The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations hosts a series of free webinars for public relations students, educators and professionals. You may access them here.

Women & Leadership in Public Relations
Progress in gender diversity in public relations remains painfully slow in many ways, but Time’s Up for the field. According to The Homes Report, women make up about 70% of the PR workforce, but they only hold about 30% of the top positions in the industry.

The Plank Center hosted a free webinar titled “Women and Leadership in Public Relations.”

The Center’s 2017 Leadership Report Card found that being successful in the field is still challenging for women—the pay gap is real; the opportunity gap is real; and the being-heard-and-respected-gap is real.

The webinar discusses bridging those gaps, including action items for current leaders at all organizational levels. Led by industry professionals:

  • Julia Hood, founder, Pop-Up Media and AgendaZoom
  • Jacquie McMahon, senior account executive, Ketchum
  • Donnalyn Pompper, public relations professor & endowed chair, University of Oregon
  • Brian Price, corporate communications manager, Starwood Retail Partners

And moderated by Leah Seay, assistant manager, public policy communication, General Motors.

Access: Webinar RecordingSlide Presentation

Leadership Report Card found PR leaders Scored a Very Average C+

Presented at 2017 IPR Research Symposium (New York)

In 2015 the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and Heyman Associates produced its first Report Card on PR Leaders. Leaders earned passing grades for the five areas examined—leadership performance, job engagement, trust in the organization, work culture and job satisfaction—but crucial gaps highlighted areas for improvement.

Nearly 1,200 PR leaders and professionals in the U.S. recently completed the same survey. Grades for leadership performance and trust were unchanged in 2017, but slipped for work culture, job engagement and job satisfaction. The overall grade for PR leaders fell from B- to C+. Gaps between leaders’ and employees’ perceptions of the five areas remained wide, while gender differences deepened.

Dr. Bruce Berger presents the findings in this recorded presentation.
Access: Webinar RecordingSlide Presentation

Becoming a PR Leader: The Art and Science of Mentorship

Presented at 2017 PRSA Conference 

For young professionals, having a mentor is often encouraged and touted; however, knowing how to find and effectively engage in such relationships is not necessarily easy or intuitive. This panel draws on primary and secondary research funded by the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, the expertise of an employee engagement expert, and a public relations professional with experience in both corporate and agency settings to help attendees better understand and navigate mentoring relationships. Panelists will share both personal experiences and research insights derived from a survey of more than 400 millennial PR professionals; interviews with 50+ PR professionals and students across five countries; and a review of nearly 200 mentoring studies and articles. Specific topics include best organizational and interpersonal mentoring practices, mentoring’s role in growing diverse organizations and mentoring’s connection to leadership development.

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Define what research tells us about mentorship’s value to PR practitioners in both the U.S. and abroad, and its link to PR leadership.
  • Reflect on the different kinds of mentors (personal, academic, professional) and will learn about the importance of mentorship in growing diverse, inclusive workplaces.
  • Analyze the 10 best organizational and interpersonal mentoring practices and will receive practical tips and advice for building and fostering them.

Access: Webinar RecordingSlide Presentation

Championing Diversity and Inclusion to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

Presented at 2017 PRSA Conference

According to the Social and Demographic Trends from Pew Research Center, millennials are the most racially diverse generation in American history. Results of a most recent study sponsored by the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and the Institute for Public Relations, suggest that more than 70 percent of surveyed millennial public relations professionals value diversity of people at work. In addition, more than 60 percent of them indicated they are very supportive of social causes and socially responsible companies. Results also suggest when companies are more engaged in developing socially responsible strategies and programs, their millennial PR professionals tend to be more engaged in their job and their organization. To address millennial PR professionals’ needs and expectations for generating a positive impact on the community and society, this panel offers discussion and implications on how to create a dedicated corporate environment focusing on a more caring, inclusive and diverse culture to attract millennial top talent. Such a corporate environment could be critical in at least five ways: as a source of diversity and inclusion, as a driver of accountability, as a resource for shared power and continued development, as a stimulus for engagement and as a key to long-term success. Practical solutions will be discussed.

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Examine cutting-edge survey data for insights about how diversity and inclusion initiatives help to recruit and retain millennial workers in PR. These insights are essential knowledge for managers as they supervise an increasingly diverse workforce.
  • Interpret surveys about diversity and inclusion tactics that illustrate simple ways to engage millennial employees.
  • Share case studies of best practices in diversity and inclusion as developed by global PR agency Burson-Marsteller and others.

