PRSA National Representative for PRSA-ECD Spotlight: Richard (Rick) Batyko, APR, Fellow PRSA

Rick is the Chief Marketing Officer for the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, which covers four counties and serves 150,000 people Northeast Ohio. The Y is a nonprofit focusing on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Rick has 30 years of Fortune 100 and nonprofit communications, marketing, public relations and brand strategy experience. He has held executive public relations and marketing positions with Babcock & Wilcox, AlliedSignal, Honeywell International, The Cleveland Foundation, Team NEO and The Greater Cleveland Partnership. Rick is a graduate of Ohio University with a major in Public Relations and received his Master of Arts in Public Relations from Kent State University. He holds his accreditation with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), is a member of its College of Fellows and serves on PRSA’s national board of directors. Rick has served as an adjunct faculty member at Kent State University’s Master of Public Relations program. He has contributed to several books and authored journal articles on the subjects of communication, marketing and economic development.

Home Chapter: Greater Cleveland and Akron Area

What is your favorite part about being part of PRSA (National, District and Chapter levels)?

This question needs a timestamp because my favorite part of PRSA isn’t a stagnant answer. When I need to draw on a network, that’s my favorite part. When I need resources and ideas, and PRSA provides them, then that’s the best part. Professional development, thought leadership, inspiration — for me, it’s all there. My favorite part is a moving target.

What do you hope to contribute to PRSA-ECD in 2020?

As ECD’s national board rep, I want to keep the District informed. More importantly, I want to hear from its board and its members. We have a phenomenal Regional Rep in Crystal, so I also want to support her. I will feel accomplished if by the end of my term (2020) the District will have found my role of value in their efforts to serve members. I also hope to help our new board representative transition to the national board.

What is your favorite part of public relations (and other related communications industries)?

While I work in an integrated marketing and communications job, and nearly every executive position I’ve held featured the “marketing” title, I consider myself a public relations professional. Especially in today’s environment where the tag “fake” is prevalent and misinformation is widely and purposely disbursed, I value the PRSA Code of Ethics. For me, our Code is the filter through which all communications and actions should be passed. No other communications or marketing professional association takes such a strong stand on ethics. Indeed, that’s my favorite part of PR.

Talk about your career. What have been some highlights and missteps, and what have you learned from them?

I have been at this for more than 30 years, so in the interest of brevity, my highlight comes from the breadth of my career. From serving in leadership roles in small nonprofits to a major foundation to Fortune 50 companies, I’ve learned that the impact of one’s decisions may vary (number of people affected, cost of execution, staff required, etc.), but the guiding principles of decision-making do not. Any missteps in my tenure have happened when I allowed myself or others to distract me from level-headed, careful and thoughtful decisions and I rushed to judgment or to action. If one is disciplined about the decision-making process, then even in most rushed, panicked situations, muscle memory kicks in and good decisions are made.

What would you say to a prospective member who wants to join PRSA but is on the fence? *

I may be cheating here, but I find PRSA’s own answer to this question as powerful as anything I can add: ” PRSA provides lifelong learning opportunities and access to a variety of resources to prepare you for every stage of your career. If you’re new to the industry, a long-time veteran, or somewhere in between, PRSA helps members meet tomorrow’s challenges.”

What do you like most about QuickStart, the Diamond Awards and/or other PRSA-ECD initiatives?

PRSA’s 10 Districts are sometimes overlooked by members who value their chapter and national. ECD is more vulnerable to being unnoticed than some others because we do not conduct an annual conference. Yet, it was ECD that invented QuickStart, a program that has been copied by most Districts. Our awards program, wonderfully refined this year by the ECD board, is bringing regional recognition to our members’ good work. And we are blessed with a plethora of outstanding leaders who we recognize with the Platinum Award. The Districts are the unsung heroes of PRSA. However, those of us who have been involved with ECD found knowledge sharing, leadership training, network building and comradery that we will value always.

Would you like to add anything else?

It has been the highlight of my career to represent the ECD on the national PRSA Board of Directors for the past four years.

