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How a Powerful Handshake Led to Being President at a Global Agency

From waiting tables, becoming an overnight DJ and now the President of Golin’s Central Region, Ginger Porter’s story is one of grit, optimism and out-of-the-box thinking. For many college students the concept of “adulting” hits their freshman year when they must manage chores, schoolwork, a social life and finding themselves. But for Ginger her parents instilled the values of hard work and problem-solving skills. At 15, she started waiting tables and maintained the job alongside two others throughout college which helped finance her education. 

One night at the restaurant, the head of a TV station was one of Ginger’s guests and he was impressed with her friendliness, work ethic and most importantly – her strong handshake. When asked for her story, Ginger was prepared with her elevator pitch. Immediately, he offered her a job with the local radio station where she was an overnight DJ. This opportunity ignited Ginger’s interest in communications, and she pivoted to her first agency position. Eventually, she was recruited by Springbok Technologies – a media relations firm focused in the high-tech industry. Ginger aided in the firm’s growth from eight employees to almost 200 and worked through the post 9/11 economy. She learned important lessons about life and managing through dark times. 

“In today's time during the pandemic; the handshake may disappear. Something either temporarily or forever, but it's more than just the physical gesture of the handshake,” Ginger said. 

Overcommunication. Empathy. Optimism. These three words describe Ginger’s leadership through COVID-19. When COVID-19 hit, Ginger understood the impact that the traditional office environment has on her team’s work. No water cooler talk, no team lunch runs and no small office interactions to aid in team building. To maintain normalcy in the beginning months, Ginger held weekly all staff meetings instead of monthly, and increased her weekly senior leadership meetings. It’s vital that her teams continue business as usual while keeping in mind everyone’s situation. Be it dogs barking, kids running or cats climbing on keyboards, her team is made up of warriors who will lead the charge through this pandemic together. 

“While I can't control that the world shut down right now, what I can control is how we show up for our employees, and how we, as a team, can make ourselves indispensable to clients who have also never gone through this before,” said Ginger.  

As her teams continue to show up for their clients, Ginger noted another piece of leadership is making sure her teams are taking care of themselves. She encourages her team to get out of their “office” for a walk every day and checks in to make sure that they take time to unplug because work hours can start to bleed over while everyone is home. 

At Golin, Ginger’s creative thinking goes beyond award-winning client work and continues in her commitment to increasing diversity and inclusion. Ginger spearheaded the creation of Golin’s Unternship, the first of its kind global recruitment campaign that aims to attract diverse talent. This unique internship was inspired by the Chairman of Golin, Fred Cook’s, autobiography “Improvise: Unconventional Career Advice from an Unlikely CEO”. The book emphasizes that careers are rarely a straightforward path, but along the way we collect a variety of experiences that result in unlikely talents. Ginger found this insight valuable and created an internship that recruited the non-traditional candidate; maybe an economics or cinema major or a candidate with military experience. As an ally who leads with inclusion and understanding, Ginger knows that diversity and inclusion never have an expiration date. Companies need to constantly push themselves to “represent the fabric of the world,” said Ginger. 

Golin’s dedication to diversity and inclusion is clear in the creation of Team Pixel. Ginger worked with Jocelyn Jara, Executive Director & leader of Chicago’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, to create Team Pixel, a virtual network across the agency, led out of Chicago. Team Pixel was created to deliver more diverse perspectives and more inclusive thinking for clients. The team comprises people from all walks of life, backgrounds, ethnicities, etc. In action, Team Pixel provided in-depth research in Mattel’s gender-neutral doll launch. Gathering insights from transgender team members, Team Pixel incorporated their insights in the development and launch of the gender-neutral doll. Even the name emphasizes the goal of Team Pixel, “One of many from which an image is composed.”

While every team has a boss, not everyone has a leader that inspires bold thinking, fosters an inclusive culture and sprinkles in fun along the way. It’s no wonder Ginger’s professional and personal career led her to Golin; she’s the epitome of their “Go All In” commitment. 

Golin Profile: 

Golin is a global public relations agency that is redefining PR with its earned-first, data-driven approach. With 60+ years of experience and 50 offices throughout the Americas, Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa Golin has earned its reputation as an innovator, industry leader and ideator. Golin’s small agency roots in Chicago have grown into one of the largest communications firms in the world. To learn more about Golin visit www.Golin.com.

About the Author:

Laura Moy is a recent graduate of DePaul University, with her bachelor’s and master’s degree in PR and Advertising. She is passionate about strategic influencer marketing, diversity & inclusion and spending time with her six pets – yes SIX pets - two dogs, three cats & a bird. Any comments or questions on this interview; connect with Laura on LinkedIn @LauraMoy 

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