Category Archives: PRagmatic

New in Town? Tips for Cleveland Newbies

By Rachel Burns, Coordinator of Communications & Operations, University Hospitals

Moving to a new city can be exciting and challenging for many reasons. Here are a few professional tips that I learned after moving to Cleveland from Chicago a year ago.

Settle in and explore.

You just moved to Cleveland. Take a moment to settle into your new home, neighborhood and city. You’ve likely heard Cleveland has changed and grown over the years, use this time to explore all that it has to offer. I love to read Cleveland Scene for local news and events.

Become involved.

Once you’re settled in and have had a chance to see Cleveland, take the time to research professional or volunteer opportunities. A new city is a new chance to explore your interests and become involved with an organization and meet like-minded people. Reach out to members to learn more about the opportunity, it’s a great way to build your professional and personally network. Also, Engage! Cleveland is popular among Cleveland’s young professionals and is a resource for getting them connected and established in Cleveland.

Looking for a job?

If you’re new to Cleveland and looking for a position, there are a variety of resources at your fingertips. Be sure to check out the current jobs posted on Also, HunterComm is an e-newsletter you can subscribe to and receive the latest communications and marketing jobs in Northeast Ohio. In addition to online research, networking and attending professional events is a fantastic way to learn about opportunities or a new company that might not appear in your online searches.

Build a network.

Be sure to engage with others and build your network beyond the period of your job hunt. Take the time to schedule meetings with individuals that share similar interests or careers and try to stick to regular meetings with them. This is also a great opportunity to develop a mentor and/or mentee relationship. Looking for a place to meet? The West Side Market Cafe is in a popular Cleveland destination and has available parking, which is always a plus.

Lastly, PRSA always welcomes professionals that are new to the Cleveland area. Check out our events or reach out to any of the board members if you’re interested in learning more about the Cleveland chapter.

Legends & Leaders: Tracy A. Oliver


By: Andrew Poulsen, Public Relations Technician, Sonnhalter

 For more than three decades, award-winning public relations professional Tracy A. Oliver has been an industry staple for the city of Cleveland. As the director of media relations and local community affairs for Dominion East Ohio, Oliver oversees all media and public relations efforts and local community affairs for a company which has more than 1.2 million customers. Since 1984, Oliver has worked several communications and external affairs positions for Dominion and currently serves as the co-chair the community investment board.

I spoke with Oliver to reflect on what she’s learned over her illustrious career as a PR professional, the benefits of PRSA and what advice she has for new professionals in the field.

AP: What was your first job in public relations?

TO: My first job in PR was a media relations representative with the East Ohio Gas Company, now Dominion East Ohio. After working in radio for three years, I finally landed my first real PR job.

AP: What have been some of the most positive changes in communication throughout your career?

TO: I have seen communications being used much more strategically than when I first started in the industry. Communications professionals are bought into crisis management and communications planning much earlier, as senior executives see the value of utilizing PR professionals in promoting overall business interests. Certainly technological enhancements, such as social media and digital communications platforms, have changed the whole communications game. I am also very impressed with the level of skill, experience and credentials that newer PR professionals are bringing to the industry fresh out of college. Finally, I’m seeing more diversity in PR practitioners coming into the industry, who bring a variety of broad perspectives.  However, I think there is always room for more inclusion.

AP: Can you recall any specific challenges you faced in the industry? If so, how did you overcome them and was there anything you learned from those challenges?

TO: I cannot recall a specific challenge that I have faced, but I know that I have used each setback in my career, and in my personal life, as a learning opportunity. Often in my professional world we dissect a crisis to see what we could have done differently. As the old saying goes, you learn from your mistakes.

AP: Why did you join PRSA?

TO: I joined PRSA to expand my network of colleagues, to take advantage of professional development opportunities and to learn more about the industry. My membership in PRSA has served me well over the years.

AP: What advice do you have for those who are newer to the field of public relations?

TO: I believe the basic ethical practices of public relations continue to be honesty and transparency, building relationships and managing the reputation of your company or your client without compromising your own integrity. I believe that is a strong foundation for newer professionals, as well as seasoned pros in this field.

Oliver earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and journalism from the University of Delaware. She and her husband reside in Cleveland Heights and have two children.

Andrew Poulsen  has been a member of the Greater Cleveland chapter of PRSA since 2015. Andrew is a graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. His work has appeared on and in Ohio Magazine, Cleveland Magazine and other publications.

Legends & Leaders: Davis Young


By: Megan Confer, Account Manager, Prosper for Purpose

Over the past forty years, Davis Young has been a standout in the PR profession. Young is a recipient of the Best of Silver Anvil Award, presented by PRSA to honor the single best public relations program of the year. Young is a former president of the Greater Cleveland PRSA Chapter and former president of Edward Howard & Co.

I had the opportunity to speak with, Davis Young, about what he’s learned during his impressive career in the field.

Davis started his career at a small firm Walker & Company as the only PR person.

“It was great,” Davis said. “I got to do everything! There was nothing I wasn’t involved in.”

He spent a number of years running the public relations operation for a large Cleveland ad agency, then moved over to the former Edward Howard & Co. in 1988, serving as president from 1989-2000.

In recent years, he has taught more than 200 college classes on communications at varying institutions, including Kent State, John Carroll, Baldwin-Wallace, Case Western Reserve and Ursuline College.

