Women of Influence: Rev. Barbara Harris/Erica Backus - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Women of Influence: Rev. Barbara Harris/Erica Backus

Rev. Barbara Harris (Source: Smithsonian Institute) Rev. Barbara Harris (Source: Smithsonian Institute)
Erica Backus Erica Backus

Did you know that women dominate the field of public relations by a margin of 60 - 40? Public relations may be dominated by women now, but it didn't start that way. Back in the 1940s,  it was practically unheard of for a woman to work in P.R. Rev. Barbara Harris was the woman who paved the way generations to come. She was the first black woman to work in public relations. She wasn't afraid to help companies during those turbulent times and even bridge the racial divide. Her success in marketing and promotion helped pave the way for many others including Erica Backus who has charted her own path at Visit Savannah.

"She's a rock star for us a very, very special part of our team and we are very fortunate to have her," said Joe Marinelli, president of the Visit Savannah. 

Erica joined the team as an intern right out of Georgia Southern University. During the last 14 years, she has worked her way up through the ranks and is now the director of public and media relations for Visit Savannah. "I cannot ask for a better scenario. It kind of worked out in the cards well for me. I have been able to work and live in the surrounding area where I grew up- in a town that I love," said Erica.

Through Visit Savannah, Erica and her team keep the buzz about the hostess city of the south going around the world. Their work is helping to bring in 12 million tourists each year. Just think, every time you find an article online,  or in a  magazine or newspaper or on TV about our city, or see events like the Craft Brew Festival , Rock n' Roll Marathon and even St. Patrick's Day draw huge numbers of people from hundreds of miles away-  that's  thanks in part to good public relations people like Erica Backus. Erica's recognitions speak for themselves from successful marketing campaigns to being named as a Top 40 under 40 in Savannah, but her proudest accomplishment so far …    

"A country girl from Statesboro, Georgia and Savannah never thought that she would be in the company of some of the world's greatest leaders one of my most proud and interesting experiences here on the job was the planning and execution of the G8 summit back in 2004. It was a remarkable event for the community it was a remarkable event for our office," explained Erica. 

She takes her responsibility very seriously and often thinks about those who paved the way for her like - Rev. Barbara Harris. "She really was an inspiration working in the 50's and 60's in New York City as well as the south to really help businesses help companies grow through classic clever public relations." 

She's a remarkable lady too. In 1989, Rev. Barbara Harris was the first woman to be made a bishop by any of the 3 major branches of christianity. she spent most of her life fighting for women's rights and racial equality.  

You can learn more about her life by clicking on the following links:

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