FORUM Winter 2018 Vol. 50 Issue 2

WINTER 2018 Vol. 50, Issue 2 www.prssa.prsa.org/forum Start Your High School Outreach: From the President’s Desk By Andrew Cook PRSSA National President During this year’s Na- tional Conference, I was joined by Vice President of Exter- nal Affairs Andrew Young, Vice President of Chapter Development Marley Vawter, and PRSA 2017 Chair Jane Dvorak, APR, Fellow PRSA, on a visit to a local high school A few days before the Conference began, we arranged a visit to East Boston High School where we presented to students about public relations and PRSSA. I loved watching the students react as they realized that using social media or handling a communications crisis was a career that they could pursue. Since our visit, I’ve thought a lot about high school outreach and its potential to change our industry. Simply put, we need to accelerate our efforts. Plac- ing a greater focus on paving the way for the future students of PRSSA will have tremendous long-term ben- efits for each member and Chap- ter, and the Society as a whole. Let me share with you my vision for this. Advocacy As a profession, we often encoun- ter people who misunderstand our profession. Despite the fact that we specialize in storytelling, we often struggle to share our own story with all the members of our community. By visiting high school students and sharing with them the basic defini- tions of public relations, and giving them a vision of what this work en- tails, we are able to advance the profession and the public’s under- standing of it. Whether a student is a future accountant, engineer or pub- lic relations practitioner, the soon- er they understand what public re- lations is, the better it will be for our profession and for the future public relations relationships they develop. High school students are a great au- dience because they are entering the stage of life when they begin to consider future career paths. In order to attract and recruit the best talent to our industry, we need to connect with high school students and teach them the basics of public relations. See High School Outreach, Page 3 Open FORUM 3 The Plank Center Continues to Give Back By Olivia Kelley FORUM Editorial Assistant Back in the ear- ly 1960s, public relations students did not have the opportunity to belong to a student society of their own. The plethora of public rela- tions resources that professors and students have available now to utilize in the classroom and in Chapters had not even been thought about. Public relations pioneers like Harold Burson and Betsy Plank paved the way for today’s practitioners. While many of the earliest public relations icons are now gone, their counsel and insight will live on forever, thanks to the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. The Plank Center for Lead- ership has been an essential resource for public relations practitioners of all levels since 2005. In honor of PRSSA’s 50 th anniversary in 2017, the Plank Center recently produced “Legacies from Legends in Public Relations,” a book full of wisdom from successful practi- tioners. This resource was com- piled in hopes of imparting the knowledge of these public relations legends to the new generation of practitioners. When asked which public rela- tions legend he admired most, PRSSA National President An- drew Cook said he admires something about all of them but expressed that three in particular have impacted him the most. “Two of the leg- ends I was re- ally anxious to read about were Harold Burson and Dan Edelman because of their roles as pioneers in building and de- veloping public relations,” said Cook. “I also really respect James Grunig because of his role as an educator and the ways I’ve benefited directly from his work and through his mentorship of some of the BYU faculty; specifically, Dr. Robert Wakefield and Dr. Ken Plow- man, who have really been influential in shaping me as a public relations student.” In addition to “Legacies from Legends in Public Relations,” the Plank Center also has released a mentorship guide to PRSSA students that focuses on how students can best benefit from mentorships. See Plank Center, Page 11 Crises and Controversy: Planning Ahead By Teghan Simonton FORUM Content and Graphics Coordinator Public relations practitioners are expected to plan for cri- ses. They imagine the worst- case scenario, and they brain- storm strategic communication plans to remedy hypothetical situations. But planning for nat- ural disasters — events that are unpredictable and com- pletely out of human control — are completely different. Unfortunately, we know this first- hand. In 2017, the United States has been ravaged by tropical storms, floods and wildfires, un- leashing a slew of complica- tions and environmental con- cerns for nearby organizations. In a complete whirlwind of mis- fortune, United States territories were hit thrice consecutively, by three different tropical storms. Each one caused catastrophic damage to their respective ar- eas, and caused public relations ‘TIS THE SEASON FOR GIVING Interested in giving back this season? Learn how to donate your public relations skills — pro bono. 4 debacles for local companies. For example, Hurricane Har- vey decimated Houston, Texas, and surrounding towns. One of those towns was Crosby, Tex- as, the location of an Arkema chemical plant. The loss of pow- er in the storm caused a mas- sive fire in the plant. According to the Washington Post, 19.5 dif- ferent volatile chemicals were no longer able to maintain the refrigeration necessary to avoid combustion. Additionally, due to the flooding, officials were unable to access the plant and take preventative measures. They could only warn locals in a 1.5-mile radius to evacuate. The Associated Press reported that 13 Superfund sites were flooded — possibly resulting in leaked pollutants. 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