The Public Relations Strategist

Celebrating 22 Years of The Strategist

By John Elsasser

December 21, 2017

This Winter 2017 issue is the last edition of The Strategist in its current format. Starting in January, we’re merging the magazine with Tactics, our monthly newspaper. We combined the best elements of those publications — the hands-on, how-to articles, along with the longer, magazine-style pieces in a more multifaceted visual package. The new name of the completely redesigned monthly: Strategies & Tactics.

Our mission will remain the same: to provide lifelong professional development to communicators through all stages of their career. 

But The Strategist isn’t going away entirely. In 2018, PRSA members will receive two special editions of the magazine. Based on the enthusiastic response to our summer issue, we are creating another Silver Anvil special featuring case studies of the finalists. We are also teaming up with the Institute for Public Relations in the fall to showcase research and insights from leading communicators.
60-plus issues later

I started at PRSA in March 1994, hired as the news editor to help launch Tactics, a tabloid-style newspaper modeled after USA Today. The Strategist came along in the spring of 1995. At the time, PRSA outsourced the editorial and art direction for the magazine.

My involvement as editor-in-chief started in 2001 when the Society’s leadership decided to bring the publication in-house, drawing on the talents of the PRSA team who already produced the award-winning monthly.

Our first issue included an interview with Harold Burson, APR, Fellow PRSA, in his well-appointed office at Burson-Marsteller. (He had recently turned 80.) Other headlines that summer included “The PR Evolution of Napster” and “Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Intranet.”

I’ve enjoyed working on more than 60 issues of the magazine since then. For this grand finale, we’ve compiled a best-of special from our web archives dating back to 2009. (The bios of the contributors reflect their job titles at the time of publication.)

I also wanted to take a moment to revisit several other memorable moments of The Strategist:

Fall 2001

Jack Welch, former GE CEO, graced our cover in a story on CEO succession planning. The feature was a hit. We were also preparing to send the issue to the printer on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
Spring 2002.

We explored the implosion of Enron, the Houston-based energy company that admitted to misstating its income by several billion dollars — one of the biggest frauds in corporate history. We looked at the broader issues confronting corporate communicators in Enron’s aftermath, including overcoming investor skepticism and restoring employee confidence.

Winter 2006

We had a challenging time finding the right image to illustrate our cover story on the growing number of journalists joining the PR profession. So we hired a photographer, and spent an awkwardly long time setting up the lighting and fluffing up paper in a trash can for the shoot featuring reporter’s notebooks. (Thankfully, he wasn’t charging us by the hour!)

Summer 2010

Like with Enron, we tackled many different story angles surrounding the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I was particularly proud of the variety of crisis-related articles we had on the topic, including the emergence of one of the first fake Twitter accounts (@BPGlobalPR).

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the magazine these past 22 years. We’re looking forward to continuing working with you on the all-new Strategies & Tactics

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