Category Archives: News


If you are a recent graduate with a major in public relations, communications, marketing or a related field of study, you are qualified for a free one-year association membership ($60 value) as part of a scholarship available from the PRSA Greater Cleveland Chapter.

Enjoy the networking, professional development, internship and membership benefits available to PRSA members.

The Chapter has 12 scholarships available thanks to the generosity of two firms—Sonnhalter and Falls Communications. An awards committee will review all applications.

Submit your application today to Include your college, your major and home address. Be sure to tell us why you deserve a scholarship. Mention whether you were a PRSSA member—a sure fire tie-breaker. The deadline to apply is July 1, 2020. Act now! The decision of the awards committee is final.

For more information and an application kit, click here. If you have any questions, please email Beth Thomas at

(Please note: While the national PRSA dues ($60) are being paid for, any winners would still be responsible for the $35 annual dues to the Greater Cleveland Chapter. )

–Ed Stevens, Stevens Strategic Communications

PRSA Greater Cleveland Chapter Recognizes Northeast Ohio’s Best in Communications

CLEVELAND – December 5, 2018 – The Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Greater Cleveland Chapter recognized the area’s best in marketing and public relations at the 16th annual Cleveland Rocks Awards on Tuesday, December 4, at the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park.

This year, more than 65 Gold, Silver and Bronze awards were given to corporations, nonprofits and agencies and their clients in recognition of excellent communication programs and tactics.

The Cleveland Foundation’s community relations campaign, “Common Ground 2018” won the coveted Best in Show award.

Falls Communications, an integrated marketing and communications agency, won the Judge’s Choice Award for its press release entry titled, “Erie Insurance Reveals Surprising Driving Distraction.”

“We were excited to celebrate another year of the PRSA Cleveland Rocks Awards at Rocksino,” said Bob Rotatori, president of PRSA Greater Cleveland. “This year’s awards recognized the best work in public relations and communications being done right here in Cleveland.”

Annually, the PRSA Cleveland Rocks Awards acknowledge Northeast Ohio’s outstanding PR programs, which incorporate research, planning, execution and evaluation. Award winners demonstrate leadership in public relations and contribute to advancing the profession locally.

The San Diego chapter of PRSA judged this year’s award entries.

Falls Communications served as the platinum sponsor for the 2018 Cleveland Rocks Awards and the Hardrock Rocksino served as presenting sponsor and host for the awards banquet. The event’s Gold Rocker sponsor was First Energy and

Gold Rocks Award winners:
Campaigns: Community Relations
Common Ground 2018, Cleveland Foundation

Campaigns: Events
Amplifying the 2018 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Campaigns: Integrated Communications
My Body Matters Campaign on Behalf of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Prosper for Purpose

Campaigns: Media Relations, Local/Regional
Bridgestone Invitational: Maximizing Local and Charitable Impact, Falls Communications

Campaigns: Media Relations, National
Vitamix Media Relations: Reaching new audiences, communicating a “better me”, Falls Communications

Tactics: Annual Reports
MAP to Growth: RPM International Inc.’s 2018 Annual Report, Roop & Company

Tactics: Best Paid B2C Social Media Campaign, >$500
Behr Color Clinic 2018, Marcus Thomas LLC

Tactics: Best Social Media Campaign for a Non-Profit and/or Governmental Agency
Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2018 Social Media Campaign: Listen. Believe. Support., Cleveland Rape Crisis Center

Tactics: Best Use of B2B Blog
Blogging the Way to Small-Business Growth, Roop & Company

Tactics: Best Use of Influencer Promotion
FrogTape® Paintover Challenge® Room Makeover Influencer Campaign, Falls Communications

Tactics: Best Use of Twitter Account
Cleveland State University Announces 7th President on Twitter, Cleveland State University

Tactics: Books, Guides or Resource Directory
Digger Dog Storybook: “Digger Dog Uses His Nose and Becomes A Safety Hero”, Fahlgren Mortine with Columbia Gas

Tactics: eNewsletter
Sherwin Williams Aerospace Coatings ‘E-Finish’ Electronic Newsletter, Falls Communications

Tactics: Op-Ed
Vocational Guidance Services Op/Ed, Falls Communications

Tactics: Press Release
Erie Insurance Reveals Surprising Driving Distraction Press Release, Falls Communications

Silver Rocks Award winners:
Campaigns: B2B Campaigns
Eriez Exceeds 90% Placements in Tier One Publications, Stevens Strategic Communications

Campaigns: Brand and Reputation Management
ADA Becomes Relevant Again, Stevens Strategic Communications

