John Koten Distinguished Lecture Series In Public Relations


This lecture series is named for John “Jack” Koten, an inaugural member of the Board of Advisors of The Plank Center. Koten was previously the senior vice president of public relations for Ameritech. He also was a board member of the Arthur W. Page Center and co-founder and past president of the Arthur W. Page Society.

Through this program, leading national public relations practitioners and scholars visit the University of Alabama for a day to meet with public relations students and faculty, teach classes, and deliver a formal presentation on a significant issue in the field. The lectures are promoted across the university and typically draw more than 200 students.

The lectures provide public relations undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to hear diverse PR experts discuss timely and relevant issues in the field. Faculty benefit from the opportunity to dialogue with PR experts about education in the field, professional issues and other matters.

Since the inception of the lecture series in 2000, the following experts have visited UA and participated in the program:

  • Ann Barkelew, senior counselor for Fleishman-Hillard and recipient of the Arthur W. Page Distinguished Service Award (2006). Topic: Dimensions of Leadership in Public Relations.
  • Keith Burton, partner, Brunswick Group (2013). Topic: Generational Communications: Engaging Millennials, Boomers and Everyone in Between.
  • Reed Byrum, APR, president and CEO, Public Relations Society of America (2003). Topic: Communications in a Regulatory-Hungry Environment.
  • Tony Cervone, Senior Vice President, Global Communications and Chairman, GM Foundation
    General Motors Company (2016). Topic: Public Relations on the Move.
  • Ron Culp, partner/managing director, Ketchum (2008).  Topic:  Restoring Trust in a Cynical World.
  • Ofield Dukes, president of Ofield Dukes Associates in Washington, DC, and founder of the Black Public Relations Society (2002). Topic: Ethics in Public Relations.
  • Dr. Larissa Grunig, a leading public relations and feminist scholar at the University of Maryland (2001). Topic: Women and Gender Issues in Public Relations.
  • William Heyman, CEO of Heyman Associates in New York, the country’s largest public relations executive recruiting firm (2000, 2004). Topics: Job Requirements in PR Today and Excellence in Leadership in Public Relations.
  • Dr. Linda Hon, professor of Public Relations, University of Florida, and former editor, Journal of Public Relations Research (2003). Topic: Measuring the Value of Relationships and Public Relations.
  • Jon Iwata, As former senior vice president and chief brand officer for IBM (2018). Topic: Authentic Communications in a Time of A.I. and Fake News.
  • Thomas Martin, senior VP of Corporate Relations, ITT Industries, and president of the Arthur W. Page Society (2005). Topic: Ethics in Public Relations.
  • Nickerson Miles, senior director of Corporate Communications for Merck-Medco in New Jersey (2002). Topic: The Importance and Value of Effective Employee Communications.
  • Mickey Nall, managing director of Ogilvy Public Relations and national president of PRSA (2014). Topic: Storytelling, Media Relations & Reputation: Putting It All Together for Your Brand
  • Sue Neumann, group VP of Communication and Training, Albertson’s, a Fortune 50 foods company based in Boise, Idaho (2000). Topic: Successful Merger Communications.
  • Andy Polansky, CEO, Weber Shandwick (2017). Topic: Navigating Through a Dizzying Pace of Change.
  • John Reed, CEO and founder, Consultants in Public Relations (2005). Topic: International Public Relations.
  • Brad Shaw, VP of Corporate Communication and External Affairs, The Home Depot (2011.) Topic: Home Depot and Social Media.
  • Kirk Stewart, executive vice president and leader of APCO Worldwide’s corporate communication practice (2010).  Topic:  Rebuilding Company Reputation.
  • Wendi Strong, EVP & Chief Communications Office, Enterprise Affairs, for USAA (2015). Topic: Corporate Character and the PR Profession: The Power of Shared Belief.
  • Ken Willis, VP of the Atlanta office of GCI Group, a leading U. S. public relations agency (2000). Topic: Effective Management of Public Relations.

Resources of Interest

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