Board Member Chat: Robert Austin, APR

    By: Regina Martel, member, PRSA Colorado Communications Committee

    Robert Austin, who works as the Public & Professional Relations Manager for the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank, has been in involved in many aspects of public relations over the last 30 years and you might have read about his background in August. Since then, he has was elected to the PRSA Colorado Board. We wanted to catch up with him in his new role to learn what he has planned during his time on the Board.

    Regina Martel: What are some of the reasons that you decided to join the PRSA Colorado Board? 

    Robert Austin: PRSA acts as the main conduit for continuing education and professional development in my department, so being involved is important to me. After having been the chair of the accreditation committee the last two years, I felt like it was time to move on. I wanted to stay involved in the chapter, so I was looking to join a different committee when a few different people put a bug in my ear about the Board. I’ve served on other non-profit boards and always found it rewarding so I figured I’d give it a shot.  

    RM: What goals do you have as a Board member for the coming year? 

    RA: My primary focus is to do whatever I can to ensure the organization meets or exceeds the expectations of our members. I’m encouraged that past boards have completed thorough research among the membership to identify member expectations and needs, as well as areas that need improvement and greater focus. If we focus on our strategic plan, measure what matters and adjust accordingly, and continue to listen to our members, then I think we are destined for some really cool things.

    RM: What are some of the challenges and opportunities that you see for the chapter in the coming year?

    RA: We have an incredibly diverse membership that works in all facets of communication and public relations across a big geographic area. Ensuring we have programming and opportunities available that speak to everyone is a challenge. Yet, from the very first planning session with the 2019 board, we’ve been talking a lot about programming and ways we can change it up. The chapter has already taken some steps in that direction. For instance, the formation of Connect Groups allowed for members to connect in smaller, more intimate settings to share ideas and network with peers who hold similar roles, focus on related areas of interest or live/work in nearby geographic regions. These groups not only bring together members, but they also allow non-members to gain some exposure to the organization and the other professional development opportunities we offer.

    Of course, with programming diversification comes both fiscal and communication challenges. This board has a good focus on its fiduciary responsibility. Additionally, we have to keep in mind that communication is a two-way channel. We know that we can’t just disseminate messages about what’s going on. We have to continue listening to the membership as well.

    RM: Do you have anything you would like to share about your new role in the chapter? 

    I’m looking forward to working on the board. Yet, make no mistake, the real work and reward in an organization like this happens at the committee level with the fantastic work done by our volunteers. I’d encourage all our members to spread their wings and get involved with a chapter committee. If you aren’t sure where to start, give me a call and we can talk about your strengths and interests to find a good fit for you.

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