A Story of Uncompromising Resilience: She Started Her PR Agency at 22 Years Old and Was Diagnosed with Stage IV Cancer — PR Pro Spotlight ft. Lindsey WalkerDec 14, 2021
“After overcoming my Stage IV cancer diagnosis, I emerged with an even gutsier vision for my life...and a vision to change the publicity game.”
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live a life you love running a PR agency and working with your dream clients? Our PR Pro Spotlight Series interviews our students and community members who have made the leap into PR and found huge success!
We’ll be covering all the juicy insider details, from their biggest challenges and favorite parts of the job to their best advice for aspiring PR pros.
Today, we’re sitting down with the amazing Lindsey Walker, Founder of Walker + Associates Media Group! Lindsey’s story is unique (and inspiring) for so many reasons—she started her PR agency at just 22 years old, found incredible success, AND she’s a survivor of Stage IV cancer.
She’s incredibly resilient...she’s able to thrive no matter what life throws her way!
Tell us a little about your business and niche!
Hi! I'm Lindsey Walker. I am the CEO and lead publicist of Walker + Associates Media Group. We are currently based in St. Louis and all around the world.
We mainly work with clients who are in the beauty, beverage, and business spaces, and I'm super excited to be interviewing with you today!
Although I work in a few different niches, there’s a surprising amount of overlap! Of course, it depends on the client, but there’s a lot of cool unexpected synergy and crossover in each of those niches.
What were you doing before you became a PR pro?
I actually started my PR agency right after graduating college back in 2013—I’d only been out of college for around 3 months when I took the leap.
Wanna know what’s funny? I didn’t even think about starting my agency as a big leap at the time. All I knew was that I absolutely loved PR and wanted to work in the industry.
During college, I did a bunch of internships, but when I graduated and came home to St. Louis, I still couldn’t find a job at a PR firm!
But I had this dream of working in PR, so I knew that if I created a space for myself to make an income doing what I loved, it would be amazing. I figured that if I couldn’t get a job at an agency, I’d pave my own way...and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
And honestly, the ageism I faced when I first started my agency was unexpected (and pretty awful). It was a huge challenge to my confidence to feel like no one thought I was qualified because of my age—I knew the fundamentals and how to get press features, but people took one look at my age and doubted me...which made me doubt myself.
Eventually, I started to pick up confidence and not care what anyone thought about my skills. I genuinely started to realize that credibility and skill don’t come from age!
Can you share some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a PR pro?
I have honestly experienced so many challenges throughout my career, including but not limited to people doubting my abilities because of my age, being diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkins Lymphoma, and enduring 6 months of Chemotherapy.
Through it all, my business has sustained and even outlived other firms, and I owe it all to my faith and relationship with Jesus!
I’ll share a little more about the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced. About six years into having my PR firm, at age 27, I was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkins Lymphoma and had to go through 6 months of chemotherapy.
This really was a pivotal moment in my life and my career...I saw another side of myself that I didn’t really know was there. I wouldn’t wish that experience on my worst enemy (if I had one!).
That whole journey is almost indescribable unless you’ve been through it yourself. I never imagined being diagnosed with cancer and going through chemotherapy, let alone while running my own business. And I never actually stopped working—I did what my body allowed me to do.
After overcoming my Stage IV cancer diagnosis, I emerged with an even gutsier vision for my life...and a vision to change the publicity game.
But this part of my journey also really made me realize the importance of transitioning from solopreneur to true agency owner and building out a team...which is something I’ve been able to do much easier with the resources inside your programs!
How did you find the Profitable PR Pros community, and how long have you been a member?
I’m a member of The Pitch Lab and The Agency Accelerator, and oh my gosh...I love them both!
I think I found the Profitable PR Pros community a LONG time ago on Instagram. It’s been years, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this community.
I totally fell in love with how you approach things when it comes to PR (like operating in your zone of genius) and the way you support other people in the PR world. You share so much knowledge and expertise!
What’s your favorite part about being a member of the Profitable PR Pros community?
