Women in PR with Talia Beckett Davis [Podcast]

Women in PR with Talia Beckett Davis [Podcast]

The PR Glass Ceiling Keeps Most Women Out of Leadership Roles. Talia Beckett Davis is Working to Change That.

For more than a decade, Talia Beckett Davis has blazed a trail for women in the Canadian PR industry and here in the states. She’s the owner of Pink Pearl PR — which works with luxury brands targeting female consumers — and FEMpreneur, an agency helping female entrepreneurs thrive through personalized coaching. If that isn’t enough, Talia is also the founder of The Organization of Canadian Women in PR and its cross-border cousin, The Organization of American Women in PR

Talia is passionate about improving opportunities for women throughout the PR industry, which shines through during a lively discussion with host Amy Rosenberg in this episode of the PR Talk Podcast.

Combatting the Gender Gap in PR

Amy and Talia kick off their conversation by talking about the challenges women face in the PR industry. Although women hold the majority of PR jobs, they don’t reach leadership roles as often as men do. And as Talia’s research reveals, women in the PR industry are also frequently paid less than men for the same kind of work.

The reasons for this disparity are complex. As Amy and Talia note, women are socialized to care for the needs of others ahead of their own. While this approach works well in client relationships, it doesn’t help women advocate for themselves as they advance their careers.

Women in the industry also didn’t have a dedicated professional organization, focused solely on women in PR, they could turn to for support as they combatted these gender inequities. Talia believes women are often more comfortable discussing issues like managing family obligations, personal development and career aspirations when surrounded by other women. Without that support system in place, women in the industry were at a real disadvantage.

With those needs in mind, Talia moved to create opportunities for women in PR to connect in ways they never could before. 


Women Supporting Women

In 2016, Talia launched The Organization of Canadian Women in PR with an advisory board and three local chapters. The group found immediate success, so Talia shifted her attention to the needs of Women in PR throughout North America. A year later, she launched The Organization of American Women in PR with an event held in Times Square. Both organizations have been growing ever since.

The organizations exist to support women in PR through live and online career-development opportunities. After conducting research, Talia learned that 26% of women in PR said they weren’t confident about asking for raises and promotions. That compares with only 13% of men who felt the same way. Talia’s organizations are fighting this trend by providing courses on topics like how to build confidence, how to get paid what you’re worth, how to start a consultancy and how to get more clients. 

The organizations also hold online challenges that aim to propel women into positions of leadership with daily learning and action-items. Along the way, the two groups create powerful communities women can access as they navigate and succeed in every phase of their PR careers. 


More From Talia

Listen to the entire episode to hear more from Talia and Amy’s discussion, including insight on what it’s like balancing work with motherhood, as well as Talia’s tips for maximizing efficiency amid a busy life. You can also subscribe to the PR Talk Podcast on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and Spotify to hear insight from a host of industry leaders, all-stars and friends.

You can also find more from Talia Beckett Davis on the web. In addition to her work running multiple agencies and two successful professional organizations, Talia still somehow finds the time to write. She’s the author of three ebooks, which are all available for download from womeinpr.com. Talia also curates a PR job board which is accessible online and filled with great opportunities for women throughout North America.

About the guest: Talia Beckett Davis

Talia Beckett Davis is the Founder of Canadian Women in Public Relations and American Women in Public Relations (Women in PR North America), a networking organization that brings together senior PR and media practitioners across the Americas. Talia is the Owner and Managing Director of Pink Pearl PR, an agency that specializes in baby, kids and women’s lifestyle products. She is the host of the Fempreneur Podcast and creator of the online coaching platform Fempreneur.com In addition, Talia is the Vice President of Communications at RE Royalties, a company that finances renewable energy projects. She serves as a judge for the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, PR and marketing awards category.

Talia has worked with some of the largest brands in North America to help them get featured in high profile media outlets. NASDAQ recognized her as a PR Influencer, and PR Week highlighted how she is helping women in the PR field succeed.

Talia has a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of London, England, a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Royal Roads University and a Marketing Management Diploma from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She also spent one year living and studying abroad in Finland at Helsinki Metropolia University.

