PRWeek Pride in PR: Stephen Fernando Macias

EVP, entertainment, multicultural PR & communications practice lead, R&CPMK.

PRWeek Pride in PR: Stephen Fernando Macias

Macias joined Interpublic Group PR firm R&CPMK in 2020 from MWWPR (now MikeWorldWide) and has become the driving force behind its multicultural communications practice.

He creates multicultural communications initiatives, partnerships and programs – including traditional and earned media, digital and social tactics, crisis communications and integrated marketing – that connect brands and talent to consumers and organizations in the LGBTQ+ community, communities of color and female-driven initiatives.

Prior to joining R&CPMK, Macias was SVP, diversity and inclusion lead at MWWPR, launching the practice in 2014. He was responsible for overseeing LGBTQ+ and multicultural marketing and programming, managing LGBTQ+ and multicultural resources within the firm and serving as MWWPR’s steward for issues pertaining to PR associated with diverse communities.

Macias has worked across the entertainment and media landscape with companies including Comcast, Focus Features, FX, Netflix, United Artists Releasing and Amazon Studios, in addition to leading accounts with global brands such as Kellogg’s, Frito-Lay and Hilton Worldwide.

Prior to MWWPR, he ran Macias Media Group, growing the agency into one of the top boutique PR firms specifically targeting the LGBTQ+ community. He spent eight years as EVP and GM for Here Media, overseeing iconic media brands including The Advocate and Out magazine.

He also served as entertainment media director for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Additionally, Macias held senior leadership positions and worked with leading nonprofits and organizations in the LGBTQ+ community, including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Outfest, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Equality California, the U.N. and the Global Equality Fund.

Preferred pronouns?

He/him/his.

Celebrate the impact LGBTQ individuals have had on the PR industry in the U.S. and around the world. Words and images matter. 

Years ago, when I worked at GLAAD, I learned from some of the best communications experts how to harness the power of language and words to change hearts and minds. Leaders at GLAAD including Joan Garry, Nick Adams and Cathy Renna are comms trailblazers to me and have helped positively change the lives of millions of people across the U.S. and abroad.

How important is it for young LGBTQ+ PR pros to see people like them in the senior ranks of the industry as role models to emulate?

It is critical for young LGBTQ+ PR professionals not just to see LGBTQ+ people in senior ranks in our industry, but also to see LGBTQ+ professionals from communities of color. Unfortunately, we are far from an equitable place of representation at the intersection of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC.

What advice would you give young LGBTQ PR pros making their way in the industry?

Find a person whose career you admire, follow them and learn from them. Find a person whose career you respect and reach out to them for mentoring. And lastly, find what part of the industry you are passionate about and lean into your purpose in the process.

PR is generally regarded as an LGBTQ-friendly industry. How true is that perception?

Parts of the industry are more welcoming than others. Sometimes assumptions are made about where LGBTQ+ people are valuable - and sometimes those assumptions are completely inaccurate and rooted in homophobia.

I’m fortunate enough to work at an agency and network of agency partners that welcome and celebrate my contributions as an LGBTQ+ practitioner - but that isn’t consistent across the industry landscape.

For example, there is no reason why LGBTQ+ professionals can’t excel in places like sports PR as well as consumer lifestyle, but we’ve seen assumptions made that our community members don’t fit the mold to work in a variety of business verticals. LGBTQ+ professionals have passions and interests that are not monolithic and are as diverse and rich as industry professionals overall.

What challenges, if any, did you face as an LGBTQ communicator working your way up in the PR profession?

As an LGBTQ+ communicator and a person of color, building my career over the years required that I imagined my own potential and created many of my own opportunities. It was always an obstacle to have few role models that looked like myself and identified as LGBTQ+.

I’ve always taken great satisfaction in moving around or over those obstacles and not letting them stop my passion and purpose. I encourage all LGBTQ+ professionals to find ways around those obstacles and reach out to colleagues, friends and family when it seems impossible to move forward and lean into their belief in you. Surround yourself by people who believe in you starting with yourself.

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