Member Spotlight: Rachel Smith, APR, CPRC
How long have you been a member of FPRA, and why did you join?
I’ve been a member of FPRA for more than 23 years. I originally joined because my boss at the Girl Scouts had been a member and knew how important it was for her new communications director to be involved. She insisted that I join. And I’m glad she did.
How has FPRA changed over the years?
Well, aside from the fact that a lot of these new members seem to be very young…not much has changed. The most important part of FPRA is still the networking and professional development we get at our chapter meetings each month. And even though the size of our chapter has doubled since I was chapter president 15 years ago, I think it’s become a friendlier group. Our local leadership has been determined to keep things interesting, and I really enjoy working with everyone on both the state and local boards.
What leadership positions have you held (Capital Chapter and state), and how have they impacted your career?
I’ve worn many chapter hats during my time in FPRA including president, Image chair, treasurer (twice), and accreditation chair for multiple years. I’m so proud of all of my students. It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you’ve been a student in my APR class, you’re one of my kids. I love to see them all grow and prosper in their careers. I’m also proud to say that the number of APR’s in our chapter has grown steadily over the last several years.
I’ve also served on the state executive board as VP of Finance, Annual Conference, Chapter Services, Planning and Research, Accreditation and Certification, two years as VP of Golden Image, and currently, as president-elect. I’ll be officially sworn in as president for the upcoming year on August 10 at the state annual conference in Orlando.
What are your goals as FPRA State President next year?
I’m very honored and excited to have been tapped to be state president. You all know that accreditation and certification are near and dear to my heart so there was no question as to what my emphasis will be this year as state president. All of our APRs and CPRCs are ambassadors for the next group of students and they need to be proactive in talking to potential candidates about the benefits of accreditation. They should also think about becoming mentors to the members who decide to take the plunge and go for it.
What advice do you have for those entering the field?
My advise for students finishing up their PR degrees would be to sign up for the Certificate in Principles of Public Relations class and get that head start on their careers. By earning your Certificate, you show that you really did pay attention in your PR classes and have a handle on the book-learning side of things. Also, stay involved in FPRA and never stop learning.