Connect and follow Talia on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Women in the Public Relations Industry

Women in the Public Relations Industry

Equal Pay, Executive Positions, and Family Balance

Google “business executive pictures” right now. Are you seeing predominantly pictures of men or women? It’s men, because there is a huge gap of women in executive positions across all industries. But it couldn’t be that way in the public relations industry where women are the majority, right? Not so. I was shocked to find out that men hold the majority of the executive-level positions in an industry filled with women. It’s not that these corporations can’t find qualified women for these positions, rather it is the lack of effort in diversifying within the company. In honor of national women’s history month, now is the time to address this question and evaluate how we can make a difference.

Give me the Facts:

While women dominate almost every level of PR, the executive level seems hardly touched by women. Women in PR came out with a report showing that although women represent two-thirds of the global PR industry, 78 percent of the CEOs in the top 30 PR agencies worldwide are men and they also occupy 62 percent of seats in the PR boardroom.

It doesn’t end there. In the PR industry, employment is projected to grow 9 percent between 2016 to 2026, which comes with pay that women wouldn’t get elsewhere. In a study, female PR specialists in the US make an average of $55,212, while the national average for female workers is $40,742. Yet, the average salary for males in PR is $61,284, showcasing a $6,072 pay gap.

And this is just the mid-level salary, the executive level proves how unjust the system is. Among the highest earners, 28 percent of men earn over $150,000 compared to just 12 percent of women.

Do people still believe that women can’t do the job as well as a man? If so, they are mistaken.

Research reveals that companies with a higher representation of women in executive positions financially outperform companies with fewer women executives. At the executive level, to be perceived as effective leaders women leaders need to demonstrate both sensitivity and strength; while men only need to demonstrate strength.

Why PR is for Women:

I may not have the answer to why women aren’t selected for executive positions but I do know why women are drawn to PR. Make no mistake PR is for women. Research shows women are mainly drawn to PR because they are collaborative and social in group settings, necessary skills for PR.

“Studies have shown that women tend to collaborate more and prefer to work on teams, whereas men usually do better in competitive environments and prefer to fly solo. That male approach works well for journalists, while having a bit of a ‘people-pleaser’ gene probably attracts and/or makes it easier for women to excel in the PR environment,” said Jennifer Hellickson in an interview with The Atlantic.

Besides skill sets, women are also drawn to the PR industry because of its time flexibility in managing a career and family obligations. Women can still be that stay-at-home-mom and have a full-time job because some work allows you to work remotely. Yet, women are scrutinized if they have a family and are in the workforce full time. They either spend too much time in the office and not enough time caring for their family, or too much time with their family and not enough in the office – but there is a healthy balance.

In reality, women who spend time in the workforce model for their children that men don’t always have to be the breadwinners. In a study, women who grew up with a working mother tend to have more powerful jobs and earn more than women whose mothers did not work. In the United States, women with working mothers make 23 percent more than women whose mothers did not work. If anything, it teaches children how to balance work and life.

What to Do:

Why are equal pay and fair consideration for executive opportunities still an issue? Beats me. Corporations that lack diversity, especially gender diversity, lack integrity. Now more than ever before highly-qualified women are primed for executive positions and equal pay. The public relations industry needs to lead the next generation to workplace equality by eliminating workplace stereotypes, instilling confidence in female peers, proactively adding more women to the boardroom, and creating opportunities for women in executive positions.

The rise of women in the PR industry happened for a number of reasons and I have full confidence that by working together we will continue to grow into executive positions. We are proud that here at Veracity our President, Amy Rosenberg, started this company from her kitchen table and continues to inspire women in the PR industry.


DJ Wilson, Leader of KGW Media Group, Right in Time for Women’s Equality Day [Podcast]

DJ Wilson, Leader of KGW Media Group, Right in Time for Women’s Equality Day [Podcast]

DJ Wilson, Leader of KGW Media Group, Right in Time for Women’s Equality Day

DJ Wilson always wanted to run things. And run things she does as the head of KGW Media Group. We’re honored to bring you this episode — which we recorded in the middle of the craziness that the eclipse was supposed to bring to Oregon — in time for Women’s Equality Day this Saturday.

