Emerging Voices: Amanda Rue

ARue

Amanda Rue is an Account Manager at Porter Novelli in their Health & Purpose practice. She leads accounts related to public health, corporate purpose and behavior change. Amanda develops, implements and coaches teams to drive forward strategic communications plans related to project and client goals.

Please summarize your professional career and its high and low points. (How did you work your way up the ladder? What have you learned along the way? What factors most contributed to your success?)

When I tell people how long I’ve been at the same company, and they most often respond with surprise. I started my career at Porter Novelli as an intern straight out of college and have now been there nearly eight years. Along the way, I’ve learned the things that matter most to me in a workplace and a career: the ability to make a positive impact on the world around me; colleagues you like and who push you to be your best; and a culture of encouragement and learning. These are also the things that have driven me in building a successful career. Having the opportunity to work alongside smart, strong female leaders, as well as men who advocate for our success has contributed to my career growth in a major way.

According to The Holmes Report, women make up about 70% of the PR workforce, but they only hold about 30% of the top positions in the industry. Why do you think there is a shortage of women leaders in PR? What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership

I believe it is important to look at this issue from the institutional side as well as the individual side, because I don’t believe that one answer paints the full picture.

The U.S. on a whole is woefully behind in the maternity leave policies compared to other areas of the world. Studies have shown that when women have children, not having adequate time to adjust to life with a new baby makes it harder for them to return to work. There can be issues of inflexible policies within companies or leaders who try to protect new moms by withholding opportunities that would create more work, but allow them to progress in their career.

I believe it can be hard for some women to advocate for their own careers in the way they advocate for others’. It is critical for women in the workplace to create relationships with their leaders and find mentors to guide them in their careers. Open communication about our goals and our capacity – for those who have children, or those who don’t – is necessary to empowering women to progress into the higher ranks within the industry. We know we are capable of doing hard things – it is important to communicate and show this to those we work with on a daily basis.

What can organizations (and the industry as a whole) do to prepare women for top leadership positions? What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in leadership?

Being a leader in PR can be a high-stress role. For many of us, I believe the things that cause stress – the pace, the sometimes long-hours, the balancing of many projects and priorities – can also be drivers. It is important for leaders to learn practices that help them harness the power of stress to work more efficiently. My company invested in its mid- to senior-level leaders by hosting a “corporate athlete” training, helping us to identify stress, understand our perceptions (and misperceptions) of it, examine our personal drivers and commit to practices to create space in our day. For me, this showed my company’s commitment to me as a leader and a person. I believe the skills I learned will allow me to continue to create the balance I need as my career progresses, and as I begin and grow a family in the future.

As a role model for women, what advice do you have for women interested in a career in public relations?

In the Broadway show Hamilton, Aaron Burr tells Hamilton “Talk less. Smile more,” it led Hamilton to respond “If you stand for nothing, Burr, what will you fall for?” While there is value in talking less so you can listen – not smile – more, the most important thing is knowing what you stand for. Examine what matters to you personally, learn what drives you professionally and always stand up for yourself and what is right. Never be afraid to tell your manager or your boss what you want in your career, and what you need from them to be successful. Be resourceful, but don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it.

What are three ways you inspire and encourage teamwork among your team?

In terms of leading teams, there are three things I do to ensure we work effectively together:

  1. Get to know one another
  2. Provide guidance, not direction
  3. Give people ownership of their work

These three approaches are highly interconnected. Knowing my team members’ skill sets, challenges and passions is important in creating the most effective plan for accomplishing any task. While we all have work we have to do from time to time that doesn’t fit perfectly into our skill-set or passion point, finding the opportunities that speak to my team members allows them to do their best work. When I understand what challenges them, I can provide the guidance they need to grow. I have learned that it is important to give people the space to approach tasks in their own way, and that just because they do it differently than I would, doesn’t make it wrong. By ensuring my team members feel empowered to stretch their skills and work in areas they are passionate about, they are able to take ownership of their work. When every team member feels ownership of the work they are doing, that is when we produce the best outcomes individually and as a team.

What’s something you wish you had learned in college but didn’t? What do you do to be an eternal student?

In school, you learn the skills you need to succeed. You learn about trends in the industry. You learn how to act professionally and are given many opportunities to practice. The thing I have had to learn most from real-life experience is the business of our business. Understanding the structure of my organization and the financials for the company and clients, is something I’ve learned in a very hands-on way. When I was a student, managing financials was something I didn’t think I would be doing, but it is critical to the success of clients and the organization. Having the opportunity to learn on-the-job has allowed me to see different approaches to financial management and understand a new language.

One of my favorite things about my chosen field is that you truly never stop learning. Throughout my time at Porter Novelli, I have learned multiple industries, client personalities and preferences, new skills and approaches to success. Having a learning mindset is something my company values and I am fortunate to have opportunities to learn in a variety of different ways. I think it is important to invest in your learning throughout your career, by looking for roles, courses and events that will continue to grow your skills and introduce new ones.

The Plank Center created the Millennials in PR series for rising public relations professionals to detail their experiences and share messages of counsel with students and other professionals.

Published: March 25, 2019