Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Importance of Professional Sections For PRSA Members

By Scott Tennant, APR, Vitamix

Whenever someone asks me about the worth of joining PRSA, I inevitably point to three things:

  • Staying current on best practices in the field, from strategy to execution to ethics
  • Earning (and maintaining) your APR accreditation
  • Interacting with peers through membership in a professional interest section

The first two are fairly standard parts of the PRSA value proposition, but the third sometimes gets short shrift. Of all the benefits I derive as a PRSA member, being part of the Corporate Communications section is the one that pays the most immediate dividends on a weekly – and even daily – basis.

Professional sections offer members access to specialized content and section-only networking and educational sessions. Some have section newsletters and/or online communities in which members discuss issues that pertain directly to their specific area of practice.

The Corporate Communications section comprises nearly 1,200 PR and communications practitioners who, as the section’s page on PRSA.org puts it, “are responsible for external communications and serve as the voice of their organization.” Over the years, I have had the chance to interact with many of them through the section’s online discussion forum.

When a section member posts a question or raises an issue of general interest in this forum, it goes to everyone in the group. In my case, that’s a digest email that arrives first thing each morning. Sometimes these posts are from members facing a specific communications challenge, asking how others have tackled it before. Others ask about topics ranging from members’ experiences with particular software packages or apps, to those seeking communications plan templates or messaging frameworks.

Whatever the query, members are more than willing to jump in and help each other. Sometimes there is disagreement, but it is handled in a spirit of cooperation and mutual edification. More than once I’ve gained valuable tips and insights from these discussions that were immediately applicable to my own practice.

Section membership also provides a unique channel for networking. When I attend the national conference each year, one of my favorite things is meeting in person those corporate communicators whom I had known previously only online. My communications network has been strengthened exponentially through section membership.

The cost of membership in a section is minimal when compared with the benefits. So the next time you renew with PRSA, give some thought to adding section membership to your overall package. I can almost guarantee that your section will quickly become one of the most beneficial parts of your PRSA experience.

3 Productive Things Students Can Do On Spring Break

By Rachel Dill, Digital Marketing Manager, Sweeney Marketing + PR

March is right around the corner, which means the count-down to spring break is on. For some, it means sandy beaches, cold drinks, and nice weather. But for those of you who will live vicariously through social media this year, there is an opportunity to use the time off to get ahead of the curve finding a job or internship. Here are three things you can do to make the most of your spring break at home!

1. Set-up in-person meetings with professionals. This is a great time to network in the city you want to work or intern. Reaching out to a few professionals to meet for an informational coffee, lunch or even a tour of their company is a great way to learn more about the profession and make a lasting impression.

2. Get certified. Certifications are a great way to stand out from other applicants and expand your skill set outside the classroom. One strategy for doing this is to look at postings for jobs you would love to have in the future and identify certifications in the areas those jobs require experience. There are plenty of free online certifications, just be sure it’s a credible source such as Google, HubSpot, etc.

3. Attend networking events and industry association meetings. Industry associations and networking events are a great resource for meeting professionals from different companies and learning more about your industry. Most organizations are happy to let a student sit in on meetings or attend events. In the case that no events are taking place the week of your spring break, reach out to a leader in the organizations you’re interested in and ask for an informational phone or in-person meeting to talk about it.

Sporting flip-flops for seven days on the sandy beaches of Florida is a great way to celebrate spring break, but gearing yourself for the right career will enable you to hit more beaches after you graduate. Think ahead, plan ahead and get ahead.

Promote Your Company or Client and Support PRSA Cleveland’s Scholarship Program

It’s Cleveland’s most prestigious Public Relations event of the year, and this year it’s better than ever. It’s the Cleveland Rocks Awards, our city’s opportunity to showcase the best and brightest in public relations campaigns. The 15th annual ceremony will be held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on December 12.

How can your company or client get their brand in front of hundreds of the region’s public relations, marketing and special events professionals? Consider donating to the Cleveland Rocks Awards Silent Auction! All proceeds benefit the PRSA Cleveland Student Scholarship Fund.

What makes a great silent auction prize?

Anything really, but here are some ideas:

  • Gift cards to Cleveland restaurants
  • Tickets to area concerts, events, or attractions
  • Themed gift baskets
  • Consulting or other professional services from your firm
  • Handmade gifts, perfect for the holidays!

Any donation is accepted, and donations may be bundled with others to create themed gift baskets.

If you wish to support PRSA Cleveland Student Scholarship Fund, please contact Jenn Elting at jennelting@yahoo.com. Donations will be picked up by a PRSA Cleveland Board Member or can be mailed to an address provided by Jenn. Donations must be received by November 30, 2017.

Thank you for all of your support for the PRSA Cleveland Student Scholarship Fund!

