Q&A: Kim Sample goes through her to-do list at the PR Council

The PR Council's new president Kim Sample tells Thomas Moore about her plans for dealing with some of PR's more pressing challenges.

Kim Sample took on the top job at the PR Council at the start of this month.
Kim Sample took on the top job at the PR Council at the start of this month.

Former Emanate founder and CEO and Text100 executive Kim Sample took over the reigns at the PR Council in August from previous incumbent Renee Wilson.

What are the first things you’re tackling now you’re on the job?

There are so many programs the council does, so I’m trying to understand what is really adding value to our members and the industry, what needs to work harder, and what needs to be reinvented.

I’m a big believer in [having] fewer bigger and better things, so I’m hoping to bring a bit of that. But there’s also the reality that we need to do a lot of things for our members. So there’ll be some difficult decisions about what stays and what goes.

What are the top initiatives you want the Council to focus on?

I’m deeply interested in getting the best and brightest talent into the industry and keeping them. I have some thoughts about how we tell a more modern story about public relations to undergrads, grad students, and people entering the industry.

Another priority is helping our members understand the abundance of technology platforms available for our business. For smaller members in particular, there’s a lot to wade through. They don’t necessarily have the human resources to evaluate it and might not have access to meet all these experts.

I’m hoping we can figure out a way to have the widest possible view and help members make great decisions about the technology they’re going to invest in.

What do you think about recent missteps at PRSA like the "Which PR Princess Are You" quiz?

It’s just so... unfortunate. Listen, mistakes get made; everybody makes mistakes. But we’ve got such a perception problem in this industry and anything that further adds to the negative perceptions really makes me sad, honestly.

How will you deal with that negative perception?

I want to create a program, and it’s really just a germ of an idea right now, that highlights the aspects of our industry that are super appealing to an undergrad, grad student, and entry level employees.

We play a really important role working with our clients on telling the truth, using truth language, not committing sins of omission or commission, and not using jargon and trying to hide facts and reality.

We do a lot of work helping our clients find their purpose and identify that. It’s about helping them understand where they should be aligned with social issues and where they shouldn’t.

There’s also a lot of data and analytics in our business, so it’s not just a gut instinct. There’s real support behind that.

Overall, it’s a really interesting field for people who are intellectually curious and love learning, because there is that constant opportunity. I don’t think it’s happened more frequently ever before in our industry.

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