Skip links


Lessons from the Emerald City

Published on April 26, 2017, at 1:24 p.m.
by Erica Cooke.

Seattle, the land of coffee and rain. It took a four-hour car ride from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to a plane ride from Atlanta to O’Hare airport in Chicago, a five-hour delay, then a four-hour flight to finally make it to the rainy city.

Photo by Erica Cooke


Each spring, PRSSA members from across the nation, and Peru, travel to different cities to act as delegates for their schools. National Assembly takes place on a Friday through Sunday, and it is a time for delegates to learn and interact in leadership and professional development sessions, vote on the incoming PRSSA National Committee, and a very special treat this year by having Ty Rogers, director of corporate communications at Amazon, speak. Needless to say, it was not a dreary or gray weekend in Seattle.

Ethics and passion. These are two things that remained constant through the hustle and bustle of the Emerald City.

Photo by Erica Cooke

The Friday of National Assembly, delegates were split into two groups of leadership development workshops: one about ethics, the other, passion. Each session was led by various members of the national committee, and delegates were encouraged to break into smaller groups and discuss scenarios, problems their chapters face and the best way to solve each problem. Here’s what we learned.

It’s more than choosing between what’s right and what’s wrong. It is a personality trait that is engrained in leaders and the people we admire. An ethical leader is someone who is a role model and exemplifies transparency in any and all situations. They live by the mantra “know when to step down and know when to step up.” According to the PRSA Code of Ethics, there are six qualities every PRSA professional should value in order to be an ethical leader: advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty and fairness.

A leader demonstrates advocacy by being a voice for the voiceless. Honesty, by remaining true and fair in any situation. Expertise, by gaining credibility and being able to “wear many hats.” Independence, by standing alone but giving a hand to those in need. Loyalty, by remaining faithful and steadfast. Fairness, by remaining unbiased and respectful.

Every successful and sincere leader exhibits these traits. Making ethical decisions is not easy, but for every tough decision, there will always be someone willing to follow a leader they believe in.

It’s what inspires us to get up every day. It’s the fire that burns inside of us that pushes us to be the best version of ourselves. Whatever it may be, we all have a passion, and it’s important we put it on display for the world to see. For many of the delegates at National Assembly, public relations is their passion. But how do we set ourselves apart from everyone else?

Photo by Erica Cooke

Be able to demonstrate charisma and tell your story of how you became interested in public relations. Give specific examples of the people you’ve met during your journey and personal anecdotes of tribulations you’ve had to overcome. Everyone is always interested in hearing a story, so don’t be shy to tell yours. Find the most important parts of your public relations odyssey, and be able to highlight them in a short elevator pitch.

If you haven’t found your passion or what drives you to get up every day, don’t worry. Don’t be afraid to try new things and get your hands dirty. Traveling across the nation for conferences, rallies and assemblies can be nerve-wracking, but it opens doors to meet new people, hear new stories and understand different perspectives that will in turn create a successful leader.

Photo by Erica Cooke

Ethics and passion. The two topics remained constant throughout a weekend, but are also two traits that are deep-seated in every fruitful leader. So when faced with difficult decisions, hold true to your dedication and belief in yourself and your field. It will take you far.

Return to top of page