Language Matters – Our October Program Dives into Diversity and Inclusion

By Lisa Sands, APR

No one can deny we are in some interesting times— for our culture and our profession. Our companies and clients rely on us to be the experts on matters of communication. But, how and when to say things seems a bit harder these days, doesn’t it? We’re second-guessing ourselves and wondering if we got it right. We’re trying to think of issues from every angle and predict how different audiences will perceive our messages. We’re called upon to be effective but we also need to be sensitive, inclusive, genuine, and, yes, politically correct.

2017 has brought many new conversations to the forefront and perhaps some that, while not new, remain unresolved. When we created our fall programming calendar, our chapter wanted to address some of these challenges head-on. We wanted to have an honest and open dialogue about how we talk to each other, while taking into consideration our individual experiences, our biases and predispositions. We want to better understand how race, gender, religious beliefs and all the things that make us unique citizens of the world affect how we speak, listen and believe.

Our October program is called Language Matters: Communicating Effectively and Respectively with Diverse Audiences. Our speaker is Dr. Tameka Taylor, CEO of Compass Consulting, who will lead us in a discussion specific to communications professionals on matters of diversity, inclusion, respect and understanding.

Dr. Taylor says, “Diversity is more than race. We’ve got to expand the different aspects of diversity to include religion, age, family structure, socioeconomic status and other characteristics.” We’ll discuss the real meaning and application of “inclusion,” intent and impact, and we’ll take a closer look at behaviors that may be emotional triggers for people around us.

We understand that talking about these things isn’t always easy. We guarantee a safe space, mature conversation and takeaways that will help you engage more fully with others.

Please join us on October 19 at 7:30 a.m. (program starts at 8 a.m.) at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown for this program. Be sure to register any coworkers and colleagues who may also find value in this program. RSVP here.

5 Reasons to Enter the 15th Annual PRSA Cleveland Rocks Awards

Each year, the board and members of the PRSA Greater Cleveland chapter look forward to the annual Cleveland Rocks Awards that honor the programs, projects and people doing great PR and Communications work throughout the year.

Need a reason to enter this year’s awards? How about five?

  1. You’ve always wanted to take the stage at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. (Our December 12 awards ceremony venue.)
  2. You want to add another Accomplishment to your LinkedIn profile.
  3. Your trophy shelf has an empty space. (Or you need an excuse to build a trophy shelf!)
  4. You’re too shy to brag about your own great work.
  5. You, and your work, rock the PR world.

And here’s your BONUS reason #6: You have plenty of time to get your entries and nominations in now because we extended the deadline to October 2 (at 11:59 p.m.).

We can’t wait to see what you’ve been working on! Enter now.

Legends & Leaders Barb Paynter

By: Brittany M. Thompson

Barb Paynter has more than 30 years’ experience in public relations, and is a trusted advisor to clients in a variety of industries.

Paynter graduated from the University of Missouri, where she majored in journalism, with a focus on news and editorial. During her four years of college, she never took a PR class, but she’s learned a lot about the industry during her thirty-year career.

Paynter started her career as a newspaper reporter but eventually started freelancing while her children were young. During this time, Paynter evolved into a brand journalist. She spent seven to eight years freelancing for various companies, nonprofits and schools, doing media relations and helping to create newsletter content for their organizations.

“Content marketing isn’t new – the medium is. What we do as PR professionals hasn’t changed – the name has,” says Paynter. For example, she used to create a newsletter for a local travel agency.

This newsletter would eventually be inserted into a monthly publication for distribution. Even though it was an advertising tool for her client, it was content driven and focused.

After freelancing, Paynter became the Director of University Relations at Walsh University. During her three years there, she handled several university crises and found that she gravitated towards the more complex PR specialties.  This pull eventually led to her joining Edward Howard, now Fahlgren Mortine. During her time with the agency she often volunteered to work on crisis management projects that helped clients navigate tough situations.

“When constantly reacting it becomes very difficult, but proactive planning will let you manage the message,” says Paynter, who still does crisis work but also focuses on reputation management, doing more on the front end of crisis management. This switch allows her to help strengthen the brand and reputation of a client and prioritize the brand audience.

Paynter continues to remind clients, “Develop relationships with the publics most important to you [and your brand] and stay focused on those relationships.”

Paynter has been a PRSA member since 1993 and has valued her time in the organization. She has used her time within the organization networking with her peers as well as for professional development. She recommends all new PR professional join the organization and get involved with the organization to keep learning and growing within the field.

Paynter received her APR after working in public relations for a few years and used her APR as a way to strategically demonstrate her expertise as a PR maven. Paynter has won two Silver Anvil awards from PRSA National plus Best in Show from the Greater Cleveland PRSA, annual awards show, ROCKS. She advocates for local PR professionals to participant in the annual awards program.

“PR professionals are not always front and center, most of the work we do is behind the scenes. This is an opportunity to be recognized for the work that we do.”

Paynter will be recognized for her contribution to the PR industry when she is inducted into the 2017 College of Fellows on October 7th.

Barbara Paynter is a Cleveland-based communications consultant specializing in strategic communications, reputation management, crisis communications and issues management. Paynter Communications also provides litigation support and media relations services to its clients.

Brittany Thompson is a PRSA Board Member.