Future Facing at QuickStart 2019

The theme of the Sept. 13-14 ECD QuickStart conference in Columbus was “Future Facing.”
Not just rising trends, new practices, or emerging indicators. It took a hard look at the capital “F” future of our industry and organization by facing the critical themes of Youth and Diversity.

Friday: A Head Start to QuickStart.

After Friday’s board meeting several board members joined the ECD Diversity & Inclusion Focus Group facilitated by Shanita Akintonde, 2019 National Chair PRSA Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

Shanita asked us to draw a tree, then describe it in a couple of words. Next, we partnered with another focus group member “with eye color darker than ours” to share our definitions of diversity. It immediately challenged core assumptions and launched a deep dive into “diversity of thought.”

Small groups huddled and brainstormed to answer the question, “How can PRSA Make the PR Profession More Diverse and Inclusive.

Here’s one result: Meet people where they are. Operate with intention. Look at the self (for implicit bias), then do the same with circles of friends (personal, professional, PRSA). Review and analyze current tactics for recruiting membership and programming. Have authentic discussions – listening and learning – within our circle of influence.

The time passed quickly and gave the focus group a head start on what Shanita would address on Saturday in the full conference.

Saturday: A Full Day of Future Facing

ECD Board President Jennifer Flowers-Kolf and chair-elect Adrienne Wallace opened the conference and welcomed 40-plus ECD board members, National guests, presenters and ECD chapter representatives. Fahlgren Mortine was again the gracious host of QuickStart in the comfortable surroundings of FM headquarters at Easton Station.

Jennifer gave the state of ECD and its 17 chapters. She discussed delegate proxy representation at the national assembly, Diamond awards deadline, best practice calls, district reps visiting chapters, and all resources “to get what you need” including the social media platforms. She announced chair-elect Adrienne will plan the next QuickStart in 2020 as the new ECD chair.

We began a full agenda that weighed heavy on the development of PRSA membership. National VP of Membership Jay Starr gave the overview on recruiting and retention. Fahlgren Mortine presented “Creating Critical Culture” as the foundation of success on the agency level. Shanita Akintonde talked about “Being Deliberate” about Diversity and Inclusion and building an inclusive chapter.

The afternoon began with Dream Bigger workshop by Katie Wilson, and the challenge of building effective thought leadership programs for chapters. Jennifer Kramer followed and took us through the history of the YouToo Conference to illustrate the building of partnerships with future members.

The Diversity and Inclusion conversation moved to the PRSSA level and the recruitment of Millennial and Gen Z members with PRSSA presenters Delany MacKenzie and Emily Gagnon.

Andrea Clark, in a “goodbye address” after her long service to ECD, reflected on the strength of associations today in the culture and “How to Stop the Brain Drain” of waning membership.

If you missed QuickStart here’s a chance to review some takeaways from the speakers and link to the full schedule and PPT presentations: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/1GTDLg77h6flimsLi2reB9sffzSazjVVu

The State of PRSA National Recruiting & Retention in Membership – Jay Starr

Jobs in PR and related fields number about 270,000 with a median annual pay of $60,000. Six percent growth is expected. PRSA membership is in a “sweet spot” of 77 percent retention rate, but year one retention rate is only 46 percent, compared to national average of about 55 percent.

PRSA membership is relatively steady at about 24,000 members, with many paying extra dues for professional section memberships. PRSSA has about 10,000 members in 350 chapters.

The successful Certificate program includes reputation management, content marketing, measurement/analysis, with crisis management coming. The cost is about $1,200 for six live webinars. They’re available online and involves practitioners from various industries. The cost is $200 per live webinar.

He outlined the member benefits of the speaker register program and the MyPRSA forum.
Group memberships will get a boost with the National Football League joining.
He emphasized the good deal of “Triple Play” membership and the onboarding program welcome.
Learning opportunities included the third party contributed SmartBriefs. He emphasized discounts as added value for members.

Jay looked ahead to the membership census data update and said an updated membership brochure coming. He raised a few eyebrows in the room when he talked about the continued strength of printed marketing materials and the better connection and perceived value of mailed materials arriving on a member’s desk.

QuickStart Creating Critical Culture – Marty & Christopher – Columbus Fahlgren Mortine

“The Columbus Way is the Smart Way” was the lead-off message from host presenters Mary and Christopher from Fahlgren Mortine. Key thoughts for a successful work culture included:
Leaders who listen
• Acceleration partnership programs.
• Little things make a difference.
• Acknowledging hard work is key.
• Gratitude in the work place is essential.
• Writing the goals is only half of it. You have to live it.

