PR Roundup: Body Literacy, NCAA Women’s Basketball Wins and IPR’s Emerging Leaders Program

Women's NCAA Basketball winning fans everywhere.

This week’s PR Roundup looks at a new program for emerging leaders from the Institute for Public Relations, Thinx introducing “body literacy,” and women’s NCAA basketball wins with the public. 

IPR Launches NEXT Program for Emerging Leaders

What happened: In a 2024 study by the Society for Human Resource Management and Handshake, 32% of young professionals said they anticipate staying at their next or current job for four years or more, but 65% would be inclined to remain if presented with opportunities to develop in-demand skills. 

So it seems like the right time for the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) to launch IPR NEXT, a membership community for emerging leaders with less than 10 years of experience. The group will provide research-driven training and development opportunities, mentorship and networking to foster their growth and connection within the industry.

The following are a sample of benefits included in the annual IPR NEXT membership:

  • IPR NEXT Certificate Programs and Leadership Sessions
  • Access to IPR research, signature studies and thought leadership
  • Mentorship Circles: Led by senior-level leaders from IPR ELEVATE (community of upper mid-level to senior-level professionals) and the IPR Board of Trustees based on shared interests and expertise.
  • On-Demand IPR Research Bootcamp

Kadrie Lamin, Global Brand Manager at Hilton, will serve as the inaugural chair of IPR NEXT. Katherine Burns, Head of External Communications at L'Oréal USA, is the IPR NEXT Committee Chair on the IPR Board of Trustees. 

Communication takeaways: LinkedIn Gen Z research confirms this, with 61% of respondents expressing a desire for more opportunities to move up or increased responsibilities, and 76% looking for opportunities to learn or practice new skills.

“IPR NEXT aims to bridge the gap between aspiration and accomplishment for emerging leaders,” says Lamin. “IPR NEXT empowers its members to thrive in their careers and become the future leaders of the industry.”

In order to keep and retain younger workers in the industry, it is important to prepare them for not only changing tactics in PR, but skills not taught in the classroom, such as management and organizational skills. 

“IPR NEXT provides a unique opportunity for the next generation of public relations and communications professionals to connect with industry leaders, share best practices, and drive the industry forward, all with research as the primary connection point,” says Burns. “This new community will help cultivate a diverse and dynamic workforce that drives industry innovation and excellence."

Thinx Combats False Narratives for Women, Introduces “Get BodyWise”

What happened: AI images and videos, especially on social media, have been known to showcase stereotypes or societal biases

Brands are starting to pay attention, especially when their audiences call it out. Thinx, a brand that sells period-absorbing underwear, as an alternative to traditional feminine hygiene products, has launched a new campaign and knowledge base to stop the AI misrepresentation of menstruation, menopause and other female health issues. It’s called Get BodyWise and provides a safe place for education, information and conversation to help everyone become “body literate.”

The campaign spot was inspired by the inaccurate portrayal of women experiencing menstruation and menopause on visual AI platforms. And while conceptually identical to those generated by AI, Thinx chose to collaborate with artists that menstruate to produce original images inspired by AI image generators.

Communication takeaways: Thinx Vice President Brand & Creative, Sara Plotkin, says listening to customers led the company to create the BodyWise platform. Listening to an audience can elevate issues to brands that they may not have known existed, and surface ideas to provide more value to their community. 

“We’ve heard first-hand from our customers that they’ve struggled to have conversations around their periods and their bodies during different stages of life,” Plotkin says. “We’ve learned that misinformation creates stigmas that lead to shame. This cycle can only be broken with education and we hope ‘Get BodyWise’ provides a safe place for education, information and conversation to foster a deeper understanding of the female body at all life stages.”

Plotkin also notes the importance of observing AI and how it portrays a brand audience.

“The harmful biases and stigmas within our society, specifically surrounding the female body and its biological functions, are so deep-rooted that we are seeing them reflected in AI,” she says. “Get BodyWise aim[s] to normalize conversations around menstruation and menopause by creating a disruptive campaign that shines a harsh light on the impact of societal stereotypes. Seeing societal biases through the lens of AI is an eye-opening experience, and we hope it encourages people to take action against misinformation.” 

Women’s NCAA Game Breaks College Basketball Viewing Records

What happened: On April 1, the NCAA women’s Elite Eight matchup between Louisiana State University and the University of Iowa averaged 12.3 million viewers on ESPN, according to Nielsen. And according to ESPN stats, it was the most-watched men’s or women’s college basketball game ever on the network.

It didn’t hurt that Caitlin Clark, the current title holder for most points in NCAA basketball history (men or women), faced a rematch against last year’s NCAA women’s basketball championship holder Angel Reese. But it also showcases that women can now expect equal fandom to men’s sports, which provides more opportunities for relatable brands to reach new eyes and audiences. 

Communication takeaways: Brands and communicators cannot ignore the impact of women’s athletes on brand deals and messaging. And as extremely popular players like Clark and Reese enter the WNBA this coming season, it provides an even larger base to connect with fans. 

Melissa Conner, Partner and Managing Director, Jennifer Bett Communications, says there’s always been amazing talent in women’s collegiate basketball that’s been untapped for far too long. 

“Women’s collegiate basketball players represent a dynamic and influential demographic brands can strategically engage with to expand their consumer base through partnerships and collaborations,” Conner says. “Leveraging their popularity and newfound visibility, these athletes present a unique opportunity for brands to connect with a more diverse audience and foster brand loyalty among a highly engaged fanbase.”

Conner also says time is of the essence to acquire these collaborations.  

“As their popularity continues to grow, it’s going to be really competitive to secure this talent, so the brands who act the fastest with the most compelling opportunities will have the most fruitful partnerships.”

LSU did lose the game, however. But Reese drove her own hype train over to Vogue, who released the news about her decision to enter the WNBA draft. A bit different from ESPN for sure, but also an example of a creative new media opportunity for these talented women.

Nicole Schuman is managing editor for PRNEWS. Follow her @buffalogal