The Gong Blog

How it feels to be this year’s PRSA Richmond Rising Star

Last night was a whirlwind to say the least. Whoever decided that the announcement of the Rising Star award should be the final one of the night is a sadist.

The introvert inside of me was dying up on stage, looking at hundreds of people I respect and admire. But I am overjoyed – and extremely overwhelmed – by what an honor it is to be named this year’s Rising Star by PRSA Richmond. Some very impressive people have been recognized with this award, and it’s exciting to think about everyone who will stand up here in the years ahead.

I’m not one for long, drawn-out speeches, so I kept my remarks short. One of the reasons I wanted to work in PR was because I wouldn’t be in the limelight. But while I have your attention, I want to thank a few people and share a few things I’ve learned.

I’m fortunate to have been raised by two really outstanding parents – both of whom were able to share in the excitement last night. They taught me to work hard, go after what I want, to ask questions and seek solutions, and most importantly to treat people with respect. I like to think – and I hope that my fellow Hodgers agree – that those life lessons that my parents instilled in me are the reasons that I’ve achieved as much as I have at The Hodges Partnership in the past five years.

A big thank you to Jon Newman and Josh Dare for creating an environment where we can chart our own paths, allowing myself and others within our agency to find success for our clients through media relations, content and social media.

I know that I have many years ahead of me but in my five short years in PR I feel like I have learned a few things along the way that I’d like to share.

To those of you just starting out – find a cause you’re passionate about and get involved in any way you can. Before I was a board member with celebrate!RVA, I volunteered (and still volunteer) at the birthday parties. I loved the idea of bringing birthday parties to those less fortunate and I just wanted to be a part of the fun.  Whether you volunteer or join a junior board, find a way to give back to the Richmond community. Nonprofits throughout Richmond are in need of passionate, energetic professionals like you! Get out there give your time and your expertise.

To those of you with years of experience – make time for those informational interviews with students and young professionals! I am here tonight because people like you took time to help me grow. So, carve out a little time to bring along the next generation. Remember we’re millennials, without your help we might ruin everything.

And finally, to all PR professionals – listen to every voice in the room. The quiet ones, the women, the young ones, the old ones, the people of color – everyone. Give them the space and chance to share their ideas and most importantly, for their ideas to be heard. Build a team that doesn’t look like you and is made up of life experiences that are different from your own.

Thank you again to PRSA Richmond for bestowing such an honor on me, I am humbled and extremely grateful.


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POSTED IN: Gongs, The Hodges Partnership

Kelsey Leavey

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