Tag Archives: Greater Cleveland PRSA Chapter

COVID-19 DRIVES COMMUNICATION CHANGE. BE READY.

By Jan Gusich // akhia communications

Employees will fill information gaps with their own story–and it won’t be the right one. 

COVID-19 is bringing many challenges to businesses. One has been the need to communicate efficiently and effectively with multiple audiencesfrom employees and customers to suppliers and shareholders on topics that include everything from supply chains and operations to work-from-home policies, safety measures and, in many cases, about the pandemic reaching our own doors.

One thing is certain: For comms professionals, changes will continue to evolve. Each phase of America’s reopen plan will bring new challenges. Planning will be critical. Three areas worth considering now are internal communications, crisis communications and communications around mergers and acquisitions.

Internal Communications: Building Trust Amidst Uncertainty

Though we’ve been talking with employees almost daily, we’re moving into a new phase of employee communicationone that will require extra skill and sensitivity as we begin returning to work. Five minutes on Facebook gives a clear picture of how deeply divided people are about reopening. Some have been protesting for it; others are deeply anxious. Communicators will need to balance instructional communication with sensitivity to employees’ concerns; they will have to straddle fences and build bridges. It will be more important than ever to bring employees together toward common causes, potentially around an organizational rally cry. In all communication, put your organization’s values first.

Work on building a transparent workplace that fosters trust. Even when information is difficult, being honest will have long-term payoffs. Next, focus on employee relationships; they will need help talking about their differences and adapting to a new normal. Communications can play a critical role. Finally, keep your eye on culturefind new ways to cultivate a culture that binds people, bridges differences, and promotes healthy and frequent dialogue and camaraderie.

Crisis Communications: Being Prepared for Anything

Perhaps the most obvious area for attention from COVID-19 is crisis communications. Most organizations have crisis plans. Nearly all need to be dusted off and updated around pandemic communication. Does your organization have a team identified to work through the communications issues that will arise? A policy for employees who contract the virus? A set of procedures to manage such a situation? A trained spokesperson in case the media learns of health issues in your facility? A plan for handling criticism and/or misinformation on social media? A methodology in place to text employees around the world or to track illness at your multiple locations? The list of new things to be added to your crisis plan is extensive and should be given a fitness test by organizational leaders and outside professionals.

Mergers & Acquisitions: Setting up for Success

There’s no question that COVID-19 has impacted corporate bottom lines. As a result, we’re likely to see an uptick in mergers and acquisitions as companies try to save themselves, gobble up competitors or vertically integrate. If any of these could be a potential outcome for your organization, begin planning now. Mergers and acquisitions create angst for employees, customers and suppliers alike. For employees, will duplication of services lead to positions being eliminated? Will their pensions and benefits remain the same? Will future opportunities be erased? Employees will fill information gaps with their own storyand it won’t be the right one. So will customers. What does an acquisition mean for them? Will the customer service rep they’ve counted on for years be replaced? Will pricing change? Will contracts be honored? It’s never too early to create a communications matrix identifying all stakeholders, thinking through their specific concerns and developing messages for each. A merger or acquisition that looks like a financial success but is a communications disaster, can easily lead to failure.

What’s Next: Figuring it out Together

There’s no question that communicators will continue to be challenged over the next months and even years as the pandemic plays out. Planning that includes stakeholder identification, scenario development and messaging will always make us better.

That being said, I’m happy to help talk about these topics and more with you. Let’s dive in and see what specifically we can do to help your organization.

Jan Gusich is the founder of akhia communications and specializes in crisis preparedness and reputation management. She has decades of experience helping companies prepare, respond and prevent crisis situations from escalating. She can be contacted at jan@akhia.com.

SPECIAL PR GRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM NOW AVAILABLE

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 prsacle@gmail.com. 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 e.a.thomas88@csuohio.edu.

(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 CLEVELAND PROGRAMMING STILL AVAILABLE DURING COVID-19

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, our in-person PRSA programming  is obviously on hold for the near future.

