April 29, 2013
After more than 20 years as a broadcast journalist, Amy Barnes, APR, became PR director at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and then served as executive director of communications at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR). She received her master’s in journalism from UALR in 1998 and recently joined the faculty of the School of Mass Communication.
Barnes has served on the executive board of the Arkansas Chapter for more than seven years. She was previously Chapter president and chair for the Southwest District of PRSA, and was also a member of the PRSA National Nominating Committee, a national assembly delegate for six sessions and the chair of the PRSA National Research Task Force.
To Barnes, public relations means “forward motion, leadership development, valuable connections and partnerships, enlightenment, excellence, credibility, principles, best practices and remarkable people.”
Name: Amy Barnes, APR
There weren’t many contemporary female role models when I was young, so many turned to Hollywood. I targeted Joanne Woodward, who was admirable as an actor (and as Mrs. Paul Newman) and also as an activist and defender of righteous causes. Her chosen field in college was journalism — tried on that hat and it fit nicely.
An academic and teacher — convincing future PR professionals that they have one of the most important roles in any organization
What changed (i.e. how you became interested in public relations):
The PR director’s slot opened at local organization, a friend recommended me, I was ready to take on something less stressful than a newsroom (got that one wrong) and the rest is history.
First public relations job:
As PR director at one of the nation’s top 10 children’s hospitals
What you know now that you wish you’d known then:
That public relations as a profession was really not a foreign country. As a journalist, I was somewhat conditioned to think in those adversarial terms. Then, I learned the PR person was not there to build barriers but to create avenues for all publics, including the media.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received:
Don’t tell me about the labor; just show me the baby. As a journalist, I was trained to get the details and report them. Organizational leaders don’t have the time, so a PR person has to quickly learn to identify and report.
Greatest professional accomplishment:
Receiving our state Chapter’s lifetime achievement award for my contributions to the Chapter and the profession
If you weren’t in public relations, you would be:
Doing something that lets me be in a boat fishing all day
That I have been able to help my students (and my grandchildren) be as successful as they want to be
Make a “business case” for public relations:
If organizational leaders will think of public relations as a strategic function — PR people as planners, not janitors — then the investment will be evident in an improved reputation, productive engagement with all publics and a rewarding return on investment.