Renee Wilson: PRWeek Hall of Femme 2017

Renee Wilson, president, PR Council

What would you do if you were not in PR?
I would be working helping young women — whether through brand initiatives, NGOs, or volunteer organizations. I realize gender equality is topical in the news today, but I have been volunteering in this space since I started my career 25 years ago. It is critical for young women to develop proper levels of self-esteem and confidence to realize their potential, and take their rightful leadership places in society.

Talk about the last time you experienced a truly fist-pumping victory moment.
It would have to be the Grand Prix win of Always #LikeAGirl. Anyone who knows the history of the thinking behind that campaign knows the journey was over many years, and the origins of the insight discovery came through the public relations work that was being done. To see it come full circle was unbelievably gratifying. 

When was the last time you endured a real "agony of defeat" moment, a total wipe out? What did you learn from that moment?
Our business is filled with ups and downs. However, the toughest lows were always the lost business pitches. There is only one winner, and no matter how hard you work, how brilliant your idea is, or how amazing the presentation goes, you can still lose. The key is to bounce back the next day and start again.

How long ago was the last time you truly took the time to recharge your batteries? What did you do?
One of my family’s favorite places is Sag Harbor. We like to spend part of the summer there. It’s wonderful for sailing, enjoying seafood, playing tennis, and spending time with friends. I don’t unplug that much, as I like to be on the go, but I find it a great place to recharge your batteries.

What is it about this industry that frustrates the hell out of you sometimes?
My biggest frustration is that public relations is not the immediate go-to discipline to solve problems among organizations. To me, it’s as clear as day that you want a PR practitioner by your side for all of your most important decisions. Some clients do subscribe to this thinking, but we are experiencing an intense period of transformation and convergence where several other disciplines are claiming to do public relations. Each time we convert one client to better understand the power of PR and earned at the core – it’s a win.

Now more than ever the world needs thinkers with public relations competencies at the core. Our industry is making great strides, but we are not always the destination discipline that immediately comes to mind for clients. However, it will be soon. 

When have you seen this industry or your organization really shine?
There are moments at awards shows when you really have to stop and take in the moments that showcase the brilliant work our industry does. There are agencies out there that have game-changing talent that create breakthrough programs. When I see a program that achieves great business success and has universal appeal, I get chills. Always #LikeAGirl did that for me, but so did Dumb Ways to Die and the REI’s Opt Outside. It reminds me of why I got into this business.   

Words to live by?
"There is no magic to achievement.  It’s about hard work, choices, and persistence." – Michelle Obama

Favorite drink?
Dirty martini – shaken not stirred.

What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
It’s going to all work out. You are better at this than you think you are. It’s right to be kind.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say to you as you enter?
Good job, Renee – you made a difference.

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