Susan Magrino and Sally Susman were the PR honorees among the eight winners of the 2019 Matrix Awards that were handed out by New York Women in Communications May 6 at the Sheraton New York Times Square.
Martha Stewart, who has known Magrino since she was her publicist at Crown Publishing, recalled how they traveled “across the country on lengthy and amazing fun book tours where we met the likes of Oprah Winfrey in Baltimore.”
The doyenne of the domestic arts became a client at Magrino PR and praised Magrino for being inquisitive, thorough and having a “great business head on her shoulders.”
In presenting the Matrix to Magrino, Stewart said: “Susan was my representative everywhere in my business, to the press, to the public, and to my partners. At first, it was all about books and then it was about everything.”
Magrino told how seizing opportunities, taking responsibility for her actions and forging a support network shaped her career.
She credited Crown for launching her and what became her personal brand. “I had the chance to create PR campaigns from start to finish, travel cross country with authors, promote books, learn how every TV and radio station worked and manage book signings."
“It's where I met Martha Stewart, Chuck Scarborough, Dominick Dunne, Tama Janowitz and Patti Davis, daughter of then-president Ronald Reagan.”
Her advice to managers and people on their way up is to “take the risk and take the job even if you aren't sure you can ace it. There will be someone there along the way to help you succeed.”
Susman Began Career on Capitol Hill
Sally Susman, executive VP-chief corporate affairs officer at Pfizer, began her work life as a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill, where she was “filled with excitement and optimism and brimming with big ideas.”
Her decision to leave DC after five years was “among her greatest accomplishments.” Susman had met an American Express executive from its New York headquarters who led a global business with reach and impact.
She wanted the same clout. Susman told the executive that she planned to leave the Hill and wanted to work for him. “I want to offer you first dibs on hiring me because I have a meeting with your competitor if you're not interested,” she told the AmexCo executive.
Susman had no such appointment. “I didn't know if I would get the job, but my heart was in my throat, my chest was pounding, and I felt fully alive.”
A few days later, she received the employment offer. “The job moved me from politics to business, from DC to New York. It allowed me to live and work abroad, which provided me an opportunity to see things I never imagined and make those changes I always wanted to.”
She urged the scholarship recipients in the audience to “answer from the depths of your heart and the height of your own ambition.”
Susman quoted poet Mary Oliver who said: “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? We are watching with great excitement.”
Invest in Equality Was Night’s Theme
Mika Brzezinski, the MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-host and founder of “Know Your Value,” emceed the Matrix ceremony.
“It's up to us to invest in the concept of equality, to own it, to force change, to be the change and then to pass it on so we can grow those numbers,” Brzezinski told the audience.
She said everyone in the room should give another woman a boost who will then pay it forward someday.
Kathy Ring, Starcom USA CEO; Lisa Sherman, Ad Council CEO; Kate Lewis, Hearst Magazines chief content officer; Padma Lakshmi, “Top Chef” host/executive producer; Janine Liburd, BET Networks chief marketing officer, and Norah O’Donnell, CBS News, round out the roster of Matrix winners.
The ceremony took place the same day that O’Donnell was dropped from the "CBS Morning News" line-up, providing more air time for Gayle King and gossip about a power play.
O’Donnell had asked King in January to be her Matrix presenter, which could have resulted in some very awkward moments. It didn’t turn out that way.
Prior to the event, O’Dwyer’s caught up with O’Donnell and King on the red carpet.
Gayle King (left) and Norah O'Donnell
"In the seven years that we’ve been together, we never spoke a cross word, so why in the hell would we start today?" said King. “It’s because we are women. This never happens to men.”
O’Donnell said she talked to King immediately when the power play gossip began.
Said King: “I told Norah I'm cracking up because it's so ridunkculous. It isn’t anything that you can get mad about because it's so stupid.”
During the Matrix presentation: King said, “Norah is fearless in her pursuit of the truth, which makes her one of the most trusted and admired journalists in the world.”