Tuesday, July 24, 2012

San Antonio PRSA Loses PR Giant, Charlie Kenworthey, APR, Fellow PRSA

Charlie with his wife, Dottie.
With the sad news of Charlie’s passing on Sunday, I’ve been reflecting on his wonderful contributions to our chapter, to the public relations profession and to me personally. What follows is adapted from a profile that our chapter published in 2005 on Charlie’s 80th birthday. (Please let us know if you’re the original author.) Information about his memorial service is online with his obituary in the San Antonio Express-News with an online guestbook.

Charles Kenworthey, APR, Fellow PRSA, reached many milestones both in years and accomplishments that few others have or ever will. He was one of the San Antonio PRSA chapter’s most active and valuable members.

2005 marked Charlie’s 40th anniversary as a member of PRSA. And, nationally, he was one of only 130 members with that much active longevity in the organization. Locally, he served on the San Antonio Chapter’s board of directors as ombudsman into his 80s, lending his wide-ranging knowledge and expertise to solving problems for PRSA members. He brought a unique historic perspective to board discussions and helped guide strategy and decision-making on a regular basis.
As the first-ever winner of the Chapter’s Del Oro Tex Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award, Charlie was recognized for pioneering the profession of public relations in many of the San Antonio organizations in which he has served. His professional achievements include:
  • PR director, National Bank of Commerce
  • PR director, St. Mary’s University
  • VP of Communications for the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce
  • Executive director of PR for USAA
  • Manager of the San Antonio office of Hill & Knowlton
  • President of BSM Consultants, Inc.
  • Commander of a Naval Reserve Public Affairs unit
  • Executive director of the Texas Public Relations Association
  • Twice president of San Antonio PRSA Chapter, 1971 and 1979
  • Elected to the PRSA College of Fellows
In addition to his professional career, Charlie amassed an incredible record of public service, using his public relations expertise to help others. For example, he helped raise millions of dollars for Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital. His fundraising skills resulted in the construction of a modern treatment center for people with cerebral palsy.

As a mentor, Charlie’s sound advice, encouragement and good humor probably benefited hundreds of PR professionals over the years. He served on the chapter’s board of directors since before written records exist, and his latest title of PRSA ombudsman was created especially to enable his continued official involvement in chapter affairs. In addition to mentoring, Charlie was a staunch defender of the public relations profession against adverse treatment in the news media.

Through hard work, outstanding standards of honesty and integrity over more than 40 years of professional and public service, Charles Kenworthey stood as a model for all PR professionals.

Thank you for everything Charlie. Rest in peace our friend, mentor, leader and inspiration.

Update: The San Antonio Express-News published a story today (July 25, 2012).

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The "R" in PR

By Randy Escamilla, APR

The PRSA-San Antonio chapter summer networking mixers are enjoying strong support among members and future members. The Association for Women in Communications chapter along with PRSA co-sponsored the event.

An estimated 60 people attended the July 12 event at Azuca Restaurant and Cantina in San Antonio's South Town.  Roughly half of the attendees are potential PRSA members.

While the mixer is for professionals, PRSA keeps it relaxed which contributes to the event's success. Also, the co-sponsors did a great job of communicating the message and reaching out. "I received the email notification and subsequent reminder about the PRSA networking mixer and was compelled to attend by the casual premise," wrote Hart-Boillot Account Director Andrea Dunbeck.

Future member Uche Ogba from BethanyEast PR enjoyed getting to know people and engaging with other public relations practitioners. He and his wife learned about the mixer through a post on LinkedIn. "I see myself getting more involved in the PRSA-San Antonio chapter. The mixer gave me the opportunity to meet interesting people, exchange contact information, and build lasting relationships."

The payoff in a new job or big contract may or may not occur later on but no one endured hard sales or membership pitches. The PRSA networking mixer focuses on relationship-building and puts the R in public relations.

"The PRSA mixer provided a forum to introduce those folks I know well to each other, hopefully expanding their communities. As I headed home for the evening, I felt rejuvenated by my growing personal community-a truly successful networking event," Dunbeck said.

For more information about public relations visit PRSA-San Antonio.

Randy Escamilla, APR, is on the board for PRSA San Antonio. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Memories of Sharing the Newspaper at the Kitchen Table

By Monica Faulkenbery, APR

I recently read an article about the Times-Picayune in New Orleans laying off one-third of its staff, reducing its print edition by five days (only printing three days a week), and focusing on its digital presence. 

The Picayune was established in 1837 with issues costing one picayune – a Spanish coin equivalent to 6 ¼ cents. Under Eliza Jane Nicholson, who inherited the struggling paper when her husband died in 1876, the Picayune introduced innovations such as society reporting, children’s pages, and the first women’s advice column, according to Wikipedia. Between the years of 1880 to 1890, the paper more than tripled its circulation. It became The Times-Picayune after merging in 1914 with its rival paper, the New Orleans Times-Democrat.

As a news junkie, I find all the reductions in newspaper staffs over the past few years very disheartening. I grew up in a household that would gather around the kitchen table every morning to read the paper. My dad read the Muskogee Phoenix in the morning and the Tulsa Tribune in the evening. It was a ritual I remember fondly and tied us together as a family.

I just don’t get the same satisfaction gathering around my iPad, scrolling through the newspapers. There’s no ink smell, no ink on my hands when I finish, no fighting with the cats who want to lie down on the paper while I’m reading it, no trading this section for that section. 

Steve Jobs once said that he loved the printed product but that our lives are not like that anymore. I know I have to embrace the new technology, and I have, but it’s okay to say that you miss the “old ways.” Just think, our grandchildren and great grandchildren will be viewing printed newspapers behind glass in museums wondering how we ever held those big pieces of paper and read them. 

What about the old political saying, “never argue (or pick a fight) with a man who buys ink by the barrel?”  There’s something else for the history books. 

Another saying also comes to mind – “can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” 

But, as Jobs said, we can’t live like we have in the past, so as I scroll through my iPad reading a San Antonio Express News article, I still worry about all my journalism friends, and the integrity of good news gathering and storytelling as newspaper staffs dwindle. And, I still remember the “good old days” as I sat with my dad sharing the newspaper at the kitchen table. 

Monica Faulkenbery, APR, is on the Board of PRSA San Antonio and the Assistant Director of Communications for the Northside Independent School District.