They illustrated projects that established values, engaged workers and built outcomes that benefited the company and the community. Operation Feed Week has provided more than 120,000 meals to the Mid-Ohio Food Banks. The July 2018 Inaugural Carpool Week matched FM staff with neighbors and reimbursed Uber/Lyft expenses so they could connect as people and a culture traveling together to and from work. It cut single-occupancy commuting miles in half!

Their motto comes President & CEO Neil Mortine, President & CEO: “I firmly believe that the best culture leads to the best employees, and the best employees lead to the best clients.”

Future Facing – Diversity & Inclusion – Shanita

Shanita announced October is PRSA Diversity Month. She said Focus groups have shown that chapters are mostly white and female (not news!). PRSA is looking at chapters and how to encourage diverse membership. Taking a closer look at the demographic choices and impressions in marketing materials was revealing. Key points:

• Inspire people to come on board, take leadership roles, and bring expertise.
• What areas of interaction impact diversity? (Including support staff to janitorial staff).
• CARE conceptual frame: Commitment to inclusive excellence; Advocating organizational success; Reaching and retaining underrepresented groups; Embodying principled leadership.
• Can’t please everyone; key is to spread it out. Don’t have just one brochure, one focus. Diversity should be embedded in the culture of the group that it doesn’t stand out as obvious or insufficient.
• Photographs allows for strong interaction and human face is most powerful.
• Diverse Voices – PRSA book of leader profiles. Recommended reading!

Dream Bigger – Katie
Katie challenged members to think about how PRSA has impacted your career… How does PRSA provide value to you… What more do you want to get out of your PRSA involvement? Define your “aim” or overall focus/goal/dream for PRSA chapters.

ECD -chapter thought leadership:
What’s the aim?
Empower
Cultivate
Generate ideal fit clients

AIM for chapters:
Full representation
Interactive across ECD
Diverse membership and leadership
Creative combination of professional development, social interaction, supportive associative family of like-mined, passionate practitioners.
Much higher public profile of what PRSA is including community benefit.

National – make communication pros smarter, better prepared and more connected through all stages of their career.

Thought leadership for chapters
Perception (how you want to be perceived vs. actual perception)
1. Connect – prioritize relevance to audience.
2. Credibility- thoughtfully build representation. (Awards, boards, speaking, media).
3. Communicate – strategically sharing your expertise. (Content development, social profiles, engage your network, amplify and repurpose).

Update LinkedIn; publish PRSA activity; engage with peers: share, comment, react to chapter events, member and chapter posts, personal recommendations.

Influencer campaign:
Impact – engage partners to influence your audience.
1. Identify – authentic engaging partners. (Criteria/ideal; communities you want to reach, network, research fit, define KPIs).
2. “Ideate” – prioritize creativity and collaboration.
3. Integrate – elevate the influencer content. (Engagement, Multi-channel, repurpose, measurement, ambassadors, feedback).

Build relationships; add value to other groups – not only about yourself; help connect.
Do more speaking to schools, other groups.
Generate blogs, videos.
Member spotlight – personality, interests.

Future Members – Jennifer
Diversity PRSSA – Delaney

Jennifer and Delaney outlined the distinction between Millennials and Gen Z and noted that Gen Z will make up 40 percent of U.S. consumers by 2020, 47 percent of Gen Z represent ethnic minorities, and 75 percent of Millennials share content online.

Break-out groups discussed how their chapters target these groups, engage them in meetings, and what roadblocks you face in recruitment. With the guidelines of “Be Real; Be Inclusive; Be accessible; Be Worth It” the groups took on a case study of how to recruit Gen Z “Jackson.”

Brain Drain – Andrea

Andrea began with her personal “PRSA Journey” and asked members to share “Why PRSA Has Been a Mainstay for Me?” Among the QuickStart crowd, appreciation of the organization was overwhelmingly positive.

Andrea gave a brief history of trade and professional organizations, noting 67,000 exist today. PRSA began in 1947 and reached a peak membership of 30,000. Today it struggled to maintain membership above 22,000.

To help us improve our QuickStart Conference next year, please take the time to complete an evaluation form:

https://forms.gle/Lpv9NzVxuYgq2toE9

Did you take photos at QuickStart or want some for your chapter social media? Please deposit your photos for us and take what you want to share from here: 

https://photos.app.goo.gl/WVs4E85wtnceuuoD9

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ECD CHAPTER SPOTLIGHT: THE HOOSIER CHAPTER

Our gratitude to Hoosier Chapter Immediate Past-President Megan Bulla for contributing this outstanding summary for the ECD Chapter Spotlight Blog! It’s a large chapter both in membership and geographic area, with a long history that is only 10 years removed from the founding of PRSA! They have much to share, from their proud accomplishments to ambitions for keeping this chapter Hoosier Strong!

