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Women's History Month: Prominent Women in PR

March 1st marks the beginning of Women’s History Month. During this time, it is important to reflect on all of the inspiring women in the world, and their history and experiences. In the PR industry alone, there are countless women who have made many sacrifices and achievements that have made huge impacts on women in the business world. Although PR is a female dominated field, with 75% of PR jobs being held by women, only 20% of senior leadership positions are filled by women, according to a study by the Public Relations Review. Because of this, I wanted to showcase some of the women in PR and their wonderful accomplishments in the public relations world.

  1. Barbara Hunter - In 1967 Barbara Hunter bought Dudley Anderson Yutzy, a major PR agency in New York City. She later founded her own agency named “Hunter PR” in the late 1980s. She was the first woman to buy her own agency in the PR industry. Barbara fought for equal pay and advocated for equality of women in the workforce. Much of her time in the industry was spent fighting discrimination in the workplace, such as unequal pay and losing her job due to maternity leave.

  2. Betsy Plank - Betsy Plank received many awards and titles for her work in the PR industry throughout her lifetime. She became the first female PRSA president in 1973, and won three PRSA awards during her career. She is offered referred to as The First Lady of Public Relations due to her work and dedication to the PR field. She worked on improving PR education and advocating for students in the industry.

  3. Marilyn Laurie - Marilyn Laurie was one of the co-founders of Earth Day and was responsible for the very first Earth Day campaign communications in 1970. She was the first woman to be on the AT&T executive board as well as the first woman to serve as a CCO at a Fortune 10 company. She was known for her work in crisis management and advocated for the importance of PR being implemented in the business world.

  4. Hold the PRess - Hold the PRess is a PR advocacy group founded by Sade Ayodele, Nysah Warren, Fatou Barry and Enoma Owens; four black women whose aim is to increase diversity in the PR and communications industries. In 2020, they merged with 600 and Rising, an organization that focuses on the equality of Black employees in the advertising field. Both organizations found that PR practitioners were expected to improve DEI efforts in companies and brands, however there was a lack of knowledge and credibility as the PR industry is 89.7% white according to the Harvard Business Review.

  5. Murial Fox - Murial Fox co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966 and served as the head of their public relations department. During her time in NOW, she wrote several press releases, newsletters, and campaign designs for the organization. Some of these PR writings helped persuade legislators to pass laws that helped women and those of minority races get jobs.

Although this is just a short list, there are so many more inspiring women in the PR field that have made a huge impact on the industry and on all women in the workforce. This month, I encourage you to learn more about the impactful women throughout our history, and learn from their voices and experiences that may otherwise go unnoticed from typical narratives.

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