8 Career tips from the first lady of public relations, Betsy Plank / by Jasmine Tate

The late Betsy Plank was a pioneer in the public relations industry and known today as the Godmother of the Public Relations Student Society of America and First Lady of PR.

When I discovered public relations, I knew it would be a perfect fit for my skills and interests. Betsy paved the way for women in the industry and paid it forward through her dedication to the profession during her career and beyond. Being involved in PRSSA was one of the most rewarding elements of my academic career, and Betsy is one of many to thank for the establishment of the organization. I have been inspired by her lifetime of work and have implemented many of her words of wisdom.

Graphic courtesy of The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations

Graphic courtesy of The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations

In addition to her contributions to the public relations industry and building leaders of the future, Betsy was also known for wearing staple red and pink blazers, documenting her travels through photography, providing mentorship and sharing words of wisdom. Although her advice was often aimed at professionals at all levels in the public relations industry, much is applicable to all. Continue reading for eight career tips from the first lady of PR,  in honor of Betsy Day.

  1. “Leave a trail of thank you notes, certainly at the beginning, but throughout your career too.”

    “Writing an intelligent thank you note is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”

    Click here to learn five tips to overcome the perceived hassles of written thank you notes and use them as a consistent way to show your appreciation more frequently and here for other ways to express gratitude.

  2. Be an eternal student.”

    “Graduation is not a signal that one is prepared to practice for a career lifetime. It’s simply a license to hit the turf running and to keep learning.”

    Joining professional organizations and following industry news is a great way to learn and ensure that you are up to date on trends within your career.

  3. “Factor personal values in to every career decision.”

    No money or title is worth sacrificing or altering your personal values. Identify what they are and establish deal-breakers when it comes to your personal and professional life.

  4. “Consider work as grown up play.”

    Seek opportunities that allow you to do work that you enjoy and use creativity to keep your responsibilities interesting.

  5. “Invest something in the profession you practice.”

    Whether it’s time or financial resources, there are many ways to get involved from speaking to students at your alma mater to volunteering for an upcoming conference or mentoring a rising professional.

  6. “Be disciplined by today’s business plan and tomorrow’s vision.”

    While it’s easy to focus on short term goals and tasks, it’s important to ensure that they are contributing to the larger vision of your company or organization and team.

  7. “Find any excuse you can to get your name out there and to make contacts.”

    Professional organizations are also a great resource to network and build mutually beneficial relationships. While face to face communication is best, resources like LinkedIn and digital community groups are another way to continue expanding your professional network.

  8. “Leave a job when it doesn’t challenge you.”

    It’s easy to get comfortable in your skills and responsibilities, but that comfort can be dangerous and limit your growth. As eternal learners ensuring that you’re consistently challenged will guarantee ongoing professional development.

Betsy Day is an annual celebration of the late Betsy Plank on her Birthday, April 3. It was established by the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at the University of Alabama, where Betsy was a proud alumna. The Plank Center’s primary mission is to help develop and recognize outstanding leaders and role models in public relations. For more information click here.

Have you been inspired by Betsy’s career or words of wisdom? Which advice stood out to you most and why? Share below.

hugs & handshakes,
Jasmine C. Tate