By Merle O’Brien APR FPRISA
I began serving as Western Cape Chair in 1996, won the PRISA Edelman Bairds Vision Award (1998) and 2002 Financial Mail PRISA PRISM award for crisis management of the 2001 Ellis Park soccer tragedy. During my term as national President (2006), I co-drafted the BEE MAC Charter for the Marketing, Advertising and Communication sector for which I was awarded a lifelong PRISA Fellowship in 2007.
I currently serve as Western Cape Regional Secretary (2013 – 2015) and continue to volunteer a few hours a month to organize member events, lobby industry, write letters, engage media and share insights with local public relations students. As a navigator at Vega School of Brand Leadership and design futurist at Creation iLab (www.creationilab.com), I now work in transmedia storytelling and design innovation. I belong to PRISA because communication design is the creative thread that connects the way I measure, diagnose, design, test, create and communicate the future.
For me, PRISA’s brand promise is ‘Ubuntu, a human connection’. It approaches communication in a human-centric way that builds empathy, trust and meaning to sustain relationships that translates into brand equity, wealth and knowledge. Over the last 20 years, I’ve experienced how its strategic stance, rooted in systemic collaborative strategy, has given it the resilience, agility and influence to build powerful networks across South Africa, SADC, Africa, BRICS and the world.
I value its efforts to uplift the professional standards of public relations in Africa and hold its own on the global stage. I look forward to the next 20 years with PRISA, to help public relations reposition itself within the knowledge, experience, creative and green economy of Africa.