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On the Case With…

Each month, as part of “The Business Case for Public Relations,” PRSA asks an industry leader to reflect on his or her career and make a “business case” for public relations.

More from “On the Case With…”

On the Case With… Samantha Villegas, APR

June 1, 2016

Samantha Villegas, APR
Samantha Villegas, APR

Samantha Villegas, APR, is an award-winning, accredited communications strategist with more than 20 years of experience assisting corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies achieve communications goals and positive behavioral changes in the areas of water, energy and recycling.

For more than 15 years, she has assisted water utilities with branding, reputation and crisis management, as well as the execution of communications strategies, to ensure positive positioning for rate increases, acquisitions, capital projects and change management. Since 2012, she has been her own boss as an independent PR consultant under the brand SaVi PR, LLC.

In 2013, Villegas served as president of PRSA’s National Capital Chapter, and she is now actively involved in the Independent Public Relations Alliance, through oversight of its Hall of Fame Award. She has also worked with other organizations, such as: Leadership Loudoun, The United Way Council of Loudoun and the Metropolitan Council of Governments. Villegas holds a master’s degree in environmental policy from Johns Hopkins University.

As the National Capital Chapter is currently underway with the nominating process for its Hall of Fame, Villegas described how these members provide inspiration to the Chapters and its leaders: “Honoring our local legends in public relations through our Hall of Fame program is one of the most important ways we, as a Chapter, inspire our members to perform at their highest level,” she said. “It’s a way that professionals, at all stages, see how the arc of one’s career can go from ordinary to extraordinary. They see the role that mentoring and leadership play, and they come away with a model — someone to emulate. It’s very impactful.”

Name: Samantha Villegas, APR

Childhood ambition: I wanted to be a radio deejay, an air marshal and then a forensic scientist. By the time I started college, I was into fitness and I was thinking sports medicine.

Current livelihood: President of SaVi PR, LLC, which is my own independent consultancy. I specialize in water, energy, waste and infrastructure.

What changed: I canvassed, door-to-door, for Greenpeace the summer after my freshman year in college. It was tough work, but I was moved by what was happening to wildlife and our natural environment, and I was pretty successful at convincing people to give me money to help the environment. When I went back to school, I shifted from pre-med to environmental biology, thinking I would one day work in advocacy for the environment.

First public relations job: Junior account executive at Mitchell Petersen, Inc., a boutique agency that specialized in environmental public relations.

What you know now that you wish you’d known then: Admitting defeat or ignorance is a strength, and a way to become stronger and wiser.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received: Be yourself. We can sometimes forget that as adults in the work world when trying to impress others with knowledge or assimilate into an office culture.

Greatest professional accomplishment: Being a successful independent consultant, as almost every client I have ever had came to me — to have built a reputation so strong that work comes to me.

If you weren’t in public relations, you would be: Producing short films, or at MTV if it was still showing music videos. I hear music, and a storyboard comes to life in my head.

Desired legacy: To know that one day I helped someone else, the way my mentors have helped me, would be legacy enough for me.

Make a “business case” for public relations: Any organization or brand can thrive in good, peaceful times. Having an enduring, ethical and proactive approach to strategic public relations will ensure that when crisis hits, you not only survive, but you also thrive.


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