Revisiting PRSA’s First National Conference
In 2022, PRSA is commemorating 75 years. Strategies & Tactics will highlight the contributions of the organization and milestones in the profession, as well as past, current and future generations of practitioners. Visit www.prsa.org/about/75th-anniversary for more history.
PRSA hosted its annual conference, ICON 2022, on Nov. 13-15 in Grapevine, Texas.
The first national conference took place on Nov. 16, 1948, at the Hotel Sheraton in Chicago. Averell Broughton, PRSA’s president, provided a first-person account of the proceedings for the January 1949 edition of the Public Relations Journal.
“The great achievement of our first annual meeting was to demonstrate that the idea for the consolidation of the National Association of Public Relations Counsel and the American Council on Public Relations was sound. Each group contained a solid core of distinguished workers in our field, bound to give prestige and stability to a national organization developed from the two memberships.”
Broughton described most of the panels, featuring distinguished PRSA members, as “confident and professional” that prompted “friendly banter.”
There’s also a passage on the election of PRSA officers at a 7:30 a.m. breakfast meeting “after a very late bedtime.” As he noted, “the whole Board was on hand and apparently able to eat ham and eggs with no ill effects.”
In a keynote speech, Clifford W. Phalen, vice president for public relations at the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, discussed his colleagues’ challenges.
“These problems arise from the tremendous demand for service, which still exceeds the company’s capacity to promptly provide telephones to all who want them.”