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PRSA Milestones

Marking Our Unique History and Accomplishments


Celebrating 75 years of history is an exciting and significant moment for any organization. It is especially so for PRSA as we reflect on the journey of the profession and the professionals who founded, nurtured and envisioned a community of peers and professional colleagues lifting one another and the profession to greater heights. PRSA, from its earliest days, was focused on advancing the public relations profession and its practitioners. It has always been about more than recognition. It has been about the ethical practice of strategic communications to drive change for the betterment of individuals, their businesses and organizations, governments and our greater society.

Determining the milestones that are most memorable or remarkable along the way is a daunting task. A lot has happened since 1947 at PRSA and in the world. We have pulled together a collection of major milestones at PRSA that have had significant impact on this organization, our members and the practice of public relations and communications.

We invite you to review the list we’ve curated and send us your feedback. Let us know what you think at prsa75@prsa.org.




The Public Relations Journal is an open-access peer-reviewed, electronic academic journal covering topics having to do with public relations and communication studies. It is published quarterly by the Public Relations Society of America.

The Public Relations Journal was established in 1945 by Rex F. Harlow (American Council on Public Relations). After this council and the National Association of Public Relations Counsel merged to form the Public Relations Society of America in 1947, it became a monthly publication of the latter society

First PRSA Chapters chartered:
San Francisco
Los Angeles
New York
Chicago (1948)


The first Gold Anvil Award was awarded to W. Howard Chase, APR, Fellow PRSA.

The first national PRSA conference - now known as ICON - is held in Chicago.


PRSA publishes its first code of professional standards, addressing “responsibility for the good character and reputation of the public relations professional.”


In 1950 PRSA adopted its first code of ethics to provide its members with guidance on the ethical practice of the profession. In 1954 and again in 1959 the code was updated to provide for enforcement. The level of public trust PRSA members seek as they serve the public good means they have taken on a special obligation to operate ethically. To this day the PRSA Code of Ethics applies to PRSA members and is designed to be a useful guide for them as they carry out their ethical responsibilities. The code is designed to anticipate and accommodate, by precedent, ethical challenges that may arise.


Publication of the first edition of Cutlip and Center’s “Effective Public Relations,” which “paved the way for the development of hundreds of courses about public relations at colleges and universities in the USA,” in the words of Boston University communications professor Don Wright.


Formation of IPR, which recognized “the science beneath the art” of public relations.


The American Public Relations Association (APRA) merges with PRSA and PRSA acquires the Silver Anvil Awards.


The Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential is established. As the profession's only national post-graduate certification program, the APR designation signifies a high level of skill and competency in the public relations field.


The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) is established as the foremost organization for students interested in public relations and communications. PRSSA advocates rigorous academic standards for public relations education, the highest ethical principles and diversity in the profession.


First PRSSA Chapters chartered at nine qualified schools: University of Florida, University of Houston, University of Maryland, The Ohio State University, San Jose State University, University of Southern California, University of Texas at Austin and Utica College.


Betsy Ann Plank, PRSA President of 1973
Photo courtesy of the Betsy Ann Plank Papers, The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at The University of Alabama

Betsy Plank is installed as PRSA’s first female president.

Commission on Public Relations Education

The Commission on Public Relations Education (CPRE) is created by educators and practitioners to recognize the importance of university-level public relations education. The Commission was an attempt at standardizing PR education and professionalizing the field. It led to the establishment of PRSA's certification of education in public relations (CEPR).


PRSA revises its Code of Ethics with a new Declaration of Principles reflecting a commitment to human rights.


PRSA adopts the following definition of public relations: “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”


PRSA adopts a three-part code of ethics, adding a pledge of professional conduct and a detailed list of appropriate behaviors for PR practitioners.


PRSA College of Fellows

PRSA College of Fellows founded.

PRSA launches a scholarship program for students of African-American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Native American, Alaskan Native and Pacific Islander ancestry.


PRSA Foundation

PRSA bestows the first-ever D. Parke Gibson Award. This award is PRSA’s highest individual award presented to a public relations leader who has contributed to the increased awareness of public relations within multicultural communities and participated in the promotion of issues that meet the special informational and educational needs of these diverse communities.

The PRSA Foundation is founded as an independent 501(c)3 charitable organization with the primary goal of attracting and supporting a diverse range of outstanding student talent in the industry.


PRSA publishes its first public relations newspaper, Public Relations Tactics, in July.


The Public Relations Strategist: Leading into the New Year

The Strategist, a quarterly public relations magazine, debuts in the spring.



Luis W. Morales, APR, Fellow PRSA becomes the first Hispanic president of PRSA.



Debra A. Miller, Ed.D., APR, Fellow PRSA becomes the first woman of color, first African-American president and first educator to lead PRSA.


Seneca College

Seneca University (Canada) receives PRSA’s first International Certification in Public Relations Education.


PRSA Code of Ethics is revised.



Del Galloway becomes PRSA’s first openly gay president and establishes the organization's National Diversity Committee.


PRSA launches its blog, PRsay, in January.


D&I takes on greater prominence within PRSA with the intentional leadership decision to enfold the multicultural section and formally establish the National D&I Committee.


PRSA conducts a yearlong crowdsourcing campaign to modernize the definition of public relations.


PRSA adopts the following definition of public relations: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”


Strategies & Tactics January 2022: Navigating the Year Ahead

PRSA unveils its newest publication, Strategies & Tactics, a monthly news magazine available in both print and online formats. At the same time, PRSA retires the original publications, PR Tactics and The Strategist.


PRSA approves its first 3-year Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Plan; launches first-ever virtual ICON during Covid pandemic.


PRSA launches two new D&I Programs: Black Voices Affinity Group and Hispanic-Latino Affinity Group.



PRSA is excited to provide all PRSA Chapters, Sections and Districts with tools and resources to help everyone commemorate PRSA’s 75th Anniversary.


We are thrilled to join together on social media to spotlight history-making contributions made over the years by public relations and communications professionals.


This commemoration will run throughout 2022 and culminate in PRSA Day on Jan. 17, 2023.

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PRSA 75th Anniversary