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Our 2018 PR Woman of the Year: Kim Bardakian

March is Women’s History Month and to celebrate, the PRSA-SF chapter recognized a local woman whose Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) efforts have made a positive impact in the community. Kim Bardakian, director of media relations for the Kapor Center for Social Impact, is PRSA-SF’s inaugural PR Woman of the Year. We asked Kim a few questions to learn more about her career and her advice for PR professionals looking to focus more on D&I and grow their careers.


What has been the most memorable experience of your career?

I’ve been fortunate to have a variety of many great experiences throughout my career. However one highlight in particular still makes me extremely proud. A few years ago while I worked at the tourism bureau for Oakland, I was able to convince ESPN and TNT to show a majority of Oakland images versus San Francisco during the 2015 NBA Finals with the Golden State Warriors. This was something that had never been done before. And given the love for my city, I was proud to see that the city was finally portrayed accurately and in a positive light.


What experience did you learn the most from? Would you have done anything differently?

Years ago I was a partner at an apparel company, Urban Golf Gear. We were a hip golf brand with limited funding. This was prior to social media so it forced us to be creative, scrappy and resourceful. Funding or not, we still garnered lots of national press coverage and had our products placed in many top movie and TV shows. I wouldn’t change that experience as it taught me the importance of having hustle and heart which I’ve never forgotten.


What has been the biggest change you’ve seen in PR over the course of your career?

You mean, aside from no more fax machines sending out blast press releases? Ha! As much as PR has changed with the emergence of social media, the core values still remain the same: Be honest. Be factual. And be good.


You were recognized by PRSA-SF for your outstanding work in empowering minorities and women. What is some advice you’d give to other PR professionals to do the same?

As the Director of Media Relations for the Kapor Center, I work with the local and national media to support our mission: empower underrepresented people of color and women in technology and entrepreneurship. It’s important to level the playing field in tech so it’s accessible to all. Without diversity and different points of views, how can your company or organization understand its market? All of our lived experiences add a unique perspective in the workplace. I would advise everyone as they build their PR teams to interview and hire people from different backgrounds. You’ll be amazed at the new thinking that will arise and the new audiences you will reach.


What’s your best advice to the new generation of PR professionals?

Make connections. And I don’t just mean online connections but real life, in person connections. Cultivate them regularly. PR is all about relationships. So much of my success in this field has been because of my large, diverse network. Many start out as business contacts and over time and delivering good work, many end up as personal friends. Having those relationships in PR is invaluable. The reporter who becomes your friend is going to respond to your email or text above others. Relationships are key.