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Capitol Communicator is running a series of profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this “up close and personal” profile, we feature Lauren Wesley Wilson.  Photography for this series is by Cade Martin; styled by Courtney R. O’Neal for Courted; wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson and Janice Kinigopoulos for THE Artist Agency.

Lauren, tell us a bit about yourself:

I am a professional communicator, media spokesperson and entrepreneur. I recently left my position with QorvisMSLGROUP to lead ColorComm, Inc., as president.  In my new role, I’ll focus on strategic partnerships and sponsorships for ColorComm and I will soon begin media consulting for QorvisMSLGroup and other clients who have a focus on media and influencer marketing.

Give us an overview of ColorComm:

ColorComm was founded in 2011 as a luncheon series to connect women at the executive level. Since then, it has transitioned into a membership organization with chapters in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago and Atlanta. ColorComm also produces an annual conference for mid to executive level women in the communications arena.  This year we will bring 300 women together at the Ritz Carlton, Key Biscayne in Miami, July 29-31. Women’s activist Gloria Steinem and CNN’s Lisa Ling will serve as keynote speakers. ColorComm’s Conference is an intimate business retreat and a safe space for attendees to candidly discuss real issues on diversity and inclusion, productivity, promotions, negotiations, finances and other topics to keep ahead of industry trends and new developments.

Are you involved in any other organizations?

I used to be involved in every organization related to the communications industry: Washington Women in PR, Black Public Relations Society of America, PRSA, Black Congressional Associates, you name it. Now, I don’t have time for much. However, I am still a member of Washington Women in PR. Even though I’m unable to attend most of the events, it’s still worth being a member – even if it is to just receive the newsletter! I find value out of that!

What are the things you are most proud of?

One of my proudest professional achievements was being honored by PR Week’s 40 Under 40 at age 28. I was informed that I was the youngest PR professional to receive this award for the 2013 class. It showed me that success is not defined by your title, but by the progress and developments in your career. My career thus far has been a roller-coaster ride – many highs and lows, struggles and setbacks but, no matter what, I just kept going and the PR Week honor reminds me of that.

Who were your personal role models and why?

I look up to a lot of people: Trisch Smith, now Managing Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Edelman; Traci Blunt, EVP, of RLJE Entertainment; Helen Shelton, Senior Partner at Finn Partners and so many more. But the one person who has pushed me the most is my mother. She has pushed me to create something that was unimaginable. ColorComm started off as a group lunch that would happen 3-4 times a year with mid-senior level women in communications. The shelf life for luncheons would eventually die out and the group would likely not exist. She told me that ColorComm would be national, she told me that it would develop into a membership organization, she told me that one day we would have a conference. And she was right! All of these things happened. She pushed me to make these things happen.

Did your role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?

The best advice I received was: 1) Follow your passion. If you don’t love it, stop doing it. 2) If you’re comfortable where you are, it’s time for a change. 3) If you’re the mentee, it’s your job to maintain the relationship. 4) Opportunities don’t last forever. Seize the good ones when presented to you. No matter how inconvenient the timing is.

What professional advice do you have for others?

Keep your word! There is so much overpromising going around that it’s disgusting! “I promise to call you back, I promise to attend that event, I promise to show up, I promise to introduce you to so and so, etc.”  People feel the pressure to say “yes,” yet that have no obligation to fulfill their commitment.  If you say you are going to do something, do it – or else your word will carry no weight and people will start writing you off without an explanation.

What advice do you have on appropriate attire for business?

Know your environment. If you’re environment is casual, dress casual. If your environment is dressy, dress up. No matter what organization you work for, you need to learn the culture and assimilate to that environment.

Where do you buy most of the business clothes you wear?

I shop everywhere! Ted Baker is an ultimate favorite.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

I don’t know it all and I’m still learning!

 

(Stay updated on items of interest to communicators at Capitol Communicator, www.capitolcommunicator.com)

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