Honored to be named Outstanding Austin Communicator 2021

From Marika Flatt, founder of PR by the Book

I’m so very honored to receive this award from Women Communicators of Austin (WCA), an organization that’s near and dear to my heart. As I reflect back on my 24-year career, I see WCA threaded throughout all the important beats. 

This is surely a full circle experience as I have an epic story of finding my first job in 1997. I’d asked my mentor/producer at the cable TV station I’d worked at in high school and college (I was the host of The Teen Report and The College Report in San Antonio) for her advice upon my college graduation. (I had multiple internships to aid in my search of going into TV as “talent,” but when my graduation neared, I felt strongly that I didn’t want to pursue a career in TV.) 

My producer suggested I get involved in WCA, which was called The Association of Women in Communications at the time. I forced myself out the door to attend a happy hour. In attendance were 5 of us, 2 board members and 3 of us looking for jobs. The next morning, I got a phone call (pre iphones and home computers) from Andrea Schulle, one of the board members, telling me about a job lead she’d heard about. I landed that job. 

In WCA, I found a community of young, driven females out to conquer the industry, and soon joined the board. I served on the board for 7 years and that service (around the time of my Past President year) helped as a launchpad for starting PR by the Book in 2002. Ironically, the first 2 publicists that I hired were WCA friends, including Andrea Schulle who took time out of her day to call me with the job lead that changed my life.

I made lifelong friends in WCA during those 7 years. Among them was fellow board member, Amy Hufford. Many of us were having babies around the same time. In 2001, Amy and I had a fun- but important idea- to create a Friday baby playgroup for all of us young moms at the time. Now those babies are in college, becoming formidable communicators of their own. For this endeavor, I won the Annie Durham Robinson Creative Initiative Award from WCA. 

Around 2002, I heard about Austin Woman magazine through WCA pal Amy Lemen, began freelance writing for them, which led to 11 years of freelancing, which led me to Austin Lifestyle Magazine. In 2014, my husband and I, with the original owner, transitioned that magazine to Texas Lifestyle Magazine in 2014. 

Our Editor in Chief is one of everyone’s favorite WCA Past Presidents, Julie Tereshchuk. I call her “Oh captain, my captain” (an homage to Dead Poets Society). She is one of the most important people to me in my career. We work side by side and she’s the glue that holds the magazine together. I’m so thankful for her and I have WCA to thank for that connection.

Julie expertly introduced me to a producer at Texas Standard (our statewide NPR program), following a WCA luncheon where we both spoke on a panel, which ended up in the creation of my “Weekend Trip Tips” that ran nearly 5 years on Texas Standard (currently on hiatus due to the pandemic). 

Since then, I’ve had a ball becoming a travel expert on more than 5 TV shows across Texas

I tell people all the time that my passion is connecting people and there’s no better illustration of connection than our WCA organization. 

I’m thrilled to accept this award at the kick off of May, which is Texas Writers Month, a time to celebrate writers around the state, an endeavor I picked up the torch to lead in 2019 after two decades of it laying dormant. 

I hope you can see how big a role WCA has played in my 24-year career here in Austin and how fondly I will always reflect on the friendships built, the lessons learned and the passion we all share to communicate a great message!