Women’s Equality Day and The Road Ahead

Women’s Equality Day was designated in 1973 as a day to commemorate the passing of the 19th amendment but also to call attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality. Women’s Equality Day was the culmination of a massive peaceful civil rights movement by women, beginning at Seneca Falls in 1848, and though we as women have made incredible progress to be where we are today — we still have a long way to go. This commemorative day is even more poignant in 2020, as the nation reflects on significant groups of people who have been left out of this type of celebratory history.

Black women in America were left behind from the suffrage movement. Though the constitutional amendment removed sex from voting rights regulations, it did not explicitly allow Black women to vote. Yet, despite these challenges, Black women persisted. Martha S. Jones wrote that Black women organized suffrage schools where they taught each other how to pay poll taxes, how to pass a literacy test, and how to interpret the Constitution. While some managed to overcome the obstacles, many were turned away or forced to stay home.  

Today — women make $0.81 for every dollar a man makes. For women of color, that gap is even bigger, at just $0.75 to the dollar. Interestingly, the gender pay gap widens even further as women progress in their career — at the executive level, in a group controlled for job title, years of experience, industry, location and other compensable factors, women make $0.95 to the dollar, compared to a shocking $0.69 for the uncontrolled group. You can find even more information on the gender pay gap and the opportunity gap through Payscale.

Today, we asked some of our Highwire walkers what women’s equality means to them, as well as their thoughts on where we go from here: 

Carol Carrubba, Principal, SF:

“Women’s equality is an important goal but not a milestone we’ve realized in any way. Today, we celebrate a record high number of women CEOs in the Fortune 500 and it’s still only 37. We are ecstatic to see our first Black female VP candidate in the U.S., but that took 230 years. Every step forward, no matter how difficult, minuscule or slow-going, is important and I am deeply inspired by the women who fight for what they want and who make the world a better place for all women. I count Emily and Kathleen, and my own mother among these brave champions and I hope I can also do my part.” 

Christi-Anne Weatherly, Intern, NY

“Women’s equality is intersectional and means equality for all women, not just those who look like me. It means equality for trans women, women of color, disabled women, women who are immigrants, and all women in between.”

Ross Levanto, SVP in the Boston office

“To me, women’s equality means championing and learning from the women in my professional life whom I have had the pleasure and honor to work with.”

Lauren Bishop, Digital Associate in the NY office

“Women’s equality has made strides throughout the past years and decades — through equal pay, equal opportunities, education, and more. Although there are still issues to be solved, the future is bright if we continue to make conscious decisions that make it happen.”

Jazmin Eusebio, Account Associate in the SF office

“Women are persistent and have been fighting for basic human rights for decades, including the right to vote. Unfortunately, women of color, especially Black women are constantly left behind and often work twice as hard to barely get where white women started – we continue to see this trend to this day. To me, women’s equality means continuously doing everything you can to uplift women of marginalized identities. History has shown it takes continuous effort to see this change.”

From the early days of Seneca Falls to today, many women have been left out of the conversation around equality. It is time for us to shift the movement to take a wider approach — one that is intersectional, inclusive, and considers wider representation. Equality means different things to different people, but at a base level, it is a fundamental human right and it continues to evolve. While women have made strides over the past century, the conversation around gender equality needs to continue to evolve to include trans and non-binary people. Two hundred years later is a better time than any to take a step back and re-imagine what our world looks like, and where we can grow from here as we look toward the next 200 and a more equal future.  

For more information on the history of Women’s Equality Day and where we go from here, please see here, and visit the National Women’s History Alliance.

What does women’s equality look like today for you? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

How A Solid IR/PR Strategy Can Help Win Over Investors Amid a Global Pandemic

How do you make the most powerful impression as you prepare for a financing round or IPO? By illuminating your company’s successes, its strong financial future, and the C-suite of visionaries behind the brand. Even in times of crisis or economic recession, focusing on the power of a strategic, IR/PR communications approach should always be a top priority.

