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Hotly Contested Bylaw Change Allows Non-APRs Access to PRSA Leadership Positions

Submitted by Nneka Jenkins, PRSA-MD Immediate Past President/Assembly Delegate

October 11, 2014

During the official kickoff of the 2014 PRSA International Conference in Washington, D.C., PRSA’s Leadership Assembly (a group of more than 300 delegates representing PRSA’s districts, chapters, sections and student society) voted overwhelmingly to allow eligible members without APR credentials to fill at-large positions on the PRSA National Board of Directors.*

This historic vote (185 to 57) to approve Proposal #1401 ironically happened during the same year that PRSA is celebrating the APR’s 50th anniversary. The number of APR applicants has been on a steady decline for years, making it increasingly difficult to fill a complete slate of candidates eligible to serve in a national office capacity. By the same token, the elimination of the longstanding policy of the APR as a prerequisite to serving on the PRSA National Board of Directors has been gaining steam in recent years.

Those in favor cited that it would enable PRSA to tap into the leadership potential of the entire Society, noting that the APR is a not an indication of leadership. Many have long felt marginalized by the APR requirement, almost like they have been relegated to “second-class citizenship” within the Society because they have not been allowed to ascend into leadership positions above the chapter level. They feel that leadership opportunities to govern the Society should be open to the entire PRSA community.

Those against the proposed amendment felt that eliminating this prerequisite would weaken the APR brand, resulting in the APR’s slow, but steady death. Many believe that the best solution is to support recent efforts to strengthen the APR, which would restore certification participation levels and eliminate the need to do away with the traditional prerequisite.

However, three years of independent research and studies revealed some key findings. While a majority of the Society’s membership do see the APR as a mark of personal achievement, they do not see the APR as a determinant of leadership ability. As a result, the National Board of Directors threw its support unanimously behind the measure and shared these findings with the 2014 Leadership Assembly.

*Please note that an APR credential is still necessary for eligible members who seek to represent a district or serve on the executive committee of the board.

Anita Brightman Elected to the PRSA College of Fellows

Now That’s ‘a. Bright idea!’

Submitted by Shafiyq Hinton

Anita Brightman, APR

Anita Brightman, APR

Anita A. Brightman, APR, Fellow PRSA heads one of Maryland’s leading public relations agencies, “A. Bright Idea,” and her hard work has not gone unnoticed. Earlier this month, PRSA elected Brightman and others with at least 20 years of accredited public relations experience to its College of Fellows. Only 2% of PRSA members are part of this distinguished group. This year marks the 25th anniversary celebration of the designation and 15 PR professionals will be inducted during the PRSA national conference in October.

Brightman, who has been a member of PRSA-MD since 2002, said election to the College of Fellows validates her work. “It’s proof that we’re doing quality work here and bringing real value to our small business and government accounts,” she added.

A. Bright Idea was launched in August of 1996 as a one-woman firm based in Brightman’s home. Today, this PR agency has grown to two offices in Bel Air, Md., and a third on the west coast in Sonoma, Ca. Brightman’s firm maintains an extensive portfolio with clients that include The United States Army, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Napa Valley Museum, Bel Air Town Center, Baltimore City Schools and PRSA-MD.

Many may think that being elected to such a distinguished group as the PRSA College of Fellows would jolt one’s career. Not for Brightman. Her eyes are set on something more important – helping others. “I didn’t need to be accepted for advancement,” Brightman said. “This is not a career launcher. This election shows my entire staff that there’s always something more you can do. So, don’t be complacent. Always strive to self-improve.”

Brightman described the PRSA College of Fellows’ application process as somewhat intimidating. “It was not an easy process,” she recalled. “I was eligible to apply last year, but did encounter some issues. There were questions as to whether I qualified for 20 years of pure public relations work.”

To successfully complete the application, Brightman needed to get six letters of recommendation and condense 20 years of work experience and references into eight pages. “That was the hardest part,” Brightman said. “You must be concise.”

As a new fellow, Brightman now hopes to inspire others to invest in themselves and the profession, demonstrating anything worth having is definitely worth the effort.

For more information on the PRSA College of Fellow inductees, visit PRSA Newsroom.




Announcing the 2013 PRSA-MD Educator of the Year Award Recipient…

The 2013 Best In Maryland Committee and the 2013 PRSA-MD Board of Directors are proud to announce the 2013 Educator of the Year recipient: Lester R. Potter.

