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Are you looking to add to your summer reading list?


PRSA Cleveland hosted Joe Truncale for an outlook on the PR Industry and he suggested a few books to round out the skilled professional.  Each book has a particular focus on helping to find your passion, create value within your company, expanding your skill set, plus the importance of continuous learning. Truncale also reminded us that in today’s technologically driven world, the only real defense against functional obsolescence is a well-developed learning system.

The Age of Paradox by Charles Handy

In this striking sequel to his best-selling book The Age of Unreason, Charles Handy shows how the changes he predicted are upon us. New developments in technology, radical changes in the global economy, and the relentless pursuit of productivity have altered forever our organizations, our careers, and our lifestyles. These changes are inevitable and irreversible, and they bring a host of new problems and paradoxes. This book identifies the unintended consequences of change and provides a set of guiding principles to cope with the paradoxes of modern life, leading to a more balanced existence for individuals, greater rewards for organizations, and a more just society for all.

The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization by Peter M. Senge

The Fifth Discipline, is based on fifteen years of experience in putting the book’s ideas into practice. As Senge makes clear, in the long run the only sustainable competitive advantage is your organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition. The leadership stories in the book demonstrate the many ways that the core ideas in The Fifth Discipline, many of which seemed radical when first published in 1990, have become deeply integrated into people’s ways of seeing the world and their managerial practices. 

There is Life After College by Jeffrey J. Selingo

There Is Life After College offers students, parents, and even recent graduates the practical advice and insight they need to jumpstart their careers. Education expert Jeffrey Selingo answers key questions—Why is the transition to post-college life so difficult for many recent graduates? How can graduates market themselves to employers that are reluctant to provide on-the-job training? What can institutions and individuals do to end the current educational and economic stalemate?—and offers a practical step-by-step plan every young professional can follow. From the end of high school through college graduation, he lays out exactly what students need to do to acquire the skills companies want.

Grit by Angela Duckworth

In this instant New York Times bestseller, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”

In Grit, she takes readers into the field to visit cadets struggling through their first days at West Point, teachers working in some of the toughest schools, and young finalists in the National Spelling Bee. She also mines fascinating insights from history and shows what can be gleaned from modern experiments in peak performance. Finally, she shares what she’s learned from interviewing dozens of high achievers—from JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon to New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff to Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll.

Happy Reading!


Finding a Cool Cleveland Career


By Rachel Kerstetter, New Pros Chair, PRSA Cleveland

Finding the perfect job is not easy. However, Cleveland is home to a number of excellent organizations the offer challenging and rewarding career opportunities.

There are several ways to get connected with these opportunities. The first and foremost is us! Whether you’re looking for an internship, first communications gig or next career opportunity, our Jobs page is a great starting point. There are also other job listing services for the area, including HunterComms job newsletters for a variety of career levels.

Often landing a job or even getting your foot in the door for an interview takes more than just finding the opportunity and sending a resume. It takes connections. Getting to know others in the Cleveland communications community can give you a huge boost. It amazes me time and time again how interconnected our PR world is. Make networking a part of your career search process, whether it’s emailing a board member to meet for coffee or attending an event.

One of the missions of PRSA Greater Cleveland is to connect people, so take advantage of the organization. We can connect you with an experienced professional through our mentorship program, provide you with resume building experience through chapter volunteering and even help you find someone to review your resume.

Whether you moved to Cleveland for a job or moved here for school, family, love or sports and are searching for a job, it’s always an adventure to navigate a new city or region. So from all of us at PRSA Greater Cleveland: Welcome!

Rachel Kerstetter is the VP of Membership for PRSA Greater Cleveland and chairs the New Pros and Student Day committees. She is the Public Relations Architect at Sonnhalter, the leading B2T marketing communications firm.

Making Entering Cleveland PR More Inclusive


By Rachel Kerstetter, New Pros Chair, PRSA Cleveland

We’ve changed the name of the group that you previously knew as the YoungPRos. Many enter into the PR industry from other fields, not necessarily straight out of school and we want to include everyone new in the field. Transitioning into PR or communication from journalism, marketing, underwater basket weaving? Well then, you’re welcome here!

The Greater Cleveland PRSA New Pros group is open to anyone with seven or fewer years of experience in public relations. You’re welcome to join our mailing list, events and LinkedIn group regardless of whether you’re a PRSA member yet or not. Our mission is to provide opportunities for professional growth while building a strong network of peers.