“I’ve seen so many young people become educated and coming out of school with a lot of preparation that I could have used,” Davis explained. “I think the industry has become more professional and that’s a very positive change.”

Davis explained that the most important thing he’s learned over the course of his career deals with the importance and responsibility of professionals who serve their organizations and clients.

“Our industry is really important. People make decisions based on what we say or write. All of us have a huge responsibility to be fair, accurate and timely. Everything that goes on in an organization requires communication and public relations people need to be at the center of that.”

Davis has been deeply involved with PRSA throughout his career. He is a past chair of the PRSA Counselor Academy, chaired/co-chaired two PRSA National Conferences and was a member of the first elected class of the College of Fellows.

“The first guy I worked for was an active member of PRSA, and he was a great role model.  I carried that forward and at Edward Howard, we expected everyone to become APR.  Earning that designation really amounts to a personal commitment to do things the right way.”

Closing our conversation, he had great advice for those who are newer to the field of public relations, encouraging young professionals to take an interest in understanding business per se.

“What we do touches everything. Learn as much as you can about the business of your organization.  Understand what’s important to your senior leadership.  If you really want to add value, think like a CEO.”

Davis Young, APR, Fellow PRSA is a former president of Edward Howard & Co and former president of Greater Cleveland PRSA.

Megan Confer serves as the primary contact for clients, managing their day-to-day needs and ensuring projects remain effective and efficient. Megan has spent her career immersed in the agency world, working with both B2B and B2C clients in a variety of industries on marketing strategy, branding, social media, public relations and media relations. Megan graduated from Kent State University with her Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and a minor in Marketing.  She is an active member of PRSA Cleveland and a Cleveland transplant.

Introducing our Legends & Leaders


Before attending our Legends & Leaders event on May 17, join us here for a digital introduction to our panelist. These industry legends are an esteemed group of PRSA College Fellow inductees, Silver Anvil Winners and Greater Cleveland PRSA Lighthouse honorees.

Over the past two weeks, members of our News Pros group, interviewed our panelist, learning about their unique career paths, challenges, triumphs as well as their outlook on the evolving PR profession.

On May 5 and 12, we will share our findings – a look into the distinctive experiences that have made them our local legends and leaders.  The panelists include:

  • Chris Lynch, APR, Fellow PRSA, Falls Communications Sr. Vice President
  • Davis Young, APR, Fellow PRSA, former president of Edward Howard & Co.
  • Tracy Oliver, Director, Media & Local Affairs, Ohio at Dominion East Ohio
  • Michele Ewing, APR, Fellow PRSA, Associate Professor at Kent State University

Moving forward, we’ll introduce you to a new set of legends and leaders every quarter. If you know of a legend that you’d like to see featured please email our publicity chair, Brittany Thompson at

One basket. Two powerful eggs.


By: John Znidarsic, Senior Copywriter,  AdCom

Ditch the scary masks. Toss those heart-shaped chocolate boxes to the curb. When it comes to candy consumption, no other holiday makes a Peep like Easter.

According to Nielsen data, Americans bought $823 million in candy during the week preceding Easter in 2015. From jelly beans to chocolate bunnies, consumers fill Easter baskets with treats that are often only available for a short period.

This year, The Hershey Company took a unique approach to marketing two of its powerhouse brands – it consolidated efforts. For the first time, the company decided that there was plenty of room in its branded basket for two of America’s favorite candy egg brands to go-to-market together.

Previously, each brand had a separate media program for the holiday season. They used traditional tactics that included public relations pushes to introduce new products. This year, Hershey’s left the media kits on the shelf and turned to Facebook for a more engaging approach. In humorous videos, they coupled the Reese’s egg with the Cadbury bunny to launch its campaign.

Senior associate brand manager of Easter at Hershey’s, Tashima Garner, described the strategy: “We wanted to create content that would be shareable and that consumers would engage with and comment on. Video is a very shareable format – we know that consumers are constantly sharing videos on their phones through Facebook and other social media platforms. Video made the most sense because we wanted to get consumer talking.”

And, talk they did. In the first two days, the videos had more than 280,000 views on Facebook. What’s more impressive is the fact that these videos outperformed Reese’s efforts in a paid engagement as the official candy sponsor of the NCAA March Madness tournament.

For years, public relations professionals have been sharpening their elbows to secure the lead for their brand. Given the recent success of this Hershey’s partnership, perhaps we are entering a time where practitioners should prioritiz
e inclusion over exclusion.

After all, isn’t sharing the true currency of social media?

John Znidarsic is a PRSA Greater Cleveland board member & senior copywriter at Adcom, an advertising agency headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio.



How are we doing? Tell us by May 1!

By Rachel Kerstetter, VP of Membership, PRSA Cleveland

I’d like to invite you to have a direct impact on the programs and services available to public relations and communications professionals in Northeast Ohio by simply taking a few minutes to give your opinion.

Our survey is open now through May 1, and should only take 10-15 minutes to complete. As a thank you for your feedback, you will be entered into a drawing for a free PRSA Greater Cleveland chapter membership.

Take the survey now at

PRSA Greater Cleveland aims to connect professionals in our region with excellent programming, training, mentorship, peer support and so much more. In order to make sure we’re delivering the best possible benefits to you, whether you’re a member of the chapter or not, we want to make sure that we know what you need and want.

Thank you for your input and please feel free to reach out to me with any questions at