 History of Chapter

The Public Relations Society of America Hoosier Chapter represents public relations professionals from throughout Indiana, including employees of associations, agencies, corporations, universities, nonprofits, government and independent practitioners.

We currently have 375 members. We serve the entire state of Indiana. However, the large majority of our active members are from the Central Indiana region, as well as Fort Wayne, which is 2 hours northeast of Indy.

Our Chapter’s mission is to make communications professionals smarter, better prepared, and more connected through all stages of their career.

The Hoosier Chapter was founded in 1957, ten years after the American Public Relations Association merged with the National Association of Public Relations Counselors to form PRSA. Much like our home state, the chapter has grown and changed dramatically in its 60+ years.

2019 Board Members:

President, Emily Kibling, APR, Account Director, Hirons President-Elect, Kendall Horvatich, APR, Community Engagement Director at The Arthritis Foundation Immediate Past-President, Megan Bulla, APR, Owner of Bulla Communications and Indy Brew Bus Director or Operations and Research, Jacki Faulkenstein, Freelance Practitioner Director of Finance, Tim Coxey, APR, Senior Marketing Communications Associate at Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership (INHP) Director of Communications, Kristen Hay, Marketing Manager at Bloomerang Director of Member Services, Hyacinth Rucker, Digital Communications Manager at The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art Director of Membership, Deeksha Kapoor, Director of Communications, Indiana Health Care Association Director of Professional Development, Allyson Johnson, APR, Account Manager, BLASTmedia Director of Advocacy and Ethics, Linda Jackson, APR, Owner, Principal at JXN PR Ethics Chair, Melissa Geitgey, APR, Director of Marketing and Communications, Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership (INHP) Assembly Delegates: Bob Schultz, APR, PRSA Fellow, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Events, Downtown Indy, Inc. Andrea Farmer, APR, Senior Vice President, Strategic Communications and Account Services Andy Klotz, APR, Director of Marketing and Promotions, WFYI Public Media

Membership Description:

Information taken from membership survey in 2017.

Gender: 70% men, 30% women

Age: 41% Ages 45 – 59, 30% Ages 30 – 44, 20% Ages 18 – 29, 9% Ages 60+ Race: 95% White, 3% African American, 2% Prefer Not to Answer

Education: 61% Bachelor’s Degree, 34% Master’s Degree, 5% Doctorate Degree

Work: 36% Non-Profit, 19% Corporate, 13% PR Agency, 9% Government Agency/Military, 8% Self-Employed, 6% Academic, 6% Other, 1.5% Ad Agency, 1.5% Retired

Top 5 Job Responsibilities:

1) Media Relations

2) Marketing

3) Writing

4) Strategic Planning

5) Social Media

Biggest Project:

The Hoosier Chapter’s most successful event each year is our Pinnacle Awards. The Pinnacle Awards are our Chapter’s annual awards program to recognize the best work in Indiana’s public relations industry. The program is open to members and non-members of all experience levels.

In addition, we offer awards for individuals and students. We typically have more than 125 attendees. On average the we net $5000 – $6000 from the event between entry fees and ticket sales. Each year we recruit a keynote speaker that serves as the award emcee, from the local media landscape.

Biggest Accomplishment:

In October 2016, Indianapolis was host to the PRSA International Conference. Pioneering U.S. astronaut Capt. Scott J. Kelly headlined an impressive list of keynote speakers and public relations industry leaders. Over full three days, more than 1,000 PR professionals and 1,000 students attended professional development sessions with 150 industry experts from all career levels, sectors, work environments and industries, and had the opportunity to connect with hundreds of colleagues from some of the world’s most influential organizations. Our proudest moment? More than 25% of our members volunteered their time and energy toward planning and implementing a successful conference. Did you set a specific goal you hope to achieve in 2019? How is it progressing?

Our top two goals in 2019:

Goal 1: Expand our chapter membership. Membership is the lifeblood of the organization, and as such, our ability to attract, retain and grow our members is in direct correlation with our real and perceived value as well as received benefits.

Strategies:

• Provide communications professionals at all stages of their career with the tools, resources, networking connections and leadership training to cultivate a continual environment of success

• Leverage the PRSSA pipeline by converting rising professionals to local membership

• Focus on innovative recruitment and retention tools to attract and retain members

• Leverage resources from National as a recruitment tool for membership and pair with local opportunities for continued learning and networking

• Foster a climate of purposeful inclusion where all members feel value How we are doing: The chapter hosts quarterly President’s Coffee Chats to welcome new/reinstated members to PRSA to help them become acquainted with our Chapter and become familiar with ways in which they can maximize membership benefits.

These events have proved quite successful in not only recruiting new members and making new members feel welcome but converting them to chapter volunteers. We are currently up 5 members since the end of 2018.

