Each week, PRsay will interview one of the nominees for the 2022 PRSA Board of Directors.
Name: Michelle Egan, APR, Fellow PRSA
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Current job title: CCO, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company
Board nominee position: Chair-elect
Alma mater: B.A., Boston College; M.A., Seton Hall University
Number of years as a PRSA member: 24
You serve as CCO for the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company. How do you maintain a balance between your work and your community/volunteer service, including serving on the PRSA Board?
The variety that comes with a career in PR is one of the joys of the profession. Any single week can be filled with meetings, coaching, planning, evening events, creative work, crisis management and volunteering with PRSA and in the community. Balance is difficult to achieve, so I think more about integrating work and volunteer service. Pulling it all together is possible because I work with an outstanding team, and PRSA volunteers have a boundless commitment to our organization. I get energy from that.
While I’ve missed in-person PRSA events, technology has removed geographic barriers to engagement. That’s a huge advantage for me. I also do a lot of PRSA volunteer work early in the day, which allows me to capitalize on time zones and focus on PRSA before the workday gets busy.
What are some of your strengths as a leader?
I’m a collaborative trust-builder with a knack for challenging the status quo. Hearing a range of perspectives is important to me, and my views are shaped by listening to diverse voices. At the same time, I have a bias for action and will move projects and decisions along when the time is right. I’m really motivated when I can create conditions where others succeed.
How can PRSA continue to adapt to a rapidly changing profession?
Professional communicators are at the center of organizations like never before. World events led to us advising on the pandemic, DE&I, remote work practices, political divisiveness, misinformation and more. Our strategic counsel is essential and we have to be on our game. That’s where PRSA comes in. Members rely on PRSA to support them with timely resources and a robust professional network.
To do that, we have to listen to our members, stay current on issues and trends shaping all sectors, and support our Sections, Chapters and Districts. Most of all, PRSA has to be nimble. Our current strategic plan is aptly themed “The Courage to Change.” It takes courage and flexibility to move beyond “the way we’ve always done things” to a more modern, responsive organization.
What are your goals for PRSA and hopes for the profession in the year ahead?
If Assembly honors me with the role of chair-elect, my priority will be strategic planning. The chair-elect convenes a committee to draft the 2023-2025 PRSA Strategic Plan. I trust the planning process and can’t wait to do an environmental scan, gather diverse perspectives and work with PRSA leaders to set a course for the coming years. Our current plan and strategic priorities are spot on.
In 2022, we’ll continue that work as we round the corner on our 75th anniversary with an eye on the future of our profession.
It’s a great time to work in communications and I know our members will continue to meet challenges head-on. Our profession is well-positioned to shape culture with tools like Voices for Everyone and I hope we will continue to lift our voices to address mis/disinformation, diversity and inclusion, civic engagement and civility. I also hope many more students and professionals turn to PRSA for membership, resources and support.
John Elsasser is PRSA’s publications director and editor-in-chief of its award-winning publication, Strategies & Tactics. He joined PRSA in 1994.