Meet the 2018 PRSA Oregon Leadership

2017 was an historic year of becoming PRSA Oregon – connecting with and understanding our community so that we can offer more robust programming and regional networking that best serves members across Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Representative Leaders with Geographic Diversity

In accordance with chapter bylaws the 20-person Nominating Committee assembled an outstanding slate of candidates from across the region to lead the future of PRSA Oregon.

This slate represents our members from all over the region, including Aloha, Beaverton, Corvallis, Eugene, Gearhart, Gresham, Lake Oswego, Portland, and Salem, various industries, including nonprofit organizations and foundations, healthcare, government, higher education and PR agencies, eight APRs, five past presidents and one Fellow PRSA, as well as members at every stage of their career from new to seasoned pros.  

Here is the leadership team who will steer PRSA Oregon throughout 2018 as we move from transition to transformation when elected by the chapter membership.

The objective of each role is listed after each position nominee and followed by a statement about what’s important to them next year.

Executive Committee

President & Executive Committee Chair (Officer) Brian Terrett, APR (Portland)

To successfully motivate and lead the PRSA Oregon Chapter and its Board of Directors in fulfilling its stated purpose: advancing the profession of public relations and strengthening and maintaining the highest standards of ethical conduct by all members.

“Somewhere in the state there’s PR pros who feel completely isolated. What I want by the end of next year is I want them to feel supported and feel like they belong to a organization that can address whatever needs they have.”

Secretary/President-Elect & Nominating Committee Co-Chair (Officer) – See FAQ #2 below

To lead all internal operations of the Chapter in order to gather the insight and skills necessary to succeed to the office of President in the next fiscal year; and to keep records of Chapter materials, including a written record of all board meetings, chapter activities, board motions and policy decisions.

Interim Secretary (Officer) Tracey Lam, APR (East Portland)

To lead all internal operations of the Chapter; and to keep records of Chapter materials, including a written record of all board meetings, chapter activities, board motions and policy decisions.

“I’m excited to continue the work of the 2017 board and transition team to develop an even stronger and cohesive operation for our members.”

Treasurer (Officer) Siobhan Taylor (Lake Oswego)

To successfully forecast, budget and monitor the PRSA Oregon revenues and expenses to ensure that the chapter remains viable.

“The most important challenge I will have is being the wise steward our resources in the manner of our current Treasurer Dave Thompson. Dave’s done the heavy lifting, it will be my responsibility to ensure our continued accountability.”

Immediate Past President Colby Reade, APR (Aloha)

To serve as an informational resource to the chapter President and Board of Directors of the PRSA Portland Metro Chapter. The Past President is an ex-officio member of the Board. As Assembly Delegate, to interact with the PRSA Oregon Chapter Board of Directors regarding voting issues at the National Assembly and to make voting recommendations to the chapter Board.

“2017 was a monumental year for PRSA Oregon as we transitioned from three chapters to one. With the initial phase of our transition complete, 2018 will be a critical year. I look forward to helping the board cement new traditions, identify the most efficient ways to connect with members and provide whole new opportunities for professional development.”

Assembly Delegates

To provide leadership and support as well as guidance to the PRSA Oregon Chapter Board of Directors for operational decisions. Our delegate role also includes representation and making make voting recommendations regarding national governance issues at the PRSA Leadership Assembly.

Assembly Delegate #1 – Gail Dundas, APR (Gearhard)

“Having served PRSA as an Assembly Delegate many times in the past, I look forward to stepping back into the arena to ensure equal representation locally and nationally.”

Assembly Delegate #2 Dianne Danowski-Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA (Beaverton)

“Oregon’s PRSA presence is one of the strongest among PRSA chapters around the country. We’ll continue to provide strong and skilled leadership at the national level and strengthen our reputation as a key voice in local, regional and national governance.”

Assembly Delegate #3Julie Manning, APR (Corvallis)

“After 32 years in the profession and as a long-time member of PRSA, I would look forward to reflecting the views of our chapter as an Assembly delegate.”

Directors-at-Large & Committee Chairs

Events DirectorVictoria Wagner (Portland)

To oversee planning of cost-effective and engaging chapter events that align with Chapter goals and strategic plans.

“I’m humbled by the opportunity to create events that will encourage participation from members statewide. My focus is overcoming the challenge of diverse locations and ensuring every member can participate and be involved.”

Membership DirectorSally Ridenour, APR (Salem)

To successfully lead the PRSA Oregon Chapter’s membership retention and growth through a focus on member services, recruitment and relationship building.

