Note from the Editor: The following blog post is one of a four-part “Legends of Public Relations” series on Progressions. All excerpts were originally published in “Legacies from Legends in Public Relations” by The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations in 2007, a booklet which celebrated the 40th anniversary of PRSSA with personal messages for students written by industry legends.
Betsy Plank, APR, Fellow PRSA
Principal, Betsy Plank Public Relations
Career (1947-90): Community (Red Cross; Chicago Foreign Relations Council); Agency (Edelman); Corporate (Illinois Bell). PRSA (1973 President); Arthur W. Page Society; International PR Association. PR News Professional of the Year (1979). Co-chair, Commission on Public Relations Education (1987). Boards: Illinois Council of Economic Education; Illinois Issues; Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, University of Alabama. Co-Founder, Champions for PRSSA.
“Today’s aspiring public relations students and young professionals have a running start on their careers: formal study in the discipline and early commitment to the profession. Most have also had internships, mentoring by educators and practitioners, leadership experience and connections through PRSSA and multi-cultural and global perspectives.
Those opportunities weren’t there for most of my generation. We arrived from other studies, other occupations–primarily journalism. (This history/political science major had never heard of public relations!) The customary qualification: writing. The rest we learned by the seat of our pants or skirts–growing with the field as it evolved from one-way communication, publicity and event production to a management function charged with building reputation and relationships, dedicated to truth and listening; enlightened by research; disciplined by corporate objectives; increasingly challenged by societal issues.
So what lessons learned would have currency if I were starting all over again today? Among the many I remember and value:
Amen, my young colleagues. Welcome aboard the journey!”