Goal #2: To provide enriching professional growth opportunities Engage and connect members with cutting – edge resources to enable greater career discovery and exploration. Strategies:

• Expand current professional development programming by creating more relevant, timely content

• Provide programming that adapts to the evolving roles OF public relations practitioners

• Establish partnerships with multi-disciplinary organizations to provide cross training opportunities

• Encourage and support members to earn credentials that enhance professional credibility

How we are doing:

Using 2017-member survey data, the chapter developed a list of future topics which we continue to use to shape our chapter programming. After reviewing feedback from our chapter members that stated networking is a top membership value, we decided to put a heavier emphasis on networking opportunities. We are in our third year of our changed model that moved our monthly professional development luncheons to every other month, still delivering the same quality material and providing opportunities for networking, but moving from 12 to six per year.

During the opposite months of our luncheons, we host networking event with varying locations and times; however, the events still continue to occur on the second Wednesday of the month. Member feedback has shown that we have reached a broader member-base by moving to this model since the networking events are typically moved outside of the luncheon hour.

Therefore, chapter members that cannot commit to a two-hour luncheon in the middle of the day, could attend a morning networking session over coffee, or an after-hours networking event. We have also planned these networking events in different areas of town. In the past, almost all events took place downtown. We hosted some in the suburbs to cater to those professionals that work outside of the downtown area.

Relationship building has also increased as the networking sessions typically offer an activity which allows getting to know someone outside of a luncheon setting (ie yoga class, brewery tour, service project, etc.)

Bio/Preferred Contact Info: Megan Bulla, APR. 2018 Hoosier Chapter President. I have been a PRSA member since 2006. I have served on the Hoosier Chapter Board since 2015. Prior to that I was the founding President of the IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis) in 2005.

I am a solo practitioner, in addition to owning a local tourism-based business based in the craft beer industry. megan.bulla@gmail.com

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Chapter Spotlight: Dayton PRSA

Chapter history: The PRSA Dayton Area Chapter was established Nov. 7, 1966. The original Dayton/Miami Valley Chapter was one of three PRSA chapters (Alabama, Dayton and Southern Connecticut) to be approved by the national assembly that year. In July of 1967, East Central District Chair Herbert Flint visited Dayton and reported that the chapter had 18 members, with potential for up to 60 members. We’ve surpassed that membership and continue to grow and flourish.  

Dayton PRSA Board

Current membership:  The Dayton chapter now boasts 70 members.

2019 officers:  President Linda Dininger, President-Elect Mark D. Weinstein, Past-President Erin Prokes and Secretary/Treasurer Stacy Porter.

Who we are:  The chapter is represented by all facets of the industry, including corporate, non-profit, agency and independent practitioners. Dayton has strong membership representation from agencies and healthcare, with some representation from higher education.

Our biggest project this year: “I see two big projects for Dayton PRSA,” said President-Elect Mark Weinstein. “First, it’s our Media Day, which has gone through some transformation the past two years. This event connects PR leaders with area media, as well as addresses topics that help the media and PR leaders be more effective in their collective work. The second big project is celebrating the successes for PR professionals through the PRism awards ceremony.”

Our chapter’s proudest achievement: “For me, it is seeing the hard work of Dayton’s PR leaders being rewarded at the PRism awards ceremony,” said Mark. “As a result of the accomplishments, I also see PR leaders making a sizable difference in the Dayton landscape.”

Our chapter’s goal for 2019 and its progress: “We have set several goals for the year, but I’ll highlight one,” said President Linda Dininger. “Over the last several years, we have built our sponsorship program into one that offers increased value to local companies. For 2019, we set an unprecedented goal of reaching $5,000 in sponsorships. We streamlined the sponsorship packages and formalized a plan to reach out to the local community to get involved. To date, we have reached 80 percent of plan and still have another six months to attain the other 20 percent.”

A fun fact about our chapter: Each year, the Dayton Chapter PRSA presents the “Smitty Award” to an individual from the area who has demonstrated communications excellence. In old English, “smitty” means blacksmith, so is this Dayton’s version of the Silver Anvil awards? “Iron Anvil” perhaps? Nope! It’s named for the late Rex Smith, a highly regarded public relations practitioner in Dayton for more than 40 years and a former chapter member.

Our secret to a happy chapter: “Creating quality monthly programming and effective communication among the leadership team and members,” said Mark.  “It is so rewarding and enjoyable to celebrate each other’s work, to come alongside during difficult times that allow us to develop professionally.”

Past President Susan Kaiser was quick to agree with Mark. “One item that I can add based on my personal experience falls under “What Makes a Happy Chapter” and supports what Mark has stated as well,” said Susan. “For me, it’s that our chapter consists of a close-knit community that is very supportive of each other as colleagues and mentors. They all have something to bring to the table and advice to help others grow on their PR leadership journey.”

