FORUM Spring Issue 2015 Vol. 47, Issue 3

Spring 2015 | Vol. 47, Issue 3 | #BetsyDay Celebration Gains National Participation BY TAYLOR SHELNUTT University of Alabama T welve PRSSA Chapters around the country celebrated Betsy Plank Day on April 2 to honor the “Godmother of PRSSA” and the namesake of the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. Betsy Plank was a trailblazer in the industry. Known as the First Lady of Public Relations, she achieved many firsts for women, won multiple honors and awards, and held prestigious corporate and agency positions. She championed public relations education and was passionate about students, leading to her pivotal role in the establishment of PRSSA. The inaugural Betsy Plank Day was held last year, but the Plank Center had big plans for making the second go-round have more national involvement. “We’re entering a time where future generations will not have the opportunity to meet Betsy personally,” said Jessika White, communications specialist for the Plank Center. “By celebrating Betsy Plank Day, we hope to share Betsy’s knowledge and legacy by educating future generations about a great lady and a great profession.” The Plank Center asked PRSSA Chapters to complete a two-step process for an opportunity to win the #BetsyDay grand prize. In step one, they were required to tweet a selfie of the Chapter watching a short Betsy Plank documentary during March. Step two called upon the Chapters’ creative abilities. With no requirements and a “sky’s the limit” approach, the Chapters had to create an innovative way to promote #BetsyDay on their campuses. They submitted entries to the Plank Center and published their ideas via Twitter. The University of Georgia PRSSA Chapter hosted a bake sale in honor of Betsy Plank. The Chapter attached tags to each baked treat to feature pieces of advice from Betsy. Alyssa Stafford, Chapter president at UGA, said they resembled fortune cookies. “Betsy Plank was an incredible woman … As members of PRSSA, we quite literally wouldn’t be here without her. She gave back so much to others,” Stafford said. The University of South Dakota also had a unique idea. Chapter members encouraged others to take a picture with a large Betsy portrait and tweet it using #BeLikeBetsy. About 75 people took a picture with Betsy by the day of the campaign submission. “Disposable cameras may be outdated, but Betsy had it right when she utilized them to commemorate every meeting. It’s a timeless tactic, and it was fun bringing it back in Betsy’s honor for the #BeLikeBetsy challenge at USD,” said Arianne Wunder, president of the USD Chapter. Many Chapters used Betsy Plank’s quotes to inspire others by creating informative displays to educate students about this public relations legend. The University of Alabama Chapter members used what they learned about Betsy to create a campaign combining her passions. Jacquie McMahon, UA’s Chapter president, said members took pictures with a Polaroid cutout and created unique captions. All of the pictures were incorporated into a #BetsyDay video, with personal testimonies included. UA’s method of celebrating Betsy’s legacy combined her love of both — students and photos. Waynesburg University’s PRSSA President Megan Bayles won a 2014 Betsy Plank PRSSA Scholarship, so getting her Chapter involved hit home on a different level. “Celebrating #BetsyDay allowed me to learn more about the life and loves of this influential woman. It allowed me to better understand the woman whose legacy I work to carry on day by day,” Bayles said. The grand prize winner of the competition, the PRSSA Chapter at the University of Oklahoma, decided to literally #PlankforPlank. Members planked around campus, tweeting photos as proof. As first place winners, they will receive quarterly Skype sessions with a member of the Plank Center board, a year-long subscription to PRWeek and a six-month online subscription for each member, a recommendation from the Plank Center, and the title of Betsy Day 2015 Champions. Olivia Taylor, webmaster of the OU Chapter, said her members’ biggest takeaway from the challenge was the realization that anyone can make a difference. “Whether or not you’re in a ‘powerful’ position, through hard work and strong sense of self, anyone can change the world for the better,” Taylor said. “Everyone holds the power to make their own mark on the world.” Seven other Chapters joined in the #BetsyDay challenge, including Bethany College, California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo, Drexel University, East Carolina University, Susquehanna University, University of North Alabama and West Virginia University. Betsy Plank also was honored internationally, as participants in Peru and Spain, among other areas, participated in the celebration on Twitter. The Plank Center considers this year to be a major steppingstone in carrying on Betsy’s legacy. It hopes that #BetsyDay will spread even more in the years to come. “There’s always ways to improve with anything and everything you do,” White said. “One of our goals is to continue increasing participation from PRSSA Chapters, students, educators and professionals each year. Betsy was, and is, the definition of leadership in public relations, and we are excited to start planning Betsy Day 2016.” Betsy Plank’s 91st birthday would have been April 3. After wrapping up Betsy Day 2015, one thing was clear — PRSSA Chapters threw Betsy the party of a lifetime. Chapters came up with many creative ideas and methods for celebrating the late Godmother of PRSSA, Betsy Plank. Photos courtesy of Twitter. WHAT’S INSIDE? 2 Meet the New National Committee 3 A Legacy of Service: National Faculty Adviser’s Term Concluding 4 Applying for Jobs in