At the age of 23, Stephanie Shirley had just wrapped up a whirlwind experience working full time on Tom Corbett’s first campaign for Governor, her first career experience fresh out of college. Her next step was into a job with the Corbett Administration, working in legislative affairs in the Department of Health. On the surface, she appeared to be well set for a career in Pennsylvania politics. But there was one glaring problem. The consulting work Stephanie had been steadily growing since her senior year at Penn State University was gaining momentum and she found herself far more fulfilled by her Public Relations consulting than she was by government work. So she made a choice that was bound to be either the best, or worst, decision for her career. In July 2011, Stephanie took the entrepreneurial leap and quit her day job to follow her day dream of starting her own Public Relations consulting business.
Now almost seven years later, Bennis Public Relations (which is Stephanie’s maiden name and also the name of her youngest son) is thriving – and just beginning to tap into its potential. Stephanie has worked with hundreds of clients across the nation serving as their strategic partner who creates innovative and effective communication solutions to help grow a powerful and consistent brand. Her unique set of skills can be endlessly molded to just about every industry you can imagine. Some of her clients include a worldwide non-profit where she was responsible for organizing their annual conferences in Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston and New York. She has helped businesses navigate the challenging internal and external communications of brand transition after an acquisition. Stephanie is also frequently called upon to share her expertise in crisis communication, with one particular client hiring her to present a 3-hour seminar to all of their superintendents in a four-county radius.
Most recently, Stephanie has forged “power-partnerships” with other Central Pennsylvania firms who wish to offer her skills and expertise to their clients. She is the strategic communications arm of Milliron Goodman Government Relations, and she is the Public Relations arm of Mid-Atlantic Media Hub (advertising agency). She frequently joins forces with Perry Media Group to go after government RFPs worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
From the day she took the entrepreneurial leap until now, Stephanie has been the sole driver behind the success of Bennis Public Relations. She is a decisive and confident leader who is truly self-made. Not only has she had to break through multiple glass ceilings, proving age and gender to be no limitation to her talents, she has successfully grown her business while raising two young children, the majority of time from her home. Additionally, Stephanie has demonstrated leadership in her ability to manage multiple client accounts, meeting their diverse needs and quickly troubleshooting issues as soon as they arise. Stephanie solely manages a portfolio of 22 active client accounts, many of whom are on quarterly and annual retainers, and growing each month.
Stephanie has built a business model that disrupts the common, and all too often ineffective, relationship between public relations firms and businesses. Though she believes the value of quality public relations is invaluable to a business, Stephanie has built Bennis Inc. on the foundation of fair and flexible pricing. She works intimately with each and every client, delivering customized solutions while eliminating the rigid policies and large overhead often associated with hiring a PR firm. Stephanie is passionate about helping businesses experience the benefit of high-quality, consistent communication, no matter their size or industry. Her vision is to give businesses the tools and confidence they need to take the wheel and be an active participant in implementing their own PR strategy – because the greatest results come from businesses who are fully engaged.
As is true to Stephanie’s philosophy on business and life, she prefers to dedicate her time and resources to doing a few things exceptionally well. This carries over into her community involvement and charitable giving. Stephanie has played a key role in planning the annual Uplifting Athletes Gridiron Gala, which takes place each spring in downtown Harrisburg. The gala supports the charitable organization Uplifting Athletes and its mission to raise awareness for the rare disease community. Now entering its seventh year, Stephanie has stepped into the role of Event Chair, volunteering a generous portion of her time to planning all the fine details of the event, securing sponsorships, building attendance and developing the program. Combined, the Gridiron Gala event has hosted more than 1,000 attendees and has raised more than a quarter-million dollars directly for its mission.
In January 2018, Stephanie was elected to the Board of Directions for Penn State University’s College of Communications. She also serves as the Special Events Co-Chair for the Pennsylvania Public Relations Society and sits on the Board of Directors for the Central Penn Networking Group (CPNG).
Outside of her professional career, Stephanie holds one more title that she is proud to claim, and that is the title of “mom” to her two sons Holden (4 years) and Bennis (1 year). She works hard to maintain a work-life balance that allows her to be present at their many milestone moments, while leading by example that with hard work and dedication, every goal is within reach.
The meaning of life is to find your gift.
The purpose of life is to give it away.
– Pablo Picasso