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PRSA Board Recaps Busy First Quarter

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PRSA held its quarterly Board of Directors meeting on April 17 and 18, in Washington, D.C.  The meetings were preceded on the evening of April 16 by a public forum, presented in partnership with PRSA’s National Capital Chapter and hosted by the National Education Association (NEA), which presented an in-depth look at public affairs’ role in rebuilding America.

The esteemed group of forum panelists included Paul Gillin, technology journalist and author; The Washingtonian Editor-at-Large Garrett Graff; Waggener Edstrom Senior Vice President and Global Public Affairs Leader Torod Neptune; APCO Worldwide President and CEO Margery Kraus; and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Robert Hastings. The forum was moderated by Fleishman-Hillard Senior Vice President of Digital Public Affairs Patrick Cleary. The Podcast of this event is an excellent listen for industry professionals interested in social media and politics, and the way that the Obama campaign revolutionized campaign communications. 

Over the course of the next two days, the board reviewed a wide range of activities under way at PRSA, including new or enhanced PRSA member benefits, the 2008 financial audit, and the work in progress by PRSA’s various committees.  Highlights included:

Bylaw Rewrite.  The board was updated on the state of communications and discussion regarding the proposed changes to PRSA’s bylaws.  After soliciting feedback from PRSA members through a variety of channels – telephone calls, e-groups, blogs, and a recent article in PR Tactics and Strategist Online  –  we are now starting the process of crafting the actual language for the new bylaws.

International Conference.  Planning for PRSA’s 2009 International Conference is well underway. Keynote speakers will include the influential, outspoken and fearless Arianna Huffington, founder and driving force behind The Huffington Post, and Todd Buchholz, former White House director of economic policy, regular commentator on National Public Radio’s “Marketplace,” and critically acclaimed author.

The conference theme, “Delivering Value,” recognizes the increased importance of understanding and communicating the true business value of public relations, and of investing in career development and enhancement, in today’s down economy.  Speaking of value, we’re also pursuing ways to hold down the cost of attending this year’s Conference:  Marriott has reduced room rates, Delta has joined as official airline sponsor, and the Conference Registration fee has been reduced.

PRSA Foundation. The board received a presentation regarding the PRSA Foundation’s fund raising and award gala on April 20th.

Investment Committee.  After an extensive search, PRSA has engaged a new investment advisor.  Like nearly all organizations and individuals, PRSA was impacted last year by the stock market declines.  PRSA’s net reserves – essentially a “rainy day fund” – realized investment losses of $383,000, for a portfolio return of -23.5 percent, as compared with an overall return for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) of -33.8 percent.

Other matters handled by the board included approval of a new research policy for PRSA members wishing to access our Member database for research purposes; a discussion of the forthcoming Leadership Rally; approval of a new Strategic Planning initiative for 2009; discussion of the board’s telephone outreach to Chapters over Q1 2009; and a discussion of the Certification Task Force report.

A special note of thanks was extended to board member Steve Lewis Grant, who kindly made the wonderful facilities of the NEA available to the board for the Forum and the board meeting, as well as to the National Capital Chapter of the PRSA, which was a presenting partner, and event sponsor, PRNewswire.

Minutes of the Board Meeting will be posted to Membernet when they become available. The next meeting of the board will be held in New York City July 24 – 25, 2009.

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William Murray

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