Chapter Chat: Kristie Swink Benson, APR

With an impressive resume that includes shaping narratives for DeKalb County, Southern Company Gas and now the High Museum of Art – with plenty of industry accolades and awards along the way – there’s one professional accomplishment for Kristie Swink Benson, APR that rises above.

Obtaining her accreditation in public relations.

It was hard work earning her APR, but she considers the journey well worth it. She says it stretched her as a professional, and she grew exponentially from the process.

In return, she’s helping others in obtaining their accreditation by serving as the board lead for PRSA Georgia’s Accreditation Committee, which helps candidates prepare for the APR exam and also manages all Chapter activities related to professional accreditation.

Benson initially chose PR for her profession because she was interested in political communications, specifically speechwriting. While she enjoyed speechwriting, she wanted to guide the entire narrative process.

In her current role at Atlanta’s high-profile High Museum of Art, she gets to do just that – leading all communications efforts for the organization including public relations, marketing, web and new media, database oversight and creative services.

As PRSA designates April as APR Month, this third installment of Chapter Chat, a member-focused profile series offering industry insights with candid commentary, features one of the Chapter’s fiercest champions of accreditation.

Let’s get to know Kristie Swink Benson, APR, in her own words.

Question: How has the communications industry changed since you joined the profession? Answer: When I joined the profession years ago, you could be very focused in one area. Now communications takes a more integrated approach. Oh, and social media was literally nonexistent from a business perspective.

Q: Why did you choose public relations as your profession?
A: I’ve always liked communicating in a concise way. I chose public relations initially because I thought I would pursue political communications – speechwriting. I love the rhetoric. I love that words mean and convey different things to different people. I learned very quickly through a college internship with DeKalb County government that I liked the speechwriting part of the profession, but I really wanted to be a part of shaping the entire narrative.

Q: What is one professional goal, resolution or intention that you’re sticking to this year?
A: I’m involved in more professional organizations, and I’m saying yes to speaking engagements. I’ve enjoyed speaking to different groups of people.

Q: What is one “unofficial” skill or experience that you have put to use at work?
A: I am good at giving gallery tours at the museum. One time I had to fill in for a docent, and I was pretty good. I’ve been asked to give a couple of impromptu tours since then.

Q: What is your go-to source for staying current on industry trends?
A: I like, Ad Age, and I’m involved with great professional organizations outside of PRSA like Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association (AIMA). All of these tools help me stay up on the trends.

Q: In a world of co-called “alternative facts” and “fake news,” how do you keep it real as a PR professional?
A: I’m transparent, and I tell the truth. Period.