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Melissa Richards' Report from ICON 2022

Melissa Richards | Published on 11/28/2022

It was my honor to represent the PRSA CNY Chapter in Grapevine, Texas earlier this month. It was nice to see a few of our Northeast District colleagues, though I certainly wished you could have joined us. Please bear with me in this somewhat lengthy overview of the PRSA business we accomplished – I share a shorter summary of my takeaways at the end of this message!
I spent my first full day (Nov. 11) with other chapter leaders (mostly president-elects) at the Leadership Training Rally. Our keynote speaker, Mark Mohammadpour, inspired us with an interactive presentation about leading with purpose. Later we learned about PRSA organization and structure, governance, tips for marketing events, and financial management essentials. I found it valuable to network with chapter and section leaders to exchange information about challenges and solutions in our areas.
On day two (Nov. 12) I served as our chapter delegate at Leadership Assembly, the annual business meeting where issues facing PRSA and the public relations profession are examined and discussed. After a welcome and introductions, Joseph Abreu, APR, provided the treasurer’s report. Our first order of business was to vote on the slate of at-large directors who will begin two-year terms in January, followed by officer elections for one-year terms.
Directors (two-year term):
East Central District: Monica Ackerson, CAE, APR
Mid-Atlantic District: Cayce Myers, Esq., APR
Northeast District: Joshua Poupore, APR
Western District: Teresa Valerio Parrot, APR
Director At-Large (converted Tri-State District Director): Andrea Gils Monzón
Director At-Large: Thomas Bennett
Officers (one-year term):
Chair-elect: Joseph Abreu, APR
Treasurer: Sam Sims, APR, Fellow PRSA
Secretary: Heide Harrell, APR*

Next, delegates voted to amend the PRSA Bylaws (which requires two-thirds votes to pass) to provide clarification of language regarding voting delegates appearing in Article III, Section 2(b) of the Bylaws. Previously the language stated that “all current members” of the PRSA Board of Directors serve as delegates to Leadership Assembly; however, Senior Counsel to the Board are not voting members of the Board (but they could serve as a voting delegate if they otherwise meet the requirements). Therefore “all current members of the Board” was changed to “all voting members of the Board.”

Other notable highlights from Leadership Assembly included reports from PRSA Chair Felicia Blow, APR; PRSA CEO Linda Thomas Brooks; and PRSSA President Alyson N. Hoffman. International Delegate-at-Large Trevor Hale announced the formation of Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI), and we heard from the CEO Deeptie Sethi via video recording. After lunch Chair-elect Michelle Egan, APR, Fellow PRSA, reviewed the PRSA Strategic Plan, and the co-chairs of several taskforces presented their work.

While PRSA delegates spent the day at Leadership Assembly, PRSSA delegates attended their own parallel session. If my math is correct, three students from the Syracuse University chapter were there. Later that evening our very own Kelly Gaggin, APR, Northeast District Chair, was inducted as a Fellow. Congratulations, Kelly! And on Sunday I was able to attend Day One of PRSA ICON. The full conference offered more than 50 breakout sessions.

Here are my top takeaways from my three days of PRSA knowledge:

  1. Many PRSA chapters share the same issues and priorities in post-pandemic operations – membership declines, organizing in-person events, and time management challenges. The good news is that PRSA provides a wide variety of resources to assist, including a new membership promotional brochure soon to be available.
  2. Marketers are not the only professionals using influencers to advance their causes – Several PRSA chapters shared their successes from hosting events with local celebrities to draw a crowd.
  3. Onboarding new members is important for retention and engagement – I really want to make this a priority for our chapter in 2023, and if you are interested in helping, please let me know.
  4. Co-working locations may make terrific gathering spots for chapter leadership meetings and member events – Several chapter leaders reported that they are benefiting from affordable membership contracts with co-working locations for conference rooms and even larger meeting spaces. They shared that their members appreciate the consistency of the location throughout the year and the extra perks such as coffee and snacks.
  5. If you can only attend one professional conference next year, mark your calendar for ICON 2023 – It will be held in Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 15-17.

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