As seen in PR Daily, Highwire partnered with Gilmartin Group, a strategic advisory firm, to develop a recommended phased approach to key IR/PR strategies every company should consider and implement to increase its Wall Street visibility, especially during a worldwide pandemic: 

  • Phase I: Craft communications plan and refine corporate messaging
  • Phase II: Execute your communications plan
    Phase III: Deepen your credibility

What challenges are hindering your company’s progress in garnering investor interest? Let us know at healthcare@highwirepr.com and we’ll provide three bespoke PR and IR solutions.

Virtual Walker: Reflecting on My Fully-Remote Internship

When I first learned about Highwire, I was drawn to the amazing office culture and one of Highwire’s core values – collaboration. Fast forward to my start date –which was one week after shelter-in-place orders had just been announced due to COVID-19 — and I had to rewire and adjust to working from home, all while onboarding and learning the ropes of my new remote internship. I was nervous to “e-introduce” myself to people I had never met and had a lot of questions without being certain who I should ask. 

Thankfully, Highwire has helped me seamlessly adjust to remote work and has made me feel like I belong. Within my first month, my fellow Highwire Walkers reached out to me to set up 1:1 meetings and happy hours, and Highwire’s mental health awareness discussions, and Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging trainings allowed me to connect more deeply with my colleagues. 

Now I’m more than halfway through my remote internship and have been reflecting on what’s made me #AlwaysWired and #AlwaysWinning. I hope that through my experience, I can empower other remote interns and new hires by sharing my own challenges and positive experiences. 

Drinking a ton of “virtual” coffee

A sense of belonging is one of the most important parts of joining any company, and I’ve had to get creative to form connections with my colleagues while we’re all remote. By connecting with my teammates outside of our weekly calls, I learned how they like to work, their communication styles, and what they love about PR and Highwire. In tandem, I’ve connected with colleagues and management for online working sessions and interactive trainings to mimic the hands-on experience of working at the Highwire office. I love talking about what to pitch next and which new targets I can add to our media list, but I’m also so grateful to have conversations about what podcasts to listen to, new places to visit around SF, and how to be a better ally. 

Sharing challenges and taking action

I felt a shift in my performance at Highwire once I began to share what I was struggling with. It was easy to think to myself “I should be better at this” and get into a negative mindset without actually reflecting on how to improve. Highwire’s culture is heavily focused on real-time feedback and radical candor, and I found that candidly sharing my challenges and listening to actionable advice from my managers and colleagues helped boost my confidence, not hinder it. I collected all of my feedback and created checklists before submitting an assignment — now I can mentally go through that checklist without needing to pull up the document. Taking constructive feedback is challenging for a lot of people, but I was constantly reminded by my colleagues that everyone is still learning. 

Overcommunication 

We hear this one a lot at Highwire, but I’ve grown to rely on overcommunication to feel successful in a remote internship. I constantly check my teammates’ Slack statuses to see what they’re working on and update mine whenever possible. I’ve especially enjoyed the fact that Highwire Walkers that use their Slack to set an intention, goal, or fun conversation starter. In addition, if I’m working on an assignment and struggling with it, I use Slack to ask a quick question or to jump on a quick call and walk through the problem. 

While everyone has their own work style, I hope my experience has shown the silver lining of starting a new role remotely. I’m thankful that Highwire has used this unprecedented time as an opportunity to check in with employees, recommit to belonging, and let all Highwire Walkers know how much value we add to our agency.

PR to Support the 24/7 Coronavirus News Cycle

The coronavirus health crisis has had an impact on every aspect of our lives in recent months. Imagine you are the editor of a publication written for those that work in healthcare. The impact in their virtual newsroom has been especially profound. 

As editor in chief at HIMSS media, Jonah Comstock is working through the new normal for the teams at his publications, which include MobiHealthNews, Healthcare Finance and Healthcare IT News. His summary of the news landscape right now: Even if the topic of a story is not COVID-19… it really is.

Comstock recently sat down virtually with me to discuss the current state of his editorial team and how PR people should evaluate and approach editors like him. Hint: Everyone thinks their technology is a vital solution to the current coronavirus-driven health IT challenges. 

You can watch the roughly ten-minute video interview embedded below. 

The video interview is the latest episode in Highwire’s series “PR: Forever Changed” that investigates how PR for innovative companies, including those in healthcare, security, enterprise software, financial services, and consumer markets, has dramatically shifted in 2020. You can subscribe to the Highwire PR YouTube channel to be alerted to upcoming episodes.

