What started as a way to keep a handful of colleagues in touch has grown into a community of thousands of professional women who work in the marketing and communications industry.
When Katy Beck Mallory, director of internal communications at Cox Automotive, founded the Facebook group nearly a decade ago, she named it Marcomm Gals of Atlanta. She invited colleagues from her current and past jobs in hopes of creating a support system. Fast forward to today, the group boasts more than 19,000 members and has adopted the more formal title Marketing and Communications Women of Atlanta.
“After I moved onto my fourth employer in the years following graduation, I found myself wishing I had an informal network I could quickly lean on. I realized I knew a lot of amazing and talented women in marketing and communications who would benefit from talking to each other and learning from one another,” Mallory said. “They joined and started engaging, and quickly added their friends, who added their friends. And the rest is history.”
Mallory credits Smyrna resident Ashli Davis with the group’s branding evolution. Davis’ dedication to seeing the group thrive led to a jump from member to moderator to president of the group. In an effort to highlight quality content, Davis developed what she calls “channels” to aid in keeping industry discussion active and pertinent.
“We operate our group a little differently…some Facebook groups can just go wayward and there’s no focus; there’s no purpose. Well, we do have a purpose,” Davis told the Courier.
Look no further than the recent decision of the New York Times to abandon its 77,000-member cooking group to see the challenges of keeping any sizable group on topic.
For this reason, the moderators focus on a different channel each day. The newest one, called Elevator Pitch, is on Mondays. Members who are seeking full-time employment are encouraged to comment with summaries of their experience. The leadership team then tags recruiters and hiring managers.
“We were noticing an influx of members putting posts out saying, ‘Hey, I’m looking for a job in marketing. Do you know of anything?” Davis said. “That is not going to get engagement…If you are looking for a job, you need to pitch yourself, exactly what you’re looking for, how you provide value, your resume, your LinkedIn. You bring it!”
On Tuesday, Get Uncomfortable is the channel for discussion of diversity, equity and inclusion. Threads focus on dealing with systemic and problematic practices that further marginalize BIPOC, LGBTQ, and all women in the workforce.
Thursday’s Resume Review offers tips and the opportunity to request specific feedback on real resumes. Friday’s Humblebrag is an opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business owners to share their ventures. Pettyville is every other week and often serves as a humorous airing of petty, workplace grievances.
Davis started out managing publications in the Georgia prosecutor’s office. She went on to do global internal communications at Coca Cola and taught a class called PR Strategies & Tactics at Kennesaw State University. She’s currently doing consulting, with plans to transition back in-house to a chief-of-staff role or corporate communications.
In addition to the guided discussions, members post requests for career advice, job openings, and, more pressing than ever in the time of COVID-19, technology and teleconferencing tips.
One such example was a request for advice posted anonymously via a moderator from a woman who had been interviewing for entry-level positions, only to be told she didn’t have enough experience for the position. Several group members shared similar experiences, as well as advice and support.
“Women are truly disproportionately affected by the pandemic,” Davis said. “[The group] has really helped the community feel connected to something bigger…it is a support system.”
Entrepreneur Maleeka Holloway said the group “has provided me a place to easily connect with other like-minded professionals for development opportunities and just good conversation. In addition, I’ve been able to find superb hires and interns for my agency and even have landed a few clients from referrals from the group.”
Once the pandemic is over, Davis says she looks forward to taking the group from the virtual to the real world. In fact, March 2020 was supposed to be the first in-person networking event, with 250 people RSVP’d, but the COVID outbreak put the event on an indefinite hold.
She also says the group helps her keep an eye on trends in the industry.
“I’m watching the pay scale go lower and lower. There are lots of jobs, but there are also lots of candidates,” she said.
Davis also noted the significant burnout rate and “fully-loaded, kitchen sink” positions that demand specialized skills in very different categories.
“I think companies are expecting too much and it’s creating a backlog of filling these positions because they’re putting so much into a job description that it would be impossible for someone to be certified or specialized in all of those categories,” she said. “Unicorns don’t exist, but I think they’re lovely.”
Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.