It’s no secret that the late Betsy Plank was, and is, a public relations legend. As a longtime professional and advocate for PR education, her impact on the industry still resonates today. At The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, we continue to channel Betsy’s spirit and passion as we develop and recognize current and future leaders, mentors and role models in the public relations industry.
This year, though, there’s a twist. To celebrate Betsy’s life, we decided to take our annual Betsy Plank Day celebration, April 7, a step further — 29 steps, in fact — to present the first‐ever installment of the 30 Days of Betsy. In addition to Betsy’s Birthday on April 3 and #BetsyDay, we’re launching a celebration of Betsy’s life and legacy throughout the entire month of April.
During 30 Days of Betsy, we’ll give you daily doses of advice, insight and inspiration from the First Lady of Public Relations herself. We’ll pair fun facts about Betsy’s life and career with some of her most famous quotes and pieces of advice. Each day will showcase Betsy’s contributions to students, professionals and educators across the globe. We’re ready to spend each day sharing Betsy’s wisdom, personality and perspective with you.
As Betsy once said, “Public relations people must be eternal students.” Starting April 1, follow #30DaysofBetsy on social media to keep learning from a PR legend and join us in celebrating Betsy’s legacy one day at a time.
Betsy Plank achieved many firsts for women. She was the first woman to lead a division of Illinois Bell, and she was the first president of the Publicity Club of Chicago (1963) and PRSA (1973). Betsy Plank was a champion for public relations education and loved students, devoting her retirement years to the promotion of PRSSA.
Betsy Plank won the Gold Anvil Award and the Paul M. Lund Public Service Award in 1977. She also won the Patrick Jackson Award for Distinguished Service to PRSA in 2001. Furthermore, Plank received the first Arthur W. Page Society’s Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award and the Institute for Public Relations’ Hamilton Award in 2002.
On this day in 1924, Betsy Plank was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She spent part of her childhood in the city before moving to Pennsylvania. She found her way back home as a young woman, graduating from The University of Alabama in 1944. She went on to become one of the most influential women in the public relations industry, and an inspiration and mentor to many students, professionals and educators. We celebrate her today!
The Plank Center offers programs and opportunities for public relations students, professionals, educators and researchers. It works to bridge the gap between public relations education and practice by offering a range of activities that include student awards, distinguished lecturers, funded research, Twitter chats and Webinars. Betsy dedicated so much time and energy to mentorship and leadership, striving to make the industry the best it can be.
Betsy Plank was a trailblazer in the public relations industry. If Betsy had a goal, she set out to achieve it, even if it had never been done before. She never quit until the job was done and never settled for less than the best. Public relations professionals should channel their inner Betsy when working towards a tough goal.
Some of Betsy Plank’s favorite things included the colors red and pink, working with students through PRSSA and spending time on her boat. She believed in handwritten thank-you notes, mentoring others and passionate lifelong learners. In honor of tomorrow’s 3rd Annual Betsy Plank Day, let’s all wear Betsy’s favorite colors!
The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations will honor the late public relations legend, Betsy Plank, by hosting a national celebration, Betsy Day, on April 7. For the third consecutive year, we celebrate the life and legacy of Betsy Plank, the First Lady of public relations and the “Godmother of PRSSA.” Her contributions to the industry, example of leadership and passion for students have shaped the definition of success in the field today. Follow #BetsyDay to join in on the conversation.
Public relations people are constantly learning and expanding their skill sets. In the continually changing world of PR, it is essential to be up to date on the newest trends. Keep your PR knowledge sharp by attending seminars, polishing your writing skills, and always read, read, read!
The collection was fitting, considering Betsy Plank was such a gem.
Betsy Plank was passionate about her work and let that passion show in everything she did. Her dedication drove her to succeed, and she possessed the hard-working attitude to get her there. Most of all, Betsy’s kindness and compassion led her to do all work with integrity. These qualities make Betsy an inspiration to us all.
Betsy Plank started out her career just like a lot of undergraduate students do today. She got involved at her university by joining groups on campus, such as her sorority. Finding ways to meet new people and surrounding yourself with unfamiliar territory can make you a better public relations practitioner. Plus, it will always open the door to more networking opportunities!
