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Gemma Puglisi

Assistant Professor
School of Communication

  • Additional Positions at AU

    Public Relations Student Society of America Faculty Advisor
    Mentoring Committee
    Merit Committee
  • Gemma Puglisi is a full-time professor of Public Communication. She is an award-winning media strategist and producer with more than 25 years of experience. During her career she has worked in broadcast news, public relations, entertainment and the financial sector, where she was a market reporter/media relations specialist for Nasdaq. Her SOC classes have won recognition from the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the D.C. Mystics and other organizations. Puglisi is often sought as an expert on crisis public relations, media issues, and women in communications. In 2006, she received the Order of the Star and was knighted by the Republic of Italy for her contributions to education and promoting Italian language and culture.
  • Degrees

    MA Drama, Catholic University of America; BA (magna cum laude) Music, Trinity University

  • SOC - School of Communication
  • McKinley - 207
  • By appointment

  • (202) 885-2153 (Office)
  • (202) 885-2069 (Fax)
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  • To request an interview for a
    news story, call AU Communications
    at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

Partnerships & Affiliations


  • Fall 2015

    • COMM-496 Selected Topics:Non-Recurring: Strat Comm & Event Management
    • Description

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Research Interests

Professor Puglisi’s area of interest involves the role of women in the fields of communications including broadcast journalism, print and public relations. She has worked in a network newsroom for many years in addition to serving as a media executive in the field of PR.  Her experiences and her research have included the role of women in these areas. She has interviewed many of the top journalists in the country including Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams, Connie Chung, Linda Ellerbee, and Susan Zirinsky on the role of women in the newsrooms. In the spring of 2008, she travelled to Florence, Italy to interview several individuals about the last days of Italian journalist, Oriana Fallaci.  Professor Puglisi’s expertise in the media is often sought by many for analysis and commentaryon controversy issues/news.  These have included comments about Rosie O’Donnell’s opinions on the ABC’s “The View;” Britney Spears’ career; former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s demise;  China’s hiring a public relations’ firm before the Olympics in 2008; and a book about Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.In the classroom, Professor Puglisi’s work has been recognized by the Washington Post, the Washington Business Journal, WUSA-TV Channel 9, the Washington Mystics, the United Nations’ “Nothing But Nets” Organization, and Washington’s Mayor Adrian Fenty.  Students in both her PR Portfolio and Public Communication Practicum classes have worked with “real” clients and a majority have been nonprofits in the DC community. In the Summer of 2008, Professor Puglisireceived a “Hometown Hero” award from the Washington Mystics for the class’s work on the“Nothing But Nets” campaign.  Her classes have also helped “A Wider Circle;” “Joseph’s House;” the Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc.; “DC Books to Prisons;” and the US Marines’“Wounded Warrior Regiment.”  The Regiment presented Professor Puglisi and her students a plague for their service and cooperation in the spring of 2008.  

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • Knighted “Dame” (Cavaliere) by Italian Government 2006
  • Alpha Kappa Psi—initiated into Alpha Kappa Psi—the Professional Business Fraternity 2007
  • Student Activities Superstar Award—“Excellence in Advising,” American U, Spring 2008
  • Hometown Hero Award,” Presented by the UN Foundation and the Washington Mystics, Summer 2008

IN Career:

  • “Who’s Who Among Young Professionals”
  • “Two Thousand Notable American Women”
  • “ Who’s Who of American Business Women”
  • “International Who’s Who of Professional and Business Women”

Awards in PR career:                     

  • Three Edelman “Great Performance Awards”
  • Two Mercury Awards
  • International PR Award
  • Two “PR WEEK” Awards
  • Sabre Award

 In Journalism:

  • “Women’s Sports Foundation Award”  and a “Headliner Award” for Best Sports Reporting by a TV Network