“I’m excited to get to know PRSA members, especially new members or soon-to-be new members across the state. With our new statewide chapter, this is a great opportunity to turn the old song ‘Make new friends and keep the old, one is silver and the other gold…’ into reality.”

Service Director & Nominating Committee Co-Chair Casey Boatman (Eugene)

To successfully staff the PRSA Oregon Chapter’s volunteer service needs through a focus on recruiting and retaining an engaged volunteer work force through meaningful service.

“I’ll use my Service Director role to encourage service with PRSA Oregon to talented PR and communication professionals over the next year. An engaged membership is key to the growth and success of our Chapter.”

Advocacy DirectorErin Merz, APR (Portland)

To contribute to public discourse on issues that affect the profession directly and those that impact free and open communications within our community.

“I’m excited to elevate PRSA Oregon’s aptitude for advocacy. In particular affirming our role as a trusted, valued resource and partner in the business community.”

Sponsorship Director Michael Lewellen, APR, ABC (Portland)

To assist the chapter President in all activities necessary to successfully lead the PRSA Oregon Chapter through a focus on attracting and retaining chapter sponsors.

“I look forward to connecting other organizations and corporations with our chapter’s vast network of members, along with the broader communications community, to find mutually beneficial ways to support awareness, resources and engagement.”

Communications DirectorJudy Asbury, APR (Portland)

To successfully lead the PRSA Oregon Chapter’s communication efforts to keep members, prospective members, community members, partners, sponsors, and the media informed of and engaged in Chapter activities and influence.  

“I am excited by our key challenge: to create a web of communications that keep PRSA members throughout the region informed, engaged and feeling part of the chapter, no matter where they live.”

2018 Slate FAQ

  1. How were these candidates selected?

The Nominating Committee was chaired by both President-Elect Julie Williams, APR, and Service Director Taylor Long to best utilize our volunteer talent. The 20-person Nominating Committee was composed of the entire 2017 board and eight members at large giving broader visibility to the process and casting a wider net.

We used a new process for the Nominating Committee this year to “draft” members, aligning the strengths and resources each member has to offer with roles that directly support their professional development goals. All nominees met the qualifications for the role per the job description. We drafted all chapter leadership nominees, as well as all committee roles, from our members talent pool, adding even more value to your membership.

  1. Why is the Secretary/President-Elect role vacant? Why are those roles combined now? And, when will there be a candidate for this position?

The Nominating Committee completed a rigorous search for this role including outreach to six members who were considered qualified candidates, none of which were able to serve at this time.

The roles were combined because the Secretary role has evolved to be point-person on chapter operations, which aligns perfectly to best prepare the President-Elect for the presidency. The two job functions can be completed without adverse effects on the chapter or significant increase in the amount of time required from the Officer. Read the full job description here.

We hope to finalize this role within the new year, so that the board can vote and elect this role per our bylaws as soon as possible. Due to the new status and broader scope of our organization, finding the right fit is critical. We are continuing to explore options and welcome candidates to apply. Until we have a candidate, Tracey Lam, APR, will serve as Interim Secretary, carrying on her 2017 role and transition efforts developing our Policies & Procedures.

  1. How can I vote?

As a member of PRSA Oregon, please cast your vote by completing the electronic ballot.

  1. When does voting end?

Voting will close on Nov. 7, 2017.

  1. When will the results be announced?

The elected slate will be announced on Nov. 8 at the 2017 Annual Membership Meeting & Elections, held virtually via webinar to ensure accessibility to all members. Register directly for the webinar here.

PRSA Oregon Shines at 2017 PRSAIcon

PRSA Oregon showed its “Revolutionary Leadership” at this year’s PRSA International Conference (#PRSAIcon), Chapter Leadership Rally (#PRSArally) and National Assembly (#PRSAdelegates) held in Boston, Mass., Oct. 6-10.

Ten PRSA Oregon members attended, two received industry awards, three advocated for members’ rights at Assembly and one networked with chapters from around the country at Rally, showing leadership within the organization, the industry and society. View a photo album on Facebook.

Here’s a recap of the highlights (in order of date):

Leadership & Networking at Rally – Oct. 6

President-Elect Julie Williams, APR, MA, joined representatives from nearly all 100 chapters, including the North Pacific District’s (NPD) 15 chapters from California to Alaska. During the Leadership Rally orientation for chapter leaders, Oregon chapter’s lessons learned from the chapter merger, new models for succession planning, career planning guide and membership engagement were in high demand. Chapter leaders, especially from larger 250-400 member chapters, sought Oregon’s materials, expertise and partnership. Julie made connections for the chapter with national board members and chairs, regional and district leads, along with leaders from Reno, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, New York, Oklahoma City, Illinois, West Palm Beach, Minnesota chapters and more.

