Lauren Wesley Wilson is on a mission to see more women of color holding senior positions in communications as president of ColorComm, Inc. Wilson credits her ability to build relationships to managing communications for a United States Congresswoman and bringing the top Black women in media to ColorComm’s upcoming inaugural conference. See her secrets to being a media trailblazer.
Name: Lauren Wesley Wilson
Title: President, ColorComm, Inc.
Location: Washington, DC
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
The gig: I am the President of ColorComm, Inc., which houses the professional membership organization for women of color in communications and our upcoming conference C2: Defining the Future, this summer in Florida. ColorComm strengthens the voices of those who are often underrepresented in business and political discourse.
The journey: While in grad school, I worked as a hostess at Café Deluxe, then stalked Edelman for an internship, which launched my PR career. I have worked as the Communications Director for a Texas Congresswoman and managed media relations for corporate clients. I soon became frustrated with the lack of diversity at the senior level. I wondered why more women of color weren’t VPs in media. I set out on a mission to diversify the industry and to bring more visibility to women at the senior level. How can we believe we can achieve a title, if we don’t see examples?
Her career highlight: In 2013 I was in New York when the editor of PR Week told me I had the honor of being the youngest professional on PR Week’s 40 Under 40 list. I wore a smile for an entire month. I never thought that I would be in my twenties receiving this honor. Most people think that achievement is only attainable if you are an EVP at a PR firm. I proved many people wrong.
Success 101: Listen. People reveal themselves early on. When you pay attention to what’s coming out of their mouth, it will help you connect the dots a lot faster. You also don’t need to share everything that you know. Sometimes it’s better to keep information to yourself.
Confessions of a Black woman in communications: There are so few of us in this field that if you don’t understand how your environment works, who the players are, who to know, then you won’t succeed. No one sits you down and gives you a roadmap. I’ve learned that you have to assimilate to the culture of your work environment, raise your hand, be proactive, join a committee, and get to know people on a personal level. The need for ColorComm was born when it was clear that women of color in communications needed a strong network to thrive in their careers.
Her childhood goal: As a kid, you see the standard professions and don’t know what else is out there. I grew up wanting to be a lawyer, until I was in college and found a career for talking on the phone—it’s called PR.
Her networking tip: Know who you need to know and why you need to know them. When networking, come to the table with an action-oriented plan. There’s no need to have coffee to build a relationship, because that can be done by phone. What is it that you want and what can you give in return?
Her student loans status: I have one small graduate loan that I could probably pay off in one paycheck, but I’m incrementally paying each month. My goal is to be done paying by the end of the year.
Her best time-saving tip: Draft emails the night before and send them off at 6 a.m.
Her money-saving strategy: I live below my means. I’m living in the same apartment back when I had a job that paid me $40K a year. And I don’t have a car!
Her stress relievers: I go for a run. I’ve been running to the White House each morning, which is 6 miles. I also love entertaining. My idea of relaxing is making a baked brie and having friends over for a glass of Rose.
Her tech fix: I have three cell phones. I don’t want to be responsible for any other devices. Instagram is a must! It’s my new favorite and the one app I spend the most time on.
In her beauty bag: Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Perfume, Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Lotion Sunscreen with Broad Spectrum SPF 50, Mac Viva Glam V Lipglass.
Her power accessory: A big bold necklace that screams “I’m here to stay!”
Her secret superpower: My memory.
Her theme song: “Hustle Hard” by Ace Hood. It’s the perfect way to describe my work ethic in a cheeky manner.