Professional Presentations

  • PRSA –Public Relations Society of America—Educator’s Academy, Detroit, Michigan, October 2008 Presenter—Poster Presentation—One of 20 academics honored and awarded to present
  • SACI (Studio Arts Centers International) Lecture, “Promoting Your Artwork-How You Can Use Media to Publicize Your Art,” Florence, Italy, March 2008.
  • Ann Ferren Teaching Conference, Panelist,  2009, “Bridging Classroom and Community: Bringing Community-Based learning and Teaching to Your Syllabus.”
  • Ann Ferren Teaching Conference, Moderator, 2008, “How to Publish That Book.”
  • Ann Ferren Teaching Conference, Panelist, 2007, “Guest Speakers in the Classroom.”
  • Women in Journalism, Moderator, American University, September 2007
  • “Pitfalls in International Public Relations,” Panelist, National Press Club, PRSA, Summer 2007
  • “Adoption in America,” Moderator, National Press Club, December 2006       

Selected Publications

Media Appearances

  • CNN International—“China hiring a PR firm before Olympics,” April 2008
  • KMOX-Am and FM radio, St. Louis, MO—“Stand By Your Man,” Radio Interview           to discuss the Spitzer saga, March 2008
  • WUSA-TV, Channel 9, USA, “The Writers’ Strike.” Interview with Derek McGinty on the impact the writers’ strike had on the Golden Globes, 2008
  • XM-Satellite Radio—“Broadminded,” Interview about Troy Anthony Davis, on death row in the state of Georgia, December l8th, 2007
  • Fox Newschannel, “The O’Reilly Factor,” NBC and “The Predator” Series, August 2007
  • The Retirement Living Television Network (Cable), “women in News,” aired July l0th, 2007
  • Fox Newschannel, “The Big Story,” The Jon Benet Ramsey Story, August 2006
  • Fox Newschannel, “The O’Reilly Factor,” The Hillary Clinton Book, June 2005

Quoted in following (2008):

  • The Hilltop, “Rally Columbia Heights to Free Felon Troy Davis,’ (Howard U paper), Sept. l9
  • readingeagle.com, “Internet Puts Personal Data within Reach of Wrong People,” Aug. 31
  • Agence France-Presse, “China Faces Uphill Task Polishing Image Ahead of Olympics,”Apr.9
  • Yahoo.com, (China article above reprinted), Apr. 10
  • www.tibet.fr (China article above reprinted), Apr. 10
  •  www.abcnews.net (China article above reprinted), Apr. 10
  • Why Women Stand by their Men,” Mar. 11 (on the Spitzer scandal)
  • Kansas City Star, (Spitzer scandal), Mar. 11
  • Huffington Post blog, (article above reprinted), Mar. 11
  • www.redorbit.com, (article above reprinted), Mar. 11
  • bruneinews.net (article above reprinted), Mar. 11
  • malaysiasun.com (article above reprinted), Mar. 11       

Work In Progress

  • “Happy Birthday, Broadcast News,” article on the 20th anniversary of the movie.

AU Expert

Area of Expertise: Media relations, women in the media, public relations, crisis communications

Additional Information: Gemma Puglisi is a leading expert on several topical news stories, including the fall of Governor Elliott Spitzer, the 2008 presidential election, the WGA strike, human rights issues in China, the fate of a death row inmate in Georgia, and the personal lives of celebrities such as Britney Spears and Rosie O’Donnell. She has appeared on CNN and Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor, among other television outlets and shows. She has been interviewed by numerous print and Web media, including abcnews.com, Hollywood Reporter, Reuters, and Entertainment Weekly. She has published works in the Washington Post, the Women’s Media Center Web site, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the AEJMC Web site, Voce Italiana, and Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Puglisi’s classes have been featured in the Washington Post, Washington Business Journal, and on WUSA-TV. In 2008, she was recognized by the WNBA’s Washington Mystics as a Hometown Hero. Puglisi’s career includes 25 years of experience divided among talent agency work, broadcasting, and media and public relations. Her broadcast experience includes NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, the Today Show, Sunday Today, and MSNBC. She received two broadcasting awards, the Headliner and the Women’s Sports Foundation Award. As a media relations manager for the Nasdaq Stock Market, Puglisi was instrumental in changing business news coverage for network television. She later worked for such PR firms as Powell Tate and Edelman PR Worldwide. As a vice president/group manager in media relations at Edelman, she spearheaded major campaigns, such as the ringing of the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange by the Taco Bell Chihuahua. She won three Edelman Great Performance Awards, two Mercury Awards, two PR Week Awards, and an International PR Award. In 2006, she was knighted by the Italian Republic for her work promoting Italian language and culture.

Media Relations
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