DJ truly is a “badass,” as Connor calls her, so there couldn’t be a better person to highlight in this capacity. This July marked DJ’s tenth year as President/General Manager of KGW Media Group, which represents more than just the revered NBC affiliate, KGW, in Portland. The publically-traded, multi-media platform runs multiple stations throughout the Pacific Northwest.

From Playing with Barbie to Studying Barbie’s Business Model

When asked how she took a sledge-hammer to the formidable glass ceiling, on the surface it appears that the ceiling didn’t really exist for her. But of course this is untrue since the ceiling exists for all women. We still make less on the dollar than men — facing barriers to leading organizations, opening companies or breaking into certain industries.

However, the ceiling didn’t keep DJ at bay. Never one to be labeled as shy, DJ put herself in front of many opportunities, holding on like a prize-winning rodeo rider. But she brings the way in which she was raised into this discussion about her rise to the top. She was fortunate to have parents who presented everything to her as if it was given that she’d have equal opportunity. Her Dad played a major role, telling her that in addition to playing with Barbie, she could study up on how Barbie became a business enterprise.

While she has worked in news her whole life, DJ “came up on the the sales and marketing side” because she “always wanted to run things,” she says.

Acting “As-If” and Participating in the World

DJ said she always put herself in situations where others could see her filling the role she wanted. This is a little more than just being in the right place at the right time. It’s about always being prepared to jump in whenever needed, ready to tackle whatever the day throws your way — whether that is through dress or a mental attitude stemming from an inherent belief in yourself.

She secured her first job in a Seattle elevator. Freshly graduated from Washington State University’s (WSU) Edward R Murrow College of Communication — where she worked with a group to start the Murrow Symposium for budding communication professionals, which is now morphing into its 43rd year — she bumped into a friend she’d served with on the committee. DJ must have really impressed this woman because she called her friend who was working at KIRO TV that very day to open the employment door for DJ. “I had a job by that Friday,” she recalls.

We move the conversation along to the important point that simply getting out of the office or house might be all that is needed. You never know who you’ll bump into or what opportunities will arise by simply setting foot out the door. “Just showing up is half the battle,” DJ says.

KGW in Portland

KGW’s Shifting Employment & News Model

Securing a television position in a larger market like Portland or Seattle used to be an arduous process. After graduating with a journalism or communication degree, candidates were expected to cut their teeth in a small market before being welcomed into the larger pond. But the integration of digital reporting that’s now expected to be packaged with traditional reporting is causing KGW to consider candidates coming directly out of colleges that have top-notch programs, like WSU.

“We know who has the most potential,” DJ says. Solid digital skills mean candidates could take the fast track to larger markets, bypassing small town U.S.A.

“Cassidy Quinn [our first PR Talk media guest] is the poster child for this, we found her on YouTube,” DJ says. While apparently a few “legacy journalists,” as DJ calls them, raised their eyebrows at this development, Cassidy continues to prove herself. An example of a multi-skilled journalist (MSJ), DJ recalls a time this winter when Cassidy went out alone to film herself snowboarding. Reporting and snowboarding at the same time without any help from a photographer makes me tired just thinking about it. Needless to say, KGW is sending Cassidy to cover the Olympics this year.

Today the station highly values additional content created alongside a reporter’s traditional content. Of course stations expect reporters to fill all roles, however I’m thinking this is another avenue for PR professionals to explore — a testament to the significant need to maintain our social and digital media skills to offer alongside traditional earned media placements.

Getting it Out Bypasses the Stagnation of Quality Control

How does one stop a camera from shaking when filming yourself snowboarding? It doesn’t really matter anymore. Apparently getting the news out is more important than production value, depending on what type of story is being highlighted. If it’s a fun, silly piece, perfect production can wipe out any emotional appeal or real-time reporting effects.

Of course there is a time and place for causal reporting. When spotlighting news that can only be taken very seriously, such as human trafficking, there is no place for gimmicks, DJ strictly adds.

“But there are times when we shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously. When we can have fun,” DJ says.

And fun is definitely in DJ’s repertoire. This warm woman doesn’t hold the stiff briskness expected from most high-powered executives. She was happy to lend her time, touring us through the newsroom on our way out the door, offering hugs as parting gifts.