Campaigns: Community Relations
The Cleveland Museum of Art – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan, The Cleveland Museum of Art

Campaigns: Crisis Communications
Personally Responding to Employees When Their Identities are in Danger, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

Campaigns: Events
2017 Open House is the Number One Event in the Number Two Business, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

Campaigns: Integrated Communications
Helping Californians Beat the Beep – Kidde Educates Consumers on CO Safety, Fahlgren Mortine with Kidde

Campaigns: Internal Communications
Martin Senour 2017-2018 Internal Sales Promotions Guide, Falls Communications

Campaigns: Media Relations, Local/Regional
Vocational Guidance Services Local Media Relations Program, Falls Communications

Campaigns: Media Relations, National
The North American Menopause Society National Media Relations Program, Falls Communications

Campaigns: Pro Bono Program
15th Annual PRSA Cleveland Rocks Awards, Falls Communications

Tactics: Best Paid B2C Social Media Campaign, >$500
Improvements Catalogue Social Media Campaign, Falls Communications

Tactics: Best Social Media Campaign for a Non-Profit and/or Governmental Agency
“Let’s Ask” Video Series, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

Tactics: Best Use of B2C Blog
Cleveland Plus Living Here Blog, Citrus Social

Tactics: Best Use of Influencer Promotion
Troy-Bilt Flip the Yard Challenge: 4 experts. 4 projects. 1 weekend., Marcus Thomas LLC

Tactics: Best Use of Instagram
The Ohio Lottery Instagram Challenge, Marcus Thomas LLC

Tactics: Best Use of Twitter Account
KeyBank Tweets Its Way to Fans’ Hearts with the Off-Season’s Greetings Tweetstakes, Marcus Thomas

Tactics: Best Use of YouTube Channel (or other video-sharing site)
Erie Insurance Sheds Light on Dangers of Daydreaming While Driving, Falls Communications

Tactics: Books, Guides or Resource Directory
CORDURA® Brand Takes Media on Global Journey, Sweeney

Tactics: Feature Article
Adapting to Automatic Payments: KeyBank takes accounts receivable processes digital, Roop & Company

Tactics: Multimedia Content Online Newsroom or Digital Media Kit
Cleveland Clinic Performs Its Third Face Transplant on Youngest Recipient in U.S.: Katie Stubblefield’s Story, Cleveland Clinic

Tactics: Multimedia Content, Podcasts/Audio
“Prescription for Hope”, The MetroHealth System

Tactics: Press Release
CORDURA® Brand Teams with Carhartt on Full Swing Steel Workwear Line, Sweeney

Tactics: Website/mobile application
Tech Air Launches Rebrand with Revamped Website, Sweeney

Tactics: Whitepaper
What the Top 1% of Small-Business Owners Do to Achieve Sustained Growth, Roop & Company

Bronze Rocks Award winners:
Campaigns: Brand and Reputation Management, Modernizing Service Assurance: Monolith Software and Product Rebrand, Roop & Company

Campaigns: Community Relations
Kidde Helps Educate Missouri Community About Fire Safety in Wake of Tragic Fire, Fahlgren Mortine with Kidde
GOAT with the Flo, Progressive Insurance
Shack Opens First Ohio Location on Cleveland’s East Side, Sweeney

Campaigns: Integrated Communications
Redefine Campaign on Behalf of the Ohio Department of Liquor Control, Prosper for Purpose
Team NEO Digital Lead Generation Program, Team NEO

Campaigns: Media Relations, Local/Regional
Dunkin’ Spotlights Youngstown Employee Through Anniversary Celebration, Fahlgren Mortine with Dunkin’
Paving the Way for a New Construction Leader in Northeast Ohio: Rudolph Libbe Group, Falls Communications
Duck Tape Festival – Local Media Relations, Falls Communications
The Making of a Big Ash Deal, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District
Book Launch Publicity for The Company of Demons, Roop & Company
Cantina Laredo Debuts in Cleveland, Stevens Strategic Communications
Shake Shack Opens First Ohio Location on Cleveland’s East Side, Sweeney

Campaigns: Media Relations, National
Media Relations Program Shines Light on North Dakota’s Legendary Travel Offerings, Fahlgren Mortine with North Dakota Tourism
Duck Brand Stuck at Prom National Media Relations, Falls Communications
U by Moen™ Shower with Voice Activation Launch Campaign, Falls Communications
Cleveland Plus: Bolstering National Coverage of Northeast Ohio to Benefit the Region, Team NEO – Dix & Eaton

