At the age of 23, Stephanie Shirley had just wrapped up a whirlwind experience working fulltime on Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial campaign, her first career experience fresh out of college. Her next step was into a job with the Governor’s 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 a growing conflict within Stephanie’s heart. The consulting work she 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 projects 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 stable career to follow her dream of starting her own Public Relations consulting business.
Now a decade later, Bennis Public Relations (which is Stephanie’s maiden name and also the name of her youngest son) has grown year over year, affording her the career, lifestyle, and flexibility she set out to obtain. 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. For her longest standing client, a global nonprofit, Stephanie serves as the Director of Advancement Services. In this role, Stephanie built out their peer-to-peer fundraising platform and led the vision for their first virtual fundraising event which raised $74,000 for cancer research in June 2020 –amidst a pandemic.
Additionally, Stephanie is responsible for collecting submissions and awarding the nonprofit’s $1.3 million dollar cancer research grants where she interfaces with researchers and oncologist from around the world to further the organization’s mission.
In addition to her nonprofit experience, Stephanie has helped businesses of all sizes and industries navigate the challenging internal and external communications of branding, re-branding, turning in-person events into virtual ones, and developing comprehensive strategic communications strategies. Stephanie is also frequently called upon to share her expertise on crisis communication through training sessions and workshops.
Most notably, Stephanie has forged “power-partnerships” with other 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 win public and private contracts worth millions 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 her two sons as both a working and at-home mom, simultaneously.
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 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.
Community Service & Personal Life
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 for the 8 years it took place in Harrisburg. The gala supported the charitable organization Uplifting Athletes, originally founded at Penn State, and its mission to raise awareness for the rare disease community. Stephanie volunteered her time to event coordination, securing sponsorships, building attendance and developing the evening’s agenda. Combined, the Gridiron Gala event alone has hosted more than 1,300 attendees and has raised more than a quarter-million dollars directly for its mission.
Stephanie is an active member of the Pennsylvania Public Relations Society (PPRS) where she has served as the Special Events Co-Chair. She also 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 (7 years) and Bennis (4 years). 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.