Susan was also impressed by the June 26 ECD Best Practices presentation on chapter diversity by TaQuinda Johnson from the Detroit chapter. She had this to add from her experience as a board member of Professional Women in Healthcare: “For us, healthcare manufacturing and distribution was always very male-dominated, hence the reason PWM was started 15 years ago. There are now many women in leadership roles, but very little women of color, so we continue to explore how to provide education in this area for the industry. We had a man and woman speak at our leadership summit this month about gender partnership. It was the hit of the summit.”  

 Any questions for the Dayton Chapter? Contact President Linda Dininger at linda.dininger.2@gmail.

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2019 QuickStart Registration |Open Now through August 30

The East Central District of PRSA is offering its annual QuickStart Leadership Conference Friday, September 13 – Saturday, September 14 in Columbus, Ohio at the offices of Fahlgren Mortine. QuickStart is a one-day conference that gives ECD chapter leaders an opportunity to ask questions and learn from each other before assuming leadership positions in upcoming years. In an effort to help develop our student leaders, we will also be inviting ECD PRSSA chapter presidents to this event to show a clear line to leadership roles within PRSA. This year’s theme: Future Facing is a nod to developing future leaders of PRSA through both PRSA chapter leadership and PRSSA chapter leadership. 

If you are already familiar with QuickStart and want to skip straight to the registration details here they are – if you need a little more convincing then please read on – we have some good stuff below: 

Registration and Payment Deadline: August 30, 2019

Location: Fahlgren Mortine ▪ 4030 Easton Station, Suite 300 ▪ Columbus, OH

Hotel: Courtyard Columbus Easton ▪ 3900 Morse Crossing ▪ Columbus, OH

Conference Schedule/Social Sharing: https://www.facebook.com/events/622995591499275/

Conference Registration: https://forms.gle/XmWWbrGHAJrcXRoH6

More Fabulous Details: 

QuickStart is FREE to ONE chapter leader (the first 10 registrants *one offer per chapter* will receive a $150 travel scholarship, which can help offset hotel or gas costs) – after that, the cost is just $50 per PRSA member, $40 per PRSSA member (hotel and travel separate). Registration link is here: https://forms.gle/6MQNqzQH6wSz5sZe7 

The 2019 conference, will feature the topics of: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; How to Build, Train, Manage, and Maintain an Inclusive Board; Being Deliberate: Diversity & Inclusion in PRSA Chapters; The State of Advocacy Organizations; Diversity and Inclusion Efforts at PRSSA Level: Recruiting and Maintaining Millennial & Gen Z; and What if we created a PR, social media, influencer relations and executive thought leadership program for our PRSA Chapters?

In addition to being able to engage with leaders from our district’s 17 PRSA chapters, we have the honor of hosting prominent guests from PRSA national in the areas of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Educators Academy, Membership, and more! Our full schedule can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/events/622995591499275/  – don’t forget to share our FB event!!

Still not convinced?? 

We start with happy hour!! The fun begins with a cash bar happy hour networking event at Bar Louie on Friday, September 13, from 5:30 p.m.- 8 p.m – heavy apps co-hosted by our friends from the Central Ohio Chapter. On Saturday, the one-day conference kicks off at 7:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast. We’ll wrap up and have you on your way no later than 4 p.m. 

You can get those APR credits!! APRs can claim two (2) maintenance credits for participation in the conference. Always a bonus!

This is totally walkable! All events are held in the Easton Town Center in Columbus. Hotel reservations can be made through our room block at the Courtyard Columbus Easton either online here, or by calling the hotel directly at: 614-416-8000; or if you prefer, contact Marriott Reservations at 1-888-236-2427 directly. 

The nitty gritty: 

Please note: it is important to make your hotel reservations before September 6, 2019. After this date, the hotel cannot guarantee availability of rooms in our block. Courtyard Columbus Easton is conveniently located within walking distance of Bar Louie and Fahlgren Mortine office, where the QuickStart conference will be held. Please check the room policies for all matters hotel related.

Register and remit QuickStart payment by Friday, August 30, 2019. Late registrations will be considered on an individual basis based on venue capacity. This is a great opportunity to prepare you and your chapter for a successful 2020!  If you know who your chapter president is for 2020 or have other chapter leaders who may be interested, please forward this email to them.

Please message Adrienne Wallace, 2019 QuickStart chair at: adrienneAwallace@gmail.com with any questions, comments, or concerns. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Recognize your chapter “MVP”

 

By Andrea Clark, APR

We all have them: the amazingly dedicated individuals who find time for their “day jobs,” families and friends, communities AND PRSA.

