Women’s History Month was created to highlight the unnoticed contributions that women have given. Women have been the backbone of the country time and time again, and they deserve to be heard and noticed. There have been many influential women in our history, but we want to take a look at an influential woman in the public relations industry, Betsy Ann Plank.
She achieved so many firsts in the world of public relations for women. She was the first woman to ever lead a division of Illinois Bell, and the first woman to ever be the president of the Public Relations Society of America and the Publicity Club of Chicago. Not all of her firsts that she accomplished were just for women, she was not focused on being the first woman, she was also the first person to ever receive three of PRSA’s top individual honors. She wanted to be respected as a professional amongst both men and women in the field.
“The best communicators are agents of change–responsible change to enable our institutions to serve better. And in the process to fulfill and balance responsibilities to customers and clients, owners, employees and the community of which were a part.” - Betsy Ann Plank
Betsy Plank has many different nicknames, most notably the First Lady of Public Relations, public relations pioneer, a champion of public relations education and the First Lady of Public relations.
“I do think there have been a number of wonderful leading women in Public Relations.. I believe Betsy deserves that moniker because of her involvement with the PRSA,” said Diana Martinelli, the Dean of the Reed College of Media.
Betsy worked in the public relations industry for 63 years, and she was the first female president of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). She believed that mentoring was crucial for studies in the public relations field. Due to this, Betsy started the Champions of PRSSA which is a group that donates and gives annually.
Plank was able to attain leadership positions that no woman had ever reached before.
“She was not afraid to take risks and chances. She is a role model for all women, but particularly women who have not been offered all the opportunities and chances that white men have had,” said Dean Martinelli.
Women’s History Month was created to uplift scientists, writers, athletes, public relations practitioners and activists who helped change our world. Their work is often forgotten, and it is our responsibility to make sure these stories are always heard. Betsy Plank was an impactful, strong woman who paved the way for so many women in the public relations industry.
“The best communicators are agents of change-responsible change to enable our institutions to serve better.” - Betsy Ann Plank