The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations has been extremely busy this year with multiple programs and events. Take a look at what we've been up to.

The Plank Center held its first Board meeting in its new headquarters on February 4. On that day 13 years before, the Center was established and named for nationally acclaimed public relations pioneer, Betsy Plank.

We celebrate the past, present and future of the Center as we continue to recognize and develop leaders, mentors and role models in public relations.

What does the future of public relations look like? How does the public relations profession remain authentic in a time of artificial intelligence, big data and “fake news”?

Jon Iwata, one of the most respected leaders in corporate communications, addressed “The Future of Public Relations” during the 20th Koten Distinguished Lecture Thursday, March 29.

This lecture series is named for John “Jack” Koten, an inaugural member of the Board of Advisors of the Center and a respected corporate communications executive who spent his entire career with Ameritech and its Bell predecessors.

"The many influence the many more."

Following the lecture, Jon continued the conversation on Facebook Live with an in-studio and Facebook audience. A special thanks to The University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Science’s state-of-the-art Digital Media Center for directing and producing the event.

Take 34-minutes to watch this master class.

For the fifth consecutive year, we celebrated the life and legacy of Betsy Plank with a national celebration, #BetsyPlank Day, April 5.

More than 45 PRSSA Chapters, student-run firms and organizations joined us in the celebration. Many competed for the Betsy Plank Champion title by completing a two-step process -- watching the 4-minute Betsy Plank documentary and giving back to their campus or community in her honor, which was detailed in summaries submitted to the Center.

The competition was fierce, but the committee selected Kent State University's PRSSA Chapter as the 2018 Betsy Plank Champion. Kent State PRSSA held three service projects:

  1. A professional clothing drive for Kent State's Career Closet, which is housed at the on-campus women's shelter and collects new and gently used professional clothing and accessories for men and women. More than 120 items were collected.
  2. A food drive for their local Campus Kitchen, an initiative that serves the local homeless shelter.
  3. Outreach to high school students about public relations and the various career paths available when pursuing this major.

Betsy believed "volunteering is good for the soul," and we are amazed at the souls the organizations touched in honor of our namesake.

According to The Holmes Report, women make up about 70% of the PR workforce, but they only hold about 30% of the top positions in the industry. The Center’s 2017 Leadership Report Card found that being successful in the field is still challenging for women—the pay gap is real; the opportunity gap is real; and the being-heard-and-respected-gap is real.

"Pay equity is a process that will require ongoing, direct engagement with employees & industry associations."

The Center hosted a free webinar titled “Women and Leadership in Public Relations” to discuss bridging those gaps for current leaders at all organizational levels.

Schedule one-hour to learn how you can include those action items within your own organization.

Perfect Your Presentation Style

With only 9 seconds to capture an audience’s attention, making a good first impression is everything. According to Mark Harris, formerly of IBM, that impression translates to your company and a consumer’s decision to purchase, donate, participate, etc. in your business model. Watch and listen as Mark explains the key elements to a good presentation – from an impactful opening to balancing PowerPoint prep and rehearsal presentation.

“The impression you make colors everything else.”

The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations will sponsor the North American Communication Monitor (NACM), the first survey of its kind in North America, to explore the status quo, qualities and trends of communication management.

The survey, which launched this May, addresses topics including “fake news” and how to tackle it, how communicators provide insights for decision-making, as well as leadership performance, job satisfaction and personal stress among communication professionals in the United States and Canada.

The NACM becomes part of the Global Communication Monitor (GCM) series, the largest regular global study in the field of strategic communication and public relations.

Findings will be released October 2018.

Click here for more information on the NACM and the research team.

The Plank Center has had an exciting year thus far, and we are eager to stay in touch on future events, programs and research. More great things are on the horizon!

As always, we appreciate your ongoing support.


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