Accredited Business Communicator Lester R. Potter, an MBA, is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies at Towson University, Maryland. He is “ABD” (all but dissertation) for a doctorate in Instructional Technology at Towson.  At Towson, Potter teaches Public Relations Writing, Organizational Communication, Strategic Public Relations Planning and Management, and Public Relations for Nonprofit Organizations.  He has served as Faculty Advisor to the PRSSA chapter for ten years.

Prior to beginning his academic career, Potter was President of Les Potter Incorporated, an international consultancy he founded in 1998.  His firm helped organizations worldwide use communication as a strategic management tool to boost organizational effectiveness.  For over 30 years, Les Potter has improved business operation with innovative, results-oriented interventions.  To solve clients’ problems, Potter draws on successful experience in organizational communication, strategic and marketing planning, and human resources and project management gained from work with a wide variety of organizations and industries.

Les Potter’s background includes many different and enriching business situations that prepared him for successful client service.  Potter was Chairman of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) during 1991-92.  He was named an IABC Fellow in 1997, IABC’s highest honor.  He served on IABC’s executive board, accreditation board, and as a trustee of the IABC Research Foundation.  He earned IABC accreditation (the ABC designation) in 1978.

Les is also a member of Kappa Delta Pi, the invitation-only professional association for educators, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), and the Association of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).

Les will be honored at the Best In Maryland Awards Gala on December 5 at the Hotel Monaco Baltimore. We will also honor the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award, reveal the New PR Professional of The Year, and present awards for excellence in public relations campaigns in 24 categories. The evening will include a keynote address from Gerry Sandusky, voice of the Baltimore Ravens and sports director of WBAL TV.  Former FOX morning anchor Jennifer Gladstone will emcee the event.

Please join us in honoring Les Potter.  Follow @LesPotter on Twitter and on his blog More With Les.

For more information on the Gala including nominees and ticket information, click here.

There’s a First Time for Everything

For the first time (in recent history or that anyone can recall), the PRSA Maryland, National Capital, and Central Chesapeake Chapters have teamed up to put on a regional conference!  After a bit of a rough (and late!) start, we finally got the 2011 PRSA Mid-Atlantic Chesapeake Conference Planning Committee going.  

Representatives from all three chapters have worked tirelessly all year to brainstorm session topics, locate relevant speakers, find sponsorships, develop conference collateral, and then promote the darned thing!  All the while, we have had great fun forming relationships, networking, gaining valuable experience, and bonding in an energetic, collegial environment. 

It has been a really wonderful time working with all three chapters.  We’re looking forward to enjoying the conference next week!

There’s still time to register for this year’s conference.  Go to https://prsamd.org/news/events2011/nov11program.htm.  Seating is limited and tickets are going fast, so hurry!  

And we’re going to keep building on this momentum.  If you would like to get in on this synergistic, collaborative effort to plan next year’s conference, please don’t hesitate to e-mail Peggy at phoffman@marinermanagement.com.

And the Finalists for the 2010 PRSA-MD Best in MD Awards Are…

We’re so excited to announce the finalists for the 2010 Best in MD Awards! We’ve had some excellent entries this year, and the competition was tough, but here is who’s still in the running:

2010 Best in MD Awards Finalists

A. Bright Idea
Anne Arundel Medical Center
Barb Clapp Advertising and Marketing, LLC
CareFirst Blue Cross BlueShield
Crosby Marketing
Devaney & Associates, Inc.
Himmelrich PR
IWIF Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Maryland Lottery
Mayes Communications Inc. & Strategic Design Studio
Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems
Notre Dame Preparatory School
Sky Design LLC
Weber Shandwick

Of these finalists, two will be the recipients of the most coveted prizes: Best of Show and Best Theme.

This year’s presentation will take place as a luncheon during the 33rd Annual Chesapeake Conference. Will your agency/company receive one of these top prizes? Register for the Chessie conference now to find out. Follow us on twitter at #chessie10.

We’ve assembled some of the best speakers in the industry who can’t wait to impart their knowledge on hot topics such as social media, ROI/measurement, SEO, and more.

Full-day Chessie registrants will also receive a ticket to the awards luncheon, which will include a compelling presentation from the keynote speaker, Lisa A. Shenkle, President of VERB! Communications, that you don’t want to miss. If you don’t have time to attend the conference, remember that you can purchase Best in MD luncheon tickets separately. See you at the 2010 Best in MD Awards!

–Industry News