How I got here: PRSA’s 2024 Chair Joseph Abreu embraces innovation

Joseph Abreu of PRSA shares how he stays creative and motivated.

Joseph Abreu is the chief communications officer for the clerk of the court & comptroller of Lee County in Fort Myers, Fla., overseeing strategic communications, public affairs, media relations, emergency management, and reputation/brand management. He is also the PRSA’s 2024 Chair. Abreu has served for over 17 years in leadership roles with PRSA, including five years on the national board.

 Before his CCO role, he directed communication efforts for the clerk & comptrollers of St. Lucie and Palm Beach counties. He managed communications and development for Compass, a prominent LGBTQ community center.

Abreu has been recognized with awards like the PRSA Sunshine District’s Trailblazer Award and the PRSA Palm Beach Chapter’s Hall of Fame Award, Abreu’s campaigns have garnered over 40 national, state, and local accolades.

The thing I’m most excited about for the future of my profession is:

I’m excited about how new technologies, like artificial intelligence and augmented reality, will continue to impact the way public relations professionals work in the near future. These new tools will give us unique opportunities to work faster, produce more content, develop personalized messaging and engage audiences.

One thing that worries me about the future of my profession is:

As much as I embrace AI and other burgeoning technologies, I do worry about how they will amplify mis- and disinformation in our societies. We are already highly susceptible to misleading and false statements, but when it is made with authentic voices and videos, it will be even harder for people to discern between truth and lies. As public relations professionals, we will have to work together to combat unethical practices.

A tool or a piece of software I cannot live without is:

My iPhone. Like many PR professionals, I need to be accessible as well as be able to access the internet, email, and social media – right at my fingertips. I often use my phone to take notes, create videos, and manage all my finances.

The most underrated skill in my profession is:

Financial literacy. If you go into communications without a strong understanding of numbers, you will limit your growth. Communications executives must be comfortable with budgets, P&L statements and balance sheets. We also need to be able to measure our results against the bottom line and prove our value in the C-suite. 

One way I stay creative and motivated is:

Graphic design is a skill that can truly benefit communicators, and I have been proficient in many Adobe programs for nearly 20 years. It gives me a creative escape from everyday work, and the artistry allows me to recharge and better contribute to my team.

Someone who has helped me be successful in my career is:

 My husband. He has always been encouraging and supportive of my career and my passions in life, whether it be volunteering for PRSA for the past 18 years or moving across the state for a new career opportunity. He helps me stay positive in the toughest times, and I wouldn’t be where I am without him.

Isis Simpson-Mersha is a conference producer/ reporter for Ragan. Follow her on LinkedIn.

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