They care deeply about the profession and their peers, and often get involved first at the chapter level, graduate to the district level and often engage at the national level – whether on the board or through committees, special projects or conference. These seemingly tireless folks are usually the ones who also write papers or articles educating and informing about public relations, and make time to mentor others who strive to make an impact through strategic communications.

Do you have someone like this in your chapter? Most of us do. Shining a light on their dedication and commitment can be an incredibly powerful motivator for others, and these PR champions deserve our recognition.

That’s why every year the East Central District (ECD) presents the Platinum Award to one outstanding professional from one of our 17 chapters. Named after former national PRSA board member; ECD PRSA board chair and Detroit PRSA Chapter President Donald P. Durocher, APR, Fellow PRSA, the Platinum Award recognizes a practitioner who has achieved a distinguished service record and is clearly identified as a role model for others.

The ECD has been privileged to have so many talented and committed practitioners calling our district home. In 2018, the board recognized Rick Batyko, APR, Fellow PRSA, of the Greater Cleveland Chapter with the Platinum Award. Rick serves on the PRSA National board, and has also served at the district and chapter levels.

Batyko reinforced the importance of the Platinum Award. “As PR practitioners, we delight in earning recognition for our organizations and clients through professional awards from esteemed associations like the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). We do not seek the spotlight for ourselves,” Batyko said. “The PRSA East Central District (ECD) Platinum Award is one of our profession’s ways of turning the spotlight on the professional whose career achievements and community contributions set her or him apart. It is a high honor bestowed upon one professional each year by colleagues across six states and 17 PRSA chapters. Few awards in our profession mean as much to an individual as the ECD Platinum Award.”

Each chapter is encouraged to nominate one leader from their ranks. All applications are due by Friday, Aug. 30 to Andrea Clark, APR at andrea.clark@kellogg.com. For more information about the award and criteria, see this link.

Photo caption, from left to right: Bob Rotatori from the Greater Cleveland Chapter, Batyko and John Palmer from the ECD Board.

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Honoring two of our greats…

I opened my email one day to find an invitation to an event I never imagined happening.  Marilyn and David Shank were closing the doors on Shank Public Relations Counselors after 30 years…and I was invited to the party!

My history with them goes back longer than any of us will admit, but I met them in the late 1980s when I served on the East Central District (ECD) Board of Directors with David Shank, APR, Fellow PRSA, who was then chair of the District.  It was my first exposure to the East Central District and one that would open many interesting doors over the years of our friendship.

In August 2000, I became the first administrator of the East Central District and have since had the privilege of working for both Marilyn Shank, APR, and David when each served on the East Central District Board of Directors, David for the second time, through the various offices and as chair.  They brought new and exciting programs to the ECD and the chapters it serves, keeping the District on the cutting edge of leadership within PRSA. During his first term as chair, David was responsible for designing and implementing the QuickStart leadership conference model that we still use today and it was a “first of its kind” event for a PRSA District. Marilyn took the QuickStart conference beyond our 17-chapter, six-state border, by developing the “QuickStart in a Box” program that has been implemented by a number of PRSA’s other nine Districts.

Both have been leaders and mentors to their 100+ interns and many other professionals across the country.  Listening to the recap of their career highlights was impressive and taught me even more about them as people and as consummate professionals than I already knew.  Still, I had to laugh when I got to the party.  As a good association executive and public relations person, I had sent my RSVP, indicating I’d be there.  However, none of the name tags on the table were mine.  Seems they didn’t believe I’d make the nearly five-hour drive from West Virginia to Indiana to celebrate them!

The East Central District Board of Directors honored them with a gift certificate to an iconic Indianapolis restaurant (thanks to Andrea Farmer for the idea!).

On behalf of your friends in the profession, may you enjoy retirement and the time with your family and those two adorable grandsons (and the soon-to-be third grandchild)!

Thanks for the excuse to wear my Fellows medallion!!!

ECD Administrator Diane Slaughter, CAE, APR, Fellow PRSA

 

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Giving Back – Creating a Flourishing Community

By Vanessa Lansdale, Alumni GVSU PRSSA

Anniversaries come and go every year, but instead of getting gifts for an anniversary, how about giving back? That’s what the Grand Valley State University PRSSA chapter did for its 10-year anniversary celebration.

The Grand Valley Chapter of PRSSA, GVSUPRSSA, along with its nationally affiliated, student-run public relations firm, GrandPR, celebrated their 10-year anniversary with an alumni networking spectacular hosted by partner firm 8ThirtyFour Integrated Communications. Between the months of January and March, students from both organizations partnered with 10 different nonprofits in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area as a way to say “thank you” to those who have contributed to the organizations’ success.