Oregon PRSSA Presence – Oct. 6-10

The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) has 25 chapters at colleges in the North Pacific District. The PRSSA conference was held concurrently, Oct. 6-10, and attended by six board members from the University of Oregon’s (U of O) chapter, led by PRSSA President and Oregon chapter committee member Lily Gordon. President-Elect Julie Williams, along with the students’ adjunct professors John Mitchell and Kelli Matthews, enjoyed seeing the Boston sights with the students and making introductions to PR pros across the country during #PRSAIcon networking events.

Elections & Voting Results at Assembly – Oct. 7

About 300 Assembly Delegates from 100 chapters around the country gathered on Saturday, Oct. 7, to discuss and vote on amendments to the national bylaws as well as hear results of the 2018 Board of Director elections, including Brad Hilliard, APR, serving as Assembly Delegate At-Large next year. Oregon sent President-Elect Julie Williams and two other seasoned delegates.

There was heated debate prior to and during Assembly about Amendments 1703 and 1704, including testimony from PRSA Oregon delegates, Dianne Danowski-Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA and John Mitchell, APR, Fellow PRSA.

The result: upholding all district seats on the National board and rescinding 1704 by the board of directors (fairly unprecedented according to longtime delegates) to many cheers by delegates.

  • Amendment 1701 – APPROVED: Documents the Requirement for District Bylaws to Comply with National Bylaws was approved
  • Amendment 1702A – APPROVED (as amended): Change the term “public relations” to “public relations and communications” was approved
  • Amendment 1703 – NOT APPROVED: Eliminate requirement for District Representation Among Directors on the National Board
  • Amendment 1704 – TABLED: Allow the Board of Directors to Amend Bylaws

Industry Award Honorees – Oct. 8-9

During the PRSAIcon Opening Ceremony on Sunday and the Networking Luncheon on Monday, longtime PRSA members from Oregon were two of four practitioners recognized as industry leaders before thousands of peers and surrounded by their loved ones.

Louis (Lou) Capozzi, APR, Fellow PRSA, received PRSA’s Gold Anvil Award for Lifetime Achievement in Public Relations. Lou is semi-retired in Bend, teaches at U of O and credited the formative relationships that have shaped his career during his acceptance speech.

In addition to this year’s awards from our chapter for service and from the district for practitioner of the year, Dianne Danowski-Smith, received PRSA’s Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service. Dianne spoke about her cancer survival journey’s inspiration for starting a new nonprofit organization to help other patients, all while running her own PR firm in Portland and serving on the Oregon chapter board.

PRSAIcon Professional Development Opportunities – Oct. 8-10

PRSA Oregon member Ann Wylie presented on how to write for mobile reading and members* Lou Capozzi, Dianne Danowski-Smith, Kathy Hubbell, APR, Fellow PRSA, Barbara Kerr, APR, Fellow PRSA, Kelli Matthews, John Mitchell, APR, Fellow PRSA, Sally Ridenour, APR, Tom Unger, APR, ABC, Fellow PRSA, and Julie Williams, attended many of the PRSAIcon keynote sessions and nearly hundred sessions related to the six tracks of industry trending topics: big data & measurement, integrated marketing communications, leadership & management, reputation management, tools & techniques and special interests.

Attendees noted that the sessions were informative, especially the case studies and new tools, though not overwhelmingly “revolutionary.”

Mark Your Calendars – 2018, 2019

Per the last couple years, Leadership Rally, Assembly and PRSAIcon will continue to be consolidated into one event next year and hosted in early October, 2018. The conference will be held in Austin, Texas, and even more exciting for the North Pacific District – it will be in San Diego, Calif. in 2019. As of publication, there was not information available on the PRSA website.

Tip: Travel, accommodations and conference registration are about $3,000. So, start saving up or budgeting for Austin and/or San Diego now!

*Attendance list is to our knowledge. We’d love to hear if anybody else from the chapter was in Boston that we missed.

Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow, recipient of three huge PRSA honors!

At this year’s PRSA Oregon Spotlight Awards, we will be celebrating creative, award winning practitioners. Register here for tickets to this year’s Spotlight Awards.

Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow, is named PRSA North Pacific District’s 2017 PR Practitioner of the Year, receives PRSA’s Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service and the PRSA Oregon Ron Schmidt Community Involvement Award

As a 20-plus year, award-winning public relations practitioner, Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA, turned her thoughts to the principles of engagement and empowerment she learned in her practice of public relations, to support others struggling with cancer.

Practitioner of the Year

PRSA’s North Pacific District named Smith PR Practitioner of the Year. Smith created an Oregon event called Answer2Cancer. Her remarkable work was performed while she was recovering from surgery and weak from chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Drawing on her connections, she secured sponsorships, built a consortium of support and helped host the day-long event in Portland. She ultimately raised enough funds so the event could be at no cost to cancer patients, their families and friends. As she managed the social strategy for the event, she rolled out the social channels and literally overnight, went global.

Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service

This week in Boston during the PRSA 2017 International Conference, Smith received the Paul M. Lund Public Service Award, which honors a PRSA member whose participation as a volunteer in important public activities has increased the common good and reflected credit on the society.

 

“It sounds cliché, but if you look up ‘community-minded’ in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Dianne,” said Colby Reade, APR, PRSA Oregon President. “I have never met anyone who invests so much of herself into growing and developing those around her. Dianne has tirelessly worked as a mentor to countless young professionals (myself included), helping to grow the next generation of public relations practitioners. Within our organization, she always has her hand raised to contribute to the discussion at a regional and national level. She never stops.”

Ron Schmidt Community Involvement Award

Smith also received the PRSA Oregon Ron Schmidt Community Involvement Award for 2017. This honor is awarded to a public relations practitioner who has performed exceptional service to the community, generously giving their time, talent and efforts to achieve results that help the greater good.

“There is no way to track the magnitude of Smith’s impact on our community, across the state and really around the nation. Our industry, our city and our region are far stronger because of her contributions and we are incredibly fortunate to count her as a member of PRSA Oregon,” adds Reade.

Smith serves on the 2017 board of directors for PRSA Oregon as a leadership assembly delegate, served as the 2006 president of the Portland Metro chapter and as 2004 chair of PRSA’s North Pacific District. In 2012, she was inducted into the PRSA College of Fellows.

Smith is also the recipient of the 2009 PRSA Portland Metro Chapter William W. Marsh Lifetime Achievement Award and PRSA Portland Metro Chapter Spotlight Awards for her work on both an advocacy campaign that educated Oregonians about the availability of affordable prescriptions, as well as extensive citywide campaign to promote community policing in an around Portland.

Listening Tour Report to Membership

Authors:  Elisa Williams, Julie Williams and Siobhan Taylor 

PRSA Oregon embarked on a Listening Tour in the spring of 2017 throughout Oregon and SW Washington to meet members and hear their input and concerns about the new, merged chapter. Listening Tour sessions were held in Bend, EugenePortland and Salem.

Here’s a recap of the report findings or read the full 2017 Listening Tour Report.

Founded in 2017, PRSA Oregon is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization and a local chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). As we become PRSA Oregon, merging membership from around the state with the majority from the former Greater Oregon chapter in Eugene, the former Oregon Capitol chapter in Salem and the former Portland Metro chapter, we are defining a new era for professional communicators in Oregon and SW Washington.

What Members Said

Several common threads emerged in all of the discussion sessions.

  • To ensure geographic diversity we need new or refined operational systems so that programming remains profitable and reaches all members. And, leadership distribution represents all of Oregon and SW Washington, including a robust pipeline of new leaders to aid in succession planning.
  • A larger, more diverse chapter makes enhanced professional development and networking possible, including a mix of local and regional events. To ensure these benefits, there must be a high level of membership and service engagement chapter-wide.
  • Connections are important. When face-to-face meetings aren’t possible, technology makes professional development opportunities and events accessible to members regardless of location. Using the latest high-touch tools keeps members’ skills current and leaders in communications.

How We’re Already Adapting

Feedback received led to several changes in 2017:

  • Spotlight Awards Ceremony will be held in Canby. The central location and timing more easily accommodates travel.
  • In July and September, a Service Draft is ensuring leadership and committee positions reflect the entire region.
  • Additional input on programming was collected this summer, as well as at the upcoming sessions on Aug. 12 and on Sept. 16.
  • Expansion of Meet the Media events is being explored to include media markets throughout the region if there is local volunteer support to host the event. Please email events@prsaoregon.org if you’d like to help set one up.

