#PlankMentor Panel Recognizes Mentorship in Public Relations

Photo courtesy of Ron Culp
Photo courtesy of Ron Culp

Event: #PlankMentor Panel, DePaul University

Presenter: Patrick Ford, Burson Marsteller; Barri Rafferty, Ketchum; Danny Rubin, Rubin Communications Group; Ron Culp, DePaul University

Recap: The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations capped off its 10 year anniversary with the sixth annual Milestones in Mentoring celebration on Oct. 29. Public relations students from around the country gathered at DePaul University for an exclusive panel discussion with several of the 2015 Plank Center Milestones in Mentoring honorees.

Now in its second year, the #PlankMentor panel featured Agency Award Honoree Barri Rafferty of Ketchum, Young Professional Award Honoree Danny Rubin of Rubin Communications Group and 2014 Legacy Award recipient Patrick Ford of Burson Marsteller. The panel opened with an introduction by Plank Center Board Chairman and DePaul Public Relations Graduate Program Director Ron Culp. In addition, Ford provided opening remarks on the honorees and the importance of mentorship recognition in public relations. Panelists then responded to questions from student representatives from each university present. Finally, MaLeah Peterson, the vice president of Chapter development for DePaul PRSSA, led a question and answer period open to all.

In contrast to last year’s panel, when panelists’ advice to students touched on a variety of topics, this year the panel focused on the importance of making the most of every opportunity as a young professional.

Photo courtesy of Ron Culp
Photo courtesy of Ron Culp

When asked what advice she would give to students who are concerned with post-graduate career performance, Rafferty replied, “You have a choice to make your first job great by coming up with great programs, great ideas and great initiatives.Take that accountability to make what you do exciting. If you’re not a little bit afraid or nervous, it’s time to make a move.”

Rubin built upon Rafferty’s point when he stressed, “We now live in a world that demands we are very sophisticated communicators. It is imperative that you understand your audience and deliver what they expect.”

Both Rafferty and Rubin’s points speak to the challenges that young public relations professionals face as they enter a field that demands near perfection constantly. However, we should not view this as an impossible challenge. Rather we should embrace the call and lead the charge into the next generation of innovation in our industry. Each of us are capable of greatness, but it is our decision whether or not we choose to accept and embrace our potential.


  1.     Take the simplest task assigned to you and turn it into an obsessive mission for innovation.
  2.     Only take on tasks you know you can complete 100 percent. Set limits and prioritize.
  3.     If superiors take the time to give you feedback, take it seriously and learn from it.
  4.     As a student, focus on building your core skills and find at least one passion before graduation.
  5.     Attempt to dissect a leadership lesson from each piece of news you read.


Alex Sobczak is a senior studying public relations with a minor in marketing. She is currently the Chapter president of DePaul University PRSSA. Follow Alex on Twitter @Kemosobby12 or connect with Alex on LinkedIn.

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