As most communicators do, I went back to a previous draft – in this case, my 2020 welcome letter to you, My Chapter | Our Chapter | Next Chapter – to ground me before drafting a thank you and year-end wrap up. At that time, “roaring ‘20s” had a good ring to it. Now, I might substitute roaring with raging.
To reference an outside source, Merriam-Webster selected pandemic as the word of the year. If you want a worm hole to get sucked into, look at past words of the year – they typically make poignant statements in one word.
My Chapter – Personal and Professional Pride
Many of you reading this letter sculpted the words of leaders, companies and communities here in Georgia and around the world first with COVID-19 then civil and social unrest and finally political incivility. Whether your impact was global or local, I am so, SO very proud of the high ethical standards you held yourself to, the commitment even as your lives were affected and tangible impact you have had on the livelihoods of so many.
Thank you to the PRSA Georgia volunteers, committee members, co-chairs and Board members that kept our organization and a support system going this year. They narrowed in on what you told us you needed most and delivered! They did so in an all-virtual environment, while maintaining the high bar we set for ourselves.
THANK YOU to the Executive Committee that met weekly, if not more, to ensure we were tightly aligned on what needed to be done, by whom and when in order to be member-focused and fiscally responsible.
This is the Chapter – PRSA Georgia – that I am so deeply and personally proud to be associated with. I will not hesitate to proclaim it as My Chapter.
Our Chapter – Maintaining a Communications Community
During our last physical event of the year…in FEBRUARY…we cemented professional and student community at Coca-Cola for the 2020 Annual Conference. During the day, we welcomed PRSA National Chair Garland Stansell, APR and Ben & Jerry’s self-proclaimed grand poobah of PR, Sean Greenwood. If you have not followed him socially, please do. Both Sean and Ben & Jerry’s have been exceptionally vocal against privilege and supremacy – Silence is NOT an Option. I can’t believe we got him live!
We celebrated Forty Under 40, newly Accredited members, Chapter Champions, Order of the Phoenix, Phoenix Award winners and exceptional Chapter Award recipients, knowing that you deserved recognition for your superior work whether in a volunteer capacity or for what you do for your paying job.
While virtual connection and community sounds easy, it takes great discipline. I strongly encourage you to maintain your communications community, your network of trusted professionals that you can approach with professional and personal topics. Winter months are here, mental health – thank goodness – has more attention than ever before. Care for yourself and others by staying connected.
Next Chapter – Ushering in What’s Next
The only thing I’m prouder of than what was accomplished this year and by whom, are the inroads paved to accelerate relevancy and change in PRSA Georgia. The year started with a consulting agreement with The Georgia Center for Nonprofits during which your leadership team was guided through Board best practices, lifecycles of professional associations and the reality of multi-generational demands and hyper-need for relevancy on such organizations. You will see the positive ripple effect of that work over the coming year.
The Board simplified financial management from technology to personnel, so that we can keep our fiscal commitment to you. We’ve also rescoped Chapter management to best meet your needs in the future – stay tuned for more, as we call on you to help source a Chapter Administrator job opening this month AND prepare to celebrate 37 years of Denise Grant’s influence on the Chapter and its members at our 2021 Annual Conference. You will also soon receive a Strategic Plan for 2021 spearheaded by president-elect Karen Cole.
As you look to 2021, I invite you to think about what role the Chapter currently plays for your career as well as what role you might play for PRSA Georgia and champion our communications profession.
And no matter what comes your way, remember, keep calm and communicate on.
Elizabeth McMillan, APR
Outgoing President, PRSA Georgia