Earning an Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) is a goal many communications professionals strive for. It demonstrates professional competence, dedication to the profession and a drive strive to stand out from the rest. Those who are in the military, focusing on public affairs, can earn an Accreditation in Public Relations + Military Communication (APR+M). The latter accreditation is not quite as common. In fact, there is only one PRSA Orlando Chapter member who has one – Lt. Col. Ian Phillips, Chief Public Affairs, 920th Rescue Wing.

This month’s member profile not only spotlights why Ian chose to pursue his APR+M, but also expands on his career in the Air Force and in public affairs overall.

  • Name: Lt. Col. Ian Phillips
  • Current position: Chief, Public Affairs, 920th Rescue Wing
  • Hometown: Orlando, Fla
  • Alma mater/degree: UCF, BA Political Science
  • Very first job: Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Air Force

How long have you been a member of PRSA and what made you join? What aspect(s) do you enjoy most?

I’ve been a member since 2015. I joined because my coworkers were all members and recommended it. I’ve really enjoyed meeting people from so many different types of communication jobs around the world.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of joining PRSA?

If you are looking for an organization that will help you enhance your communication skills and add to your professional network then PRSA is a great organization to get involved with.

What made you decide to earn your ARP+M? How has it impacted your career?

I decided to earn my credentials because I saw how the people who already had it were so focused on skillful communication. I feel that the accreditation process helped hone my skills further and has allowed me to be a better communicator.

In your role as a Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Air Force, what does your typical workday look like?

I always tell everyone my favorite thing about my job is that there is no typical workday. It is something new every day. From social media to speechwriting to community relations I get to enjoy the gamut of what public relations holds.

PRSA defines Public Relations as a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. How does your current position fit into or expand upon that definition?

As a communicator for the military my job is to provide a continuous flow of information to the public. I facilitate media and community relations that allow the public to understand what the Air Force and the 920th Rescue Wing do.

What would you say is your biggest career milestone, so far?

I’ve been in the Air Force 17 years and my current assignment is already one of my favorites. Getting to lead a team of communicators and tell the rescue wing story has been such a great experience.

What advice would you give someone just starting out in field of PR/Communications? Or, in their career in general?

So much of communicating is listening and I think people forget that. When starting out, listen to your supervisors, your peers, and the people you are trying to communicate with. You’ll learn so much if you make yourself open to listening to what others have to say and that will improve your ability to communicate successfully.

If you weren’t in PR what would you be doing instead?

I like to think I’d be in the education field as a teacher of some sort.

How do you spend your free time?

I spend my free time with family, enjoying the local craft beer scene in Orlando, and binging 80s movies and TV shows.

What’s something new you want to learn or master?

I’d love to learn to speak Tagalog fluently.