Women in Business: Amanda K. Ruisi, Founder and President, AKR Public Relations

03/23/2015 07:40 am ET | Updated May 23, 2015

Amanda K. Ruisi, the Founder and President of AKR Public Relations brings over 10 years of experience to her full-service agency with an impressive list of honors including the prestigious "Ace Award" for all Media Relations given by PR Daily and Ragan Communications, as well as being inducted into Connecticut Magazine's "40 Under 40: Class of 2014," recognizing the year's best and brightest among Generation Next.

After almost a decade at NBC, at age 27, Ruisi launched her own PR agency and in 2010 AKR PR was formed.

AKR PR specializes in celebrity brands, entertainment, and lifestyle and concentrates on brand building, media relations, talent relations, crisis management, special events and product integration. The multifaceted agency works closely with various companies as well as a diverse array of celebrities to increase their visibility and strengthen their positioning within pop culture. Additionally, AKR PR advises numerous Private Equity firms with their emerging and established consumer brands on: acquisition targets, strategic investments and capital infusions, while also providing them with PR services. Ruisi has been leading the way in social media for a myriad of Fortune 500 brands and has single-handedly developed AKR PR into one of the top agencies specializing in celebrity organic photo opportunities and social media endorsements. Ruisi has grasped the concept of social media that will continue to become a critical component to the success of PR practitioners and has led AKR PR to be among one of the most followed PR firms on Twitter.

Since the genesis of AKR PR, Ruisi has worked with clients including: Steven Tyler, The Weinstein Company, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, NBC, Coty Prestige, Jennifer Lopez; Glowing By JLo, Chloé; L'eau De Chloé, Kristen Stewart; Balenciaga, Davidoff Cool Water, FRIGO by RevolutionWear, Robert Graham, Tengram Capital Partners, DJ Pauly D, Axxis Sports & Entertainment's "Annual Leather & Laces Two-Night Super Bowl Event," Pampers, 495 Productions, SallyAnn Salsano, Old Spice, and many more.

Additionally, Ruisi has been a member of the Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences for over five years, she is also a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), The Wall Street Journal's "Women of Note," an exclusive network of powerful female leaders and the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.

Growing up in Westport Connecticut, public relations called to Ruisi at an early age. After graduating from Fairfield University, Ruisi worked at NBC and during her tenure she oversaw all East Coast Entertainment Publicity as well as Talent Relations for the network. Along with being dedicated to her clients, Ruisi has always valued the act of philanthropy throughout her career. Ruisi is a passionate supporter of numerous organizations and sits on the board of many foundations.

Being one of the youngest publicists to launch her own agency, Ruisi has done all of this before the age of 30. Sharing her experiences, she spoke at the #Fashion140 Conference at Lincoln Center and frequently addresses colleges and PRSSA chapters across the country.

Currently Ruisi splits her time between New York, Connecticut and Los Angeles.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Unfortunately, I had lost my mother, Lois, to cancer when I was 23. This of course was a very pivotal point in my life but also in my career. She was my best friend, my biggest champion and the reason I am in PR today. I used the loss and grief to help motivate me in my career, and I knew she would be proud of this choice because she had taught me all along to lead by example. My mom had always said she envisioned me having my own PR firm and my name being on the door one day. I set out to achieve our goals in her honor and in doing so I started my own PR firm at the age of 27.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at AKR?
Prior to forming AKR PR I worked at NBCUniversal for almost a decade where I handled both PR & Talent Relations on the East Coast. My time there was invaluable. I was able to grow and cultivate amazing relationships and strategic skills that gave me the confidence to leave a thriving career path at NBCUniversal and launch my own PR firm.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at AKR?
The highlight for me is the longevity of our clients. It is extremely validating to see this in my company year after year. For me the challenge is releasing control. I like to be fully immersed in every aspect but in order to help others grow I need to take a step back.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking to start their own business?
Go for it! Be open to anything. When starting a business stay determined and do not lose sight of your end goals. Remember to pay attention, be authentic, think big, cultivate your relationships, and take calculated risks. The risks can end up bringing the greatest rewards. My final piece of advice, remain passionate about what you are doing. When I started my company at age 27 I had no idea I would be where I am today at age 32. I still love to learn and I am thankful everyday that I am able to do what I love. The success is an added bonus.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I struggle with the work/life balance and since PR is a 24-hour job you have to be strategic with time. Time is too valuable to spend it on anything less than important. Thankfully, the digital era we live in allows us to be connected even if we are physically not in the office, enabling us to opt in as needed.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I think this goes a little bit to the prior question about work/life balance but I think one of the biggest issues for women in the workplace is the stigma of being a working mom or being judged for not having children. I don't think women should continue to feel penalized for choosing either of these roads.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Mentorship is crucial in both my professional and personal life. Personally, my mentors have helped give me the confidence I needed and the encouragement to start my own company. They are able to provide an incredible sound board as well as their own personal life experience stories that can help shape future decisions.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
My mother, Lois. She was the greatest networker, kindest soul, and smartest woman I will ever know. She instilled in my brother and I values that have shaped both of our careers and how we live our lives, both personally and professionally. She set the bar high and I hope to be half as incredible as my mother was.

What do you want AKR to accomplish in the next year?
I want to continue to expand AKR PR and cultivate the other businesses I am partners with as well. I would like to continue to grow my philanthropy work, it is so important to me to be able to give back. The most rewarding thing is to help those who have no voice and see lives changed because of it. I work with numerous organizations and sit on the board for a variety of causes, some of my biggest passions are cancer organizations and animal advocacy work.