PRSA Northwestern Pennsylvania provides a wonderful example of how chapters large and small share the same goals of advancing the profession and providing benefit for their members. Northwestern PA states the case that no matter the membership, every chapter has value.
Our thanks go to Northwestern PA Chapter President Larry Klick for providing the information and insights into what makes Northwestern click.
Though a small chapter, Northwestern stood tall during the tumultuous times of COVID and civil unrest. “We co-sponsored a panel discussion with Erie News Now titled Delivering the Message which was live streamed through their website and various social media channels,” said Larry.
“It focused on the role of public relations in helping to mitigate unprecedented levels of unrest driven not only by the pandemic, but also by the BLM movement in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.”
As Larry reveals in this month’s Chapter Spotlight, Northwestern survives as a unique organization in the Erie area.
Erie is the fourth-largest city in Pennsylvania, but small enough to appear as the hometown of the fictional band “The Wonders” in the Tom Hanks film “That Thing You Do!”
The city was named for the Native American Erie people. The Iroquois gave up ownership to the Erie Triangle after the American Revolutionary War, and Pennsylvania later bought the land for 75 cents per acre.
Erie is known as the “Flagship City” because of its status as the home port of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s flagship Niagara. Perry won the historic Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812.
Today the Northwestern chapter recognizes local PR professionals with its Niagara Awards.
Give us a brief history of your chapter.
The PRSA NWPA Chapter was founded in 2010 with 10 members. The latest count is 23 members.
Who are your current executive officers?
President: Larry Klick
Past President: Joelyn Bush
Secretary: Lisa Graff
Treasurer: Michele King
Describe your membership
The chapter, while on the smaller side, covers a vast majority of the Marketing & Communication spectrum. Our membership runs the gamut of professionals from large corporations to outstanding local non-profits and everything in between.
What is normally your biggest project of the year?
The Niagara Awards, which celebrate outstanding achievement among local marketing and communication professionals.
How has your chapter pivoted with the COVID-19 pandemic?
Like everyone else, we developed a system to shift our educational events and board meetings into a virtual setting. We’ll be exploring the possibilities of live streaming events to reach the largest audience possible, while also providing replay options for anyone who may not have been able to attend. While we are all chomping at the bit to get back to live events, it’s important to be mindful of those who may not be as enthusiastic about the notion.
How has your chapter leaned into Diversity, Inclusion and Equity?
We’ve embraced the opportunity to invite some of the most brilliant local leaders to speak to our membership about DE&I. On September 24, 2020, we co-sponsored a panel discussion with Erie News Now titled Delivering the Message which was live streamed through their website and various social media channels. It focused on the role of public relations in helping to mitigate unprecedented levels of unrest driven not only by the pandemic, but also by the BLM movement in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.
In February we hosted a virtual seminar featuring Dr. Rhonda Matthews which was titled Inclusivity Matters: Understanding and Avoiding Bias in Communication. This offering focused on how to identify barriers to effective communication, understand them, and avoid their use in order to form stronger connections with the audience. We’re looking to have a similar offering in October of this year.
What is your chapter’s proudest achievement? Why?
In 2013, NWPA PRSA and Edinboro University PRSSA shared the Teahan Award for Outstanding PRSA-PRSSA Chapter Relationship. The Teahan Awards are PRSSA’s annual national awards program recognizing outstanding chapter performance in various categories.
Any “little known/fun facts” about your chapter to share?
The PRSA NWPA Chapter is one of the last professional organizations in the Erie area dedicated to Marketing and Communication professionals. Additionally, the chapter utilizes an innovative idea in the form of a nonprofit scholarship. A handful of these are awarded each year to local professionals encouraging the involvement of potentially underfunded nonprofits in PRSA. The idea was so well received that our friends in the Greater Cleveland Chapter adopted a similar concept!
What’s your secret to a “happy chapter”?
An excellent Board of Directors that collaborates on educational and social events geared toward adding value to a PRSA membership.
Do you have a preferred contact email in case other ECD chapters have a question for you? firstname.lastname@example.org