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Nominate an Outstanding Professional for ECD’s Platinum Award by Aug. 28

If you are reading this blog, you are likely a communications professional and someone who is either interested in or active with PRSA. Often, we are the ones most comfortable being “behind the scenes,” using our skills and abilities to highlight brands, organizations and leaders. PRSA East Central District’s (ECD) annual Platinum Award is our district’s opportunity to shine the spotlight on one of our dedicated volunteer PRSA leaders.

Every year, the ECD presents the Platinum Award to an 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.

Some of the areas of service to PRSA the award recognizes includes: PRSA chapter, district and national service; PRSSA chapter and national service; published materials; other awards and recognition; and general contributions to the PR profession.

The ECD has an incredible legacy of leadership within our ranks. Most recently in 2019, the board recognized Jennifer Day, APR, Great Lakes regional coordinator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with the Platinum Award. Jennifer is a past PRSA Detroit chapter president, past East Central District chair, past chair of the national district council and the 2019 recipient of PRSA’s Public Affairs and Government Section section’s Lloyd. B. Dennis Distinguished Service Award.

Each chapter is encouraged to nominate one leader from their ranks. All applications are due by Friday, Aug. 28 to Jennifer Flowers-Kolf, APR at jenniferflowerskolf@gmail.com. For more information about the award and criteria, see this link.

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‘COVID CLASS’ AT HOOSIER CHAPTER FINDS OPPORTUNITY IN VIRTUAL APR TRAINING

ECD June Meeting Best Practice Presentation “Creating a Virtual APR Class” by Leslie Galbreath, APR, & Accreditation Chair for the Hoosier Chapter

Leslie Galbreath began her Best Practice presentation “Creating a Virtual APR Class” at the June 24 ECD board meeting by saying taking APR virtual is “a big topic” and the Hoosier program had a really good head start, because the Hoosier chapter is one of most active in country in APR.

“In my own experience, years ago when I was thinking about becoming an APR, much of my business was global and I had a lot of travel overseas,” said Leslie “Life would happen, and I would have to get out of the APR training group.  Taking the class centered me on being a student again, but it was not always accessible.

“I developed a couple of objectives beyond just running an APR program: First, recruit more candidates. Second, and more importantly, modernize and improve the learning experience for the modern professional. Times are changing with more people getting degrees online.”

Hoosier Chapter’s First Steps to Virtual

Leslie said, “One semester online, one semester in person was the plan. We wanted to give working folks with other obligations more flexibility.  We wanted to improve the experience and work with National to improve the curriculum. 

“We achieve that by doing a few things: We tried alternating online/in-person instruction for the first time last year. To be honest, some of the more experienced instructors had trouble getting used to online instruction, while the younger pros were more used to it.”

Leslie said “We got lucky” in terms of timing. “With COVID-19, people had more time on their hands. We had 50 percent more attendance in online classes. It definitely broadened our reach up and down the state.”

Going Forward with Virtual

“We’re going to do fall semester online, with the way the coronavirus is going,” said Leslie. “Until last spring if you were an APR you could teach one of the courses. Our survey feedback said there were really great instructors and some very green.  We talked with the national board and instituted a three-year (APR) requirement and that upped the quality of the instructors.  We placed an emphasis on personal experience. In the end, especially (preparing for) the exam, they answered questions in the curriculum and applied real-world experience.

Versatility with Virtual

“We always make it a practice to record sessions with the Facebook group. They always have the ability to go back and review.  It was required for first-time instructors to have engagement inside the Facebook group.  They’re checking in, having conversations, and it’s kind of fun.

“We required each instructor to come to the lessons with five questions about the curriculum and give students a chance to talk.  The sessions started out at two hours, but we moved them to 90 minutes.

That seemed to be the threshold of attention span. We spent time going through student projects.  We included the satisfaction survey and benefitted from student comments.

“In the second year of taking the program virtual; we’ve seen a 50 percent increase. Two from our ‘COVID class” we call it, have applied for National.  We’re getting better learning retention and better satisfaction in general.  We’re looking at it long term. It’s certainly a good option right now.”

Q&A

Jennifer Flowers-Kolf: Did you charge for the online class?

Leslie: No, it was free for active members.

Jennifer: Would cost be a barrier to participation?

Leslie: We debated that in board meetings. These are questions for long-time changes, if we can continue with success of program, but we’re not there yet.

