Public Relations Professionals Roundtable

Feb 14, 2018

A Public Relations Professionals Roundtable, sponsored by the advertising and public relations graduate class and “Platform Magazine,” was held on February 3, 2018. The students began working on the idea after a conversation with Dr. Meg Lamme caused them to think of ways to bring the expertise of the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations board members and the changing nature of public relations together to have conversations about the field.

The structure of the event encouraged conversation and shared learning among the professionals and students attending. The topics were “Traditional PR vs. New-age/Digital PR,” “Issues and Trends in PR” and “Communication in a Polarized Society.”

“We couldn’t pass up such a great opportunity to collaborate with other students and The Plank Center Board Members,” said Mackenzie Ross, APR graduate student and representative for the event. “Since coming up with the idea for this event last October, we’ve found other campus partners to help make this event become a reality.”

Mark Harris, former vice president of communications for IBM Global Business Services and visiting professor, attended the “Communication in a Polarized Society” session and remarked on the importance of the topic.

“If the first principle in our profession is protecting the brand, and I believe it is, the decisions get a good deal more complicated in a world that’s more strident, hardened, angry, intolerant and immediate, with positions fueled by insane amounts of low-integrity ‘information,’ as we’re trying to make sure the brands we serve end up on the right side of history once it gets written,” he said. “It might be the most important conversation we can be having about our roles and the role of the profession.”

The event included representation of the Plank Center Board:

  • Keith Burton, Principal at Grayson Emmett Partners
  • Bridget Coffing, Chief Communications Officer at McDonald’s Corporation (Emeritus)
  • Andrew Cook, PRSSA National President
  • Ron DeFeo, Vice President of Global Communications for American Airlines
  • Pat Ford, professor at the University of Florida and senior advisor at Burson-Marsteller
  • Mark Harris, visiting professor at The University of Alabama and former vice president of Communications for IBM Global Business Services
  • Daniel O’Donnell, Head of Corporate Communications at AIG
  • Leslie Sutton, VP of Corporate Communications at Discover
  • Rick White, Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Emeritus)

“I think the event was interesting because it was a conversation,” said Giselle Casadaban, advertising and public relations graduate student. “There were perspectives and equality in the conversations that made the event special.”

Student-led events are a hallmark of C&IS’s mission to engage with issues in the industry from inside and outside the classroom.