Chapter History

The Sooner State's professional association of public relations practitioners had its beginning in 1952 with the Oklahoma Chapter of PRSA, which was established in Tulsa. Thirteen years later, the Oklahoma City members formed their own chapter and in 1966 and the Tulsa Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America was chartered.

In those early days, both national and chapter membership required a practitioner to have five years’ experience before he or she could apply for membership.

The late James O. Kemm, APR was a member of the Oklahoma Chapter and served as its president in 1959 and 1960.

Over the years, our chapter has been active at the national and district levels and has hosted several Southwest District Conferences. Richard W. Ellison, long-time manager of industrial relations for Service Pipe Line Company (later Amoco), who had helped organize the Oklahoma Chapter and served on the National Board of Directors of PRSA, became the first Oklahoman to gain APR status.

By 1970, 27 percent of the Tulsa Chapter members were Accredited and by 1975, nearly 40 percent of the members were APR. The chapter boasted one of the highest percentages of Accredited members nationwide. Today, the chapter has 37 Accredited members reflecting 33 percent of the membership, compared with a 19 percent national average.

In 1978, the chapter took a step to recognize public relations work in the area with the establishment of an awards program, which included the Public Relations Professional of the Year Award. The chosen name, “Silver Link Awards,” was to be symbolic of public relations as an important in link in the chain of communications. The statuettes were designed and prepared by Delbert L. Jackson, an Oklahoma artist and designer who was nationally known for his mural of the petroleum industry in the Smithsonian.

One of the chapter’s coups came in 1985 when the chapter secured the legendary Edward L. Bernays as the speaker at a monthly luncheon. Bernays – often called the father of modern public relations – addressed the need for licensing PR practitioners.