Access: Webinar RecordingSlide Presentation

Millennials, Diversity and Inclusion in the PR Industry

There is much discussion in the PR and communication industry about the role and impact of the millennial generation on the workforce and workplace culture. Research shows that millennial communication professionals (MCPs) are the most diverse and socially and politically engaged generation to date, and that they expect organizations to be diverse and inclusive. However, there is a gap between desires and expectations, and how to actually achieve these conditions.  This webinar is designed to start conversations about #Millennial Communication Professionals, cultural perceptions in the workplace, and what can be done on individual and organizational levels to support open, diverse and inclusive workplace cultures.

Presenters included: Dr. Bruce Berger, Professor Emeritus of Advertising & Public Relations, University of Alabama; Aerial Ellis, Instructor of Public Relations, Lipscomb University; Dr. Juan Meng, Associate Professor of Public Relations, University of Georgia and Sarah Elise Vasquez, Brand Intern at Edelman (Los Angeles). Moderated by Leah Seay, Assistant Manager, Public Policy Communications, General Motors.

Access: Webinar RecordingSlide Presentation

Hidden Figures in PR: Putting a Long-Overdue Spotlight on African-American PR Pioneers

When you think of the pioneers of the public relations profession who comes to mind? The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations hosted a webinar titled “Hidden Figures in PR: Putting a Long-Overdue Spotlight on African-American PR Pioneers.”

Our textbooks taught us the pioneers of our profession—Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays—but this webinar shines a light on those the textbooks missed. This on-demand webinar has students, educators and practitioners discovering the “Hidden Figures in PR.”

The webinar provides deeper insight and understanding of the history of our profession. Led by industry professionals: Denise Hill, assistant professor, Elon University and Alicia Thompson, managing director, Porter Novelli. Introduced by Jada Culver, Public Relations Student Society of America past-president, The University of Alabama.

Access: Webinar RecordingSlide Presentation

Things I Wish I’d Known Before Entering the Workforce

Public relations students, are you eager to graduate and begin your career? Position yourself for even greater success by watching the webinar on-demand titled, “Things I Wish I’d Known Before Entering the Workforce.” The webinar provided ten insights into how to impress your colleagues from day one and offered applicable tips to overcome perceptions of the millennial generation.

The webinar featured the following industry professionals discussing their own experiences and what they wish they’d known when beginning their first job: Rick Looser, COO, The Cirlot Agency; Jesse McCraw, brand strategist, The Cirlot Agency; Jacquie McMahon, account executive, Ketchum; and Brian Price, digital marketing manager, Starwood Retail Partners.

Access: Webinar Recording  /  Slide Presentation

Promoting Diversity & Inclusion Excellence

How can you or your PRSSA chapter help support a stronger public relations profession? As future public relations leaders, you “set the tone for diversity and inclusion.” It’s up to you and your members to be “involved, accountable, and focused on creating an inclusive culture.”

The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations co-hosted a webinar with PRSSA titled, “Promoting Diversity & Inclusion Excellence.” Diversity and inclusion is an important topic across many industries, especially public relations.

From examining previous research to understanding how top organizations are moving the D&I dial, this webinar will equip you and your chapter with key takeaways that can be implemented today to serve tomorrow’s public relations leaders.

The webinar featured experts who discussed their diversity and inclusion research, observations, and experience. The experts were: Keith Burton, principal, Grayson Emmett Partners; Andrew Cook, VP of Advocacy, PRSSA 2016-2017; Pat Ford, worldwide vice chair, chief client officer, Burson-Marsteller; and Dr. Nilanjana Bardhan, professor, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Access: Webinar Recording  /  Slide Presentation

Getting a Job in Public Relations

WebinarAre you ready to get a job in public relations? Are you hungry to learn how to set yourself apart from the thousands of applicants? We hosted a webinar on “Getting a Job in Public Relations” that examined the characteristics and traits in demand for public relations positions, offered helpful tips on how to stand out from the competition in your job search and provided insight on how managers attract, retain and develop top performers.

The webinar featured experts who discussed their observations on the hiring process within public relations agencies and corporations. The experts were: Keith Burton, principal, Grayson Emmett Partners; Rick Looser, president and COO, The Cirlot Agency; Virginia Noriega, associate, Heyman Associates; and Kevin Saghy, manager of communications, Chicago Cubs.

