“When I was a kid, I would go to the library and get stuck in there,” says Michelle Egan from her office in Anchorage, Alaska. “Not because I would sit down and read a book, but because I would go from section to section, learn a little something about each and then move on.”
Being in PR reminds Michelle of those days. As Chief Communications Officer at Alyeska Pipeline, Michelle says, “I get to do something different every day, sometimes every hour of every day, and there’s no end of new things to learn.”
Michelle has been an eager student since she started in PR over two decades ago. “I came to PR without a formal education in the profession, but with a real knack for the work,” she says. To increase her industry knowledge and build on her skills, she joined PRSA. “I went through the accreditation process, and it really solidified my understanding of the profession, our history, and specifically our Code of Ethics.”
A dedicated PRSA volunteer for decades, Michelle was President of the Alaska Chapter and was inducted into PRSA’s College of Fellows in 2016. A year later, after hearing PRSA’s statement on “alternative facts” given by Jane Dvorak, Chair of the Society for 2017, Michelle was inspired to run for the Board of Directors. “It really made me proud of this organization, of our profession, and of our Code of Ethics,” says Michelle. She won her spot on the Board in 2018 and eventually served as Board Treasurer in 2020 and 2021.
Michelle will soon be stepping into her next role with PRSA as 2022 Chair-Elect and upcoming 2023 Chair. In this exciting position, it will be her responsibility to convene a diverse group of professionals to prepare PRSA’s 2023 strategic plan. “None of us has a crystal ball about what’s coming, but I’m really looking forward to working with the [Strategic Planning] Committee on the environmental scan to assess where we are as a profession and as an association, and to look at where we need to go in order to serve our members and the industry,” says Michelle. Lately, Michelle’s been giving a lot of thought to the future of PR. “For so long, we’ve been looking for a seat at the table,” says Michelle. Due to the activities of the last couple of years, Michelle says that, “We’re going to have to continue to hone our strategic game and our role as advisors” since PR is “now at the center of the table in a way we haven’t been before.”
As more and more CEOs and organizational leaders recognize PR as a strategic function, Michelle says the profession is being asked to weigh in on decisions like remote work, DEI, guiding ESG, and responding to social issues. “I think it goes without saying that the technology and the tools we use are going to continue to change, but those fundamentals of connection and being strategic are the future of our craft.”