A Year to Thrive: New PRSA Chair Kathy Barbour, APR, Is Motivated for 2015

January 1, 2015

Kathy Barbour, APR, knew she wanted to be part of PRSA right after her coworkers took her to a Chapter meeting in North Florida.

And it wasn’t long before she set her sights on leadership roles within the organization.

“I was hooked after my first meeting and marked all of the future Chapter luncheons on my calendar so I wouldn’t miss any of them,” said Barbour, PRSA’s 2015 chair.

Barbour serves as corporate director of public relations and marketing for Baptist Health South Florida. Before Baptist Health, Barbour worked in various communications roles at the Mayo Clinic and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida.

Here, Barbour speaks with Tactics about her mentors, PRSA’s challenges in the coming year and her plans as 2015 chair.

Why did you initially decide to join PRSA?

My coworkers at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (now Florida Blue) introduced me to PRSA by taking me to my first Chapter meeting — the North Florida Chapter. It was instantly a great experience, and right then, I decided to join PRSA. I enjoyed the connections I made with fellow communications professionals, and the professional development program was excellent. I was hooked after my first meeting and marked all of the future Chapter luncheons on my calendar so I wouldn’t miss any of them.

Who were the mentors that helped you in PRSA? How did they help you?

PRSA has provided me with countless mentors who I can rely on in any given day to lend an ear or offer sound advice. I am grateful for the many wonderful connections and the deep friendships I have made because of PRSA.

Del Galloway, APR, Fellow PRSA; Gary McCormick, APR, Fellow PRSA; Mickey G. Nall, APR, Fellow PRSA; and Judy Phair, APR, Fellow PRSA, are a few of my PRSA mentors who have helped me grow personally and professionally. Each of them has played a key role in mentoring me along my leadership journey and path.

What was your first leadership role within PRSA? What has kept you motivated through the years?

My first leadership role with PRSA was membership chair for the North Florida Chapter. When I first was asked to serve on the Chapter board, the Chapter president asked me what role I was interested in, and I replied, “I want to be Chapter president someday.” I probably caught her off guard. She replied that I had a good goal and it was doable someday.

I have remained motivated to serve PRSA and our members because I believe in giving back to our profession. I’ve been fortunate to have many mentors in my career, and the time has been right for me to return the generosity. Serving on the PRSA Board — nationally and locally — has helped me to grow as a leader, manager, PR counselor and a person. Giving back to the profession has been the driving force for my motivation.

Speaking of leaders, what leaders — past or present — do you most admire?

I admire General George S. Patton, Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln for their wisdom and strength in leading in different capacities.

You have had the chance to speak with a lot of PRSA members and will speak with even more in the upcoming year. What do you think members want most from PRSA?

Our members are interested in being part of an organization that will resonate with them at any point in their career. They are looking for relevancy and for PRSA to be worthy of their membership dues.

We are all stretched for time these days. And members want to give their time, energy and support to an organization that will help them stay ahead of the curve with programs and services and a network of excellent people who are committed to helping them be their personal best.

What are some of the things that PRSA is doing to remain relevant and enhance the member experience?

At PRSA, we are continuously scanning the environment to monitor trends so we can tailor our programs and services to help our members thrive in the ever-evolving industry. Knowledge-based decision-making — such as the enterprise learning system that is being implemented in 2015 — and our member research studies help ensure that PRSA will continue in its tradition of excellence in its offerings to our members.

What do you consider the main values of a PRSA membership?

PRSA can open new doors for members by way of the professional development, networking, job opportunities and award-recognition programs. PRSA changes members’ lives, as it has done for me. Our data shows that members get the greatest value by connecting at the Chapter level and through sections. PRSA membership is all-in-one. There are programs and services available for members at every stage in their career.

What are some of the challenges that PRSA faces in 2015?

In 2015, PRSA will need to continue to differentiate itself in the marketplace. Members have tons of options when selecting professional development. As professional development budgets remain tight, and we are constrained by operating more rapidly than ever before with fewer resources, members demand that we prove our value and advocate for the profession on their behalf.

PRSA must challenge ourselves to remain relevant, and we cannot forget about the fundamentals, meaning we must continue to embrace new technology, anticipate the future of the profession and encourage cutting-edge research.

What are the significant issues facing the PR profession? How do you see PRSA’s role in addressing the significant PR issues of the upcoming year?

CEOs, CMOs and CFOs will challenge communications professionals to move the bar on business objectives by proving our worth in terms and results they understand. The industry will continue to operate at a faster pace. The lines of traditional media and citizen-generated content will continue to blur, and the channels will continue to mix between paid, earned, shared and owned and integrated marketing communications.

Out of these challenges comes tremendous opportunity for PRSA. We have the power to set the course for our future, and PRSA can help our members take a stance and thrive in this environment.

What are you looking forward to as PRSA’s 2015 chair?

Serving as chair of the Society in 2015 is an opportunity to give back and shape the future of public relations. It’s an honor and an opportunity. My vision is to create an environment where PR professionals can thrive. And in 2015, I’m looking forward to serving our members and working with our dynamic board and staff to take our great organization forward on this exciting journey. It’s an amazing time to be in public relations. We are destined for success.

Editor-in-Chief John Elsasser interviewed Kathy Barbour, APR, for this month’s member profile.


Getting to Know… Kathy Barbour, APR

Favorite book?
“Tuesdays With Morrie” by Mitch Albom

Favorite films?
“The Big Lebowski” and “Office Space”

Any three dinner guests, past or present?
Abraham Lincoln, Julius Caesar and the Dalai Lama


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