Taking the time to write a personalized thank-you note goes a long way in the world of public relations. Whether thanking a client for its business, thanking a hiring manager for his/her time in an interview, or thanking mentors for their knowledge, showing your gratitude is “the smart thing to do”.
Everything Betsy Plank did, she did with passion. Betsy set the standard for the public relations industry with her drive, integrity and innovative thinking. She serves as an example and role model for all public relations professionals.
A big part of the public relations industry requires constant attention to detail and intrinsic motivation. Betsy Plank was a great role model to peers and students alike. Finding a mantra or way to keep yourself moving is key to finding success!
Betsy Plank was one of PRSSA’s biggest champions, even developing the “Champions for PRSSA,” which accentuates the importance of mentoring relationships. There is much to be said about the benefits of seasoned professionals speaking with students and young pros; each party is able to gain a strong perspective on various topics and issues.
A furry companion can help even the busiest public relations professional de-stress. Just like Betsy Plank and Cinderella, taking the time to love a pet can contribute to finding your work-life balance.
Public relations is an “evolving profession, constantly change.” Betsy Plank was a catalyst for growth and change. She dedicated her professional life, as most public relations professionals do, to fulfill and balance responsibilities to clients and customers.
One of the things that Betsy Plank was proudest of was a result of an impulse. “I’m a very impulsive kind of person and it gets me in lots of trouble sometimes, but it’s well worth the experience often. It was the impulse to run the last leg of the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. I have a feeling because I was concerned about civil rights and I’m a native southerner and cared very much about that whole issue and its many facets. I probably would have been a writer and a troublemaker in some respect. I’m glad I was a part of that historic event. But I rather suspect that if I hadn’t gone into public relations, I would have gone into some kind of advocacy of that kind.”
If you do your best work in the late hours of the night, then you’re just like Betsy Plank! As public relations practitioners, our work schedule is not necessarily 9-5. Crises pop up out of the blue, we receive a dozen emails almost every hour, and social media never stops. This constant need for attention keeps us on our toes; however, it does require us to choose between being an early riser or a night owl.
Betsy Plank was very competitive in all aspects of her life. She used this drive and fire to make sure her own successes helped others around her. Everyone felt empowered to do better because of the positive and strong influence Betsy had on their lives.
In the midst of applications, interviews and graduation craziness, take Betsy Plank’s wisdom to heart. Graduation is the beginning of a journey through this industry; if the first job isn’t your “dream job,” or if you’re nervous about calling a new city “home,” take a deep breath and remember all of the valuable lessons that will come your way during this exciting time.
Betsy Plank exemplified what it meant to be a leader in public relations throughout her career. She never stopped working to advance the profession and to pave a way for the next generation. Her focus on others led her to become the most individually-recognized woman in the industry.
Public relations is a form of storytelling. To be good storytellers, we have to experience things in life that are worth telling. Betsy Plank enjoyed exploring new places and learning about different cultures. Find what influences your creative thinking.
Betsy Plank was a spitfire and an inspiration to everyone. Her energy was unparalleled, and she was extremely passionate about learning and being part of a cohesive team. Experience is vital in public relations, and the best way to polish skills and gain more knowledge is to jump at any and every chance to challenge yourself!
When dealing with either the public or clients, our ideas do not always match up. The important lesson to learn with this setback is that you have to know when to concede to the preferences of your audience and when to stand by your values.
Betsy Plank had many hobbies and interests that she dedicated much of her time to outside of work. From volunteering with local nonprofits to appearing in commercials and capturing the moments that mattered most, Betsy wasn’t afraid to try new things!
Betsy Plank knew the importance of professionalism, but she also knew it was important to have a life outside of work. Having an answer for a question like this shows interviewers that you can think on your toes while also showing that you are dedicated to learn new information.
Even after computers and email had taken over the business world, Betsy Plank continued to use her electric typewriter and fax machine, which are now preserved in The Plank Center along with her entire archive collection.
In the public relations field, we know that often it’s about who you know. Never be afraid to reach out to that person that you have the tiniest connection with…you never know who they know or how they can help you. And don’t forget to pay it forward.
Betsy Plank often ended speeches and letters with God bless or Godspeed, and we felt it was only appropriate to end 30 Days of Betsy with it as well. Keep learning, challenging yourself and surrounding yourself with mentors and peers who bring out the best in you. Godspeed!