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Public relations guru Shawna Charles shares her truth

Public relations guru Shawna Charles shares her truth
Photo courtesy of Paige Sierra

Shawna Charles is the CEO and founder of Charles Communication Group. She currently does PR for high-profile attorneys and politicians.

Charles explained the function of PR and how she deals with this high-pressure demands of the industry.

How would you describe public relations?

It’s called public relations, but I always say it’s public relationships. You’re looking at how you manage your internal, as well as your external relationships. I know when people think PR, they think publicist, and they always think of entertainment and that sexy PR, but there are so many spaces in PR because everything is relationship-based. You get things done through relationships, whether that’s events, legislation or lobbying. I do a lot of work for businesses, I do a lot of work for law firms, and I help them build their relationships. I do a lot of media relations work, as well as communication work.

How has being the CEO of your company impacted you? 

It’s an ever-growing process, I learn stuff about myself every day. I’m a Capricorn, so I tend to like structure. So this is a little bit outside of my box, but I also like entrepreneurship, and I like to make my own decisions. It is forever an evolving process. What I had to be OK with was realizing that I didn’t have to know everything, and I didn’t have to do everything, and then I could hire people to help me do those things and I can manage that. I still struggle with that a little bit. I think if you can let some of those things go, and you are a good manager, and you can manage people, you can manage your projects, you can go and do the business development, then it is something you should potentially explore. I’m still getting comfortable in that space, but I’m a lot more comfortable than I was when I started.

How do you deal with pressure as a Black woman in public relations?

There’s always pressure going through the process, and it’s not always external. I feel like a lot of my pressure comes from me. I’ve had people say to me, “make sure you charge because you are always going to go above and beyond,” so a lot of that pressure comes from just me wanting to show up and me wanting to make sure I keep my reputation and my company’s reputation out there. In regard to the world and society, I tend to think I’m a good person, so I’m always going to show up that way. I also have a daughter, so I need to show up for her and her friends. I think my pressure is probably a little more internal than external, but I think we just have to find ways — like self-care and talking to your friends — to manage that.

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