Mark Pompilio: What virtual platforms did you use?

Leslie: The sessions were Monday 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  We started with Go To Meeting but have moved to Microsoft Teams for the next semester. The Facebook page is for conversations. It’s meant to be the community aspect, where we can talk to each other, have video access, get the reading assignments for next week and articles that apply.  We’re living in a case study right now and sharing information; classes are a traditional platform.

John Palmer: The Hoosier chapter is the largest in the district with 337 members including 74 APR’s and nine PRSA Fellows. (Detroit is the second largest ECD chapter with 301 members and 82 APR’s). There are 480 APRs in the ECD. Congratulations to Leslie and the Hoosier chapter for taking APR to another level, especially in member retention.Congratulations to Leslie and the Hoosier chapter for taking APR to another level, especially in member retention.

Leslie – We see the APR course as a great way to recruit new members. Some only joined because of the access to APR so we see it as recruitment tool.

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Board Member Spotlight: Adrienne A. Wallace, Ph.D.

This month, we are highlighting our current Chair Adrienne A. Wallace, Ph.D.

Adrienne A. Wallace is an enthusiastic communicator with over 20 years experience in both the public and private sectors ranging in scope from nonprofit, health, education, government, hospitality, politics, lobbying and finance.

Adrienne teaches undergraduate courses at Grand Valley State University mostly in the PR emphasis and has a passion for student-to-professional development. She advises the student-run PR firm GrandPR and the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter at GVSU. She also serves as the Ad&PR Internship Director and GVSU’s Bateman Competition faculty advisor. Adrienne is a board member of the West Michigan Public Relations Society of America (WMPRSA), chair of the East Central District Public Relations Society of America (ECDPRSA), communications chair of the PRSA Educators Academy (PRSAEA), and serves the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) on the social media committee and is the chair of the website committee.

Adrienne received her Ph.D. in public administration with a focus in public affairs and public policy from Western Michigan University (WMU) where she focused on the intersection of public relations, participation and lobbying on the creation/implementation of public policy in the United States. She’s a Grand Rapids Westsider, amateur chef, wife to tech/PR geek Derek DeVries (Lambert & Co.) and mother to rescue beagles Rosie and Watson.

Degrees:
– Ph.D. in Public Affairs, Policy & Administration, Western Michigan University
– M.P.A. in Government & Non-Profit Administration, Grand Valley State University
– M.S. in Communications, Grand Valley State University
– B.S. in Health Communications/Advertising/Public Relations, Grand Valley State University


Home Chapter: West Michigan

What is your favorite part about being part of PRSA (National, District and Chapter levels)?

The impact we can have at all levels is really up to the individual. I like being able to get as dirty as I want in the process of leadership. It’s been my distinct privilege to work with PRSSA students at all levels of their educational and professional careers.

What do you hope to contribute to PRSA-ECD in 2020?

I’m usually involved in board work to move initiatives along and encourage collaboration within units – I like involving many people to achieve goals. Most people just want to be asked to participate and I’m not afraid to make the ask. We had two goals for ECD this year: 1 – support our chapters more efficiently, 2- more effective outreach to PRSSA chapters for deliberate student involvement in the district. So far our board initiatives have been robust and successful. Our members have needs and our board has solutions. It’s been amazing to work with these folks.

What is your favorite part of public relations (and other related communications industries)? 

I love a good crisis – that looks worse typed out. 🙂 There is nothing like being the cool-headed person, formulating solutions, in a room full of drama against the unknown future. Feeling like you can make an immediate difference in a situation is a really gracious experience.

Talk about your career. What have been some highlights and missteps, and what have you learned from them? 

I’ve made pretty much every mistake one can make in PR and every time I’ve learned from the experience and bounced back more resilient than before. There is something so powerful about experiencing a loss, an error, or whatever – that really makes you appreciate the good stuff that goes right. I think you learn more about people in times of crisis and failure than you do when everything is going smoothly. Life is pretty easy when you are untested and when there are no obstacles in the way. Having the courage to fail and recover forces us to look inward at our own mortality and answer the question, can I go on? There is personal power in that experience and it builds confidence in what is possible. I maintain you don’t know what you can do or who you are without some adversity.