Share Your Ideas for the Future

Join us for the final Listening Tour sessions during the membership orientation at 10 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 12, at Willamette University, and at 10 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Valley River Inn, Eugene, Oregon.

For more information: Read the full 2017 Listening Tour Report or email listening@prsaoregon.org.

Call to Service

Author: Beverly Brooks

As we’re becoming PRSA Oregon this year, you’ve shared your excitement and ideas. For instance, that “we need to make sure that everyone has a voice at a table” with responsibilities that make a difference for anyone, anywhere. Now, it’s time to consider what you need from your membership next year and how we can help you grow.

We are looking at service differently in 2018.

How will you join in next year? Will you:

  • Volunteer at an event – great way for anyone in community to get to know chapter and our members
  • Offer “self-service” – opportunities for 75-100 people to give back by helping with awards judging or readiness review panels and more
  • Serve on a committee – 20-25 roles for members looking for meaningful networking and skill building
  • Lead the chapter – 12 leadership roles for members seeking strategic planning and management experience that yields significant results

Members say that serving the chapter has helped them get jobs, get connections and get training – and that now extends across all of Oregon and SW Washington.

To ensure all members are considered for service, we are piloting a new model for how we bring our volunteers on board: 1) this summer the Nominating Committee will include the entire board to “draft” their successors and dream teams (like in the NBA), co-chaired by President-Elect Julie Williams, APR, and then 2) this fall/winter everyone will be trained by the Service team, led by Taylor Long.

Reach out to service@prsaoregon.org by July 7 to express your interest in serving with us!

 

Transition Steering Committee Report: May

Author: Julie Williams, APR, MA

Big Accomplishments This Spring

Gathering with peers at the 2017 Communicators Conference was the perfect opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come since the PRSA Oregon Chapter was formed in January.

As participants checked in and collected their conference materials, current members received pins recognizing their status as founders of PRSA Oregon. By the time the opening keynote session launched, the ballroom was filled with members from throughout Oregon and SW Washington wearing their new pins.

At lunch, PRSA Oregon President Colby Reade, APR, shared highlights from the transition communications plan developed to support the chapter during this crucial foundational year. Here are a few high points from the plan that we’ve accomplished so far, thanks to the dedication of many volunteers:

• On May 3, PRSA Oregon launched its website. PRSA member and web strategist David (Kuo-Hsuan) Pan and Beverly Brooks, PRSA Oregon Director of Communications – as well as too many others to mention − deserve to take a deep bow. Going forward, you’ll also see our social media channels evolve to reflect new PRSA Oregon branding and messaging.

• The first phase of the Listening Tour, which included events in Eugene, Portland and Salem, wrapped up in April. We’re now starting the process of sharing the feedback we received.

Less visible than communications, but absolutely essential, members of the Transition Steering Committee have made impressive progress in unifying administration of the three chapters that merged to form PRSA Oregon. You name it, it needed to be dealt with and consolidated: taxes, budgets, contracts, storage rooms, membership lists, bylaws and procedures, logos, filings with PRSA National and on and on. On May 15, our treasurer, Dave Thompson, submitted 990 taxes for all three chapters.

We are so fortunate that the leadership and volunteers from the former PRSA chapters in Eugene, Portland and Salem have a long history of service and a depth of expertise so we can get operations as one unified chapter running smoothly.

Now we’re focused on getting a new team in place in the coming year. We’re calling upon many contributors to help us conduct a wide-scale draft to find a strong mix of PR pros to serve in leadership and committee roles in 2018. In our May Transition Steering Committee meeting, we reviewed each role in detail and took a step back to ensure we have a structure that best supports where we’re heading.

I’m really excited about the difference our service draft is going to make. In all, our organizational chart now includes more than 50 lead roles and 150 opportunities for self-directed service contributions. I’m so proud of what that says about the potential for engagement. We’ll share more about the draft as the process unfolds.

As founding members, we can all take pride in what we’ve been accomplished together so far. We couldn’t be better positioned for new growth!

Yours in Service,
Julie

Julie Williams, APR, MA
2018 PRSA Oregon President-Elect
Transition Steering Committee Chair
Outreach Task Force Co-Chair

Our Ethical Obligations as PR Professionals

Author: Kathy Hubbell, APR, M.S., Fellow in PRSA

“Truth is the foundation of all effective communications.” That’s the opening sentence of PRSA’s excellent rebuke of the term “alternative facts.” As professional communicators, none of us would question that. In these challenging times, it’s worth reviewing a few other basic premises in the PRSA Code of Ethics that guides our profession.

