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On International Women’s Day, Building Your Career as a Woman in Communications

March 8, 2024

Women’s History Month celebrations are well underway at Dukas Linden Public Relations. We kicked off the week with a virtual event for the women of DLPR, gathering to discuss our career paths, ways to better connect and collaborate, and the opportunities and challenges we face as women in the industry.

On Wednesday, the agency announced our new partnership with the Private Equity Women Investor Network (PEWIN), an inspiring organization dedicated to advancing female leaders in private equity, venture capital, and private credit. Through this partnership, we will work closely with PEWIN’s leadership team to provide their members with education and resources on key communications topics.

Reflecting on the week’s events in our regularly scheduled mentorship chat, we thought it would be nice to put our heads together on a piece about how we’re navigating our careers – and the ways we’ve leaned on each other and the women around us along the way.

For context, Jade has about 15 years of industry experience, mostly on the agency side, but also including a three-year stint in-house at a major financial institution. Bailey graduated from Northwestern University in spring 2023 and started her first full-time PR role here in July. 

Question 1: Who have been the key female mentors in your life, and how have they influenced your career?

Jade Faugno (JF): There are too many to name individually, but I think fondly of a few women at my first New York agency who did a lot to help me, an unpolished recent college grad, blossom into the professional I am today. Most importantly, they pointed out my blindspots, giving me tips on how best to present myself so that nothing distracted from the high caliber of work I was producing. 

I’ll also say that I’ve learned so much from the women coming up in the industry behind me (including Bailey!) in my capacity as an official and unofficial mentor. It’s important to listen to colleagues at all levels who bring fresh perspectives and are on the pulse of the cultural zeitgeist, media and technology innovations, and new ways to reach our audiences.

Bailey McCafferty (BM): I’m very lucky to have grown up around really great female role models – my mother is an executive in the pharmaceutical industry and my aunt in investor relations. Both my mom and aunt began their careers without prior knowledge of the “corporate world,” given my grandparents were both elementary school teachers their whole lives. Their invaluable advice has guided me through internships, job searches, and now my professional career. 

During my time at DLPR, I’ve had the privilege of having Jade as my formal mentor while also being more unofficially mentored by numerous women at the agency. My day-to-day work involves collaboration across all professional levels, providing me with access to stellar female executives who have all been instrumental to my professional development thus far.

Question 2: How have the women of DLPR, specifically, shaped your journey in PR?

JF: I started at DLPR just over a year ago, and it’s been lovely to step into such a refreshingly collaborative environment. Even before my first day, I had notes in my inbox making me feel welcome. Two months into my tenure here, the women of DLPR gathered in person for breakfast, and it cemented in my mind that we are all here for each other. Whether it’s providing a quick edit or talking through a larger media strategy, everyone is willing to support one another to do their best work.

BM: In so many ways! Joining the firm marked not only my initiation into public relations, but also my first experience in a full-time position. The women at DLPR have worn various hats for me, stepping into roles as managers, mentors, and even stylists. On my first day at the firm, I remember Kendal, my manager, offering to send me a photo of her outfit to give me an idea of what to wear. Though it may seem small, this gesture meant so much to me, as making the right first impression was a real stressor for me at the time! 

The support I’ve received from the women at this firm thus far goes beyond the small things. Everyone has offered such valuable assistance since I joined, guiding me through workload management, refining my pitches or press release drafts, and aiding me in navigating client communications.

Question 3: What is one piece of advice you would offer to a woman just starting out in PR?

JF: I think this advice applies across industries, but it’s especially important to keep in mind when so much of your job is promoting others: be your own best advocate. You could be doing an outstanding job, but if those responsible for your career advancement aren’t aware, your accomplishments may go unrecognized. Of course, humility goes a long way in any workplace, so it’s important to go about this with care – and to routinely champion others as well. 

BM: Ask a million questions now, so you won’t have to later. 

When I first joined DLPR, I made a concerted effort to ask questions when I was confused about the use of certain media software or defining a client’s specialty. Asking these questions was immensely helpful, allowing me to hit the ground running once I had all of those initial answers. It’s been essential to building my confidence in my knowledge of the industry  – something that comes with experience, of course, but also through proactive learning. 

With that, we wish everyone a happy and meaningful International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month!

By Jade Faugno, Senior Vice President, and Bailey McCafferty, Junior Account Executive