Mary Leigh Howell is an independent public relations professional with 19 years of experience in agency, corporate and nonprofit environments.
Prior to starting her own practice, Mary Leigh was a founding executive and vice president of RLF Communications, a Greensboro-based public relations, advertising and social media firm. In her role, she was responsible for building and guiding account teams, directing client strategy and business development, while playing a key role in agency growth and strategic direction.
Mary Leigh has provided counsel for clients across a range of industries including gardening, hospitality, home building, commercial real estate investment, accounting, highway safety and telecommunication. She also has extensive experience in all aspects of the home furnishings industry from non-profit to supplier to manufacturing and retail. She has worked for brands such as Bassett, Quick-Step, Stanley, Wrangler, Leggett & Platt and Bob Timberlake.
With a niche in consumer and trade media across the home, furnishing and garden categories, she develops national and regional media campaigns and guides clients through media tours from coast to coast. She led the team that introduced a $50,000 bed at the Consumer Electronics Show, an effort that garnered more than 57 million media impressions within six weeks.
Since 1998, she has been involved in Women in the Home Industries Today (WithIt), a international leadership association for women in the home and furnishings industries, where she is past president and chairman. She is a charter member of the WithIt Ambassadors Club and was a 2008 finalist for the WithIt Future Leader award.
Mary Leigh’s involvement in the PR discipline includes being a member of both the local and national chapters of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), where she was a 2008 finalist for the Tarheel chapter’s PR Professional of the Year and winner of the 2008 Best Press Release. She is a past member of PRSA’s Counselor’s Academy, and was a 2009 finalist for a SABRE (Superior Achievement in Brand and Reputation) award. She is a 2008 recipient of the Triad Business Journal’s “Women in Business” awards.
Mary Leigh holds a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from UNC Chapel Hill, and a master’s in communication studies from UNC Greensboro, where she taught public speaking. Currently, she is adjunct faculty at Elon University where she teaches public relations writing and campaign courses.