PR to the Rescue for Digital Content

The evaluators, buyers and users of innovative technologies, healthcare services and consumer products are consuming digital content while they work and entertain their families from home. The digital content is vital to vendor marketing strategies, and based merely on a survey of Highwire clients, many companies are right now evaluating the content they create and promote. 

PR professionals have always called themselves storytellers. For innovators, their skill set allows them to connect their clients’ offerings to the needs and states of the world. The opportunity now for PR is to create fascinating digital content that builds interest in goods and services, relates to emerging trends to inform, and shows empathy and compassion for how dramatically our world has changed.

What will emerge are new best practices for digital content and digital experiences and how they aid marketing efforts. 

A new video interview, embedded later in this post, discusses the role of digital content with Tim Washer, a storyteller who has worked for major tech brands to define their stories. 

Tim’s impact on my thinking regarding high-quality content started back in 2012, when he previewed a Cisco project, The Network Effect, at a MarketingProfs concert in Seattle. The indelible story of a shack in Africa that served as the link to the world for a small village demonstrated to me how exceptional content can tell an emotional story even for B2B technology companies. 

Tim is also very funny, and today he gives presentations to corporate audiences. My roughly 15-minute chat is available in this post as well as on Highwire PR’s YouTube channel.

The video interview is the latest episode in Highwire’s series “PR: Forever Changed” that investigates how PR for innovative companies, including those in healthcare, security, enterprise software, financial services, and consumer markets, has dramatically shifted in 2020. You can subscribe to the Highwire PR YouTube channel to be alerted to upcoming episodes.

Mental Health Awareness Month: How to Encourage Mental Well-being

Photo by Finn on Unsplash

Since 1949, May has been recognized across the country as Mental Health Awareness Month

This year, the importance of the month becomes even more relevant, as we all face new challenges and work in our “new normal.” 

Quarantine can have a wide range of effects on an individual’s mental health including increased feelings of stress, fear and loneliness which can lead to anxiety, depression and other problems. Additionally, these feelings can degrade physical health (cardiovascular fitness, immune fitness) through the disruption of recuperative behaviors (sleep, leisure). 

Trying to balance all of this added stress while maintaining professionalism at work can be extremely difficult. In line with 2020’s Mental Health Month theme, ‘Tools 2 Thrive,’ we’ve compiled a list of five ways that Highwire is encouraging our employees to thrive in the midst of the pandemic.

  • Cut Down on Media Exposure

With the information on the state of the pandemic changing so rapidly, many of us are glued to our screens in search of the most recent updates. Working in public relations, our jobs revolve entirely around what is happening in the news, so while it may not be possible to cut out media entirely, look for ways to refocus on the good happening around us. Consuming too much covid-focused or local news can activate stress responses, leading to serious damage to both physical and mental health. To limit this, Highwire created a separate slack channel for COVID-19 news to give employees the option to choose the amount of exposure they are comfortable with. While it may seem difficult, cutting down on media exposure is vital to keeping stress levels manageable. 

  • Separate Your Work Life From Your Home Life

Now that our offices and our homes are one and the same, for some, logging off for the day has become a difficult task. What’s more, keeping busy with work is one way we might look to distract ourselves from the larger problems surrounding us. With parents doubling as home-school teachers, and roommates and spouses fighting over “conference rooms,” maintaining boundaries between work and home can be a challenge, but taking the time to create space for each piece of your life can help with your mental well-being. To help keep our balance, Highwire integrated our #TimeBackChallenge to encourage employees to cancel unnecessary meetings, and share what they used that time for instead. Additionally as part of Mental Health Awareness Month, our leadership team is encouraging employees to take a mental health day or two to re-center. 

  • Take Screen Breaks

For many, working from home means staring at their screen all day supplemented by quick runs to the kitchen or to walk the dog. Without the proper amount of time taken away from computer screens, our brains begin to become mentally exhausted. This is also known commonly as ‘Zoom fatigue’. 

