and it’s true. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth – men have been doing this for decades.
- Let the negative, ‘feminine’ comments such as “women are emotional” “you can’t hire her, she’ll be having babies soon” and “it’s too hard to be a working mom” fuel your drive and abilities. Show the world what women are really made of!
Touchdown’s female leaders have achieved some awe-inspiring things throughout their careers. From leading the launch of the inaugural Identity Management Day 2021, backed by the Identity Defined Security Alliance (IDSA) and National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), to starting their own agencies, to relocating their life 5,000 miles across the globe to head up an entire PR team.
We’re proud to be working with clients and colleagues who continue to raise awareness around women’s equality in PR, who are supportive, open, and encourage the opportunity for progression and give more women a seat at the top!