PR Journeys From Coast to Coast: Reflections on a Rewarding Year

January 4, 2016

[graphical artist/corbis]
[graphical artist/corbis]

Editor’s Note: Michael Herman, APR, Fellow PRSA, who conceived the idea for this column, passed away unexpectedly early last year. His one and only column appeared in the January 2015 issue of Tactics. Members of the PRSA Counselors Academy will continue to contribute their thoughts in this space in Mike’s honor.

My year as Chair of PRSA’s Counselors Academy has now come to an end.

Anyone who has served on a board of directors knows that the most rewarding experiences come from unexpected places. I knew that there would be monthly conference calls, participation in some webinars and a couple of face-to-face meetings. I was working with a group of agency owners who understood what it meant to serve our professional organization and would do whatever was required to make 2015 a successful year for our membership.

What I didn’t expect was the opportunity to visit with PR professionals from around the country — smart people who are leading successful agencies and changing the status quo; in-house teams who are moving their companies in new directions and thinking differently about how and what they do; committed professionals who are serving our communities’ nonprofits with a dedication and passion that speaks volumes about who they are and to the type of world we can have; professionals who are recent graduates and have a sense of optimism and hope; and senior leaders thinking about what comes next.

My travels took me to Laguna Beach, Calif., Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Fla., Chicago, Raleigh, N.C. and Atlanta. I was asked to present at conferences, moderate panels and be on planning committees and task forces. I was pushed to be the best I could be because I was with people who demanded that of themselves and therefore expected it from those around them. I was not only representing my colleagues on the board, but also the entire Counselors Academy membership.

Finding common ground

Mike Herman’s vision for this column was to take the pulse of our profession and encourage feedback from those who specialize in all sectors — from corporate, agency, military, government and not-for-profit, to entertainment and media.  He said the changing times will continue to shape the way we engage with our stakeholders and how we manage what we do, how we do it and,  sometimes, why we do it.

Sadly, Mike passed away shortly after his first and only column appeared in January 2015. Counselors Academy members have stepped in and are the contributing writers of this column; something we all agree that Mike would have loved and appreciated.

There is one thing I know about PR pros. When you get us together in a room, we can always find common ground. And we did just that, by talking about those things that meant so much to Mike: the reputation of our profession; the need for quality team members who are strategic thinkers; how to best serve our clients or organizations with shrinking resources; and how we need to challenge ourselves to think differently about what we do and how we’re doing it.

But for all the changes we see in our profession, for all the things that impact our profession, to me, what hasn’t changed is the truly great people that I have come to know.

From West Coast to East, from the Midwest to the South, we are all the same. While budgets, the media landscape and certainly some of the accents were different, when it comes right down to it, there is a fire that burns in all of us to do what’s right for our organizations, our clients and for our profession. And no matter where you reside, we can all find common ground in that mission.

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink is vice president/general manager of Phoenix-based HMA Public Relations and has been with the firm since 1993. She is a past president of the PRSA Phoenix Chapter, is a member of PRSA’s Counselors Academy and serves on the executive board, as its immediate past chair.

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