Three Public Relations Tips to Lift Women to the Top

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Weber State University PRSSA member Shaquille Heath poses for a photo with Jill Chappell of CNN during Utah Valley University’s Regional Conference. Courtesy of Heath.

Even though we live in a time where women are increasingly dominating in the workplace, and the gender pay gap is shrinking in some industries, women are still lagging in management. You’ll hear chauvinists say women don’t assert themselves or aren’t aggressive enough. As a future public relations professional, and as a woman, these proclamations are disheartening.

The fact of the matter is that having women in management roles only benefits an organization.  There are studies which prove that businesses with women in senior management roles make more money.

I recently attended the PRSSA Regional Conference at Utah Valley University, yearning to hear from other women. I wanted to know how they got to the top — and how I can get there too.

Here are my top three tips:

1. “Be confident.”
Jill Chappell, CNN Senior Editorial Producer, The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer

Think about the first episode of “Scandal” when Olivia Pope’s phone rings as she says, “It’s handled.” Her posture is straight, shoulders back, her eyes slightly squinted, chin up — she means business. And so should you. The second Chappell walked on the stage, you felt her presence. Her voice was loud, but controlled. Her hands were placed on her hips, and precisely so. Chappell demanded respect — partly because to do her job, she has to.

In our field, how can you expect to gain attention for you clients if you can’t manage to look up when you walk? You are just as able as every man in the room. The studies support this claim, so cultivate it. If you feel unsure, practice in the mirror the perfect “I’m sure” face that you can pull up when you’re stumped. You are intelligent. Show it.

2. “Quantify it.”
Kara Schneck, Head of Corporate Communications, Nu Skin Enterprises

Everyone knows that only a small proportion of women pursue math degrees. I’m not saying that you have to love math, but you have to stop hating it. Embrace numbers. They are not that bad. In fact, Excel spreadsheets and Google Analytics pretty much do all the math for you.

Tell me which person you would hire. Person 1: “I increased our Twitter following.” Person 2: “I increased our Twitter following 10 percent in a manner of two months.” If you said person one, please watch more “Mad Men.” I think we all know that showing increases, decreases, raises, expansions, perceptions, attitudes, ROI, engagement, followers, tweets and anything that you else you can quantify, is a billion times better when you use numbers that help the C-suite and other managers make sense of it. Quantify everything! This will take a while, but will result in great practice. 

3. “Authenticity goes further than spin.”
Cheryl Snapp Conner, Founder of SnappConner PR

At first I thought, “Oh duh.” Then I thought, “Oh, DUH.” The best thing Snapp Conner said was that “If your work is good, it will speak for itself. You shouldn’t have to put a spin on it.” I know we all generally learn this concept along our public relations paths, but hearing it said like this — wow, does it make that much more sense. Also, if you’re quantifying everything and slightly tilting your head up and to the right, you are going to kill that presentation.

Shaquille Heath is a member of Weber State University’s Chapter of the PRSSA. Outside of school, you can find her watching Scandal, eating popcorn, or fighting for feminism. Connect with Heath on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter @shaquilleheath or email her at

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