March 2021 Member Spotlight - Roger Buehrer, APR, Fellow PRSA

Roger Buehrer, APR, Fellow PRSA

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: My roots of being a farm boy have always stuck with me. I find great joy in gardening, particularly my roses, but my real hobby for the last 30 years has been singing barbershop harmony. I joined the Las Vegas Gamble-Aires chorus in 1985 and the Las Vegas Silver Statesmen chorus when there was a merger. During that time, I sung in numerous quartets with “Broadcast” being the most recent. Of course, I am partial to singing tenor and think it’s the best part for harmonizing. Before COVID-19, we were singing at various venues several times a month. If anyone is interested in booking us, visit our website at broadcastbarbershop.com

Q: What does PRSA mean to you?

A: I believe that our professional society is the foundation to my successful career. I first joined PRSA in 1977 in Toledo, OH, and I helped reestablish the struggling Las Vegas Chapter when I moved here in 1983. PRSA helped me grow and change with the opportunities that new channels of communication now offer. When I first joined, there were no desktop computers or social media outlets. If you wanted a story published with state of national implications, it was delivered to the local office of the Associated Press or United Press International. Now, we have all that ability right in our cell phones. No one had ever heard of Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and more. But those dozens of media outlets have also created challenges. I not only had to learn the value of each, but how to use them effectively in message dissemination. I probably could have learned all that, but my professional society provided me with resources on what media there was and how to use them most effectively.

Q: What was the most notable moment of your career?

A: Rather than limiting it to one, I want to limit it to three. The first was receiving my accreditation in public relations (APR). It was a moment that allowed me to begin showcasing my professionalism. I am proud to hold my APR and be a part of PRSA, where members practice by a code of ethics, telling the truth, upholding the right privacy and even the fundamental of our U.S. Constitution.

The second highlight of my career was when I was elected to the College of Fellows in 2000. I was an active member nationally, having served as a district officer including president. In 1992, I was named by the National Board of Directors to serve on the Board of Professional Standards and Ethics. Six years later, we were challenged with rewriting the Code of Ethics. After being approved by the National Assembly in 1999, that document remains the bulwark and foundation for all of us as professionals. In 2000, the College of Fellows accepted my application. The best part of the membership is serving as a mentor to other professionals who may be facing communication or ethical issues. Being able to put Roger Buehrer, APR, Fellow PRSA, after my name is very humbling. I have also been an advocate for equality of women in our profession. I still believe that PR is one career opportunity for women to crack through the glass ceiling.

The third highlight of my career was the local chapter presenting me with the lifetime achievement award. That award now carries my name in perpetuity. I will never forget receiving my obelisk at our awards dinner that year, the key to the city by Mayor Oscar Goodman or having a “Roger Buehrer Day” in Nevada.

Q: What made you enter the PR field?

A: When I stepped foot on the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) campus in 1964, I didn’t even know what PR was. I had it in my heart to become a journalist since being a reporter for my high school newspaper. It wasn’t until my advisor Dr. Raymond Derr suggested I think about PR for a career. After our discussion, I steered my college career path in that direction. Once I finished my bachelor’s degree, I started teaching high school English at a school in Ohio while being a stringer for the Defiance, OH Crescent News. I started working on my master’s degree at American University in Washington, D.C. I went on to teach school for four years before moving to full-time at the newspaper as the city editor. It was there that I met the district manager for the Toledo Edison Company, and he told me of an opening in the PR department. After four years on staff at the paper, I accepted the position of editor for the company's "magpaper" -- now there is a term you don't hear anymore. I became a spokesman for the company and learned the elements of nuclear power from two great mentors there. I then moved to Southwest Gas Corporation in 1983 after seven years at Toledo Edison. 23 years later, I retired and took a position in the communications department at the Las Vegas Valley Water District/Southern Nevada Water Authority. I retired for the second time in 2012. I must have really liked that decision to switch majors at BGSU, as I stayed in the PR business for almost 40 years.

Q: What is the most profound lesson you have learned throughout your career?

A: If I could impart a little tidbit onto new and upcoming professionals it’s to surround yourself with good and smart people who can help you. I have always had strong mentors, at least a dozen. One in particular was my journalism professor at BGSU, Dr. Jeff Clark. During my freshman year, he offered to come on campus to talk to me about my difficulties one Saturday morning. While sitting at a table in the student union, he asked why I wanted to be a journalist and how badly did I want that. I replied that my heart was set on it ever since high school and I never considered anything else. That’s when he said, “If you want this great profession and are willing to work harder on accomplishing this goal that anything you have ever done in your life, then the field of journalism wants you. If you are willing to make that sacrifice, don’t waste your time, or that of your professor.” I always have taken that to heart in everything I have don’t. I ended up taking four of his classes, never got an A, but I never failed. We became great friends and remained so until his passing in the late 1970s.