Emerging Voices: Morgan Pettway


Morgan Pettway is a Junior Writer at Balcom Agency in Fort Worth, Texas. As an “AP Stylista,” Morgan’s skills touches every project at Balcom including blogging and social media.

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?)

Going into year two of my communications career, I think I’m still discovering what that ladder of success looks like. What I’m realizing about that process is that everyone’s journey is unique and you can’t compare your progress to that of another, but when you activate your gifts, help others and really focus on your career goals, wonderful things happen and awesome opportunities arise in perfect timing.

The factors that contributed the most to my success would be family, friends, church members and academic mentors/advisers that expected (even required) the best of me – and encouraged me when I fell short. These individuals saw my potential, and their elevated expectations pushed me to learn more, do more, be more, etc. So now, the principle of doing things right and to the best of my abilities is really ingrained in everything I do.

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?

You can prepare women for more prominent leadership roles in several ways, like placing deserving women in positions of power; giving women opportunities to lead; encouraging them be bold and fearless; allowing women to take risks – and even make mistakes; and giving them the space to grow. Most importantly, women want to feel celebrated, not tolerated, in the workplace. I think making people feel valued within an organization is an important piece of leadership development and overall organizational growth.

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

I would tell young women interested in a PR career to do their research and figure out the best way to land their dream job. You should learn what type of skills, education, credentials, experience, affiliations, etc. is needed to be successful in that space and let that information lead your journey.

What has been the hardest thing about being a woman in PR?

Always feeling the need to overly exceed expectations to prove our value or gain respect. As women, especially women of color, there is always this pressure to outperform. We all know women can get the job done just as good as men, if not better. 😉

How did you manage the transition from the classroom to the boardroom? What was the biggest shock or surprise during that transition about the profession?

For me, the transition was pretty smooth. A lot of the things I learned in undergrad and grad school I put to use in the workplace. Although I had (and still have) a lot to learn, I felt pretty prepared and confident in my abilities to jump right in and get the job done.

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

As a graduate student, I definitely faced different challenges than I did in undergraduate school. But if I could give advice to myself during those moments, I would say:

  1. Do you! You’re not going to live up to your potential by trying to fit in with the crowd. Never be afraid to stand out or go the extra mile.
  2. When real life starts kicking in, it’s easy to forget about your dreams and even easier to find comfort in complacency. Find habits that keep your mind sharp and involve yourself in passion projects or activities that keep you inspired.

Everyday life sparks my need to learn something new, whether it’s reading the news, listening to a podcast or Googling the backstory of a docu-series or exposé. If something interests me, I always try to read up on it or learn more about it.

With the myriad of industry changes, what inspires you to stay motivated and encouraged?

I have amazing friends and mentors in the industry that are doing great things, and that always keeps me inspired and motivated. Seeing and celebrating their successes also keeps me encouraged because it reminds me of the rewards that are waiting for me. Change is the only thing in life that is constant, so I’ve learned to embrace it and, if possible, leverage it in any way I can.

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