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PRSA-NY Spotlights Powerful PR Women to Follow

Friday, May 1, 2020  
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Originally published on Muck Rack

PRSA-NY Spotlights Powerful
PR Women to Follow

March is Women’s History Month, and PRSA-NY started the celebration early last week with an event at Muck Rack’s offices. “Meet PR Power Women to Follow,” spotlighted five women who flex their power in PR every day. The event was organized by  PRSA-NY President Kellie Jelencovich and Jackie Cardozo, PRSA-NY’s VP of Programming.

Joanna Sanfilippo, PR Manager of North America for Huda Beauty, moderated the panel, which featured VP of PR at Palace Resorts Cessie Cerrato, M∙A∙C Cosmetics Global Communications Director Kristen (La Rosa) Joyce, Head of Public Relations & Communications at Maserati North America Kas Rigas, Head (Director) of Communications & Patient Advocacy Group LACan at Novartis Oncology Margarita Miranda-Abate and EVP of Communications for iHeartMedia Angel Aristone.

As they shared their professional histories with our guests, each panelist imparted valuable lessons that all in attendance can apply to their own careers. Here are three of our big takeaways. 

Follow your PR passion

As the panelists shared their PR origin stories, it became clear that being open to new experiences, and following their passion, set each of them on a path to success as they learned to tell their own story while telling the stories of others.

“How do we tell stories for clients who want to evolve themselves?” Margarita asked the audience rhetorically. “That sort of became my passion.” Focusing on this question led her from working on Huggies to launching Dove's "Campaign For Real Beauty," which became her pride and joy. Eventually, she made her way to MSL agency where she worked on the P&G account.

Cessie, meanwhile, shared her story of how she got into travel PR (and wound up taking over a  account of Margarita’s). “I went to school for journalism, I dreamt of being a TV news reporter all my life,” said Cessie.  “And so I realized when I was in school that the grunt work that went into it was not something I was as passionate about as I thought I was.” That was when she started interning for a PR firm in Miami, and ended up in travel PR. 

Crises can create defining moments 

“I fell in love with Mexico,” Cessie continued. “Super familiar with crises from Swine Flu to hurricanes to dead bodies, and still trying to sell people on what a beautiful country Mexico is. It really, truly is. I don’t think I could be doing anything other than travel.” 

Margarita also cut her teeth mitigating some of the same crises at MSL while representing Mexico’s tourism board. “Running the Mexico business was crazy, ”she said, “—talk about being on 365 days a year. I literally lived on a plane, but it was one of the most enriching experiences of my career.”  

Angel also realized early on that crisis management was a strength of hers, whatever the industry she worked in. After becoming the PR manager and spokesperson for Six Flags Great Adventure park in New Jersey, she was media-trained to be on camera and deal with crisis— “the proactive positive stuff, but also the injury, publicity…and PR for the restructuring,” she said. That role led her to iHeartMedia, where she is now.

“I shifted [from] theme parks and riding roller coasters... to now working with artists and red carpets,” said Angel. “Still doing crisis, but now it’s a bit different—I’m more focused on talent, saying things they shouldn’t say on air and the backlash of that. Almost 20 years in the field now, it’s what I know, it’s who I am.”

Agency PR is a proving ground for in-house jobs PR 

The panel agreed early on that there is tremendous value to working at an agency, especially if you want to excel at in-house PR. 

“I’ve been in the public relations on both the agency and in-house side,” said Kristen,  “so I’ve been able to have different perspectives and experiences along the way.”

“In-house is that much more valuable when you come from the agency side,” added Cessie, “ just because on the agency side you work on so many different things. You learn to manage time, priorities, clients who all think they’re equally important.”

“Agency is a great learning ground because you do get a chance to learn so many disciplines, as well as so many industries,” agreed Kas. “And you get to choose the ones you like best. I got to work on everything. Anytime a new account came in, I was the person who said ‘i wanna work on that.’”

Without naming names, Cessie emphasized that the same jobs where you’re spread thin can also teach you the most about building relationships. “We all need a terrible boss to show us what we don’t want to be,” she said.

Justin Joffe is the Editor of Publications and Research at Muck Rack. In his spare time, he writes degenerate art words for Relix Magazine, Vulture, No Depression and other outlets. He greatly enjoys literature, roller coasters and a good cup of matzo ball soup.

To read the original article click here.


The New York Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America is one of the oldest, largest, and most prominent public relations chapters in the country. Located in the media capital of the world, it offers top-level professional development, networking, mentoring, and awards. PRSA-NY serves communications professionals in agencies, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government, as well as independent practitioners.

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