By Neal Cirlot
Founding Member

The Southern Public Relations Federation (SPRF) began in 1972, forming an alliance between the Public Relations Association of Florida (PRAF), the Public Relations Council of Alabama (PRCA), and the Public Relations Association of Mississippi (PRAM). The Public Relations Association of Louisiana (PRAL) was invited to join SPRF in 1973. While PRAF is no longer part of the Federation, the Emerald Coast Public Relations Organization (ECPRO) formed in the Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., area and is a member of SPRF.In the beginning…there was the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA). Much history, experience and growth had marked the sound progress of the Association throughout the entire state of Florida. Then came the Public Relations Council of Alabama (PRCA), with a great history and experience with its programs and progress throughout the state of Alabama. Another organization, the Public Relations Association of Mississippi (PRAM), then began programs of interest for public relations people throughout the state of Mississippi.

In early 1972 much interest began to develop within the ranks of the FPRA to expand and join with other similar groups throughout the Southeast to form some type of federation of state public relations groups. A preliminary meeting was called in the spring of 1972 by the Florida group in Tallahassee with representatives from Alabama and Mississippi. Out of this meeting developed a stronger interest in joining together in an organization that would benefit public relations people in these areas.

Committee delegates were appointed and a meeting was held on July 13, 1972, in Biloxi, Miss., during the Annual Southern Public Relations Conference, which PRCA and PRAM had been co-sponsoring for eight years. George Couch, president of PRCA, acted as temporary chairman.

Each of the three states agreed to contribute $100 to finance an organizational beginning of the Southern Public Relations Federation. Committees for finance, by-laws and other important areas were appointed at this time. Also attending this meeting was the representative from Louisiana, which was in the process of organizing the Public Relations Association of Louisiana (PRAL).

The next meeting of representatives from the four states was held during the tenth Annual Southern Public Relations Conference on April 26-28, 1973, in Pensacola, Fla. Officers were elected at this meeting and the PRAL was invited to join. The officers elected to serve the first year of this new organization were:

  • Neal W. Cirlot, Chairman (PRAM)

  • William D. Bagwell, Vice Chairman (PRCA)

  • Robert G. Jones, Secretary/Treasurer (FPRA)

Mississippi delegates appointed were:

  • Louise Risher

  • Orby Patton

  • Bob Sharman

  • William G. Taylor (alternate)

Alabama delegates appointed were:

  • Charles McCay

  • George W. Couch

  • Jean Doster King

  • Bob Moore (alternate)

Louisiana delegates appointed were:

  • William M. Michelet

  • William H. Moore

  • Jack H. Sanders

Florida delegates appointed were:

  • Royce Godshall

  • John Wachtel

  • Roy C. Anderson, Jr.

  • Robert Dahe (alternate)

The first meeting of the Board of Delegates and Officers was held on August 3, 1973, in Biloxi, Miss. Preliminary discussions were held on the constitutional bylaws along with future annual meetings. The 1974 convention chairmen were appointed and other matters were discussed to be carried forward at the next meeting of the board, which had agreed to meet on a quarterly basis.

The second meeting of the board was held in Point Clear, Ala., on November 30, 1973, at which time the constitution and by-laws were formulated, dues and financial structure of the Federation were set up for adoption during the next day meeting of the boards, and other important organizational matters were resolved.

Since the formation of SPRF, annual meetings have been held in various cities among member states. The main features of these gatherings have been programs presented by nationally known experts in public relations.

The Lantern Awards Program has been a SPRF mainstay since the organization was established. The Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) program began in 1978. Originally administered by FPRA, Accreditation has been replaced by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) which is administered by the Public Relations Society of America.

In 1992, the Emerald Coast Public Relations Organization (ECPRO) in Florida joined SPRF. The Florida Public Relations Association is now independent of SPRF.

Today, SPRF exists to further the professional and networking interests of today’s public relations and communication professionals in private, public and nonprofit businesses and organizations. Along with networking, SPRF serves to advocate on behalf of and assist its members through ongoing professional development and defining ethical behavior.

SPRF, along with eight other regional and national public relations organizations, is a participating member of the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), the national body which administers the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) mark.

Articles of Incorporation

SPRF Articles of Incorporation original 1975

SPRF Amended Articles of Incorporation 2008