Tasks included collecting and re-packaging feminine hygiene products for Be A Rose, donating supplies for GR HQ, assembling sack suppers for Kids’ Food Basket, and more. “The community here gives us so much; we have amazing partnerships with agencies and firms, mentors, our West Michigan Public Relations Society Chapter, and many nonprofits and businesses in the area. When thinking what we could do to celebrate the first decade of GrandPR, we couldn’t think of a better way than to give back,” said GrandPR’s CEO, Sabrina Antcliff.

Being involved first-hand with GrandPR and GVSU PRSSA’s 10-year anniversary celebration, I had many takeaways from this experience. Here are a few:

Community partnerships are to be treasured.

Oftentimes, we take the people around us for granted. Sending a simple thank-you card, inviting a student to your event, or even grabbing coffee with a colleague who you haven’t talked to in a while all strengthens your network. Building networks and partnerships are key in making the community around you grow.

Celebrations don’t need to have gifts.

The gift of time may be the most valuable thing you can give. While volunteering at the different nonprofits with GVSU PRSSA and GrandPR, I could see how my time was directly impacting other individuals. Instead of giving a gift, consider giving your time or an experience to someone. That time may be more valuable to them than you know.

I challenge you to ask yourself, how can I make a difference in my community? How can I use my talents to benefit others? Whether it’s mentoring an individual or volunteering at an organization, together, we can create a flourishing community.

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Why spend thousands of hours a year mentoring young people?

By Adrienne Wallace, Ph.D.

When I was just a little seedling in undergraduate studies, I recall writing a thank you note to a professional after she spoke to my fundamentals of public relations class. What was so shocking about that note was that I actually got a note back! However, to my horror, instead of being inspiring or challenging, it was openly hostile and threatening. In this note, she called me “overly emotional” and “saccharine,” essentially calling me a kiss ass! I was afraid I blew it by simply extending gratitude to her for taking time to visit my class.

What I didn’t understand exactly then, but now understand, was that I was looking for a mentor in this woman. I was trying to express gratitude for her time in an attempt to develop a relationship with her, but boy was I barking up the wrong tree. She was conveying to me that my gratitude was a “weakness,” and I frankly couldn’t disagree more. I knew in my heart and my bones that this “professional” was wrong on so many levels. This interaction made me first cry, but then it made me angry, and then I became determined to do better for others than this woman did for me.

So why do I do it? Why spend thousands of hours a year mentoring young people?

Gratitude drives me to mentor others.

Despite people sometimes believing the contrary, no one “makes it” in this life without the help of others. I feel that if I can demonstrate gratitude and inspire gratitude in others in the early stages of young pro careers, and that personal interactions, even the early or beginning ones (like the kind needed for networking) can be less intimidating and, dare I say it, even fun. By creating an environment where kindness chokes out the darkness, the playing field can be somewhat leveled to the point where we can all engage in meaningful, thoughtful and mutually beneficial ways. We shouldn’t be cutting each other down (and women know how to cut the deepest, don’t they?). The truth is we need each other, and if you cannot mentor positive interactions and coach sound professional development, then get out of the way. The rest of us have a world to inspire.

Maintaining relevancy drives me to mentor others.

Nothing keeps you as fresh in a profession than having meaningful dialogue with folks who are different from you. The longer I’m a professor the further away from the current college-going generation I get (for the most part). In order to be a better practitioner I need to know what’s coming down the pipe. In order to be a better connector in the classroom, I need to know what drives, moves or scares my students. In order to help fight injustice in the workplace, I need to understand how other people think. And so on. My thoughts are a result of my personal experiences, and they are not the only experiences. Exposing myself to the issues of others helps me becomes a more empathetic professor and professional.

Building and maintaining a network drives me to mentor others.

A mentor/mentee relationship should not be quid pro quo; however it does work both ways. I’m not so naive that I cannot wrap my mind around the possibility of working for professionals a generation or two younger than me. The people I mentor have connected me to their own networks, recommended me for positions, and informed me of new opportunities. While I have not as of yet capitalized on this information for myself, this network has helped me pass along opportunities to others. Since I work with young professionals so often, I typically get job postings and internship opportunities before they are posted public. This is very valuable to my mentees and advisees. Just today, I had a former intern send me a job description about a week before it becomes public, so she is using her network to connect to my network in order to pre-screen qualified graduating seniors for an entry-level job. That’s plain smart. I’m happy to help move this information through the system. You can’t beat the networked approach to hiring.

The future of my profession drives me to mentor others.