What would you say to a prospective member who wants to join PRSA but is on the fence? 

It’s worth a try. Just go to a few chapter events and decide, those are low barrier to entry and usually low cost or free. What do you really have to lose?

What do you like most about QuickStart, the Diamond Awards and/or other PRSA-ECD initiatives?

I love QuickStart. I think it’s so refreshing to get to know our chapter leaders 1:1 during this time. It makes you feel less alone in the issues that your own chapter is facing as there is likely someone else with the same problem. It encourages group collaboration and problem solving in a way I’ve not been able to really feel at a national level at PRSA.

Would you like to add anything else?

One of the hallmark reasons I’ve been involved in PRSA is to mentor students in PRSSA into emerging PR leaders. We need mentors in PRSSA chapters now more than ever before. If you are not close to your PRSSA chapter locally, find out how to get involved. We can’t continue to complain or be worried about what the next gen will do or experience if we are not ourselves making action to support or aid the next level of leader in PR. I think one of the most frustrating things I experience in my day-to-day job is how hungry my students are for sound mentors and on the other side hearing how much complaining professionals do about young people. PR Pros: get over it and forge a relationship with a young person. You will learn from them as much as they learn from you.

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PRSA Cincinnati Goes Virtual to Get More Virtual!

The Cincinnati May 27 Zoom event Re-imagining Live Events with the Use of Video represents all the best about our ECD members: It answered the call for member engagement by delivering a timely topic through inter-chapter cooperation, innovative delivery, and a generosity of shared resources.  Learn more in this ECD conversation with event organizer Bridget Kochersperger, PRSA Cincinnati Chapter Vice President of Programming.

PRSA Cincinnati May 27 Zoom Event:  Re-imagining Live Events with the Use of Video

Zoom presenter Molly Berrens is the owner of the video production company Spotted Yeti Media. She talks to non-profits about turning fundraisers into virtual events. With COVID-10 she has tweaked her services to include corporate events, conference events, and training presentations.

Her genius is for combining pre-corded videos with live components. For example, an event might stage live watch parties reacting to pre-recorded speeches.

Bridget: “The biggest thing she touched on were live charitable events. How you can still meet those fundraising goals, have something that still feels special to people, and gave us some examples of what she’s worked on the last couple months. One was for the Cincinnati Opera, one for Xavier University, and another for Learning Grove, an education non-profit that turned their gala into a week-long campaign with live and prerecorded elements. You could donate throughout the whole week. Ultimately the organizers said it was their most profitable fundraiser ever. I’m sure a part of it was because of very low overhead cost.”

Deciding to go virtual:

“It’s tricky.  When this all started no one was sure how long it was going to last. But right off the bat we had to cancel our monthly event for April.  It was supposed to be a program about working with influencers. But working with influencers was going to change with this too, so it would no longer be relevant.”

The PRSA Cincinnati-Columbus Connection:

“We saw that everybody is talking about shared resources.  So, we shared a few programs with Columbus and our chapter. Columbus hosted a program about personal self-care in the age of COVID.

“We came up with May events and opened a premium Zoom account.  That came together pretty quickly. We’ve been in quarantine for two months now, and we’ve asked, are people still hungry for Zoom events?”

Scoring Molly and Spotted Yeti for the Meeting:

“I used to work for PR agency that shared a building with Spotted Yeti – both female-owned – and I kept in touch with her. She shared posts about a presentation with a non-profit leader on LinkedIn so I reached out to her. She did all the hard work I just shared the opportunity. She did it as a free event.

“She is truly very, very talented. Hopefully she will get a few phone calls out of it.”

Making if a free event:

“Everybody is struggling – financially or with how to fit in their roles. We wanted to give them this free resource. We don’t often do that, even for our members, but it felt like it was the right time to do it.”

What members learned from Molly:

“It wasn’t just focused on fundraising, but that is a common, annual event most people have. She talked about conferences and training. She had a poll about industries and touched on different types of events like award ceremonies.  At the start of the event we asked the question: “What type of events are you looking to potentially take virtual this year?” There were five options (non-profit fundraisers, award ceremonies, theatrical and arts events, trade shows, and conferences) plus “other.” The least interest was in taking theater and arts online.