Constant video-conferencing can cause our  brains to feel overwhelmed by unfamiliar and excess stimuli. This exhausts our brains, creating a strain on our mental health. For this reason, taking the occasional 10-15 minute break from your screen can help keep your mental health in check. To encourage our employees to take brain breaks as needed, we hold weekly mindfulness meetings, allowing employees to unplug and relax.

  • Don’t Stop Communicating

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, physical workspaces offer an excuse for communication and connection. In order to stay mentally balanced, humans require a certain level of socialization, and with shelter-in-place restrictions, we need to adjust our communication techniques. Communicating with co-workers, even while working remotely, can help boost social contact levels to increase mental and physical health. To increase socialization, Highwire dropped thought starters into popular slack channels. Examples include: tips for keeping the little ones busy in our ‘Parents’ channel or best quarantine recipes or fails in our “Bon Appetit” channel. In addition to this, certain slack channels have taken to after work video-conferencing happy hours to keep the socialization going. Our health and beauty channel has a weekly “bring your own face mask” happy hour.

  • Be Transparent 

As with any big problem, this is easier said than done. Instinctually, we feel the need to compartmentalize our work life and our home life in separate categories. But what happens when one starts to affect the other? With many workforces being remote, it is increasingly difficult to gauge your co-workers’ well being. This puts the responsibility on each individual to be transparent about whether they need a hand. To help educate our Highwire family on how to approach mental health struggles during the pandemic, our Diversity & Inclusion committee is holding virtual discussions based on recent studies and articles throughout May. As a sign of support, our leadership team also held a training for Mental Health Awareness Month on how to approach work-related stressors and ask for help. 

It’s more important than ever for us to lean on one another, and to support our colleagues when they need it. 

At Highwire, we’re proud that we were able to integrate meaningful strategies that improve the overall wellbeing of our employees. What are some “tools to thrive” that you’ve implemented during quarantine? Share with us below!

Appetite for Industry Expertise Unsatiated: Role of Trade Reporters, and Their Sources, Increasingly Vital

Despite all the talk of a digital world, physical industry trade events remain a main vehicle for networking because all the thought leaders in a given industry are in one place. Reporters rely on these events to check in with their sources or to find new ones, according to a recent Highwire hosted video chat with two key reporters covering vital industries: cybersecurity and healthcare.

Of course, with physical events currently not happening, reporters are now looking to other ways to maintain relationships with key industry experts and to hear about what’s driving innovation and business. This is just one example of how the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted how reporters do their jobs, and the role they serve given the changes we are all working and living through.

In this video chat, featuring Dark Reading’s executive editor Kelly Jackson Higgins and Rajiv Leventhal, managing editor of Healthcare Innovation, we talked about the role and lives of industry media in recent weeks, since the spread of coronavirus completely changed our world. 

The editors also discussed best practices for PR professionals whose roles have also forever changed. The roughly 15-minute chat is available in this post as well as on Highwire PR’s YouTube channel.

This is the first episode in a series, “PR: Forever Changed,” that investigates how PR for innovative companies, including those in healthcare, security, enterprise software, financial services, and consumer markets, has dramatically shifted in 2020. 

What is the role of PR as we all recognize a new normal? These five episodes will attempt to answer the question or at least initiate a worthwhile discussion. You can subscribe to the Highwire PR YouTube channel to be alerted to upcoming episodes.

You Want an Award-Winning PR Program? Here’s What It Takes

As communications professionals, we know that the best award submission starts with innovative clients and a strong PR program. 

At Highwire, we’re lucky to work with industry-leading clients whose partnership leads to creative PR campaigns. When we collaborate, we think strategically about what type of campaigns not only map back to business goals, but that are award-worthy in their own right. 

In 2019, we celebrated several award wins including a Stevie and two Bronze Anvils. This year, we were recently announced as finalists for PRovoke’s Technology Agencies of the Year, as well as finalists in two categories for the SABRE award.  These awards bring together the best firms, execs and campaigns, not just in tech PR, but in the broader communications industry to recognize innovative thinking, excellent client services and more.