I didn’t have a strong female mentor early in my career. I fumbled and stumbled through the first five years of my career. The future of equality and quality depends on professionals mentoring the next generation of pros. If I (we – all of us really) don’t help the up-and-coming generation get their foundation solid now, who in the world will we be forced to collaborate with later? There are a lot of haters out there that like to complain about how this generation can’t do this or that, or complain that they do certain things and not others, but you know what…we’re part of this problem. Their perceived or actual failings and deficiencies are actually OUR failings and deficiencies. Gen Y/millennials are STARVING for our attention, they want to be helped and mentored toward success. They are eager to learn and have so much to teach us if only we would just pay attention to the signs. To maintain ethics, professionalism, sound tactical implementation, creativity, strategy and problem-solving in public relations means I have to demonstrate to the next generation of practitioners how to do it well and how to not screw it up. Then they are able to add their personal style to this tribal knowledge and be better than us/me/we. We can’t start them out at a deficiency just because it bothers us. We have to be better than that.

The secret to mentorship that often goes overlooked is that it’s not a one-way street. It’s not just the mentee that benefits; the mentor also benefits. Being entrusted as a mentor has grown my own career and added a richness to my own life that I honestly didn’t even know I was missing until I started mentoring young people. Very early in my career I stumbled upon this Hindu proverb and it struck a chord within me: “They who give have all things; they who withhold have nothing.” You could say I embraced it as my personal mantra. I do believe that I have all things.

If I can do it, you can too. Can you imagine the power of mentorship if we each mentor one that mentors one that mentors one? Help me build a mentor army, won’t you?

Author’s note: A version of this blog first appeared in a print edition of West Michigan Woman Magazine, it has been since been modified and edited.

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2018 Platinum Award Winner: Rick Batyko, APR, Fellow PRSA

Every year PRSA Chapters within the East Central District (ECD) region are given the opportunity to submit a nomination from their membership for consideration of the District’s top practitioner recognition, the Platinum Award.

This year five nominations were received. The PRSA ECD Board was impressed with the quality of all the applications. After careful review, the Board selected Rick Batyko, APR, Fellow PRSA, of the Greater Cleveland Chapter as this year’s honoree.

Rick has more than 30 years of Fortune100 and nonprofit public relations, marketing and brand management experience. Currently, he is serving as senior vice president for marketing, communications and development for Team NEO in Cleveland. Prior, he has served as director of communications for Babcock & Wilcox; as a director of communications and brand management for AlliedSignal; as manager, e-media and news management at Honeywell International; and prior to Team NEO as an officer and vice president for marketing and communications at The Cleveland Foundation. He began his career in PR leadership roles with Rio Grande University and Lake Erie College.

“I’ve had the good fortune to serve on the East Central District board with Rick in the past and have appreciated his support and leadership as a national board member,” said ECD board chair Andrea Clark, APR. “This is a well-earned recognition.”

Batyko is a graduate of Ohio University’s E. W. Scripps School of Journalism with a major in public relations, and received his Master of Arts in public relations from Kent State University in 2012. He holds his Accreditation with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and is an adjunct faculty member at Kent State University’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication, teaching courses in the Masters of Public Relations program.

Rick is on the PRSA National Board of Directors representing the ECD region, and was recently voted in to continue on the Board at the national assembly.  He is a past president of the Greater Cleveland and the Akron Area Chapters of the Society and past chair of PRSA’s East Central District’s Board of Directors. He has presented at a number of PRSA’s international and regional conferences, chaired or held positions on several national committees and has been a delegate at six national assemblies. He served on the 2013 College of Fellows Selection Committee, co-chaired the 2014–16 College of Fellows Strategic Planning Committee, a member of the PRSA Investment Committee, and a Champion for PRSSA.

For his service to the profession, Batyko was inducted into PRSA’s College of Fellows in 2009. In 2013, PRSA Greater Cleveland Chapter presented him with its Lighthouse Award, which acknowledges a senior-level practitioner for contributions to the field and the community.

His writings have appeared in an ABC-CLIO book on advertising titled, “We Are What We Sell” (2014); in a University of Akron Press book on community-building economic development titled, “Under the Rustbelt” (2015); and in a Praeger book titled, “Debates for the Digital Age” (November 2015). He is editing for ABC-CLIO (Greenwood imprint) an encyclopedia of the global digital. He has been published in the Public Relations Journal and in other outlets. His thesis, “The Impact of Japanese Corporate and Country Culture on Crisis Communications: A Case Study Examining Tokyo Electric Power Company,” was published to OhioLink in 2012.

Batyko’s son, Bobby, is a graduate of Kent State University in public relations and is working for a nonprofit in Oberlin, Ohio. His daughter, Erica, is also a graduate of Kent State University in public relations and is working for a full-service advertising agency in Cleveland, Ohio. His wife, Mary, teaches for Akron Public Schools.

 

Photo credit: Team NEO
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