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Here For Her

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You Are The Future

We've honored the past, heard about what's happening now, but the future of women's public relations leadership is up to you and me. Research and industry leaders have identified mentorship and professional development opportunities as key contributors to success. Throughout this project, I've created multiple resources looking at multiple perspectives for you to browse and learn. Take what you want, leave what you don't and remember that we need to be Here For Her. 

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What strong women leaders mean to PR’s future pros

PR Daily is "a news site that delivers news, advice, and opinions on public relations, marketing, social media, and media worlds."

This article launched the first collaboration with a pre-professional organization, the Public Relations Student Society of America. It includes advice from my personal mentors in the industry. 

My favorite takeaway is that aspiring leaders (women or men) need to distance themselves from the idea of a "work-life balance." This is not a realistic concept as it maintains that work and personal matters are equal or 50/50. We should aspire to a "work-life fit" or harmony as our responsibilities are fluid. 

Getting Savvy With Social Media

Here are some samples of a social media campaign I've developed to help aspiring leaders be Here For Her, even if that "her" is themselves. Social media represents your brand, so use it as an opportunity to get in on the discussion of key industry topics such as this one. You might not have the connections you want yet for your dream leadership role, but social media is an authentic way to expand your network while finding your voice. For more inspiration, click here to view Here For Her social media content. 

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Journey To The C-Suite With Karen Mateo

So at this point, we all know (or hopefully should know) that there is a diversity problem in public relations senior leadership. Not only does this impact brands reaching target audiences, but it hinders the development of aspiring leaders and future success of the industry. When there is no representation, it makes it harder to find resources and mentors to connect with.  As an aspiring woman leader myself, I have found it odd that there is such a grey space about what happens in a woman’s career path to leadership. This is why I’ve made it a personal mission to share the stories and wisdom from women in leadership roles that inspire me. This is my way of being “Here For Her.”


Karen Mateo is not just the Chief Communications Officer of the Public Relations Society of America, she is a leader who defines her success through impacting others. With heart and compassion, she advocates for the future of the industry in her work every day. Mateo is one of the few women that make up less than 20 percent of the C-suite in the public relations industry. 


Officially, Mateo spearheads overall brand message development and positioning for the nation’s leading professional organization in the public relations industry while optimizing best-in-class communications infrastructure to drive integrated campaigns that advance the organization’s reputation and engagement among target stakeholders. Unofficially, she’s a role model paving the way for leaders to come. 


She always surrounds herself with diverse opinions and perspectives, which she learned early on in her career through mentoring and professional development opportunities. 


“I’ve learned a lot over the years by observing others in my field, following the lead of companies I admired and exposing myself to a variety of opinions and viewpoints,” Mateo said. “Attending conferences and speaking engagements always opens my eyes to something new, as does forging new relationships with peers in my industry.”


Mateo expresses that a new perspective embodies great leadership and encourages students to problem-solve with an extra lens. 


 “A good leader is able to ask the right questions and look at something from another point of view,” said Mateo.


This skill was actually what helped her go from publicity intern at CBS Sports into a full-time leadership position allowing her to get exposure to some of the biggest sporting events in the industry. It also prepared her for some of the toughest challenges in her career including working through the September 11th attacks. Through grit and grace, she turned each challenge into a moment of growth for her career journey, adding new skills and connections along the way. 


Mateo continues to advocate for diversity not just for herself, but for the future of public relations. 


“Women, and men, need to continue to advocate for more diversity in senior leadership roles,” Mateo said. “There has been good progress in recent years but there’s still a long way to go.” 

What Mentoring Means To Her

Mentoring is an integral part of the leadership development experience. Research even cites that mentoring relationships are key factors in increasing diversity in senior leadership, especially for women trying to make their way to the C-Suite. 

So how do we be “Here For Her?” What do aspiring women leaders need to know about mentoring to grow in their career path? The following highlights three unique perspectives from women leaders in the public relations industry on what mentoring means to them.


Student: McQue Wilson

McQue Wilson, recent public relations graduate from Sam Houston State University. Wilson is the 2019-2020 PRSSA Vice President of Member Services and operations specialist at HEB. She is an aspiring leader just starting her career in the communications industry with less than five years of experience.

  • What does mentorship mean to you?

    • Mentorship means having someone you can go to for help in your career. Someone who is able to help you grow as you enter into your professional world.

  • How many mentors should a student look to have?

    • Definitely at least once, but the more the better. Just as long as the student can manage to maintain all those important relationships with their mentor.

  • Can you describe an example of when a mentor was an advocate for you and impacted your career?

    • One of my mentors has been my PRSSA Faculty Adviser, and he’s always been a huge advocate of mine. The first example I can think of is when he wrote a letter of recommendation for the grad program I applied to. He believes that I can conquer anything I set my mind to and has told others to help me get there. I truly believe his letter of recommendation was one of the biggest factors of me getting accepted to the grad programs.

Educator: Alisa Aggozino, Ph.D., APR 

Aggozino is an associate professor of public relations at Ohio Northern University. She currently serves as the PRSA Educator’s 2019-2020 Chair and PRSSA National Faculty Adviser and has worked in the public relations industry for more than 10 years. 


  • What does mentorship look like to you?

    • It's when someone has experience and expertise in an area of life and is willing to share that information with someone else in a one-on-one situation.

  • How many mentors should a student look to have?

    • I would recommend three to five mentors.

  • Can you describe an example of when a mentor was an advocate for you and impacted your career?

    • One of my mentors went to bat with me in academia.  The provost thought I wasn't a go-getter, but a pleaser and that I would never survive in academia.  My mentor spoke with the provost and asked him to interview me a second time. The second time I interviewed I came to the interview determined to prove the provost wrong. My mentor was an advocate and since I am now a tenured faculty member in academia, it certainly impacted my career. 

Professional: Aerial Ellis, Ed.D

Aerial Ellis is an educator and managing principal consultant of Advisory 83. Ellis started her own public relations company at age 22 and has since been recognized nationally by PR News and The Huffington Post for her ability to transform culture, improve diversity, enhance communication, navigate change, build community and drive innovation. From beginning business owners to legendary moguls, clients have trusted her distinct ability to align partnerships with giants such as Burger King, Sony Music, NBA and BET and strengthen their brand awareness in the early digital age through media coverage with outlets such as CNN, BBC, Ebony Magazine and ESPN. With more than 15 years of experience in the public relations industry, Ellis shares her expertise in storytelling with the students of Lipscomb University. 

  • How important is mentorship to you?

    • Mentorship is a must. It must be given and received.

  • How many mentors should an aspiring leader look to have?

    • I would recommend having an unlimited amount of mentors for various areas of life.

  • Can you describe an example of when a mentor was an advocate for you and impacted your career?

    • I have had some amazing mentors. They each come from different walks of life and parts of the country, have different areas of expertise and serve a different purpose in my life. Having a diverse group of people who pour into me regularly at various phases of my growth has made a major impact on my personal and professional development.

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Resources and Recommendations

These are excellent resources I've collected from mentors, peers and professionals to stay updated on leadership development and key trends in the public relations industry. Most of these are free or for a minimal cost. Also, make sure to check to see if your university or organization has opportunities or access to these suggestions for a reduced cost!

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