Molly started the presentation by introducing the audience to her company and their concepts. She defined their approach to “Smart Video” saying, “When you think about our smart devices it all starts with end user data.”

She outlined the Spotted Yeti process of “Discover, Tell Your Story, Make an Impact, Review and Improve,” and their “full script to screen” production.  She focused her talk to chapter audience on “pivoting to video” when transitioning to virtual events.

She asked, are we starting your event with a video? Where does the emotional piece fit best in the presentation? She talked about taking advantage of the benefits of going virtual: the opportunity to increase your audience, decrease your budget, expand the event timeline and gather more data.

She put particular emphasis on a live program, beginning with the question does it need to be live? Is it streaming live, or pre-recorded and released at a certain time to give a recorded-live feel.  How it’s made could be truly live or sudo-live.

Bridgit: “We had a pretty good rate of engagement in this event. We capped it at 100 because our Zoom account only allows 100 participants. We showed 70 active participants.  That’s a lot of folks. That is more than we usually have. Offhand, it was probably the best attended event we’ve had in 10 years. Granted it was also free and we did more outreach with our neighbor chapter.”

What’s on the Virtual Landscape Horizon:

“Next we’re doing a diversity program.  It’s taking place in two parts on June 16 and June 23. It was planned in advance (of the death of George Floyd in police custody and nationwide protests). The email went out May 27 before everything happened, but it’s more important than ever.

“The first part is Implicit Bias Training, and the second is Cultural Sensitivity during COVID-19.  We’ll keep going in July with it, offering reciprocal membership rates. Someone from Columbus can get our chapter rate. We did the last one for free because we thought it was the right thing to do. 

“Our Blacksmith awards are in traditionally in November but are still up in the air.  We have the date and venue locked down but obviously everything is still unsure. Molly has really great ideas on how to take award ceremonies virtual.”

Virtual Newsgathering in time of COVID-19:

“We believe we will cancel our media event – one of our signature events – originally scheduled for October and push it to the spring. We talked about having it as a virtual event, but we weren’t sure how it would work.

“More organization are going to find balance in it (virtual news gathering). It’s more convenient for media to attend and more people are sitting and listening.”

Beyond COVID:19 – Still Virtual?

“I think a lot of our programs are going to be virtual, but people in our organization are craving interaction and we will want to get back to in-person invents. But maybe it will be a mixture. We have our social and networking events. I think they will come back primarily in-person.”

Final Thoughts:

“I think we came away from it (Reimagining Live Events with the Use of Video) thinking we had better attendance than expected. We were very happy about that, and we had board members who said it was great, timely content.

“The biggest take away for me is that people still want this content and are hungry for this content. We’re still uncertain about how the rest of the year will be – no one truly know what happen, we could end up in isolation again in November – but everybody is having to look outside the box for their clients and their organizations.”

Bridget Kochersperger

bkochersperger@gmail.com

PRSA Cincinnati Chapter Vice President of Programming

Regional Marketing and Communication Manager for Ulmer and Berne LLT

Molly Berrens

Spotted Yeti Media/823 Scott St. Covington, KY

www.SpottedYeti.com

info@spottedyeti.com

513-549-3843

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A Statement from PRSA East Central District

The Public Relations Society of America East Central District is appalled by the events leading to the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many other members of our Black community. We condemn all acts of racism. We dedicate ourselves as communicators to stand in solidarity with our Black members, Black colleagues, Black students, and the Black community at large to promote the principles of equality. We pledge our support to convene people for solutions and to listen in order to empower change in our communities. Furthermore, we resolve to do our best as advocates to bring truth to power, act always with justice, and to commit ourselves to an essential role in resolving systemic racism.

*Please stay tuned in the coming days for programming designed to help our District, PRSA Chapters and PRSSA Chapters fulfill this statement. Thank you to our 17 PRSA Chapters for contributing to this statement.

PRSA’s Statement:

PRSSA’s Statement:

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ANNOUNCEMENT: PRSA East Central District seeking administrator

Our Request for Proposal, as well as other information, is below. You may also download it directly here.

