2021: A Light at the End of a Long Year 

Allyson JohnsonWe did it! We made it to 2021. I think we can all agree 2020 was the longest and craziest year most of us have ever seen. Australia was on fire, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle quit the royal family (I didn’t even know you could do that!), we saw one of the most dramatic presidential elections in history, and the country protested after George Floyd’s death in May which ignited an incandescent social movement, bringing much-needed awareness to #BlackLivesMatter.

And, of course, the big elephant in the room: COVID-19. The infectious disease has killed nearly 2 million people, and 100,000 businesses are now out of business because of the pandemic. And if you’re fortunate enough to still have your job and your health, I’m sure you were still impacted. Whether it impacted your ability to see your grandma for her birthday, or impacted your mental health, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all experienced some type of drastic change in our lives because of COVID.

So what’s this got to do with my PRSA presidency in 2021?

Last year taught me a lot. Not just how much I love being around people or how much I hate ordering groceries online, but it taught me the importance of empathy. Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. 2020 taught me to look at things from a different perspective, and realize one decision can impact so many people in different ways. It taught me how important it is to have something you are part of – somewhere you belong. And for me, that place is our PRSA chapter. *Cue the cheesy music!*

PRSA has always had a special place in my heart. Having a background in broadcast journalism, I didn’t know any other communications professionals when I started working in PR. PRSA provided me an avenue to network with colleagues and learn from them. I’ve built lifelong friendships and learned skills through PRSA that are truly invaluable. When I first moved to Indianapolis four years ago, I didn’t know anyone outside of my coworkers. The Hoosier Chapter was so welcoming, allowing me to dive-in and get involved, and as I look back on the last few years I have served on the board, I can say I truly feel like our members are some of the smartest, kindest, and hard-working PR practitioners in the country. I am so honored to serve as the 2021 President of the PRSA Hoosier Chapter.

With more than 300 members in our chapter, we’re one of the largest in the United States. And more than 20 percent of our members have their Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). This is in part because of the fantastic resources and training our chapter provides (free of cost) to members seeking to earn their APR.

In 2020 I had the chance to lead a committee that worked on creating our 2021-2023 Strategic Plan. It’s been a year-long process that included lots of research, lots of discussions, and what I believe are lots of great ideas on how we can continue to propel our chapter forward in the next few years. This plan addresses goals like increasing the value of a PRSA Hoosier Chapter membership, expanding our membership, and the one I’m most excited about: focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion to create a more representative and welcoming environment for all of our members, potential members, partners, and sponsors.

In addition to a much more concentrated focus on DE&I in 2021, we’ll also be offering more professional development opportunities than ever before (even for those who attend virtually!), providing more resources for our members, such as a mentor matching program, and giving our members more of a voice, with more survey opportunities to provide input and feedback on the events and programming they want to see.

We have more than 50 dedicated volunteers who help run our chapter, and we wouldn’t be able to function without them. If you’re interested in volunteering with us this year, or have any questions I can help answer, please reach out to me at allysonjohnson4435@gmail.com. I’d love to chat with you!

By Allyson Johnson, APR, account supervisor, Edelman
2021 PRSA Hoosier Chapter President