Category Archives: PRagmatic

Video recording from “Race, Bias & Communications” is now uploaded

On Aug. 11, the PRSA Greater Cleveland Chapter hosted a discussion about Race, Bias & Communications. The forum looked at the impacts that systemic racism has on Black and Brown people and marginalized communities.

We were joined by amazing panelists:

And PRSA CLE’s Vice President of Diversity:

“People don’t want to get our of their comfort zones, so they don’t want to talk about race at all,” said Bernstein. “There’s a constant ‘Let’s get better at this’ conversation going on.”

As communicators, discussions like these are critical to better understand the power of inclusive messaging and the urgency needed to help dismantle racism in our professional and personal environments.

The video recording from our Zoom meeting is now available here.

Looking Back at 2018 – A Year of Programming

Chris Lynch, APR, Fellow PRSA, 2018 PRSA Cle Programming Chair

Following up the 2017 member survey, one of the main values identified with being a PRSA member was quality and informative programming.  This past year, we set out with a pretty aggressive calendar of programs designed to inform, engage and motivate our membership. We hope you had the opportunity to take part in some of these events, and we promise you many more in 2019. To recap:

January: The Art of Video Storytelling – A PR Necessity. Expanding Role of Video in Public Relations: Hosted by Neil McCormick, Chairman, Cinecraft Productions, he discussed and demonstrated the latest use of Video in Public Relations through the Art of Visual Storytelling.

February: Fake News & the Psychology of Belief – How do you define ‘real news’ – what, and what NOT to believe these days: Plain Dealer Columnist Tom Suddes, John Carrol University Social Psychologist Dr. John Yost, and Progressive Insurance Director of Communications Brian Grace.

March: Unleashing the Power of Your Brand – How to Make Your Brand Stand Out in the Crowd: Moen Global Brand Vice President Tim McDonough, Vitamix Director of Communications Scott Tennant, and Falls Communications SVP Brand Strategy Susan Puflea.

April: Hill Lighthouse Young Awards – Honoring Greater Cleveland’s Best Leader/CEO David Gilbert, CEO Destination Cleveland and Greater Cleveland Sports Authority; Career Accomplishments in Public Relations Barbra Paynter; and Public Relations Mentor Julie Miller, Baldwin-Wallace

May Investor Relations For Dummies! – A special luncheon that “de-mystifies” the world of IR with Jim Roop, APR Fellow PRSA and Brad Kostka from Roop & Co., and Shannon Gaycheck, president of NIRI (National Investor Relations Institute).

June: Up, Up and Away! Communications and Branding in the Sky – Our first PRSA field trip to the Goodyear Wingfoot Hanger, presented in conjunction with the Akron PRSA chapter. Goodyear airship marketing presented by Emily Cropper, Sr. Manager, Airship Communications, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

August: Leaders & Legends, Pt. II.  We soaked in the wit and wisdom of three of Greater Cleveland chapter’s PR pioneers:  Ed Stevens, APR from Stevens Strategic Communications; Laura Hammel, APR, Fellow PRSA Ursuline College; and Mary Alice Frank, former CEO from Red Cross

September: Content Marketing – How the Cleveland Clinic Turns Health Care news into Compelling Stories: Eileen Sheil, Executive Director Corporate Communications Cleveland Clinic and her senior staff demonstrated their media strategies in the digital world by creating the corporate communications department of the future.

October: Business & The Media – So, You Want to Be On the TODAY SHOW? As incoming Content Director at NBC WKYC Channel 3, Adam Miller shared his 10-years Today Show production experience on various PR “Do’s and Don’ts” when it comes to segment pitches for national broadcast coverage. Joined by WKYC News anchor Sarah Shookman as moderator.

November 9th Student Day at Eaton; luncheon program “Women Who Rock PR!” Discussion panel reflecting on the planning, strategies and global event coverage of the recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony recently held in Cleveland. The panel featured experts from the Rock & Roll HOF, Destination Cleveland and Jamie Belkin Productions.