Want to get involved with the New Pros? Contact me to be added to the mailing list and join the conversation on LinkedIn. Just as the YoungPRos welcomed the young-at-heart pros, we want to continue to learn from those of you who have more experience than us. Even if you’ve been in PR for more than seven years, please feel free to join us at events and online.

Rachel Kerstetter is the VP of Membership for PRSA Greater Cleveland and chairs the New Pros and Student Day committees. She is the Public Relations Architect at Sonnhalter, the leading B2T marketing communications firm.

Legends & Leaders: Chris Lynch


By Bobby Batyko, Manager, Social Influence at The Adcom Group

Legends & Leaders moderator, Chris Lynch, APR, Fellow PRSA, has amassed a career that includes campaigns with household brands such as Dirt Devil, The Home Depot and General Motors, to name just a few.

I had the opportunity to speak with, Chris Lynch, about what he’s learned during his admirable career in public relations.

The journey for Lynch began in Muskegon, Michigan. Lynch joined the Muskegon Chamber of Commerce as Manager of Member and Media Relations. Lynch was one of only about 10 employees. In other words, everyone had to do everything.

“I learned more there than I did in four years of undergrad,” he said. “In a business sense, everything from political action to legislative action, environmental councils, workers comp, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and more.”

That immediate exposure to a spectrum of media and public relations challenges was the genesis of an exemplary career. Lynch is currently Senior Vice President at Falls Communications, a leading Northeast Ohio agency where he has worked for 25 years. In that time, he has built a client list of numerous Fortune 500 companies, and maintained a unique perspective on changes throughout the profession.

It is that same unique perspective that guided Lynch through a past national campaign with Dirt Devil involving a Super Bowl commercial and CGI usage of the late Fred Astaire. “There were a series of spots that came out during that era that used superimposed iconic figures, with the approval of the families and estates,” he said. The ad “was a natural extension of Astaire’s career, using settings respectful to it.” Even still, the ad drew substantial attention following the Super Bowl and remains a benchmark moment today, a technique recently used in this year’s Kia Super Bowl ad featuring Melissa McCarthy and the Star Wars: Rogue One movie.

After building an impressive portfolio of PR experience, the next step was to acquire his Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). That meant a ‘boot camp’ class in Cleveland with around a dozen fellow professionals, an experience he still remembers fondly.

“For me, it was a rejuvenation of the profession. We were able to debate, talk [about key issues] and inspire each other,” he said. “Everyone had experiences they could share with each other. In fact, I’m still friends and colleagues with much of my pledge class.” In a broader sense, these experiences speak to the need for organizations like PRSA in order to grow as professionals.

For newcomers to the field, Lynch speaks to the importance of expanding knowledge bases as much as is realistic. “Be as well read as humanly possible,” he said. “Be it culture, history, sports and trends. Pay attention to what’s happening on the coasts, the beltway, how it affects our clients/companies, and senior management.”

That includes studying some of the more remarkable PR campaigns and lessons. A favorite example for Lynch of simple but incredibly successful strategy: Harry Houdini. “Ahead of upcoming shows, he would suspend himself from the fourth or fifth floor of a building in a strait jacket.”

The buildings of choice – local newspaper offices.

“It was brilliant. It guaranteed front page coverage pre, during and post-show. All pure branding for Houdini, and all free. One hundred years later, we’d be remiss to think of campaigns that well thought out and clever.”

From his first days at the Muskegon Chamber of Commerce to now Senior Vice President of Falls Communications and a national leader in the profession, Chris Lynch serves as an outstanding example of the skill, determination, professionalism, and leadership new and experienced practitioners can learn from alike. The PRSA College of Fellows carries very high standards, but given membership includes practitioners like Lynch, it’s an honor well worth building a career towards.

Chris Lynch, APR, Fellow PRSA, Senior Vice President, Falls Communications has over 20 years industry experience. He earned his master’s degree in Mass Communications from Kent State University and his undergraduate degree in Journalism from Central Michigan University.

Batyko has responsibilities that extend too many aspects of the public relations, account services and marketing fields. He graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Public Relations in 2014, and is currently on the PRSA Cleveland New Pros Committee.

Legends & Leaders: Michele Ewing


By: Brittany Thompson, Account Executive, Business Wire

Michele Ewing, APR, Fellow, Associate Professor, Kent State University, has had an illustrious career over the past twenty-five years. I recently had the chance to speak with Ewing about her career and the importance of paying it forward.

