Legends & Leaders: Beth Hallisy

By: Rachel Kerstetter, VP of Membership, PRSA Greater Cleveland

Beth Hallisy, APR, Fellow-PRSA, is the president of Beth. (The name of her company is said, “Beth period.”) She describes herself as a writer and a PR and marcom addict.

“I’ve always viewed myself as a writer first,” she said. Wanting to refocus on writing was part of why she started working for herself after retiring at an early retirement age.

It started with an internship…

“I was fortunate to get an internship at a boutique agency that worked with nonprofits,” Beth told me. “That segued well into my first job where I worked at a nonprofit high school—my alma mater, Villa Angela Academy (now Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School).” Beth’s career path has had a distinctive nonprofit leaning since.

Working with nonprofits can be rewarding work, but can also be frustrating due to resources not always being available. But she still finds it rewarding and continues to also be involved with nonprofit boards and volunteering.

Positive changes in communication

Beth’s first thought was technology. But she ruled it out.

“Technology has too many negatives associated with it.  It can get in the way of effective human interaction,” Beth explained. Rather she identified transparency and expectations of ethical behavior as positive changes in the industry.

“We can’t manipulate or force messages on people,” she explained. “It forces us to be truthful, relevant, and interesting. We have to offer value or die on the vine.”

Beth’s biggest challenge

“By far the biggest thing I’ve ever had to face in my life is having Lupus,” Beth said. “It’s an incurable autoimmune disease, which presents itself in different ways.”

Beth’s Lupus causes her joint and muscle pain as well as fatigue. She also sometimes experiences what is referred to as “Lupus fog.” Beth isn’t alone in having to overcome challenges caused by her own body. Many in our chapter balance health conditions and the demands of our profession.

“I overcame it in a number of ways. I did everything I could to take care of myself,” Beth explained. “I made the decision to openly talk about my illness with my partners, colleagues and even clients. Because they were supportive, I was able to be successful.”

Beth’s decision to share her health condition proactively had up and downsides.

“When you show vulnerability, some people will use it against you. You have to be careful who you trust and how much you share. You have to come up with strategies for making it work,” said Beth. “Everyone has something that they’re dealing with. You need to think about what you need to do for your health and work with others to create the environment you need to be successful.”

From PRSSA to PRSA Fellow

Beth’s PRSA path started at the student level with PRSSA, it was a natural progression to join PRSA, then she chose to get her APR early in her career as a way to gain professional confidence and credibility, as well as a way to elevate the profession. Beth viewed joining the College of Fellows in a similar manner. Becoming a Fellow was the next level.

“It’s a pretty high bar, so it was gratifying to be able to achieve that,” she said.

Beth recommends pursuing accreditation as a way to ensure you’re practicing at the highest levels and the opportunity to interact with the most talented and knowledgeable people in the industry.

Beth Hallisy is a communications strategist with 30 years’ experience in crisis and change communications, issues management, executive positioning, internal communications, media relations, event management and digital/social media strategy. A recipient of six national Silver Anvil awards, Beth is a Fellow and accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, and a recipient of PRSA-Cleveland’s president’s award and Cleveland PRSA’s Lighthouse Award for career achievement and community service.

Rachel Kerstetter chairs the New Pros and Student Day committees. She is the Public Relations Architect at Sonnhalter, the leading B2T marketing communications firm.

Public Relations Society of America, Greater Cleveland Chapter