Marilyn Laurie was a self-described "little Jewish girl from the Bronx" who became one of the world's top public relations counselors and the first woman in the top policy-making councils of a Fortune 10 company.
Her career mirrored the social and political upheaval of the 20th century's last three decades. After helping launch Earth Day in 1970, she was hired by AT&T to encourage employee recycling. Marilyn: A Woman In Charge tells the behind-the-scenes story of how she who worked her way from that humble assignment into the corridors of power.
When she died in 2010, Marilyn had received practically every award available to public relations practitioners. But few knew the tortuous path she journeyed to the top of her field. In a career bookended by systemic sexism and gender stereotyping, she refused to stay in the lane assigned to her by gender. When others dodged and weaved to avoid conflict, she ran towards problems, even at the risk of becoming associated with them.
Her life story is a lesson in public relations leadership at the highest levels. It's a story of chance and cunning, of heady highs and humbling lows, and the gift of grace and resilience.
A second-generation immigrant, Marilyn was raised in the Bronx and never lost the flat accents and directness of its streets and alleyways. She attended Barnard College in the second half of the 1950's, where she learned that women need not live their lives solely through husband and children. She graduated intending to apply her full capacities to meaningful goals outside herself.
She first found goals worthy of her full capacities in environmentalism. Then, almost by accident, she found such goals at AT&T. When she joined the company, it was literally "The Telephone Company," handling more than nine out of ten phone calls in the U. S. For nearly a century, its mission had been to put a telephone within an arm's reach of every household.
A regulated monopoly, its very existence depended on earning and keeping the public's trust, a goal she believed depended more on what the company did than what it said. She was also there when AT&T lost its footing in the wake of technological, social, and political change, and she worked just as hard to help it regain its balance.
Based on the author's first-hand experience, archival files, and interviews with friends, colleagues, and family members, Marilyn: A Woman In Charge reveals the behind-the-scenes story of a woman who broke through the proverbial glass ceiling within a great American company. It describes how she won and kept a seat at the policy-making table, how she defined the role of public relations, and how she dealt with crises arising both from the company's missteps and from the agendas of special interests.
Dick Martin writes about public relations, marketing, and ethics. He has authored four books for the American Management Association and articles for such publications as the Harvard Business Review, Chief Executive, and the Journal of Business Strategy. Capping a 33-year career with AT&T, from 1997 to 2003, he was Chairman of the AT&T Foundation and executive vice president responsible for the company's public relations, employee communications and brand management worldwide. The Holmes Report called his first book, Tough Calls, one of the 5 best PR books published in the first decade of the 21st century and "by far the best book about the realities of working in corporate communications for a large American corporation."
He is a frequent speaker to business groups and has conducted ethics workshops for the Institute of Public Relations, the Arthur Page Society, Rutgers University, and other organizations. Most recently, he co-authored Public Relations Ethics: How To Practice PR Without Losing Your Soul, with Donald K. Wright, chair of the public relations department of Boston University's College of Communications.
Martin is a Trustee of the Museum of Public Relations and on the Board of Advisors of Corporate Communications International at Baruch University. He was one of the first recipients of the Arthur W. Page Center's Award for Integrity in Public Communication.
Chapter 1: Growing Up in the Bronx
Chapter 2: Earth Day and the Day After
Chapter 3: Joining AT&T
Chapter 4: Becoming a Public Relations Woman
Chapter 5: In the Labs
Chapter 6: Striking Opportunity
Chapter 7: Corporate Politics
Chapter 8: Corporate Poetry
Chapter 9: The End of the Beginning
Chapter 10: Network Down
Chapter 11: No Good Deed . . .
Chapter 12: Monkey Business
Chapter 13: Lessons Learned
Chapter 14: Computer Days
Chapter 15: Internet and Wireless
Chapter 16: Breaking Up Again
Chapter 17: When Things Come Apart
Chapter 18: Paying the Piper
Chapter 19: The Long Road Back
Chapter 20: Unplanned Detour
Chapter 21: Heir Unapparent
Chapter 22: Rebuilding a Brand
Chapter 23: A Curiosity, a Threat, and a Puzzle
Chapter 24: Life after AT&T
Chapter 25: Legacy