I’m thrilled to be here tonight – not just because I’m so very proud to receive this award, but also because I cherish any opportunity to be with fellow PR colleagues. There’s something comforting and uplifting about connecting with those who truly understand the immense challenges and great rewards of this industry we share.
I’m grateful for PRSA Chicago – such a valuable resource for myself and my team, right here in our city. And we always love the Skyline Awards. It’s an inspiration to learn about the many smart, creative people and campaigns doing great work and delivering powerful results.
Sometimes, my life as an entrepreneur and agency founder feels a little surreal. And this is definitely one of those times. I did not start out as a confident person with the purpose and passion that I have today. In fact, I was plagued with insecurities in high school and college. In my early years, I really wasn’t sure what I was meant to do or how it would all turn out. Then, even after I realized my passion for storytelling and ended up in a PR career I loved, there were still many challenges on the horizon – including cancer and unexpectedly losing my job. So, I consider myself an unlikely business owner, and still sometimes have to remind myself that this is all actually happening – especially on a night like this.
I now know, of course, that the tough times I experienced were putting me on the path to where I am now, and I’m grateful for the good and the bad. It paved the way for what is the best job I’ve ever had, leading Mekky Media Relations. That’s not to say it’s been easy. In fact, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. In the early days, it was basically just me at my dining room table working around the clock – literally – to get this dream off the ground. Those were stressful and uncertain times, with very little sleep and nothing but coffee to keep me going!
Thankfully, Mekky Media has grown quite a bit since then, and I now have the best team on board and am immensely proud of what we’ve built together. But I still feel I carry the weight of being a leader in PR. I continue to work hard to make sure we’re elevating our clients and making a real, tangible difference for them, while also spending a lot of my energy on building a company based on core values, a company that truly cares about its people and can endure throughout the ups and downs of our industry – through a pandemic and whatever else comes our way.
It’s a lot! And I know many of you can relate. But no matter how hard I find myself working or how much I’m stressing out, there’s one positive constant that motivates me and keeps me strong, and that’s knowing that I have many supportive people in my corner. In fact, the advice I often give to young PR professionals is to find people you can trust and count on, and rely on them for counsel and support when you need it. I know it can be hard to ask for help, but it’s even harder to go it alone! I did it early on in my Mekky Media journey, and even though it was necessary at the time, it took a toll on my mental and physical health. I think I’m a better leader and healthier person now that I have “my people” – and am not afraid to rely on them when necessary.
I’d like to quickly thank a few of them…
First, my team members whom I already mentioned. They do incredible work for our amazing clients and have helped lead Mekky Media to new heights. A few of those I so closely rely on are here tonight – Carleigh, whom I’m so proud of for serving on the PRSA Chicago Executive Committee, and Charisse and Rachel – these women are my stellar leadership team members. I love you guys!
I also want to thank my parents. They were immigrants who worked hard my entire childhood – believe me, there were some challenging times – and in a very tangible way, they taught me the value of hard work. Their example continues to influence me every day, as I hussle in this crazy business. My dad is no longer with us, but I know he would be so proud if he could be here tonight. And my mom? Well, I simply could not succeed in business and in life without her constant help, guidance and support – and delicious home cooked meals when she visits!
I’m endlessly grateful to and thankful for my son and daughter, who are in college and make me proud every day, and my husband, Sam, who is by my side tonight, like he so often is. He’s the collected, reasonable, calming influence in my life, which is exactly what I need and what keeps me going.
Finally, I want to say thank you to everyone who has been part of my journey and part of the Mekky Media journey – from my friends to mentors to partners to clients near and far. It has been an exhilarating ride. I’m so thankful for all of it and can’t wait to see what comes next!
Congratulations to the deserving, impressive 2023 Skyline honorees. And thank you, again, for this honor that means so much to me!