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Meet Bevel: A One-Stop Shop For Tech-Forward PR

Business

The extent to which hedge funds and venture capitalists are using big data and artificial intelligence to inform their investment decisions is no secret to Jessica Schaefer, a public relations veteran with a keen eye for new trends, and founder of newly minted New York firm Bevel.


Not only are financial heavyweights increasingly relying on satellite imagery to assess, for instance, the health of the Chinese economy, or checking on apps like foursquare to predict the first quarter earnings of fast food chains like Chipotle, they’re also keen to invest in emerging technologies of all kinds.

But finding the companies that have cool technology to share can pose a challenge to investors, and that’s where Bevel comes in.

Schaefer founded the firm to help companies with all kinds of cool, new age technology articulate their mission and create their brand, in order to increase their visibility vis-à-vis the investment community. “This can help companies secure additional funding and increase their valuations” she says.

Prior to funding Bevel, Schaefer led communications and marketing for Point72 Ventures, the early stage-venture capital arm of Point72, which invests in disruptive technologies. She also served as Vice President of Corporate Communications at Point72, the family office managing the assets of billionaire and philanthropist, Steve Cohen, one of Wall Street’s leading hedge fund managers.

During her tenure, she not only amassed a wealth of key contacts in the world of high-power investing but also forged close ties with reporters dedicated to covering emerging technologies, artificial intelligence and big data at top media outlets like The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times.

“We can introduce companies to leading venture capital firms and help them in other ways like securing high profile speaking events,” Schaefer says. “Many of these start ups don’t have the funds to pay for these and can’t afford expensive high branding fees. We can help them.”

Jessica Schaefer, Founder of Bevel

Currently, Bevel – the firm was launched in the middle of February – is working with six companies, but Schaefer has a growing list of new, cutting edge firms eager to partner with her to formulate their PR and media strategies.

“I really enjoy working with start-ups and entrepreneurs that are disrupting the financial services space,” she says.

One of her clients is Acorns, an app that connects a user’s credit and/or debit card with a savings account and allows them to automatically invest any spare change from their purchases into a diversified portfolio of exchange traded funds and stocks.

Bevel arranged a media tour for Acorns, introducing its CEO to key reporters from Yahoo Finance, Reuters, Fortune and others.

For Schaefer, though, what’s most important about Bevel is its focus on transparency when formulating strategies for its clients.

“One of the biggest problems with PR is that the client has no idea what the firm is working on,” she says. “We want to build a platform that is transparent and interactive with our clients, so that they can see exactly what we’re doing. That’s important to us and so we’re communicating with our clients frequently using an online sharing portal where we can IM them, post news and updates and share all documents so that everyone is on the same page at the same time.”

Bevel will partner with Cognito, a global finance and technology focused PR and marketing firm, to provide clients with a full suite of offerings, including marketing communications, media relations, advertising and media buying.

Prior to Point72, Schaefer had multiple sales and marketing roles at Moody’s Analytics, which included Head of Marketing Communications. She helped build the firm’s reputation and establish Moody’s Analytics among clients and investors as a leading player in risk technology and economic research.

She started her career at Prosek Partners, a leading financial services firm, where she was Senior Account Executive in the Financial Services practice. Her clients included First New York Securities, Jefferies, Lenox Advisors, OppenheimerFunds, RBC, RBS, Sterling National Bank, and Swiss Re. Schaefer has received multiple awards for her work including the most recent PR News Rising Stars 30 under 30 and Moody’s Rising Star Award

Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.


In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.

What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.

Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.

Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.

While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.

According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.

In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.


Source-Alex Brandon, AP

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.

Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.

The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.