ICON 2020: We are the flame

By: Julia Grimm, Otterbein University, 2020 Central Ohio PRSA Icon Scholarship Recipient 

“Go where there is no fire and be the flame” is the life motto for Adriênne Bolden, a speaker at the PRSSA ICON 2020. This is my new challenge as a public relations professional.

I think we all have wondered, “where do we go from here,” after the drama of 2020. Then again, the craze of the year hasn’t stopped yet. ICON 2020 was there to answer our questions.

At the conference, Jon Meacham said our country is the most divided in its history since the civil war. Laurie Garrett stepped us through the divisive and scary moments in our experience with COVID-19 and where we have fallen prey to lies and disinformation.

But I couldn’t help smiling when the BBC reporter’s phone kept falling down during a panel discussion and when a keynote speaker had her phone go off twice during her presentation.

This isn’t where we talk about being able to pivot and adapt. Instead, it’s time to acknowledge a new beginning for our profession and the world. 

As PR professionals, Nina Jankowicz reminded us that we are on the frontlines of calling out disinformation. 

We are also the people who can encourage real conversations in a polarized country. We can change inequity’s in our workplaces. As Candace Steele noted, we don’t have to compromise our integrity; don’t “PR” something but lead with the truth. 

Steele told us that it was okay to fail. It’s time to show the world that we can learn from our mistakes and be better professionals because of it.

The future can look scary, especially when Martin Waxman teaches us how artificial intelligence can impact the future of our profession. 

But I believe that humans must control the integrity of our profession now and in the future. 

Rob Biesenbach taught me how to tell my story instead of reciting my LinkedIn profile. What is the story I will leave behind in this profession? Is it a LinkedIn profile of awards and degrees? 

This is what I have learned at ICON 2020: I want to leave behind a legacy of integrity and a commitment to my profession of always fighting for the truth. Go be the flame.


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PRSA Central Ohio Chapter received an honorable mention as part of the 2020 PRSA Chapter Diversity Awards. The committee was recognized during the PRSA's Virtual ICON in October. 

The award was based on the achievements of the chapter in the past year: 
  • Hosting programs on "Getting it Right: Writing and Communicating To, About and With the LGBTQ community," "Uncovering and Confronting Implicit Biases," and "Creating Inclusive Campaigns," "From Statements to Action to Anti-Racism: The Communicator's Role in Making the Statement a Reality"
  • Providing a comprehensive list of resources about racism to members 
  • Adding a Diversity & Inclusion category to the PRism Awards
  • Authoring articles for PRSA National and Central Ohio PRSA 
  • Adding a Diversity & Inclusion Officer position to the Board of Directors 
  • Providing implicit bias training to the Board 
  • Helping ensure diverse representation in programming 

Congratulations to committee membersShanikka Flinn (chair), Jaron Terry, APR, Fellow PRSA, Gayle Saunders, APR, Joshua Hartley, Jenese Wallace, Mackenzie Betts, Jamaal Bell, APR, and Wendy Schwantes, APR!


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