While the hard work of building an award-worthy campaign alongside our clients is the first step, what else goes into a winning submission? To guide our efforts for these submissions, here are a few key tips we kept in mind:

  • Contextualize the opportunity: Our clients are part of larger industry ecosystems and our campaigns are too. Make sure that your submission highlights why that campaign mattered at that specific moment in time. Was there a national health crisis that this technology was looking to help fix or a new piece of legislation that it tied back to? Whatever that context may be, you developed a campaign taking it into consideration, so be sure that it’s showcased in your submission. 
  • Leverage industry accolades: Chances are your client has validation from 3rd parties. Incorporating these into the award submission can serve as a powerful way to show why the company and this campaign is at the forefront of their industry. This can be anything from research partnerships with academic institutions, peer-reviewed publications, participation in industry cohorts and prior award wins. While they may not be directly tied to the campaign you’re nominating, it goes to show how the company, and its campaign, is connected within the broader ecosystem.
  • Highlight impactful metrics: We all know that data is key when it comes to showing impact and award submissions are no different. While we may be tempted to showcase the sheer number of placements a campaign garnered, it’s always best to lead with quality over quantity. Did your campaign help drive an enormous number of leads, bring in a high-quality new customer or reach a new social audience? These are the numbers that drive huge business results for our clients and show how PR had a direct impact on our client’s bottom line, and should be front and center when demonstrating a campaign’s results.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Highwire partners with organizations, please feel free to explore our case study page or reach out directly at hi@highwirepr.com

#ScatteredNotShattered: Highwire Named One of Inc.’s Best Workplaces

During Shelter-in-place, it’s important to find moments to celebrate. That’s why Highwire is proud to announce it has been named one of Inc’s Best Workplaces in 2020.

Despite not being able to be physically together, Highwire has built a culture based on its five core values — passion, curiosity, creation, balance and collaboration — that has endured even in a pandemic.

We’ve maintained that culture with virtual cocktail making contests, AMAs, cooking classes, guided meditation and more, all while producing excellent work for our clients.

But there’s no one who can say it better than the Highwire Walkers themselves:

Taking A Moment to Count Our Blessings

Highwire has mandated work from home across our four offices since March 9, 2020. We’re well over a month into social distancing and our office environments have changed dramatically. In this current climate, it’s sometimes impossible to see anything with a “glass half full” point of view. But we posed the question across offices, “what are you most grateful for?” We were happy to see that despite the bleak circumstances, our Highwire Walkers were finding the positives within their new normal.

“Grateful for the peace and serenity of Sonoma and the new sheep and herding dog that moved next door. They are completely unaffected by the coronavirus and remind me that life will move on and this too shall pass. And for the family and friends who are scheduling video conferences at all hours to stay connected and make sure we’re alright and the Highwire team where people are working hard and have each other’s backs. And lastly my new meditation habit. Oh wait, I still don’t have time for that!” — Kathleen Gratehouse, Principal, San Francisco

 

“Still being able to go outside and enjoy nature.” — Kim General Manager, New York City  

 

 

 

 

“Being able to watch our new baby grow up. Shelter-in-place began when he turned four months. I love being able to see him grow and change daily.” — Mallory Cloutier, Vice President, San Francisco

 

 

 

“I’m grateful for the flower vendors who are open outside the bodegas in New York City. I worry for their health being outside, but I’m glad they still have a source of income, and I’m happy to have some beauty to brighten up my apartment while working from home.” — Kristi Piechnik, Account Executive, New York City

 

 

“I’m grateful to Scrabble for giving my boyfriend and me something to do besides distracti-bake and watch Tiger King. It keeps the mind sharp and healthy competition alive. Thanks, Scrabble!” — Brenna Hogan, Account Manager, Chicago 

 

 

 

“I’m grateful for the sunshine and nice weather that makes working from home just a bit more enjoyable! Even though I miss everyone at the Boston office, the silver lining of this WFH experience has been spending more time outside as winter finally turns to spring.” — Kathleen Flaherty, Intern, Boston 

 

“The unexpected gifts I’ve been most grateful for with this WFH situation are subtle but powerful. It’s the random Friday afternoon phone call I received from a colleague, checking in “just because.” It’s the unedited view of life I get to see with coworkers and clients via BlueJeans. And it’s the egoless mentality that we’re all just human and doing this crazy life together right now – in support of each other.” — Saige Smith, Account Director, Chicago 

 

What are you most grateful for during this time? Share with us in the comments below!