Request For Proposal: PRSA East Central District Administrator
Contact: Andrea Farmer
317.691.1366
afarmer@indonornetwork.org
June 1, 2020

About PRSA:
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is the nation’s largest professional organization serving the communications community with a mission to “make communications professionals smarter, better prepared and more connected through all stages of their career.” Membership collectively represents more than 30,000 members comprising communications professionals spanning every industry sector nationwide and college and university students who encompass the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).

About PRSA East Central District:
The East Central District represents 17 chapters in six states (Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia). The East Central District serves as a link between local PRSA chapters and national leadership. prsaecd.org

Scope of Services:
The East Central District of PRSA is in search of an individual/entity to perform administrative duties on behalf of the district, including such activities as:

● Schedule all District board meetings and send calendar appointments with supporting materials to officers and board members.
● Provide a physical mailing address for the East Central District.
● Routinely collect and organize all incoming mail on behalf of the District.
● Forward all pertinent mail (if any) to the appropriate officers on the executive board of directors for the East Central District.
● Upload digital copies of all district records (monthly bank statements, receipts, tax documentation etc.) to the district’s Google Drive, as well as the dashboard provided by PRSA National.
● Remit payments for all district financial obligations including but not limited to the following (web hosting service, officer travel reimbursements, annual QuickStart event expenses, etc.).
● Reconcile all financial statements monthly.
● Manage QuickStart attendee RSVP process and facilitate event registration, including facility arrangements, materials printing, nametags, etc.
● Prepare and send a monthly financial statement to the district treasurer one week prior to the scheduled East Central District teleconference. The treasurer will review and request changes, if necessary, and the treasurer will be responsible for submitting to the board secretary.
● File federal income tax documents on behalf of the district prior to the annual filing deadline each year.
● Spearhead district awards program, including the following responsibilities:
o Coordinate and oversee reciprocal judging program (finding judges for our awards program, and finding East Central District members to serve as judges for another awards program)
o Set up and maintain online judging portal (currently using OpenWater)
o Solicit bids for awards trophies and coordinate ordering and fulfillment process

o Work with committee to help them promote awards

● Update website as needed (working in conjunction with the digital committee).
● Other duties as assigned.

Questions:
Questions about this proposal process or the scope of services should be directed to Andrea Farmer at afarmer@indonornetwork.org​.

Proposal Submissions:
Proposals can be submitted electronically to afarmer@indonornetwork.org no later than 5 p.m. Eastern Time Wednesday, June 10, 2020.

Selection Schedule:
The East Central District is hoping to identify and select an administrator no later than July 1, 2020, and would look to begin working with the selected vendor immediately thereafter.

Budget:
In your proposal, please include your hourly rate, as well as the total number of hours each month you estimate it will take to complete the tasks mentioned in the Scope of Services section.

Evaluation Criteria:
Independent public relations practitioners and association management professionals are encouraged to submit proposals. Independent public relations practitioners should be current members of a chapter within PRSA’s East Central District. The successful respondent will provide a competitive cost of services and possess the following:

● Working knowledge of basic Microsoft Office tools, including Word and Outlook
● Basic understanding of and aptitude for using office management tools, such as Google docs, basic intranet software (uploading of materials) and more
● Knowledge of WordPress or a comparable website hosting/management platform
● Excellent communication and organizational skills
● Proven track record of experience in the areas included in the scope of services
● Knowledge of associations/association management (strongly recommended)
● Basic bookkeeping skills and knowledge of online banking methods and procedures
● Ability to pass a criminal background check

References:
References are required. Please include three professional references in your proposal.

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Board Member Spotlight: John Palmer, APR

This month, we are featuring our Chair-Elect John Palmer, APR.

John is an accredited public relations professional with 16 years of experience leading, developing and implementing public relations and communication strategies for nonprofit and private organizations. 

He is director of media and public relations for the Ohio Hospital Association, a statewide organization representing Ohio’s 236 hospitals and 14 health systems. He serves as OHA’s media spokesperson, manages public relations campaigns and supports advocacy communication and event management. Since joining OHA in 2012 he expanded the association’s presence in statewide and national media, increased member engagement and promoted OHA’s strategic initiatives in the community. 

