Spotlight: Kenya Woodard

Kenya Woodard, a former journalist with the Daytona Beach News-Journal, is currently the owner of Sigma 7 Communications which helps individuals and organizations craft stories to promote their businesses, projects, and missions. Ms. Woodard’s background also includes nonprofit public relations for a statewide school voucher program as well as corporate p.r. for the national scientific research arm of the property insurance business.

Read below to find out more about Kenya.

First news publication you read in the morning?

Tampa Bay Times. I like to know what’s going on in my own backyard

First public relations job?

Public relations coordinator with Step Up for Students. I was so nervous when I first started because in undergrad, professors warned about crossing over to “the dark side”, i.e. public relations. Turns out, much of what’s revered in journalism – accuracy, strong writing and storytelling skills, and good news sense – carries the same weight in PR. After two weeks on the job, my nervousness disappeared and I really got into the job and grew to love it. 

Most important career mentor, and why?

My most important career mentor is someone who’s not in PR and who will tell you she’s never had a career, just jobs – and that’s my mom, Patricia Harris. She’s always given me great career advice. My favorite gem: “You’re always looking (for a job/work).” She’s partly responsible for my being where I am in my career. In college, I wrote for the school newspaper but never had intentions to go into journalism; I had plans to be a teacher. But I had trouble passing the math section of the teacher’s exam, and after the third and final fail, I felt doomed. I remember whining that I’d wasted so much time and money only to leave school without a career, to which she responded: “What are you talking about? Haven’t you been writing for the school paper all these years? Why don’t you do something with that?” That was the kick I needed to take journalism seriously as a viable career option

Favorite thing about your job?

I love the freedom to choose my projects. And helping clients tell their stories never gets old. 

Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?

It’s a tie between split infinitives and the lack of use of the Oxford comma when it’s necessary. 

Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?

My first client was 2 Wheels 1 Cause, a nonprofit organization that’s focused on diabetes awareness. I’ve had to pleasure to watch as the founder has groomed a quirky idea into a movement that’s grown leaps and bounds. 

Advice to new public relations professionals?

You can plan and prep all you want but it’s execution that matters most. So always be DOING. 

Job you would pursue if you weren’t in public relations?

Attorney/and or political pundit. I can talk for hours on end about the law and politics. 

If you could have any three dinner guests, who would they be?

My maternal grandfather, Oscar Williams. He was a Tuskegee Institute-trained carpenter who built a successful contractor business with his three brothers. This was during segregation and they endured quite a few hardships but somehow thrived. Their imprint stretches from Florida to Indiana, where they built entire neighborhoods that still stand today.

Ida B. Wells. Journalist, women’s suffragist, civil rights activist, businesswoman, working mom – the list goes on.  I mean, she was a total badass. She wrote articles and editorials against lynching, putting her life in great danger. She advocated that black people arm and protect themselves against white terrorists in 1892 when Jim Crow was taking root in the south – can you imagine such a thing? She sued a railroad company after being dragged off a passenger car for refusing to give up her seat. And she won, although her case was overturned on appeal. I often wonder how she managed to pack so much living into the 68 years she was here. 

Lady Bird Johnson. She’s mostly thought of as meek and demure, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find she also was a stone-cold businesswoman who amassed millions in her own right with the acquisition of radio and TV stations. She took a meager inheritance and made a president and built a mini-media and banking empire. She’s a great example of a #GirlBoss. 

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