Campaigns: Pro Bono Program
Media Relations Helps Increase Annual Event Attendance by More Than 50 Percent, Fahlgren Mortine with Cuyahoga County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

Tactics: Best Social Media Campaign for a Non-Profit and/or Governmental Agency
North Dakota Tourism Uses Social Media to Share State’s Legendary Sunflower Bloom, Fahlgren Mortine with North Dakota Tourism

Tactics: Best Use of B2C Blog
WOAH: Your goldfish become giant monsters if you release them into the wild, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

Tactics: Best Use of Influencer Promotion
Dunkin’ Northeast Ohio Uses Influencers to Share the Brand’s New Dunkin’ Run Menu, Fahlgren Mortine with Dunkin’
Shake Shack Opens First Ohio Location on Cleveland’s East Side, Sweeney

Tactics: Best Use of YouTube Channel (or other video-sharing site)
Erie Insurance Shows Generational Differences, Falls Communications

Tactics: Feature Article
Viega “Go with the Flow: Best Practices for Maintaining Water Movement in Plumbing Systems” Feature Article, Sonnhalter
CORDURA® Brand Teams with Carhartt on Full Swing Steel Workwear Line, Sweeney

Tactics: Promotional Content, Media Kit
Union Bank & Trust Mingles with New Market, Sweeney

Tactics: Website/Mobile Application
Reinventing the Bernzomatic Digital Ecosystem, Fahlgren Mortine with Bernzomatic

About PRSA Greater Cleveland
The PRSA Greater Cleveland Chapter is the professional organization that brings together public relations, communications and marketing practitioners throughout Northeast Ohio. For more information, visit

Richard J. Batyko Wins ECD Platinum Award

Richard J. Batyko, APR, Fellow PRSA

Richard BatykoEvery year PRSA Chapters within the East Central District (ECD) region are given the opportunity to submit a nomination from their membership for consideration of the District’s top practitioner recognition, the Platinum Award.

This year five nominations were received. The PRSA ECD Board was impressed with the quality of all the applications. After careful review, the Board selected Rick Batyko, APR, Fellow PRSA, of the Greater Cleveland Chapter as this year’s honoree.

Rick has more than 30 years of Fortune100 and nonprofit public relations, marketing and brand management experience. Currently, he is serving as senior vice president for marketing, communications and development for Team NEO in Cleveland. Prior, he has served as director of communications for Babcock & Wilcox; as a director of communications and brand management for AlliedSignal; as manager, e-media and news management at Honeywell International; and prior to Team NEO as an officer and vice president for marketing and communications at The Cleveland Foundation. He began his career in PR leadership roles with Rio Grande University and Lake Erie College.

“I’ve had the good fortune to serve on the East Central District board with Rick in the past and have appreciated his support and leadership as a national board member,” said ECD board chair Andrea Clark, APR. “This is a well-earned recognition.”

Batyko is a graduate of Ohio University’s E. W. Scripps School of Journalism with a major in public relations and received his Master of Arts in public relations from Kent State University in 2012. He holds his Accreditation with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and is an adjunct faculty member at Kent State University’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication, teaching courses in the Masters of Public Relations program.

=Rick is on the PRSA National Board of Directors representing the ECD region and was recently voted in to continue on the Board at the national assembly.  He is a past president of the Greater Cleveland and the Akron Area Chapters of the Society and past chair of PRSA’s East Central District’s Board of Directors. He has presented at a number of PRSA’s international and regional conferences, chaired or held positions on several national committees and has been a delegate at six national assemblies. He served on the 2013 College of Fellows Selection Committee, co-chaired the 2014–16 College of Fellows Strategic Planning Committee, a member of the PRSA Investment Committee, and a Champion for PRSSA.

For his service to the profession, Batyko was inducted into PRSA’s College of Fellows in 2009. In 2013, PRSA Greater Cleveland Chapter presented him with its Lighthouse Award, which acknowledges a senior-level practitioner for contributions to the field and the community.

His writings have appeared in an ABC-CLIO book on advertising titled, “We Are What We Sell” (2014); in a University of Akron Press book on community-building economic development titled, “Under the Rustbelt” (2015); and in a Praeger book titled, “Debates for the Digital Age” (November 2015). He is editing for ABC-CLIO (Greenwood imprint) an encyclopedia of the global digital. He has been published in the Public Relations Journal and in other outlets. His thesis, “The Impact of Japanese Corporate and Country Culture on Crisis Communications: A Case Study Examining Tokyo Electric Power Company,” was published to OhioLink in 2012.

