Reflecting on 2017

We take great pride in our commitment to the development and advancement of PR leaders. While there are many things to celebrate, let’s take a look back at our top 10 choices of 2017.

The Plank Center


  • We added a new venture to our list of initiatives by moving into our new headquarters. While we have always resided on the campus of The University of Alabama, The Center, along with the Betsy Plank collection, is now housed in its own 10,000 sq. ft. space. A huge thanks to UA and UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences for supporting The Center.
  • We continued our groundbreaking research into public relations leadership, completing five studies in the areas of leadership, mentorship, and diversity and inclusion. Included was our bi-annual Leadership Report Card in which PR professionals scored a very average C+.
  • Backed by top industry professionals and researchers, The Center launched a Mentorship Guide, which offers a living series of tips and tricks on how to get the most out of a mentorship relationship.
  • In an effort to advance leadership at all levels, we created the Challenge for Emerging Leaders, an intensive, two-day leadership workshop for engaged, high-achieving and diverse university seniors majoring in public relations. Thirty-eight students have completed the workshop so far received a Certificate of Leadership Achievement.
  • We placed 10 educators in world-class corporations and public relations agencies for two weeks this summer through our Educator Fellowship Program, now in its eighth year and the only one of its kind in public relations.
  • Our “Milestones in Mentoring” Gala, held in Chicago each year and dubbed the “best night in public relations,” continues to be an inspiring and motivational evening.
  • Prior to our “Milestones in Mentoring” Gala, we co-hosted the #PlankMentor: Student Mentoring Session with DePaul PRSSA. Students from Chicago-area chapters and the University of Alabama were in attendance to ask our “Milestones in Mentoring” honorees the tough questions on career advice, networking, mentoring and more.
  • To add to our webinar series, we hosted six webinars — “Things I Wish I’d Known Before Entering the Workforce,” “Hidden Figures in PR: Putting a Long-Overdue Spotlight on African-American PR Pioneers,” “Millennials, Diversity and Inclusion in the PR Industry,” “Championing Diversity and Inclusion to Recruit and Retain Top Talent,” “Becoming a PR Leader: The Art and Science of Mentorship,” and “PR Leaders are Pretty Average” Getting a Job in Public Relations” — which are now available on demand on our website. The webinars feature a panel of experts and offer practical implications that can be implemented today to serve tomorrow’s leaders.
  • We continue to honor our namesake with a national celebration, Betsy Plank Day, now in its fifth year. As Betsy said, “Unless it’s illegal, unethical or immoral, volunteer for everything!” Many PRSSA Chapters celebrated Betsy Plank Day by giving back and volunteering in their local community.
  • To continue Betsy’s legacy, a new edition of Legacies from Legends in PR was created to inform and inspire those who will shape the next generation of public relations. It’s a proud roster of more than 50 respected leaders and heroes of our profession whose work has strengthened the public relations practice and education.

Everything The Center has accomplished over the last 12 years is directly attributable to our dedicated and active Board members who exemplify public relations leadership.

Betsy Plank’s legacy lives on in The Center’s research and work in advancing the profession and public relations education. Thank you to the organizations and friends who have generously supported The Center this year. With your support, we can continue to make a legendary difference in the development and advancement of outstanding public relations leaders through a variety of programs, such as fellowships, initiatives, research and awards.

We invite you to support a stronger public relations profession by making a tax-deductible gift.


Resources of Interest

The Plank Center is committed to helping you expand your skills and advance the practice of public relations.