Prior to OHA he was media and marketing communication manager for Ohio Dominican University from 2008 to 2012. He developed public relations campaigns focused on branding and reputation management, managed internal communications and implemented media relations programs securing coverage for the university’s new residence halls, a new student center and a new science center. John managed the development of ODU’s social media strategy and led a marketing committee for the institution’s centennial celebration. Before joining ODU he was with the Central Ohio Transit Authority for four years serving as media spokesperson, managing internal communication, planning community events, implementing marketing strategies for new services and maintaining COTA’s website. 

John is an adjunct faculty member at Capital University and Ohio Dominican University teaching classes in public speaking, media relations, PR campaigns, and health care marketing. 

He is a member of the Public Relations Society of America and the PRSA Central Ohio Chapter. John is chair-elect for PRSA East Central District Board of Directors. He is chair the Central Ohio Public Information Network Board of Directors, a regional coalition of public information officers. John received the PRSA Central Ohio Chapter’s 2010 Walt Seifert Award for Outstanding Service to PRSSA. He is a frequent guest speaker and mentor to PR students in the region. He is the professional adviser to the PRSSA Capital University Chapter and is adviser to Ohio University’s PRSSA student firm, 1804 Communication. John was a board member for NC4K – Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids and PRSA Health Academy. 

John earned his bachelor’s degree in public relations and journalism from Capital University in 2004. He earned a master’s degree in organizational communication from Ohio University in 2012.


Home Chapter: Central Ohio Chapter

What is your favorite part about being part of PRSA (National, District and Chapter levels)?

Having an active participation with colleagues and leaders in the public relations to improve the profession and the professional.

What do you hope to contribute to PRSA-ECD in 2020?

Working with the board to achieve stronger operational efficiencies, re-branding our annual conference to focus on chapter leadership development and establishing greater connections with our chapters.

What is your favorite part of public relations (and other related communications industries)? 

This profession gives the ability to learn new industries and to tell their stories to audiences. Today’s digital communications has enabled public relations to be a more active leader within organizations to ensure messages and content are effectively delivered.

Talk about your career. What have been some highlights and missteps, and what have you learned from them?

Time management was a learning curve but developing a routine and utilizing technology has allowed me to be a more effective resource and leader in my position. A highlight of my career was obtaining a permanent full-time position (started as a temporary position) with my first employer.

What would you say to a prospective member who wants to join PRSA but is on the fence?

Consider a more holistic view of the opportunities that PRSA membership and service presents to members. There are a wide variety of skills that I developed from my participation with PRSA including leadership, board service, volunteering, project management, financial management – budgeting preparation, and more.

What do you like most about QuickStart, the Diamond Awards and/or other PRSA-ECD initiatives?

My favorite aspect is ECD’s mission to support leadership development within the chapters and that is achieved at our programs and event throughout the year.

Would you like to add anything else?

Consider bringing your talents and experience to the leadership opportunities within PRSA and the East Central District.

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Board Member Spotlight: Jennifer Flowers Kolf, APR

This month, we are featuring our Immediate Past Chair Jennifer Flowers Kolf, APR. 

Jennifer Flowers Kolf, APR, is principal at JFK Consulting in Troy, Mich., an independent communications firm providing a wide range of services, including strategic communications planning and content creation, media relations, social media management and more. 

Previously, Jennifer was director, communications at FordDirect, a joint venture between Ford Motor Company and its franchised dealers to create a comprehensive Web presence for dealers and provide digital marketing and advertising services that help dealers sell more cars and trucks. In her role at FordDirect, Jennifer managed all internal communications for the company as well as external public relations, including media relations and social media management. She also served as chair of the organization’s charity committee called FordDirect Cares. 

Jennifer was also manager, System Communications at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Mich., one of the nation’s most renowned health care institution, and served as the vice president, director of public relations for Leo Burnett Detroit, working with key agency clients Cadillac, Pontiac and Mr. Goodwrench. 