December 4th: Cleveland Rocks Awards, Hard Rock Rocksino: Join us! PRSA Greater Cleveland chapter’s signature event recognizes the area’s best in public relations and communications projects and programs. Network with other Cleveland-area communicators, bid on coveted silent auction items and enjoy the show as this year’s best-of-the-best are revealed. C

Click here for tickets.

Ethics and Our Society

By Chris Lynch, APR, Fellow PRSA

Falls Communications and PRSA Cleveland Programming Chair

According to the recent 2017 eKG Survey by PRSA of its 21,000 membership of public relations and communications professional practitioners, the most important value that PRSA provides is our Society’s Code of Ethics.

The Ethics Code also ranked number one in the survey’s competitive index, which in essence, said it was the most important feature our members tell other practitioners as the reason they joined or would recommend PRSA to other professionals.

Recently two articles by major U.S. media outlets lumped non-ethical PR practices onto the usual, all-encompassing reporting that eluded those in our profession are practically nothing more than “spin doctors or glorified snake oil salesmen” … yes, really still … by the same fourth estate scribes that turn around the next day begging us for story background and content.

Fortunately, PRSA National in New York keeps its finger on the pulse of these musings, and has – as usual – been right on top of these media misperceptions. You may have seen this in last week’s PRSA correspondence to members (I know, oftentimes there is so much email from the Mother Ship, we don’t see the important things), but to reiterate:

Our 2018 PRSA Chair, Anthony D’Angelo, APR, Fellow PRSA responded immediately through advocacy with two significant Letters to the Editor correcting the misperception of our industry and its practitioners.

One, when the Los Angeles Times’ February 2 Los Angeles Times op-ed by Virginia Heffernan was critical of White House Director of Communications, Hope Hicks, and her qualifications for the job, which is perhaps to be expected given that Hicks is a public figure who works for a controversial president. What was both unexpected and unacceptable was Heffernan’s broad criticism of public relations professionals, as she described PR’s “moral flexibility, callousness and charm,” and claimed “lying to the media is traditionally called PR.” Here is PRSA’s response.

The other came the following week when, the demise of the British agency Bell Pottinger (which described itself as a public relations firm), appeared in a story describing its actions on page one of Monday’s New York Times. In fairness, PRSA agrees writer David Segal did a masterful job detailing the firm’s unethical behavior, expulsion from the U.K. Public Relations and Communications Association, and its loss of all clients. However, per D’Angelo’s note to Society members, “I don’t fault The New York Times for covering the story — it’s important. But as chair of the Society that represents the ethical practice of public relations, I was compelled to write a letter to the editor stressing that what Bell Pottinger did is definitely #NotOurPR.”

I was fortunate enough to serve with Tony when I was on the National Board of Directors for PRSA.  It’s nice to see he’s still active, and still has our backs. As he said on the topic of Ethics: “By subscribing to and promoting our Code of Ethics in public relations, which is the right thing to do, is ultimately best for business as well as our industry and all the publics we serve.


It’s Time for Change and Time for Engagement

By Bob Rotatori, Rotatori Consulting and PRSA Cleveland President for 2018

President – Bob Rotatori, Rotatori Consulting

It’s Time for Change and Time for Engagement!

I have a love-hate relationship with “change.” But all in all, I think change is good especially when it helps people become reinvigorated and energized. And, PRSA Cleveland is no exception to the change energy I feel for 2018. 

The 2018 Greater Cleveland Chapter Board has new initiatives in programming, membership and communications to share. This year, one of our major goals is engagement at all levels of membership – from the New PRos to the masters, from agencies to sole practitioners, from corporations to non-profits. We want PRSA Cleveland to be an integral part of your professional life and growth. 

We know this cannot be done in a vacuum, and we encourage all members to be involved. In addition to participating in events and programs, we invite you to join one of the many committees and projects to help in the direction and process, build relationships, and make the most of your membership.

