PR Pioneer: Marilyn Laurie (1939-2010)
The Museum of Public Relations
IPR has partnered with The Museum of Public Relations to feature some of the many female PR Pioneers in celebration of Women's History Month

Marilyn Laurie was the first woman to become a chief communications officer of a Fortune 10 company. The story of her career started in 1969 when she was a stay-at-home mom in New York with two children and an English degree from Barnard College. She came across an ad in the newspaper calling for volunteers to help organize the first ever Earth Day celebration. She grabbed her coat and told her husband she would be back later.

After successfully leading communications for the Earth Day celebration campaign and writing an environmental supplement for the New York Times, she received an offer from AT&T to join the company as an environmentalist, the first such position to exist. She started at AT&T in 1971 and developed environmental programs for employees which are still in effect today. 

In this role, she viewed herself as a connection between the company and the world, laying the foundation for her future PR career. Laurie rose through the PR ranks, and by 1987 she was elevated to EVP of Public Relations at AT&T. Her dedication to educating c-suite leaders on the significance of PR in business resulted in the addition of a PR person to every business unit within AT&T.  Laurie also helped to start the Page Society, named after AT&T’s first ever EVP of PR, Arthur W. Page. 

Read more to learn how Marilyn Laurie paved the way for female communications executives.
What it Truly Means to Create a Culture of Belonging
Stacey Jones, IPR Chair, Head of Global Corporate Communications, Accenture
Recently, we have experienced two starkly contrasting moments: a night of shocking violence against Asian Americans in Atlanta and the United Nations' International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Once again, we are painfully reminded that we all must band together and stand against any form of hate, discrimination or racism. And that means taking action wherever we work or live.
In a recent IPR discussion on the most pressing events and issues facing our industry, we gained some powerful direction and learnings from a convening of next-gen professionals of color. After all, it’s one thing to talk about creating an inclusive, diverse environment with a culture of belonging, but it’s another to understand what this truly means for people who have never had a sense of belonging at work.

Some eye-openers:
  • In the rush to improve workforce numbers, diverse talent can become a commodity. Instead of checking the box that says we hired ethnically or racially diverse people, first look internally and have honest conversations about whether your culture is ready to make this an enduring success.
  • Seeing potential requires looking at things differently. Unfortunately, we don’t always truly see someone’s potential, and the problem is exacerbated by the fact that people of color are often overlooked for promotion due to systemic racism – not because they lack ability. Being mindful of someone’s journey can make all the difference.
  • It cannot be said enough: mentoring and sponsoring young racially and ethnically diverse professionals is critical to their success. This is even truer in environments where there are no leaders who look like them. We need to ensure that our next generation knows what it takes to succeed.

Read the rest of Jones's blog to see how to create positive change.
Lessons Earned: Toughen Up, Buckle Down, and Never Stop Learning
Nneka Logan, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Virginia Tech University
In partnership with PRNEWS, "Lessons Earned" is a series featuring IPR Trustees and affiliates discussing a hard-fought lesson or triumph that helped to shape their career.

Before academia, I worked in corporate communication for about a decade. As a communication manager of a new division, I recall attending a huge convention that attracted 20,000+ people. It was the kind of event where there were lots of business dinners and camaraderie among colleagues. I was new and didn’t really know anyone.

Still, I tried to engage with my new coworkers during the convention, but often felt like a third wheel; like the last kid picked for a softball game. I spent my days walking the convention center, trying to learn what I could. About mid-way through that lonely week, I decided to return home.

Sitting in the airport, waiting for a flight, my phone rang. It was the company president inviting the executive leadership team and me to dinner. This had to be a mistake. I emailed him to let him know I received his invitation in error so that he could email the rightful recipient.

It was not an error, he informed me. I wrote back that I was going to fly home that day. He asked, ‘Do you think you have more you could learn here?’ The question puzzled me. What did he mean? What was he trying to say? What was the right answer?

Read more the rest of Dr. Logan's blog to learn about her hard-fought lessons as a young PR professional.
The Latest on What Consumers Want Brands to Say and Do
Victoria Sakal, Morning Consult
Morning Consult examined consumers' evolving perceptions of brands and purchase likelihood.

Polls were conducted among 2,200 U.S. adults in March 27-29, 2020; December 12-15, 2020; and February 18-21, 2021.

Key findings include:
  • There was a 56% net increase in purchase likelihood if a company advocated for helping veterans in their ads, followed by a 54% increase for thanking health care/essential workers, and a 47% increase for encouraging people to wear face masks.
  • Likelihood to purchase from a company that featured people shaking hands, kissing, or hugging in ads decreased by 20% to 39% since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In June 2020, 66% of Americans agreed that "all companies should have a point of view on or make a statement about important social and/or political issues," compared to 37% of Americans who said the same in February 2021.
  • Agreement that "CEOs actions speak louder than words" decreased from 83% in June 2020 to 63% in February 2021.

Read more to discover how the pandemic has shifted consumers' purchase intentions and perceptions of brands.
Taking on Tomorrow: The New Leadership Agenda
PwC examined CEOs' plans for responding to new threats, transforming their operating models, and creating a more sustainable future.

A survey of 5,050 CEOs in 100 countries and territories was conducted in January and February of 2021.

Key findings include:
  • 76% of global CEOs predict economic growth will improve in 2021.
  • 49% of CEOs plan to increase their rate of digital investment by 10% or more.
  • 47% of CEOs are concerned about cyber threat, up from 35% last year.
  • Concern about climate change is also rising, with 43% of CEOs saying their company needs to do more to report on it.
  • Although, 60% of CEOs admit they have not yet factored climate into their strategic risk management.

Read more to learn how CEOs across the globe plan to address new threats and transform how their companies operate.
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