PITTSBURGH – Gatesman, one of the fastest-growing, mid-sized privately-owned marketing communications agencies, is proud to acknowledge Rachel Willis, a rising star in the public relations and social media disciplines, for being nationally recognized conjointly by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Foundation and the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).
Willis was awarded the John D. Graham and Betsy Plank/PRSSA scholarships during the PRSSA National Conference on Oct. 9 in Boston, Mass. The recognition and scholarships are awarded to individuals who are committed to the field of public relations through academic achievement, leadership and professional experience.
“To be recognized for my contributions to the public relations community by the PRSA Foundation and PRSSA is an incredible honor that I won’t soon forget,” said Rachel Willis, Public Relations and Social Media Brandtern, Gatesman. “I couldn’t have done it without the support of my academic and professional mentors, including those at Gatesman, who have pushed me to become a better communicator and storyteller every day.”
Willis’ passion for the field of public relations began in high school when she learned that she could combine her passions of writing, storytelling and relationship building by pursuing a career in PR. After that initial spark, Willis was accepted to Duquesne University in 2014 where she is currently pursuing a degree in public relations and international relations. She immediately began seeking out internships to glean valuable professional experience in the field to complement her education. Most recently, Willis interned with Edelman, a global communications firm in Washington, D.C. and is currently interning with Gatesman for the second time (she previously served as a Brandtern in 2016). Willis’ eagerness to learn and passion for the field was apparent to her supervisors from day one.
“Rachel is a true rock star that approaches each assignment with tenacity, curiosity and creativity,” said Beth Thompson, AVP, group account director, Gatesman. “Early on, we knew that she had the skill set and passion for the business that would help her excel in her career. We’re honored to have her on our team and are so proud of her accomplishments.”
In addition to her recent recognition from the PRSA Foundation, Willis has been selected as one of two finalists for the PR News 2017 “Student of the Year” award after being nominated by the Duquesne Media department. The winner will be announced on December 6, 2017, at the annual PR People Awards luncheon hosted by PR News in Washington D.C.
Willis has previously received several notable scholarships and honors including the Bob O’Gara Student Scholarship Award and the Ruth Edelman/PRSSA Award. She was also named an Endowed Honors College Fellow by Duquesne University in May of 2016, which gave her the opportunity to study political science and activism in Chile, researching the reemergence of feminist movements in universities in the region of Valparaíso, Chile.
In her free time, Willis volunteers as an undergraduate mentor for Strong, Women Strong Girls (SWSG), an organization which serves to foster safe and strong communities for young girls in undeserved areas of Pittsburgh where they can learn about successful female role models, develop leadership skills and feel empowered to pursue college.
Gatesman is one of the fastest-growing, mid-size, privately owned agencies in the U.S. with offices in Pittsburgh, Chicago and Springfield, Mo. Gatesman is a fully integrated, independent marketing communications agency with expertise in strategy/branding, advertising, digital, public relations, social media, media planning and buying, and insights/analytics. Gatesman is a partner in AMIN Worldwide, an alliance of over 50 independent marketing agencies, and IPREX, a global communications network. Gatesman acquired Quest Fore in 2014 and Noble Communications in 2017.