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 National Conference , I was joined by Vice President of External 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 . Placing a greater focus on paving the way for the future students of PRSSA will have tremendous long-term benefits for each member and Chapter , and the Society as a whole . Let me share with you my vision for this .
Advocacy As a profession , we often encounter 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 definitions of public relations , and giving them a vision of what this work entails , we are able to advance the profession and the public ’ s understanding of it . Whether a student is a future accountant , engineer or public relations practitioner , the sooner they understand what public relations is , the better it will be for our profession and for the future public relations relationships they develop . High school students are a great audience 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

The Plank Center Continues to Give Back

By Olivia Kelley FORUM Editorial Assistant
Back in the early 1960s , public relations students did not have the opportunity to belong to a student society of their own . The plethora of public relations 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

Crises and Controversy : Planning Ahead

By Teghan Simonton FORUM Content and Graphics Coordinator Public relations practitioners are expected to plan for crises . They imagine the worstcase scenario , and they brainstorm strategic communication plans to remedy hypothetical situations . But planning for natural disasters — events that are unpredictable and completely out of human control — are completely different .
Unfortunately , we know this firsthand . In 2017 , the United States has been ravaged by tropical storms , floods and wildfires , unleashing a slew of complications and environmental concerns for nearby organizations .
In a complete whirlwind of misfortune , United States territories were hit thrice consecutively , by three different tropical storms . Each one caused catastrophic damage to their respective areas , and caused public relations
Leadership in Public Relations . The Plank Center for Leadership 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 practitioners . This resource was compiled in hopes of imparting the knowledge of these public relations legends to the new generation of practitioners . When asked which public relations legend he admired most , PRSSA National President Andrew Cook said he admires something about all of them but expressed that three in particular have impacted him the most .
debacles for local companies . For example , Hurricane Harvey decimated Houston , Texas , and surrounding towns . One of those towns was Crosby , Texas , the location of an Arkema chemical plant . The loss of power in the storm caused a massive fire in the plant . According to the Washington Post , 19.5 different 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 . Naturally , this leads to public panic , as locals worry about effects to their health and environmental activists become alarmed . This was not the only environmental accident to result from
“ Two of the legends I was really anxious to read about were Harold Burson and Dan Edelman because of their roles as pioneers in building and developing 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 Plowman , 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
the storm , but it is a prime example of how a lack of planning can contribute to damaged public opinion — even though the situation , at the time was out of Arkema ’ s control .
It is imperative for companies — especially those with critical environmental consequences — to prepare for every possible disaster and communicate those emergency procedures to the public .
See Natural Disasters , Page 9


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‘ TIS THE SEASON FOR GIVING Interested in giving back this season ? Learn how to donate
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