My last question, unfortunately off-air, was in response to her nonchalant mention of weekend eclipse work. I wanted to know if she worked all the time. “I know how to play hard too,” she comforted. I have no doubt that this is true, which is why I’ll be keeping this mentor’s contact information in my back pocket.

About the guest: DJ Wilson

DJ Wilson is president and general manager of the KGW Media Group in Portland, Oregon, a position she has held since July 2007. Previously, she served as vice president and assistant general manager of the Belo Media Group in Seattle; KING-TV (NBC), KONG-TV (IND) and NorthWest Cable News in Seattle/Tacoma and president and general manager of the Belo Media Group in Spokane, Washington; KREM-TV (CBS) and KSKN-TV (CW). Read more from the Portland Business Journal Bizwomen bio.

Connect and follow DJ on social media:

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PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Running with Kathrine Switzer — Empowerment Kindles Over Sweat and Pavement

Running with Kathrine Switzer — Empowerment Kindles Over Sweat and Pavement

When I got my first job working for a Portland PR firm, I was lucky enough to hit the ground running, literally. One of my clients was Avon Running and Kathrine Switzer — the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a bibbed entry in 1967 — was the main spokesperson for the program. After being told that a marathon was too far for a “fragile girl” to run, Kathrine entered anyway. Luckily, a gender-neutral iteration of her name didn’t raise any eyebrows, since women were banned from the race, and she made it onto the course. A famous picture depicts a race official trying to rip her from the course, purportedly shouting “get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers [her bib number 261]!” But Kathrine’s running partner shoved him to the ground so she could complete the race. Afterwards, the Boston Athletic Association director mentioned that he would have “spanked that girl,” if she were his daughter.

Later, Kathrine went on to compete legitimately in the 1974 New York City Marathon. She won.

Last week was the 50th anniversary of the fated day when she first ran the Boston Marathon. Proudly wearing bib number 261, she competed once again and was honored when race directors retired her famed number.

What does this have to do with me? Well I ran with her, of course. Beyond selling lipstick and mascara, Avon has had stints of putting on 5K running and walking events for women across the country. But Avon’s focus wasn’t just on race day. The weekly training group for women who wanted an extra bit of accountability and camaraderie was a key part of the program. Kathrine came out to Portland to help us launch the training sessions and of course serve as my interview spokesperson. She kicked off the training sessions with motivating talks for women of all shapes and sizes — touching on the importance of simply moving each day, to “get off the couch,” and to “shuffle, walk, or run,” — whatever it takes.

Hanging out with Kathrine for the week was inspiring and motivating so I asked her to go running. Not to say that the times I spent running with her during the training runs weren’t real running. But group running isn’t really the same as a one-on-one jaunt through Forrest Park. I remember being a little nervous to run solo with her, afraid that I couldn’t keep her pace. But runners who have a connection run together.

Looking back, I feel that many of my greatest friendships have been established through exercise. There is nothing better than bonding over exercise, especially running. But throwing work into the mix is the ultimate for a woman who loves to work and especially likes to talk about work. In fact, the friendships that blossomed over sweat and pavement began at my first PR job, where Jenny Galitz McTighe and I would go running after work. Beyond learning the foundation of PR from her, Jenny taught me about the camaraderie of exercise. This was hard at first for a solo cross country runner to grasp. Then Alexa Shook Galluzzo and I would run in the early morning hours before starting work at my second PR job. Alexa was a runner. I mean she probably had coaches and stuff. She taught me how to keep a steady, impressive clip. I realized I’d just been messing around before. And today I have Trisha Highland. While we aren’t actually working at the same company, or even in the same field, we have so much to talk about. She’s operated and sold a couple of businesses and currently sells real estate — a topic I love, being a former Realtor, and now representing a real estate company and developer. Trisha and I hash out work problems, share our endlessly exciting new ideas — that we both non-judgmentally understand may or may not come to fruition — and strategize on finding balance while raising kids. Getting an outside opinion on clients and business operations during our sweat sessions is essential to me as a business owner today.

I must have been emulating Kathrine’s teachings all along. In Avon Running, she brought two things together that can provide great strength to women. Running and each other. Women have always battled inner and outer doubt in both athletics and business. Whether training for your first 5K or writing your first business plan, sometimes just a little bit of encouragement from the female variety is all that’s needed.