I am humbled and honored to represent PRSA Cle as president this year, and I look forward to engaging with all of you. Be engaged and keep in touch…


Bob Rotatori

Trust Your Gut: Everyday Ethical Decisions

By Rachel Burns, PRSA Cleveland New Pros Chair

Earlier this month, Young Pros of PRSA’s Greater Cleveland Chapter had an engaging dialogue with a panel of PR professionals, Lorraine Schuchart, APR, founder and CEO of Prosper for Purpose and Holly Mueller, owner and Chief Communications Officer of Holly M Communications, at a recent PRSA event, “Trust Your Gut: Everyday Ethical Decisions”. As the title of the event hints at, the topic of conversation was ethics and expanded from everyday ethics, to crisis ethics, to graphic design ethics and much more.

“Ethics are part of an organization and start from the top down. You’re judged by the company you keep,” said Schuchart. “Employees of Prosper for Purpose sign the PRSA Code of Ethics as a term of their employment.”

The PRSA Board of Ethics & Professional Standards (BEPS) – with the support of the Arthur W. Page Center – recently published the second of three studies related to public relations practitioners’ roles and responsibilities to provide ethics counsel. However, the study also found that most millennial practitioners indicated that they did not feel prepared and are unlikely to offer ethics counsel. Making this a perfect environment to discuss real-life ethical scenarios for young pros.

“We’re hired to be an advisory role. Be confident,” said Mueller. “We’re not the bad guys, we’re finding all the facts and putting it together.”

How can young pros proactively implement or learn more about ethics? Here are a few key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Trust your gut. “If it feels icky, it probably is,” said Schuchart. Staying true to yourself and being transparent contribute to ethics.
  • Stay ahead of trends and technology. Ethics change and broaden based on the evolution of technology and other aspects of a business.
  • Talk to your company IT department. Learn from them about privacy and confidentiality. Understand the legal issues or implications around communications.
  • Identify or offer to create a social media policy. Research examples such as a response tree for complicated or larger organizations.
  • Be prepared for a crisis. Digital makes everything immediate. Encourage or help lead crisis communications exercises in advance and ensure your team has a plan of action.
  • Continue the conversation. Every professional deals with ethical decisions. Encourage your colleagues and peers to discuss the topic and share insights and thoughts with one another.

Remember: PRSA National has an established Code of Ethics available for you to reference and share at any time.

Upcoming events: The Cleveland Rocks Awards, PRSA Great Cleveland’s signature event, is on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Additional ticket and event information can be found here.

Language Matters Today More Than Ever

By Jenn Elting, Senior Public Information Specialist, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

On October 19, members of PRSA’s Greater Cleveland Chapter had the privilege of learning from Dr. Tameka Taylor, CEO of Compass Consulting Services, LLC. Her program, “Language Matters: Communicating Effectively and Respectfully with Diverse Audiences,” not only examined the business case for diversity in the workplace, but examined language and its impact on others.

“There are very tough judgement calls when communicating with stakeholders,” said Taylor. “If you question ‘what’ or ‘how’ to say something, ask someone.”

She explained that 90 percent of the times language goes wrong, the person is well-intentioned. “Step back and think,” said Taylor.

One famous example is the verbiage used to caption two photos taken during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Associated Press used the word “looting” to describe one photo, whereas AFP/Getty Images used “finding.” Can you identify why these word choices might be problematic?

It is critical that you not only look at your perspective, but what is the perspective of others, cautioned Taylor. She said that is natural for us to base decisions and ideas on preconceived notions.

“Diversity is so much more than we often think,” said Taylor. Especially when hiring in our workplaces. “As much as I like ‘me,’ I don’t need a bunch of ‘mini-mes’ floating around.”

Diversity can be internal and includes things that neither change nor tend not to change, such as race, gender, physical ability and age. Diversity can also include external factors which do change. External dimensions include marital status, income, educational background, religion/spirituality and appearance, along with other factors.

She concluded with a great discussion about words that cause anger among the audience, as well as examples of today’s preferred terminology. She added that our terminology is not about being correct, but more about how the words we choose impact our stakeholders.

“The impact outweighs the intention of what you write,” said Taylor.

Join PRSA Cleveland for “Expand Your Network Night” on Thursday, November 16, 2017, at Market Garden Brewery. We will hear from Marilee MacAskill about effective networking strategies and tips for maintaining conversations with strangers. More info about this great program, and many others, is available here.