Demystifying the College of Fellows

Serving as the crisis communication leader during the largest art heist in the world, interviewing President Reagan (on two hours’ notice), conducting media training for professional football players– all of these are part of special stories of the extraordinary professionals who make up the PRSA College of Fellows.

PRSA’s International Conference in 2021 will be held in Orlando.  Imagine what it would be like for you to be inducted into the College of Fellows surrounded by your family and colleagues right here.  Let’s get started.

If you were a Fellow, what amazing story would you share? What footprint have you left on the profession or what footprint do you intend to leave? Because, fellow PRSA Orlando friends, you could be a member of the College of Fellows. What a milestone for you personally and professionally and what a celebration for our Chapter.

As immediate past chair of the College of Fellows and a former president of our Chapter, what an honor and joy it would be for me to welcome you into the College or at least to plant the seed for you to consider, to intentionally plan for, and to apply someday. Just what is this mystical organization?

Q. What is the College of Fellows?
A. The College of Fellows is a group of 350 experienced practitioners and educators who, through a rigorous application and selection process, have received PRSA’s highest professional designation. To be a Fellow is considered the pinnacle of one’s public relations career. It by no mean signifies the END of one’s career.

Q. How long has the College existed?
A. The College celebrated its 30th year last year. Regrettably, we just lost Harold Burson, our last remaining member of the inaugural class, which was made up of 25 Gold Anvil winners including Pat Jackson, Edward Bernays, Betsy Plank, Lawrence Foster, Chester Burger, and many other legends of PR. So many other legends have followed.

Q. What do Fellows do?
A. First, they work in every facet of the public relations and communications profession. Some are retired. Second, they mentor, teach, guest lecture, speak at conferences, serve on APR panel reviews, and serve as leaders and advisors at all levels of PRSA. They are also leaders in their communities.

Fellows Give Back in 2019

• 6 Fellows served on the national PRSA Board.
• 15 Fellows mentored PRSA professionals through Mentor Match.
• 16 Fellows led national PRSA Task Forces, Committees, Boards. Many others served on these committees.
• 27 Fellows served as Bateman Competition judges.
• 35 Fellows finished the 2018-2019 school year as mentors to AspireHigher PRSSA university students.
• 40 Fellows presented at ICON
• 45 Fellows are Champions for PRSSA

45 of the past 72 Chairs of National PRSA have been Fellows

Q. Why should you consider being a Fellow?
A. Being a Fellow is a validation of who you are and what you have accomplished as a professional. Becoming a Fellow can be a journey of a lifetime, a goal to strive for, and one that can be part of your life.
As Jim Lukaszewski, APR, Fellow PRSA wrote, being a Fellow is “understanding what matters, what is helpful, what is sensible and often what is powerfully simple and true….It’s their professional footprint that makes a Fellow, a Fellow.”

When I served on the national board 2011-2013, I was not yet a Fellow, but I was inspired by the experience, quality, and knowledge of those board members who were. I began asking questions about becoming a Fellow, looked over the application documents and watched the “How to Apply” video that was on the COF website. The entire process looked daunting, but the more I reflected on my career and talked to Fellows about the whole experience, the more I aspired to become a Fellow. I started preparing in 2013, applied in 2014, and was inducted in Washington, DC, in front of my family and friends. It was a moment of a lifetime.

I’d like to help you experience that moment when the time is right. To apply you need to have your APR and at least 240 months of public relations experience. But you can and you should start early to understand what you need to do to apply. Resources abound.

Please contact me with your interest and questions. It is never too early or too late to consider becoming a Fellow.

All my best,

Geri Evans, APR, Fellow PRSA
2019 Chair, College of Fellows
2003 President, PRSA Orlando
President, Evans PR Group