  1. Preserve and protect the free flow of communication. In the code, there is specific reference to giving or receiving gifts and entertaining government officials as possible violations here. However, this section also emphasizes honesty and accuracy in all your communications, and the obligation to correct any erroneous information immediately. a. The “Expertise” part of the code recognizes the need for continued professional development, research and education. It is through your research and thorough knowledge of the organization and the issue at hand that you will be able to achieve accuracy in your communication. It is through your education and professional development that you will understand the best channels, strategies and methods for accurately conveying information.  b. Being honest is, of course, assumed. It is our job to speak truth to those who supervise us and employ us, and then to carry that honesty through in all our public communication. If people begin to suspect that you and your organization are deliberately misleading them, then credibility will be difficult, if not impossible, to rebuild. The old saying that it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and five minutes to destroy it remains as true as ever.
  2. Avoid real, potential, and perceived conflicts of interest. The points of this is “to build trust with the public by avoiding or ending situations that put one’s personal or professional interests in conflict with society’s interests.” I have a personal story to tell here. Some years ago, I worked on an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) project for the Montana Air National Guard, which of course was under the auspices of the U.S. Air Force, and thus the Pentagon. At the same time, I had started fighting the Pentagon tooth and nail over its mandatory, experimental and dangerous anthrax vaccine. I formed a web site, formed a national group, and even twice walked the halls of Congress. It was obvious that I had better inform the supervising officer of the EIS project what I was doing in my personal life, so I did. She took my written information and forwarded it to the appropriate attorneys in the Pentagon.I waited. A couple of weeks went by, and finally the answer came back down: “Tell her it’s fine – just to keep the two projects entirely separate.” What would I have done if the answer was negative? I would have had to resign from the project or stopped my anthrax work. At that time, the anthrax work would probably have won out, because my own son had received some of those shots and I had gotten to know several veterans whose health was permanently compromised by the shots. But I’m glad it never came to that. The Montana Air National Guard and the Air Force did an incredible job on the project, and it was a privilege to be part of it.
  3. The independence and loyalty statements in the code can be difficult in practice. They are:
    INDEPENDENCE: We provide objective counsel to those we represent. We are accountable for our actions.
    LOYALTY: We are faithful to those we represent, while honoring our obligation to serve the public interest.The independence statement harkens back to speaking truth to power. We are obligated to provide objective, honest facts and truth to those who employ us. We are not “yes” people. I used to explain this to my clients within the scope of our first one or two meetings, and everybody would say yes, they understood. Well – they didn’t always. When a company hires an employee or an outside contractor, the assumption is that the person hired will do as told. We are in the position of being sure we do what’s right first. I overheard a hilarious conversation between a nurse and a doctor this weekend, who had just met at a gathering, and were laughing when the doctor said “Nurses are critical – they save your butt!” The nurse told the story of overriding a physician’s orders at one point, because those orders would have killed the patient. She wrote up her own orders, which could have gotten her fired, but the physician later thanked her for her foresight.We’re not quite in that position, thankfully. But any amount of time we spend training the management team about what’s ethical and legal, and explaining the possible ramifications of any given situation is time well spent.This of course feeds into the loyalty statement: we are faithful to those we represent, but at the same time we have an obligation to serve the public interest. If a chemical has leached into the ground from a company’s operations, it’s in the public interest to be informed of any danger that chemical poses to the public. Whether or not the company wants to release the information is not the point. This kind of situation plays out across the country nearly every day. However, if the public interest is endangered, it’s my belief that the public interest takes first priority and the public relations counsel must work to ensure the company understands and takes the appropriate action.

To echo an excellent speech by NBC news anchor Lester Holt, the best thing we can do in these challenging times is continue to do our jobs. Do your homework. Be honest. Be accurate. Build good mutual relationships. Build trust. Tell your story. Be fair. Be loyal. Advocate for our profession. And serve the public interest as well as those we represent.

Kathy Hubbell

Kathy Hubbell, APR, M.S., Fellow in PRSA, is the 2014 William W. Marsh Lifetime Achievement Award winner. She founded the Montana Chapter of PRSA, has served as the Pacific Northwest District Chair and has served on PRSA’s national board of directors. She is a co-author of the 2016 PRSA Career Guide with Aaron Sewell, and serves the Oregon Chapter by working on the mentorship program and providing guidance on ethical matters. Kathy has a 35-year career in public relations, and enjoys teaching PR whenever possible and working with private clients.