Aflac veteran Laura Kane joins PRSA as comms chief

She says she wants to help redefine PR as it incorporates more paid, digital, and social elements.

NEW YORK: Laura Kane joined the Public Relations Society of America on Monday as chief communications officer, overseeing strategic comms for the group that represents more than 20,000 PR professionals and 10,000 PR majors.

She noted that the industry will look considerably different in the coming years, with PR tying digital, social media, traditional content, and media relations together.

"There’s just so much to learn as everything converges. What do we all need to know next? What does PR look like in 2020? It’s going to be dramatically different," Kane said. "With all of this digital disruption and all of these business models changing, reputation is going to be so much more important than it has ever been before. That is the key differentiator."

Prior to joining the industry group, Kane worked at risk management and insurance broking firm Marsh as SVP and global head of media relations and external affairs. She was previously VP of corporate communications at Aflac, where she helped to grow the name recognition of the company from 32% to 94% in her 11-year tenure.

Kane led communications at the company when it fired former spokesman Gilbert Gottfried for sending insensitive Tweets three days after the 2011 tsunami in Japan, where Aflac generated 75% of its revenue at the time.

She also began working at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce in 2000 as SVP of communications, overseeing strategic comms, media relations, publications, and member communications. Kane was the group’s spokesperson amid a threatened boycott of Georgia by the NAACP over the state flag including the Confederate battle emblem.

Several key members of the PRSA stepped in to help the nonprofit Chamber during that controversy.

"They all reached out and said, ‘Do you need help? We can volunteer.’ They helped me pro bono to manage this mess," she said. "This speaks to why I love this organization and why I think PR is such a cool field. We collaborate in a way that other professionals do not."

Earlier in her career, Kane worked for ABC Television’s Multimedia group where she was responsible for overseeing ABC's first ecommerce efforts and Internet sites, as well serving as a consultant for NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting organization.

Kane said she wants to build training programs for members that include business courses to help PR pros understand the financial side of companies and PR.

"PR people really are special. We are a group of people who at heart are idealists. We have a perspective that enables us to see different perspective. We can help educate and frame things," Kane said.  

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