PRESS RELEASE: The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations Announces New Brand Identity | Rebrand Marks Future-Focused Change for the Center

November 22, 2021

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations recently announced its new brand identity. While the Center’s mission, goals and values remain unchanged, the total rebrand and new look represent the efforts of the Center to continue evolving with the public relations and communications industries.

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Press Release: Trends and challenges revealed in new book about women and leadership in public relations

Advancement barriers, gaps in leadership and lack of mentors examined

A new book, PR Women with Influence: Breaking Through the Ethical and Leadership Challenges, explores how women in the profession of public relations and communications navigate through attitudinal, structural and social barriers in advancing their leadership roles. The book is co-authored by Juan Meng, associate professor at the University of Georgia, and Marlene S. Neill, associate professor at Baylor University.  

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North American Communication Monitor

The first study to examine the state of public relations in Canada and the United States found trust is the most crucial issue. Read more


North American Communication Monitor

North American Communication Monitor

The Plank Center sponsored the North American Communication Monitor, the first survey of its kind in North America, to explore the status quo, qualities and trends of communication management.

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Grants & Awards

2019 Milestones in Mentoring Honorees

Q&A with our Honorees

Mentoring is a “hot” topic in many professions including public relations. Our “Milestones in Mentoring” honorees shared their mentoring tips, challenges, inspiration, advice and much more.

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PR Leaders Received a “C+”

Is improving public relations leadership on the profession’s radar screen? As it stands now, leadership in the field remains pretty average; improvement seems elusive. The urgency to act is now.

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Latest News

2023 Agency Award Recipient, Mike Doyle

The Plank Center recognizes and promotes the critical role mentors play in helping to develop emerging leaders and advance the profession and honors leaders throughout the profession who, by word and deed, have demonstrated a superior commitment to mentoring others, and who are committed to accelerating the success of others in the field at its annual Milestones in Mentoring Gala.

Our question-and-answer series introduces the 2023 Milestones in Mentoring award recipients.

Meet Mike Doyle

Ketchum CEO Mike Doyle leads one of the world’s top communications consultancies, helping companies tell their stories, connect with the people they care about most and use communications to inspire action. Mike has helped clients launch products and services, merge or acquire new companies, navigate issues and crises, and determine their purpose in an increasingly competitive, connected, consumer-empowered global society.

Read on to learn what mentorship means to Mike!

What Is Your Mentorship Approach and What Advice Do You Give Your Mentees?

Well first, it’s an honor to be considered a mentor, so my approach starts with honest questions about what he/she/they are interested in learning or experiencing as we work together. If they’ve sought me out, there’s a reason, so I always want to stay grounded. Second, I consistently advise people – particularly those in their earliest career chapters – to try hard not to believe that whatever they’re doing, however, they’re feeling, their satisfaction level or fulfillment is forever. Careers are meant to be built over time, so give yourself the grace to experience it all – the great and the less so – with the confidence that you’re on a journey to find your place – few, if any, find that place right away.

What Advice Would You Tell Your Early-Career Self With Respect To Finding a Mentor?

I’d tell that younger me what I encourage people to do now – find several mentors. Never limit yourself to just one or two; instead, seek mentors who embody the behaviors, expertise or lived experience you hope to learn from, so you get a more well-rounded and expansive learning experience.

Please Summarize Your Professional Career Including Its High and Low Points. What Factors Contributed Most to Your Success?

There are three consistent reasons for any success I may have achieved so far in my career. The first is to try every day to live, learn and lead with empathy. To appreciate and try deeply to understand someone else’s lived experience. A client, a colleague, a prospect, a stakeholder that matters to each of those – to do the work to understand what motivates them and then be of value to that, not just what we assume value looks like.

The second is to show up as my authentic self every day. I spent more years in the closet than out of it, assuming – wrongly – that true self I was encouraged and welcomed by mentors I knew and new ones I’d discover through the process, and I am a better counselor and man because of them. And finally, to be kind, always, and assume generous intent. Our work matters, but I believe how we work matters just as much.

Now it’s time for some fun and rapid-fire questions!

What’s Your Favorite Way To Spend a Saturday?

In Asbury Park, NJ with zero plans. 

Favorite App?

NYT Cooking!

If Given the Choice to Trade Places With Anyone (Living or Dead) For One Day, Who Would It Be and Why?

Walter Cronkite, just to experience those days in broadcast journalism and know what his world was like. And Taylor Swift. Who WOULDN’T want that for a day?

Favorite Place to Vacation and Why?

Anywhere my husband and our best friends are – especially if there’s a quiet beach involved.

My leadership tip is… listen more than you speak. 

My mentorship tip is… learning goes both ways and always starts with self-awareness. 

Every mentor is… uniquely gifted, so pick a few. 

A lesson that took you the longest to learn… There’s an incredible Sondheim lyric – “The choice may have been mistaken. The choosing was not.” It’s better to take an informed risk than let the moment slip by. 

Habits in your daily routine that strengthen your leadership skills… I’ve learned some incredible breathing techniques that help calm my anxiety and ground me… and ultimately help me show up as a better leader in the big and less big moments. 

Three things you do to inspire and encourage teamwork… Be clear with each person about why THEY are there… name and shine a light on their superpower. Show gratitude for how hard people are working. And put in as much sweat equity as they can. 

The Importance of Setting Expectations for Your Team

The CCO for American Airlines shares lessons learned about how to set your team up for success as a comms leader.

Ron DeFeo | February 2022

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