Historically, Cincinnati is a town made for PR. When your founding fathers name you “Losantiville” (a Latin-Greek word puzzle about proximity to the Licking River), you know you have some work to do.
Your burgeoning meat-packing industry earns you the nickname “Porkopolis.” Even the culture-bolstering “Queen City of the West” campaign had its limitations when you’re 2,400 miles from the Pacific. (Note: Cinci may not be San Francisco, but it once had five cable cars).
Give credit to General Arthur St. Clair, a member of the society that honored the Roman leader Cincinnatus, for recognizing “an awful name, damn it” and providing a welcome rebranding!
But Cincinnati is an American original. It survived the years when it truly was the wild, wild west. By 1800 it could boast a French pastry chef and a hairdresser. German and Irish settlers helped create a diverse and worldly population. Fugitive slaves traveled across the Ohio River and through the city searching for freedom in the North.
By 1900 it was the most densely-populated city in the U.S. By 2000 it was the home of multiple major corporations (shopped for P&G products at Kroger lately?) The city’s wide variety of employers has served as a hedge against economic downturn and the Queen City keeps rolling along like the Ohio River.
Even through a pandemic.
“Some might say that as PR pros, we were built for the chaos COVID-19 threw at us,” PRSA Cincinnati Chapter President Brandy Jones tells us in the August ECD Chapter Spotlight.
“Our membership was looking to PRSA for solutions,” she said, and the chapter was resourceful in its pursuit of answers. Cincinnati not only embraced the new normal of going virtual, they dug deep into the content.
They thought to address, “messaging sensitive information regarding those who became ill or died as a result of COVID-19,” according to Brandy. “Our chapter stepped up to bring in top-level experts, and industry leaders to provide tips and resources.”
Commitment to DEI starts at the top of the chapter. “As our chapter’s first African American president,” said Brandy, “it is not lost on me the significance of the role and the responsibility that comes with it to ensure that the work we do as a chapter reflects the change we want to see throughout the industry.”
More details about these endeavors are in the August ECD Chapter Spotlight on Cincinnati. You’ll learn three big reasons for chapter pride; a little known fact about the chapter regarding an historic address by an esteemed centenarian; and a little bit about baseball.
You see professionals of all walks in Cincinnati know there is no better way to let off a riverboat gush of steam then by gathering after work at a Reds game.
Yes, the Big Red Machine can manufacture an industrial-size amount of fun. “You get out of PRSA what you put in,” is the motto for PRSA Cincinnati. “There’s no crying in baseball, as Tom Hanks told us famously in “A League of Their Own.” As this happy chapter has learned, there are no strangers at a Reds game.
ECD 2021 CHAPTER SPOTLIGHT
Give us a brief history of your chapter.
The Cincinnati Chapter was founded in 1951 and currently has 143 members.
Who are your current executive officers?
President: Brandy Jones, APR
President-Elect: Bridget Kochersperger
Vice President, programming: Sara Cullin, APR
Immediate Past President: Robin Klaene, APR
Accreditation Director: Allison Schroeder, APR
Community Service Director & New Pros Chair: Tiffany Luckey
Director-at-Large: Rob Pasquinucci, APR
Diversity Director: Suzanne Boys, APR
Ethics Director: Shara Clark
Finance Director: Tess Brown
Membership Director: Jenifer Moore
Blacksmith Awards Co-Chair: Elizabeth Desrosiers
Blacksmith Awards Co-Chair: David Honchul, APR
Content Strategist: Annie Efkeman
Digital Strategist: Lauren Hall
Media Day Co-Chair: Zach Stipe
Media Day Co-Chair: Will Jones
Sponsorship Chair: Barbara Grimsley, APR
Describe your membership.
We currently have 143 members in our chapter and are growing. Our members include recent graduates to professors and CEO’s representing just about every sector of the industry, such as sport communications, corporate communications, non-profit and agency among others.
What is normally your biggest project of the year?
Each year we hold our annual Media Day seminar, which provides an opportunity for practitioners to sit across from local, and on occasion, even national reporters to learn how to best work with them to increase the odds of coverage. This seminar also provides practitioners with new tools and tips from their fellow PR pros who have had success launching major projects and campaigns, as well as lessons learned from crisis situations.
How has your chapter pivoted with the COVID-19 pandemic?
Some might say that as PR pros, we were built for the chaos COVID-19 threw at us. I’m proud to say that our chapter leaders quickly adapted to the ever evolving circumstances of the pandemic and the impact it had on our members, who were at the front and center of constantly changing messaging for their organizations. We pivoted our in-person programming to virtual webinars, realizing that now more than ever our membership was looking to PRSA for solutions. Whether it was how to communicate to a workforce working from home, planning virtual ribbon cuttings, to messaging sensitive information regarding those who became ill or died as a result of COVID-19, our chapter stepped up to bring in top-level experts, and industry leaders to provide tips and resources.
I’m extremely proud of our chapter leaders, who despite their own professional and personal challenges, never wavered in their commitment to the association and their peers.
How has your chapter leaned into Diversity, Inclusion and Equity?
We acknowledged that the PR industry as a whole is facing a challenge when it comes to attracting and retaining people of color and put our words into action to fix that. As our chapter’s first African American president, it is not lost on me the significance of the role and the responsibility that comes with it to ensure that the work we do as a chapter reflects the change we want to see throughout the industry. We have made a commitment to diversity and inclusion from our selection of speakers and topics to providing opportunities for training on the role of practitioners in holding the organization’s we serve accountable for doing the same. I’m also pleased to share that this year we will be bestowing our first annual Diversity scholarship to a minority college student and to a practitioner to encourage deeper chapter engagement and learning opportunities.
What is your chapter’s proudest achievement? Why?
I’m proud to say that we have many things to be proud of, especially our members impact on the profession. In fact, our chapter has produced three national presidents: William Werner, Edward VonderHaar and Judith Bogart.
Any little known facts about your chapter?
The Cincinnati Chapter has one of the highest numbers of APR professionals, currently there are 56 active APR’s in our chapter. For years we have put great emphasis on the importance of earning Accreditation. As part of those efforts, in 1992 under the presidency of Tom Schick, Dr. Edward Bernays, Fellow, PRSA, was our esteemed guest for our annual Accreditation Assembly. This event was held just weeks before Dr. Bernays’ 101st birthday.
What’s your secret to a happy chapter?
We encourage our members to get everyone involved early and often and to have some fun. We always say that you get out of PRSA what you put in. We know our members work hard every day guiding their agencies or companies through communication strategies, crisis and the like, so we really enjoy opportunities to network via happy hours or a Reds game to further build a sense of community.
Do you have a preferred contact email in case other ECD chapters have a question for you?
Brandy Jones, APR, [email protected], 513-254-2587 (cell)