PRSA’s Procter-Rogers Ready To Take Industry in New Directions


For Cheryl I. Procter-Rogers, the new president of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), 2006 will be a year of transitions for both the organization and the PR industry. Procter-Rogers, the Chicago-based regional corporate affairs director for Home Box Office (HBO) and a 25-year PR veteran, shared her vision for PRSA and the profession in a recent interview with the PR News editors. QUESTION: What is your agenda for PRSA in the coming year? Cheryl I. Procter-Rogers: I think we've made quite a bit of progress over the past five years in reshaping PRSA and its focus. Certainly the Advocacy Program has been one of the jewels in the crown of PRSA. Traditionally, we had focused our core competency in the area of professional development. Stepping out and taking on the risk of advocacy served us well, and it was certainly timely for all that was going on in the business community. I definitely feel we are going to build on the advocacy program. One of the things that came out of our strategic planning initiative last year was to refine and build upon issues of management strategies, of which advocacy is a critical part. I am going to enjoy leading the charge. PRSA is positioned as a leader in giving a voice to the basic tenets of our profession and helping people understand the value of communications. We have other initiatives that we feel are critical to grow PRSA and the profession over the past five years. We are looking at our financial structure and evaluating our business model, including new revenue streams and ways to cut expenses. We are also looking at the PRSA brand. We changed our logo and tagline, so we want to make certain that what's behind the curtain for that major change measures up to visual freshness and movement that the logo and the tagline represents. We'll also be putting a greater focus on technology and how our members can use it to become better practitioners and communicate more effectively. And there are also measurement issues. Measurement is often taken for granted, and a lot of times it is difficult to measure the impact of what we do. PRSA will be 60 years old in 2008. We have a lot of areas in the organization that have been around for quite a while. We are going to take this opportunity during 2006 to reevaluate some of those and make sure there are metrics in place to measure the value and benefits of our programs and initiatives. QUESTION: Looking across the profession, how do you view the state of the public relations industry? Cheryl I. Procter-Rogers: Look where we've come over the past couple of years. When you look at where we're positioned today, you find there has been quite a lot of dialogue relative to the value of public relations and what is PR and when do you call in the PR professional - it has really positioned us uniquely to help shape that debate. For the profession, it provides us an opportunity to make clear the value of having a PR strategy for your organization, your product or your client. Relative to ethics (being a hot button not only for business but also for the individual in our society), the PRSA's code of ethics is a foundation for ethical behavior. But many times, people struggle with: "How does that show up for me?" For the PRSA, as well as the practitioner, this is the time to pursue that opportunity. QUESTION: We're hearing about the strengths and values of the PRSA, but are there any weaknesses that need addressing? Cheryl I. Procter-Rogers: I think one of the weaknesses is actually our strength. So many members are so talented, and I don't think we found a way over the years to give access to those members to participate in the leadership of the organization. Leadership not just meaning chair, but you can be a member of a committee and be a leader. One of my initiatives is to give more of our members access to those opportunities. And we've sounded a call to service. We have members with a variety of skills and experience that will benefit PRSA and help us move the needle as it relates to defining the value of PR. I am looking forward to seeing a lot of new names on the committee rosters and in leadership positions within the society. Contact:Cheryl I. Procter-Rogers, cheryl.procter-rogers@hbo.com.

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