PRSA chair and Lambert & Co. managing director Michelle Olson talks with Doug Simon about the role PRSA plays in improving the perception of the PR industry and the professionals who work in it on the latest “PR’s Top Pros Talk” video interview.

“I believe that communicators and PR people, no matter their level in a company or organization, have this role as kind of the moral compass for their organization,” Olson says. “We can counsel the leaders of the company to take certain actions if we're aware of them, so having that seat at the table is imperative.”

The challenges that misinformation poses for PR pros are discussed. “There are companies that are created to create disinformation,” she tells Simon. She cites the importance of “understanding media literacy” and of getting out in front of the situation as way to combat that disinformation.

Olson also says that the pandemic threw a spotlight on the key role PR pros play. “Communicators were leaned on more than ever” to communicate to a wide range of audiences—internal, external and even people that companies “hadn't considered as an audience or a customer of theirs.”

Those factors placed communicators in a “trusted advisor role,” she tells Simon, “and I don't think that that's going to go away.”

As regards what PRSA has to offer communicators negotiating a fast-changing marketplace, Olson says that the organization is “where the tools are.” She talks about PRSA’s Voices for Everyone, a free program that tackles a range of such hot-button issues as diversity, equity and inclusion and civil engagement.

With the professional world inching back toward the office, she offers her views of how that could play out. She does not think it will be “everyone back in the office,” and sees the hybrid work situation as the most likely path. And that has an upside. “We're using it as an opportunity to find talent all over the globe because it doesn't matter where they are,” she says.

However, she sees one major benefit to getting back to in-person work at least part of the time—“the human factor that has been lost in the last 16 months.” Olson thinks that “we do need to bring some of that back in. That chance discussion about an idea because someone is passing you in the hallway, that's hard to replicate in Zoom or a phone call.”

View all of the interviews in the “PR's Top Pros Talk” series. Subscribe to get notified when new episodes are available.

Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at [email protected]

D S Simon Media helps clients get their stories on television through satellite media tours and by producing and distributing content to the media. The company also produces live social media events.