Navigating Public Relations as a Gay Student: My Journey and Insights

As a student pursuing a career in public relations, my journey has been significantly shaped by my identity as a gay individual. Navigating this field, both academically and within PRSSA, has presented me with unique challenges and opportunities that have enriched my understanding and passion for this profession.

Being a gay student in PR has often meant encountering challenges that my non-LGBTQIA+ peers may not face. There have been instances where I felt the need to prove myself more, to validate my capabilities beyond my identity. I have sometimes felt the pressure to overperform, driven by an underlying fear of being judged more harshly because of who I am.

Despite these challenges, I have come to see my identity not as a barrier but as a distinctive advantage that enriches my perspective. My experiences as a gay man provide me with unique insights into the importance of representation and the need for genuine, inclusive communication strategies. These insights have proven invaluable in my academic projects and real-world applications, allowing me to approach PR with a deeper understanding of diverse audiences.

Through my experiences, I have discovered that my identity profoundly influences my understanding of PR’s critical role in promoting belonging, equity, diversity and inclusion. Communication is a powerful tool that fosters empathy and understanding, and I’m enthusiastic about leveraging my skills to advocate for everyone. My personal journey has reinforced the importance of storytelling and inclusive representation in our industry.

PR is more than just managing reputations or crafting persuasive messages; it is about building bridges between different communities and fostering a sense of understanding and acceptance. My identity has taught me to appreciate the nuances of these connections, and I strive to create campaigns that not only inform but also inspire positive social change.

PRSSA has played a pivotal role in shaping my experience as a gay man. The Society’s commitment to BEDI has provided a supportive community where I can connect with other LGBTQIA+ students and professionals, share experiences and learn from one another.

Being a member of PRSSA helped me develop the skills and confidence needed to navigate the PR industry effectively. The knowledge and experiences gained through PRSSA have been important in preparing me for a career that champions inclusivity. Our focus on real-world applications and networking opportunities has allowed me to

connect with professionals who are also part of the LGBTQIA+ community and want to pave the way for others such as the PRSA 2024 Chair Joseph Abreu, APR, CPRC; and Andrea Gils Monzón, a member of the Board of Directors.

One of the most significant lessons I’ve learned is the importance of embracing my authentic self. It is crucial not to feel pressured to conform to stereotypes or expectations. The unique perspective and experiences are valuable assets that can drive positive change in the industry. In moments of doubt, I remind myself that authenticity is a strength, not a weakness. As Joseph Abreu once told me: “don’t underestimate the power of representation.”

Engaging with PRSSA has truly been one of the best experiences of my life so far. I have had the opportunity to serve not only my community but all our members as the 2023-2024 National Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, and that experience completely changed my mind. It helped me see and shape the bright future I want for our Society and all members of our industry, and it opened a lot of doors that I know will take me to places I cannot even imagine.

As I continue my journey as a PR professional, I am excited to use my skills and experiences to promote belonging, equity, diversity and inclusion within the industry. I am grateful for the supportive environment that PRSSA has provided and encourage other LGBTQIA+ students to get involved. Together, we can help create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all PR students and professionals. By embracing our authentic selves and advocating for what we believe in, we can make a lasting impact on the industry and our Society.

Teo Ignacio Landoni (he/him) is the PRSSA 2023-2024 Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. He is a junior at Universidad Argentina de la Empresa (UADE), majoring in Public Relations and Institutional Communications. Active in PRSSA since his first week of college, Teo has led his team to a second-place finish in the 2022 International Communications Challenge, laid the groundwork for his Chapter’s Student-run Firm, and coordinated the 2023 District Conference at his Chapter. He has held leadership roles in the Argentina Red Cross, contributed to the Data Playbook project of the International Federation of the Red Cross, and currently works as an Account Executive for Pernod Ricard at Moscú Comunicación Multiplataforma and as the Secretary of Communication for PRO Diversidad Provincia de Buenos Aires. Teo is committed to fostering a more inclusive society in all his roles. You can connect with Teo here.

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