But we wanted all our communications practicing members to remember through PRSA, there’s a boatload of content included in your membership.

In fact if you, like most of us in this profession are now working at home, you may actually find yourself with a little downtime to finally catch up on some of the professional development you’ve been saying to yourself , “I’d really like to learn more about …:”

Well, here’s your chance – We’ll regularly be sharing with our Greater Cleveland members “Best of PRSA Webinars”. Programs that you can download – free with your membership – from the PRSA Learning archives (and not really ‘Edward Bernays’  archives, but from the last 15 months or so. For this week, feel free to click below, review and catch up with:

We’re also looking to do a chapter virtual town hall in the next couple of weeks – more on that to come.

Stay safe all.

Chris Lynch, APR Fellow PRSA, PRSA Greater Cleveland chapter President

SPECIAL PRSA CLEVELAND MEMBERSHIP OFFERS

 

Every year PRSA National offers some special offers that should not be overlooked.

Check these out:

January 1 to March 31, 2020

  • Free Chapter dues ($70 value)
  • Free Section dues (There are 12 PRSA sections, most at $65)
  • Associate Members (three years or less in PR) (From $60 to $200)

April 1 to June 30

  • $25 Amazon Gift Card for new regular members ($260 duesz0

July 1 to August 31

  • Free one-year Chapter dues ($70)
  • Initiation fee for new members waived ($65)

September

  • Free one-year Chapter dues and $65 initiation fee waived—$125 savings
  • TRIPLE PLAY— Free one-year Chapter dues ($70)

Free one-year Section dues (most at $65)

Free Initiation/Reinstatement fee ($65/$35)

December

  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Waive one-year Chapter dues ($70)

Contact Ed Stevens, APR, VP Membership for details—estevens@stevensstrategic.com

My Salute to Hill Lighthouse Young Award Winners

 

By Ed Stevens, APR

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 Lighthouse Award is presented each year to recognize the career accomplishments and community service of a senior public relations professional who is a member of Greater Cleveland PRSA.

The Davis Young Award for Exceptional Mentors is presented each year to recognize a professional who excels in mentoring students and young professionals through hands-on instruction and support.

If you have ever served on the Hill Lighthouse Young Awards committee, you quickly became aware of the great amount of scrutiny that accompanies the selection process.

After all, we are looking for an executive who exemplifies leadership where public relations plays a key role. It would seem there are many nominee possibilities, but that is seldom the case. There are many reasons, but building a list of prospective Hill Award winners is often a daunting task.

It is easier to identify candidates for the Lighthouse Award. If you have been an active member of PRSA, you probably have done many of the right things in terms of service, professional development, leadership and more.

Being a PR mentor seems to be a slam dunk. But in today’s world, professionals don’t take the time to train, encourage and position younger professionals to succeed as in the past.

This year’s HLY Award winners are perfect choices. Each has achieved a special place among Cleveland’s PR deity. Each has left an indelible mark on our public relations profession as corporate executive, public relations professional or mentor.

The 2018 John W. 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. David has made Cleveland shine as the venue of choice for sports, music and conferences.

The 2018 Lighthouse Award was presented to Barbara Paynter, APR, Fellow PRSA, president of Paynter Communications. Barbara is a good friend and one of our region’s best communicators and PR professionals.

The 2018 Davis Young Award was presented to Julie Miller, APR, associate professor and director of public relations programs at Baldwin Wallace University. Julie has touched so many students to help them excel as new professionals. We want more of Julie’s students.

I am thrilled to blog about the Hill Lighthouse Young Awards. They are the Greater Cleveland PRSA Chapter’s way of saying “thank you.” As a recipient of both the Lighthouse and Young Award, I know how humble and touched I was to be recognized. I am certain this year’s winners had a similar experience.

Why not take the time now to start thinking about the professionals you would like to see on stage next year to receive one of these prestigious awards. Could you be a candidate one day?