Celebrate Public Relations with the Plank Center

Courtesy of the Plank Center
Courtesy of the Plank Center

Ten years ago, the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations was established and named after the “first lady of public relations,” Betsy Plank. The board of trustees at The University of Alabama established the Plank Center on February 4, 2005, to develop research, scholarships and forums that advance the ethical practice of public relations. The Plank Center has become a national leading industry resource. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s time to change that.

This anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the past 10 years of Plank’s vision and one decade of success in leadership and mentorship. It’s also an opportunity to educate target audiences about why we should all be involved with and passionate about the Plank Center.

Celebration continues all year

To celebrate this special anniversary, the Plank Center has kicked off a year-long digital campaign with monthly themes. This month, the Center is honoring leadership with tips and best practices from industry leaders and prominent educators. In coming months, the Center will highlight mentorship, its board of advisers, sectors of public relations, Plank Center research and more. Throughout this campaign, the Center will share resources for students and young professionals.

Students can get involved by applying to the Plank Center’s scholarships, contributing to Platform Magazine and learning from the prestigious board of advisors through online webinars. Past webinars have covered topics such as “Building Your Brand,” “Agency for the Future,” “Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability” and “Ethics in Public Relations Education.” One of my personal favorite parts of PRSSA National Conference, the Living Legends Panel, is sponsored by the Plank Center and is a source of incredible insight every year.

Resources available through the Center

The Center has resources for students as they transition to young professionals. The entire month of March will include top 10 lists and resources tailored to this audience. The March young professionals theme will feature 10 Ways to Guarantee Success in Public Relations, 10 Tips on Landing Your First Public Relations Job and more.

The Center also encourages young professionals to mentor their colleagues and students. In the past 10 years, the Plank Center has honored 31 industry leaders for dedication to mentorship at the Milestones in Mentoring Gala in Chicago. The 2014 honorees included Andy Polansky, CEO of Weber Shandwick, and Jose Rivera, lecturer at Cal State San Bernardino.

If you’d like to join in on the celebration or otherwise get involved with the Plank Center, here are a few ways you can participate:

  • Subscribe to the newsletter.
  • Follow social media channels (@PlankCenterPR) for industry insight and news.
  • Apply for scholarships and grants.
  • Email Jessika White at jnwhite@apr.ua.edu to learn more.

Have you heard of the Plank Center before this post? Share in the comments below.


Jacquie McMahon is a student at The University of Alabama, a senior media strategist for the student-run firm Capstone Agency and the president of UA’s Chapter of PRSSA.

2 thoughts on “Celebrate Public Relations with the Plank Center

    • Author gravatar

      Thank you, for this piece, Jacquie. I’ve had the pleasure serving on the board of advisors for many years, and one of my favorite memories of Betsy Plank speaks volumes about her commitment to honoring students. At every PRSA International Conference, while professional members lodged at the conference hotel, Betsy chose to stay at the hotel selected by PRSSA. She did so because it kept her close to the emerging young leaders of our profession.

      On this 10th anniversary of the Plank Center, Betsy’s example is a good lesson for all of us: Your actions say a lot about who you are and what you value in life.

      Here’s to Betsy Plank!

    • Author gravatar

      As a long-standing Plank Center board member, I want to thank Jacquie for this post, as well as to thank the members of PRSSA for your devotion to the work and ideals of our founder, Betsy Plank. One of the most enduring stories about Betsy is tied to her love for PRSSA and its student members: Every year, professional members who traveled to attend the PRSA International Conference always lodged at the conference hotel. But not Betsy. She chose instead to stay at the hotel selected for PRSSA members because she wanted to be with the students who inspired her life and work.

      “You lit up my sky,” was one of her sayings. PRSSA was one of her passions because you, the student members, lit up her sky. Thank you for your leadership — now and in the future!

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