By: April Tellez Green, 2022 President
Last year was a challenge. We, understandably, experienced bouts of silence from our local public relations community during our responses to the pandemic and other public discourse that affected our daily lives, professionally and at times personally. It was all-consuming.
As these challenges persisted throughout the year, many of us felt the need to reach out to each other virtually for support, which we acknowledged and responded to at PRSA San Diego/Imperial Counties (PRSA SD/IC). We, along with many like-minded organizations, took to online events and networking opportunities in place of being together in person. And while that event format served us well for the time being, and continues to do so today, some in our industry expressed a want, and a borderline need from a mental health perspective, to reconvene in person.
The Chapter took these pleads into account when putting together our programming in 2021, and while we would have liked to host in-person events, based on the facts, science and recommendations of public health officials, we kept to online events for the better part of the year. However, we did achieve our goal of fathering in person at least once at our Edward L. Bernays Mark of Excellence Awards in November 2021. The event was pared down compared to previous years, but those who attended enjoyed the opportunity to network with their peers and celebrate greatness in our field.
Aside from events, our Board of Directors never lost sight of its goal to infuse diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) within our Chapter and the wider PR community. We organized events from this perspective, selecting speakers from diverse backgrounds and ensuring our topics met the needs of many.
For the first time, the Chapter took a bold stance on controversial issues and upped its game on reaching BIPOC communities to encourage their interest and engagement in PRSA. We created a platform to recognize diverse communications professionals through our annual awards program, slashed event ticket prices to remove that barrier to entry, and also cut award entry fees for first-time participants.
And while we were pleased with the results of our efforts, we recognized we needed to do more. The Board voted to bring on an outside diversity, equity and inclusion professional that specializes in organizational change. Janedra Sykes, partner, leadership and organizational development lead at Arboreta Group, LLC, began working with the Board in July 2021 on a yearlong D&I Workshop Series to further educate the Board on how to be more inclusive and mindful in their work at PRSA SD/IC and their day jobs. As a result of these efforts, we were excited to receive an honorable mention from PRSA National for the Chapter Diversity Award, in recognition of our efforts to advance diversity and inclusion in the industry.
In the midst of all of the above, we somehow made time to launch a new website in an effort to make it easier for our members and industry professionals to access Chapter information and resources. We also hosted our annual Mentorship Program, maintained our Job Board and continued to educate our members on how to obtain their Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) and keep up with ethical best practices in our industry.
While 2021 presented a number of challenges, we are grateful for the lessons learned and proud of the work we were able to accomplish given the circumstances. We hope you’ve been tuning into this year’s programming and our blog content and will continue to do so. Stay tuned as we continue to focus on innovation in an array of areas. Good things to come.
If you’re interested in learning more about our Chapter’s accomplishments and performance in 2021, please review our Annual Report.
About the Author
April Tellez Green is the 2022 President of the PRSA SD/IC Board of Directors. Learn more about April.