Ewing started her career as an audio-visual supervisor at St. Thomas Medical Center, in Akron, Ohio, now part of the Summa Health System. Ewing landed a management position right out of college, where she supervised all photography and video services for the teaching hospital Ewing uses her experience to advise students to apply for positions even if they don’t meet all the qualifications.

“There’s always a chance you’ll be able to sell yourself and expertise to fit the job,” Ewing said. “After all, you’ll never know, if you don’t apply.”

At St. Thomas, she worked closely with both the medical staff and communications team. Her work providing visual support for the communication department, inspired her to pursue a master’s degree in public relations.

“I liked that public relations was connected to the CEO and senior executives with accomplishing the hospital’s mission,” Ewing said.

Following her tenure at St. Thomas and earning a master’s, Ewing served as the public relations director at Youngstown hospital for two years. Ewing then landed at Marcus Thomas, an integrated marketing communications agency in Cleveland. During her twelve-year tenure, Ewing worked across multiple disciplines helping grow the agency with an emphasis on healthcare, internal and marketing communications.

“I thought I’d spend a few years in the agency world and then make another career move,” Ewing said. “I fell in love with the creativity and challenges and really enjoyed working with my colleagues.”

During this time, Ewing worked closely with Beth Hallisy, former partner, Marcus Thomas. Hallisy prioritized the importance of professional development and introduced Ewing to PRSA. Ewing, joined PRSA in the 90’s, and enjoyed the networking opportunities provided by PRSA as well as the opportunity to learn more about public relations practice and business management.

Inspired by her colleagues and mentor, Ewing decided to pursue Accredited Public Relations (APR) and recommends it for current PR practioners. The APR program encourages professional development as well as ethical PR practices.

After securing her APR and continuing to excel in public relations, Ewing supervised junior PR professionals and interns at Marcus Thomas. Ewing found that she enjoyed working with young staff members and helping to develop their career paths. Ewing also started part-time teaching at Kent State University and realized she liked working with bright, ambitious students. Enjoying her work and mentoring others has always been a priority for Ewing, and when an opportunity to join the Kent State, School of Journalism and Communication became available, Ewing jumped at the opportunity in 2004. Thirteen years later, she continues to enjoy working with her students and motivating them to become successful public relations practitioners.

“The best part of my job is helping students find career paths they’ll enjoy,” Ewing said.

After transitioning to academia, Ewing pursed her entrance into the College of Fellows, an esteemed group of industry peers. Ewing enjoyed the process of applying to be a Fellow and reconnecting with clients and colleagues from yesteryear.

Ewing finds the time to keep her industry skills fresh by consulting periodically and researching public relations education, leadership development and public relations practice topics. She advises her students to do three things throughout their career: enjoy your work, be open to new experiences, and find good mentors and become a mentor. “Always pay it forward.”

Ewing has more than 25 years of agency and corporate relations experience. She serves as the coordinator for the public relations sequence at Kent State University and advises the Kent State Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America.

Brittany Thompson is a PRSA Greater Cleveland Board Member and publicity chair. 

Thanks for Giving Back on Pro Bono Day


By: Ann M. Gynn, co-chair of Pro Bono Day

PR pros counseled over 25 nonprofits on April 7 at PRSA’s Pro Bono Day. A big thank you to Baldwin Wallace University for hosting us and handling the on-site logistics!

Twenty PR pros worked with the nonprofits that signed up to participate in one-on-one or roundtable counseling sessions. Their challenges ranged from small or no communication staff, social media, media relations and more.

Student volunteers attended some of the sessions and lunched with several of the pros.

Thank you to pros George Richard, Sue Searcy, Dan Karp, and Shawn Salamone, and student volunteers Emily Raber and Gabriel Kocher from Baldwin Wallace.

And thanks to all the other pros who volunteered: Amber Shulman, Ann Gynn, Barbara Paynter, Bob Rotatori, Brittany Thompson, Jason Lindesmith, Kathleen Stansberry, Kendra Wheeler, Kristen Tomins, Lisa Sands, Lynn B. Johnson, Rachel Kerstetter, Ralph J. Davila, Rodger Roeser and Sydney Stone.

Are you a nonprofit interested in improving your PR and communication? Plan to participate in our multi-week PR On a Shoestring Series this fall. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more information.

Ann Gynn, APR, is a Board member of PRSA Cleveland. She runs her own communication and PR consulting firm, G Force Communication.