January 7, 2020

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Happy new year and welcome to 2020, fellow PR pros & community!

A check-in, a name badge, and new faces. Another mixer in the city, but little did I know, this PRSA-SF mixer back in 2016 would connect me to my current four-year PR role in the HR professional development space. I was thankful to have crossed paths that night with a friend from the 2012 PRSSA National Conference in San Francisco. This friend got me connected to a colleague who knew someone who was hiring, and the timing could not have been better. I had made attending PRSA-SF programs and socials a priority as soon as I moved to the Bay Area, knowing what a great experience PRSSA was in my college years.

I was grateful for the continued connections as I got plugged in with one of the original founding PRSA chapters, the SF Bay Area Chapter! Not long after, I was able to meet with a few of the current board members and step into a role on the Membership Committee before stepping into the Membership Director role under John Philip Vernon’s presidency, and then John McCartney’s presidency during my President-Elect role.

I am humbled and honored to now take on the role of Chapter President this year, with so much in store for 2020. Upholding the PRSA ethics code and professionalism is a core value of mine as we head into an election year, facilitate constructive dialogue and continue to learn about best practices, especially when it comes to maintaining the integrity of the PR profession and news media.

As it was reiterated at the 2019 International Conference (ICON), we at PRSA acknowledge that “advancing the free flow of accurate and truthful information is essential to serving the public interest and contributing to informed decision making in a democratic society.” We have strong intent to “maintain the integrity of relationships with the media, government officials, and the public,” and “aid informed decision-making.” This will no doubt play a key role in our planning efforts for program and professional development events.

Another big takeaway for me at the International Conference was how well-respected our SF Bay Area chapter is in the PRSA community for our diversity & inclusion initiatives and efforts. I was inspired by the feedback I heard, including a discussion with the 2019 Diversity Chapter Awards recipient—the Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter—and was reminded of the tireless, fervent efforts of the leaders and presidents that came before me. On the board, we all agreed at our mid-year retreat that “D&I is in our DNA” and we’ll always strive to do our part to increase and advance the visibility of D&I standards and create a more diverse profession.

We also look forward to continuing the annual PRSA-SF Awards Program, dubbed “The Foggies” that my predecessor John McCartney launched in 2019, as we recognize the outstanding PR pros and campaigns in our local area. We had a great time honoring and celebrating the award recipients at our inaugural awards night in October and cannot wait to repeat it later this year.

I am so excited to lead this passionate board of directors throughout 2020, representing a varietal mix of experiences across many different industries. We have a rockstar line-up and are here to collaborate with you as your company or client wants to educate and engage with the local PR community. We will be continuing partnerships with brands and companies who will provide our members with industry insights, updates, and products to enhance our PR savvy.

We want to ensure that our chapter meets its goals of offering a variety of programs, events, and mixers so that our members feel they are always getting the best value out of their membership. We also encourage our chapter members to jump in with us and volunteer on any of our committees. I’m enthusiastic for all our continuing initiatives throughout our student affairs committee, mentoring program, and APR accreditation support, just to name a few.

Additionally, we plan on continuing to give back to the SF Bay Area community as we do every year through pairing our programs and socials with charitable causes, whether hosting a toy drive or donating our guest bartending tips. We want to continue to foster the culture of giving back and thinking of others.

We hope to see you at the Meet the Board Mixer at the end of the month (details coming soon) and invite you to consider renewing or trying chapter membership. Here is the link to learn more about PRSA membership benefits.

If you have any questions or want to let us know how our chapter is doing I would love to connect on Twitter or LinkedIn. You can also find our fabulous board and connect with them by clicking on their headshot.

I invite you to come on out to mingle…you never know where that new connection may lead!

Here’s to a purposeful, more connected 2020 together.


All the best,

Jenna Watson Gudgel

2020 PRSA San Francisco Bay Area Chapter President