An active member of the public relations community, Jennifer currently serves as the immediate past chair for the PRSA East Central District, which includes representing the district on the PRSA National Nominating Committee in 2020. She served as the ECD chair in 2019. Locally, Jennifer served several years on the board of directors for PRSA Detroit, including a year as president in 2012. During her tenure as president, PRSA Detroit was awarded one of only two chapter diversity awards nationwide, due largely to the inaugural launch of the Ofield Dukes Diversity Summit. She also currently serves as the professional advisor to the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter at the University of Michigan – Dearborn. 

Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from Michigan State University in East Lansing. 


Home Chapter: PRSA Detroit 

What is your favorite part about being part of PRSA (National, District and Chapter levels)?

I have enjoyed all of the PRSA service roles I have held, but the PRSA ECD leadership experience over the past few years has been especially interesting because it has allowed for greater interactions with my fellow professionals around the region. It has also provided a great opportunity to better understand the inner workings of PRSA as a membership society nationally.

What do you hope to contribute to PRSA-ECD in 2020?

In 2020, I will be representing ECD on the PRSA National Nominating committee and I hope to ensure we have a great short list of candidates from our district to consider for the district’s open national board seat. I also plan to play a significant role in helping to revise and enhance the ECD’s bylaws.

What is your favorite part of public relations (and other related communications industries)? 

My favorite part of practicing public relations is the employee or internal communications facet of what we do. Impacting the employee audience with strategic and creative communications tactics is the underpinning of any effective external strategy and playing a role in positively affecting workplace culture and morale is very rewarding.

Talk about your career. What have been some highlights and missteps, and what have you learned from them? 

A highlight of my career has been getting to promote Cadillac’s Super Bowl campaign when the event was in my hometown of Detroit. It was exciting to work with all of the national media that came to Detroit to cover the event and take pride in playing a key part in showing off our city to the world.

What would you say to a prospective member who wants to join PRSA but is on the fence?

Don’t wait to join PRSA. Join and invest your time now vs. delaying to when you really need it as membership is like having career insurance that will carry you through stressful or difficult times in your career.

What do you like most about QuickStart, the Diamond Awards and/or other PRSA-ECD initiatives?

I love QuickStart! I have attended it three years in a row and I’ve learned so much each time. Additionally, it is great to connect face-to-face with the district members who you only get to speak with by phone at most other meetings.

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Applications now open for the PRSA National Board of Directors slot for PRSA-ECD

The call for applications to serve on the 2021 Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Board of Directors is now open, and our PRSA East Central District Board Member slot will be open in 2021. Applications will be accepted through Tuesday, May 5. If you are an active member considering if Board service is for you, be it this year or in the future, we enthusiastically recommend it as potentially the most valuable and rewarding way to engage with PRSA.

Professional development and networking, two of PRSA’s core benefits, are at the heart of Board service. You will be called on to lead at the highest levels of policy, strategy and governance, and these activities will be accomplished through teamwork with Board colleagues and members from all sectors of the organization. Board experience also gives you an opportunity to analyze our profession in a way that differs from our day-to-day job requirements as working practitioners, as you consider the profession for its own sake and for that of your professional colleagues. Where is it going? Where should it go and why? What ongoing skills development do we all need to succeed in it and how can PRSA equip its members to thrive in a constantly evolving environment?

Answering these questions often requires a shift in perspective for Board members, as Board work is not the same as PR work. Nor is it the same as leading a Chapter, District or Section. It is about helping to guide the nation’s leading professional communications organization, in concert with PRSA’s professional staff and volunteer leaders across the country. Of course, our Board members bring their professional skills and experience as strategic communicators to that task but also apply them to the arena of association leadership.

If you do that, you will grow. You will learn and guide PRSA’s structure, mission, values, strategies, challenges and members to a depth, breadth and degree of detail that will stretch you. You’ll consider not just your profession, but the profession, from a leadership perspective and with substantial responsibilities. Your network will grow exponentially, because PRSA is a team sport. And you will bring those experiences to whatever you do in the future.

Ask Board members, current and past: is the experience worth it? Listen for their insights and individual perspectives as you contemplate applying. PRSA needs the extraordinary commitment of qualified leaders to guide its future, and that’s not an easy task. If it were, working on the Board wouldn’t be nearly so valuable and rewarding.

For more information, outreach to our Past Chair Jennifer Flowers-Kolf, APR, at jenniferflowerskolf@gmail.com.

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