Today Kathrine empowers women through her charity, 261 Fearless, which is “a global community of women, be she a walker, jogger and runner, who have found strength, power and fearlessness by putting one foot in front of the other.” Aiming to provide a “safe and secure global running community for women, 261 Fearless empowers women to embrace the social and fun side of running so that they may give support to other women who want to become fearless through running.”

I’ve learned how to overcome by frequently running it out with a strong set of girlfriends and examining how those who’ve come before me have done it. They can rip off our bib numbers or decline our loan applications. We’ll pick ourselves up off the couch and put one foot in front of the other as we enter the road race or the rat race together.

Featured image courtesy of Recuerdos de Pandora, used via the Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0

Women & Digital Marketing [Podcast]

Women & Digital Marketing [Podcast]

Impostor syndrome, blissful ignorance and creating your own destiny. In this episode of #ChalkTalk, Anna & Amy get into it all! Right in time for Engage, Portland’s premier digital marketing conference which will feature about 40% women speakers on March 9th! Anna Huston started her digital marketing company, Avenue, last year and serves on the SEMpdx Board as the Engage Director.
#ChalkTalk Podcast
Woman, Hear Me ROAR!!!

Woman, Hear Me ROAR!!!

In the wake of Equal Pay Day I realized that my fanatic refusal to accept any additional professional recognition or help for simply being a woman might not be a feminist move at all. In fact, it might be anti-feminist.

I identify with the women’s movement to the core. I found my voice while attending St. Mary’s Academy—an all-girls college preparatory high school in Portland, Oregon. My confidence grew among assured girls who were being groomed for leadership. We read Virginia Wolf, Simone de Beauvoir and Betty Friedan. We served on committees, played sports and earned high grades. We had our fair share of fun attending proms and football games. But we laughed at cheerleaders, fashionistas and sometimes boys.

However, I have veered away from those ideals in matters of business; strongly believing that we women shouldn’t accept awards just because we are women. If you are going to offer me an award, offer me the one you’d offer to a man too, damn it! Not that I’ve really ever been up for any such honor, but I have obviously thought this out—adhering to a strict aversion to women-based recognition.

The deliberately slow growth of our business has meant that we’ve been fortunate enough to not need any business loans (hmmm…am I also a PR person to the core? ‘deliberately’ slow growth…sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?). But of course being the over-thinker that I am, I’ve thought about it. And this is hard for me. My old aversion to getting help just-because-you-are-a-woman surfaced at first when I reviewed the options. But as any good business person would do, I realized that money was at stake and quickly got over it. I decided that should we ever want a business loan, I would not rule out loans for women-owned businesses only.

Which brings me to what is in the press today with Equal Pay Day. Of course women and men should be making the same amount! It is a scary reminder to see that this still is not the case, with women who worked full-time in 2012 making only 77 cents for every $1 earned by men (Census Bureau). The Business Journal reported “[This] doesn’t show that women make less money than men for doing the same job. Women often work in lower-paying occupations. That’s not wage discrimination.”

equal pay day


What is even scarier is to think about all the women who have been passed up for promotions by men—never even getting the chance to be considered to make the same amount.

The stats on women-owned businesses really hit home. On the bright side, women have started more businesses than men have. But they only account for 4 percent of all business revenue. “In many cases, these businesses are deliberately small. But plenty of women business owners can tell you stories about the obstacles that they’ve faced in the past—such as having bank officers ask them to have their husbands co-sign a business loan,” again quoting the Business Journal.

Equal Pay Day helps me reflect on the obstacles women from past generations have had to overcome so that we could have an easier time today. Possibly I can serve as a current leader to help create an even brighter future for all the young women who will be graduating this spring.

The first step is to cast aside previous judgments and embrace every opportunity presented to women in business. Because, as yesterday’s press gently reminded me, we aren’t quite there yet. If I act out some of that assured confidence that was so freely given to me, I might enable more of today’s young women to reach that same place of leadership.

My friends and I might have been of a rare breed. We never thought to stand down—asking our bosses for what we knew we deserved. We eventually became the bosses. But there is the girl sitting in the back of the classroom. She is everywhere. She is starting Kindergarten. She is applying to internships. She is also at St. Mary’s Academy.