There really is such a relaxed, genuinely supportive environment inside this community. It’s like a no-judgment zone!
Everyone strives to provide support for each other, answer questions, share opportunities, and celebrate each other’s wins. It’s amazing!
Not to mention, the content inside this community is amazing and really helpful. Whether you’re just getting started or you’re a seasoned PR pro, the weekly Facebook Lives and all of the resources inside the Profitable PR Pros community and the various programs are truly awesome.
What inspired you to join our programs?
Well, you really are such an amazing gift to the PR community, like I said above!
I knew I needed to be around like-minded people that understood exactly what I do and why I do it. I first joined The Pitch Lab because the gems are priceless. Inside The Pitch Lab, there’s such a warm community where everyone pushes each other to continue to service clients with excellence.
I then joined The Agency Accelerator to get a toolkit that could assist me with going to the next level and scaling my business...and it’s been so awesome that I actually also joined The Agency Accelerator Plus, which is a more intensive coaching and mastermind program that goes along with The Agency Accelerator.
Have our programs helped you experience positive transformations?
The Pitch Lab is so awesome because there have been points in my agency where I got totally stuck. I felt like the media just wasn’t responding to my pitches. When that’s happened, I just dove back into what’s inside The Pitch Lab, made some tweaks, and bam — landed awesome press placements!
I also love being able to be a part of such a supportive community of publicists. There’s no competition or hierarchy...we’re all just genuinely coming together over an industry we love, bouncing ideas off each other, and doing our best to make sure we support and celebrate each other each and every day.
It’s scary to invest in yourself, but you don’t know what’s on the other side until you take the leap...so I did! And I’m so glad that I made that decision.
I've been able to shift my mindset surrounding worthiness within my business. And I now have a solid strategy and blueprint for creating the ultimate processes for my firm and the clients we serve!
What do you love MOST about the work you do and the clients you work with?
I love helping my clients soar to higher heights through the work that we do. There's nothing like getting a client featured in the media!
I also really love that I now work with a team that supports me and has allowed me to grow beyond what I ever thought possible. Especially after overcoming my cancer diagnosis, I was able to build a business that truly serves the type of life I want to live.
I get to work with clients I love...and work in my zone of genius every single day. It’s amazing!
What are some outlets you’ve secured features in for your clients?
Ooh, I’m so proud of the features I’ve secured.
We’ve garnered press features in publications like Essence, Black Enterprise, The New York Times, Forbes, CBS This Morning, ABC, InStyle Magazine, and more. The campaigns I’ve worked on have garnered more than 2.6 million media impressions globally!
What advice would you give to aspiring PR pros?
It might be cliche, but my biggest advice is don't give up! If you’re facing a challenge, take a break or go back to the drawing board, but never give up.
Always be willing to invest in yourself through mentorship, programming, and more. You never know when something is going to change your life—and finding the right mentor and support can unlock a whole new world for you.
I have three other pieces of advice I’d love to share with any aspiring PR pro!
First, do your research. Know the industry, what’s required, how to do press releases and pitch the media, and how to build a media contact list. Those fundamentals are essential, and nailing those skills will make you more successful long term.
Secondly, have faith in yourself, your abilities, and what you bring to the table. Your experience isn’t defined by what anyone else thinks. And if you’re a young professional (or you’re getting started later in life) know that age and other factors don’t matter—you CAN do this, I promise.
Finally, don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. Your path is unique to you, and that’s what makes it so special! I know it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap (especially with social media) but remember: everyone is going through something challenging, and what you’re seeing on the screen doesn’t always reflect what they’ve gone through to get to that point.
We’re so grateful that Lindsey decided to share her story with us! We can all learn a lot from her resilience in the face of insurmountable odds.
Check out Lindsey’s agency Walker + Associates Media Group, and follow along with her on Instagram @lindseyawalker.
Be sure to join the Profitable PR Pros community over on Facebook so that you can take advantage of all that this amazing community has to offer, just like Lindsey!