Batyko’s son, Bobby, is a graduate of Kent State University in public relations and is working for a nonprofit in Oberlin, Ohio. His daughter, Erica, is also a graduate of Kent State University in public relations and is working for a full-service advertising agency in Cleveland, Ohio. His wife, Mary, teaches for Akron Public Schools.


When the Editor Tells you How to Pitch a Story; Take the Advice.

By Chris Lynch, APR, Fellow PRSA and VP Programming Cleveland PRSA

Media RelationsIf any of you scroll down over the collection of blogs we host here on Greater Cleveland’s PRSA website, you’ll see a prior note I penned that referenced a column by Crain’s Cleveland Business Editor Elizabeth McIntyre with some of the finer points regarding pitching stories to the publications’ editors and section reporters.

This week she follows up with a more extensive Editor’s Column:  “More ways to make the best story pitch.”

It features some really good points if you’re looking to get a story placed, including tips like:

  • Email is better than a phone call
  • Get straight to the point
  • Follow up only once
  • You’re ON the record
  • We live in a visual world
  • No prior review

For more about these pitching tips and additional narrative, read on in today’s Crain’s Opinion page.

Business & The Media Comes Early This Year!


By Chris Lynch, APR, Fellow PRSA Falls Communications and PRSA Cleveland Programming Chair

News MediaEvery year here at the Greater Cleveland PRSA chapter, we feature a program called ‘Business and the Media.’

If often features an interactive panel with leading business beat editors, reporters, and/or bloggers about how we, as PR practitioners, can better work with, pitch story ideas, and in general, collectively do our media relations jobs, better.

Well, this year you don’t have to wait until October folks; Elizabeth McIntyre Publisher/Editor @ Crain’s Cleveland Business, just came out with a pretty straightforward primer in her column on how we all can, and should, be doing our jobs to when pitching business stories.

It includes some pretty obvious thoughts (but, if Ms. McIntyre needs to point it out, that means a lot of folks aren’t doing it!), such as:

Know what you’re pitching and to whom: Identify what your news is. Maybe you recently made an acquisition, or named a new CFO, or are noticing a noteworthy trend in your business. Then, figure out the best reporters and editors to share the information with.

That’s where some PR people drop the ball by carpet-bombing hundreds of reporters and editors with the same generic mass emails, which damages their credibility as a source of information.

Yes, many of us are probably guilty of ‘send out as much stuff as possible and see what sticks’ tactical planning and execution. But Ms. McIntyre also notes that if you do your homework, and approach the right media contact, with the right story, for the right audience of that media platform, then it’s likely to be a win-win scenario:

We both need each other: Don’t get discouraged if nothing comes from a story pitch. Keep pitching. You and your company are on the frontlines of your industry and often recognize trends before we do. You provide us with interesting story ideas and sources that can give life to our stories. We help you by spreading awareness about your company and clients.

For the entire column, please click here!


PRSA Greater Cleveland Recognizes Winners of Hill Lighthouse Young Awards


CLEVELAND – April 12, 2018 – The Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Greater Cleveland Chapter recognized three area communications professionals with its prestigious Hill, Lighthouse and Young Awards at a luncheon ceremony yesterday, April 11.

L-R: David Gilbert, Barbara Paynter, Julie Miller

The John W. Hill Award is presented each year to the chief executive of a Greater Cleveland area organization who provides outstanding leadership and support for internal and external communications. The 2018 Hill Award was presented to David Gilbert, president and CEO of Destination Cleveland as well as president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.

The Lighthouse Award is presented each year to recognize the career accomplishments, contributions to the profession and community service of a senor public relations professional who is a member of PRSA Greater Cleveland. The 2018 Lighthouse Awards was presented to Barbara Paynter, APR, Fellow PRSA who is president of Paynter Communications.

The Davis Young Award is presented each year to recognize a professional who excels in mentoring students and young professionals through hands-on instruction and support. The 2018 Young Award was presented to Julie Miller, APR, associate professor and director of public relations programs at Baldwin Wallace University.

“The caliber of the people we honored at this awards luncheon distinguishes the Greater Cleveland PRSA chapter as one of the finest in the nation,” said Bob Rotatori, PRSA Cleveland president. “It was a great honor to be part of it and witness the occasion with so many of our colleagues.”

More than 70 Cleveland-area communications professionals attended the awards presentation which took place at the Union Club. The event was sponsored by Vitamix Corporation, Eaton Corporation and Dominion East Ohio Gas.