Access: Webinar Recording / Slide Presentation

Building Your Brand and Finding That First Job

Building-Your-Brand-&-Finding-That-First-Job-Rev2-2Gary McCormick, Director of Partnership Development, HGTV, and Kevin Saghy, Manager of Communications, Chicago Cubs, talk about what students need to do right now to make sure they land that first job. The topics include what employers are really looking for, what questions to ask yourself to get ready for the search, what strategy to use, and how to build your public persona online.



Access: Webinar recording / Slide presentation

Agency for the Future

GolinHarris CEO and President Fred Cook discussed the firm’s new G4 model called Prevolve and the factors that led to the restructuring of the agency. “We’re breaking away from traditional agency silos,” Cook said in announcing the new model. “We’ve replaced the standard, seniority-based hierarchy with global teams of dedicated specialists who are embedded in every account. As our world evolves, so, too, do the needs of our clients. Now, more than ever, clients value smart people who can provide actionable insights into their business.”

Access:  slide presentation / audio recording

Ethics in PR Education

Dr. Bruce Berger, Reese Phifer Professor in the Advertising & Public Relations Department at UA, moderates this session on ethics in PR education that includes presentations by Dr. Shannon Bowen, Syracuse University; Prof. Kathy Fitzpatrick, Quinnipiac University; Kevin Saghy, public relations & marketing specialist, Chicago Cubs, and Plank Center Board member; and Tom Martin, former SVP, corporate relations at ITT, former president of The Arthur W. Page Society, and now Executive in Residence, College of Charleston. Panelists address current research in PR ethics, best practices in teaching PR ethics, ethical dilemmas they’ve faced, how students view their ethics training, why it all matters.

Access:  slide presentation / audio recording

Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability:  So Far . . . and What’s Next

Our panel of experts discuss what CSR is today, the lessons learned, what the new world of engagement and advocacy means for your organization, key messages for educators, and where we go from here. Rick White, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Wisconsin Energy Corporation, and Plank Center Board member, led the discussion with Chris Deri, Executive Vice President, Director of Global CSR/Sustainability Practice, Edelman; Billy Shore, Founder and Executive Director, Share Our Strength; and Dr. Bob Heath, Professor Emeritus, University of Houston.

Access:  slide presentation / audio recording

Landing a PR Job After School: What Employers are Looking For and What You Can Expect to Make

Okay, so you are about to graduate with a PR degree. Now what?  What kinds of jobs are out there?  For that matter, are there jobs? Do you have what employers are looking for? How much can you expect to make? Rick White, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Wisconsin Energy Corporation, and Plank Center Board member, led the discussion with Keith Burton, President, Insidege/GolinHarris and Plank Center Board member; Mark Harris, Vice President, Communications, IBM Global Business Services; Lisa K. Hart, Program Leader, Communication Leadership Development Program, GE; Jessamyn Katz, Director, Heyman Associates; and Rick Looser, COO Cirlot Agency and Plank Center Board member.

Access:  slide presentation / audio recording

How Emerging Digital Media Are Changing Our World: A Conversation for PR Educators

For public relations educators, social media are presenting new challenges. How do we teach our students the new skills required? How can we gain a better understanding of the problems facing organizations today? How can we develop a curriculum to support these areas? During this webinar, participants learned about the challenges and issues facing the profession from Jeff Beringer, Senior Vice President, Dialogue/GolinHarris; Robert French, Instructor, public relations and digital media, Auburn University; and Toby Ward, President, Prescient Digital Media.

Access:  slide presentation / audio recording

Deciding Between a PR Job and an Advanced Degree: Making the Right Decision

Deciding what to do after graduation can be confusing. Do you try to get a job in public relations? Do you stay in school and go for an MA, or perhaps an MBA, or maybe even a JD? This webinar explored topics such as the advantages of taking the job; the advantages of graduate school; weighing the pros and cons of an MA, MBA, and JD; and things to keep in mind if you are thinking about graduate school.  Moderated by Keith Burton, President of Insidedge/GolinHarris and a Plank Center Board member, the session included presentations by Brandi Boatner, a Past President of PRSSA; Doug Serton, an associate with Heyman Associates; and Dr. Karla Gower, associate professor of public relations at The University of Alabama and director of the Plank Center.

Access:  slide presentation

Resources of Interest

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