Public Relations Society or America Northeast District

Winter-Spring 2015 News

PRSA NED Newsletter Winter-Spring 2015 News


Jane-Law.jpgby Jane Law, APR
Chair, PRSA Northeast District 

Welcome to the PRSA Northeast District’s newsletter! This e-newsletter is the first edition and will be sent out quarterly to keep you, the members of PRSA “from Bangor to Buffalo,” informed and engaged in District as well as local Chapter and national PRSA news, events, activities and opportunities.

The PRSA Northeast District is comprised of eight PRSA chapters (Boston, Buffalo/Niagara, Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Rochester, Southeastern New England and Yankee (Maine, New Hampshire/Vermont). Our members represent more than 1,000 public relations and communications professionals from across the region.

The mission of the Northeast District is to advance the PR profession and professionals by promoting and providing access to PRSA networking and educational initiatives and opportunities on a regional level.

That mission is accomplished, in part, by the District’s annual conference – to be held in the Capital Region area in 2015 – where members can receive quality professional development programming and the ability to network with peers from across the northeastern United States. In addition, the District launched a website in September 2014 to provide event updates from each chapter, best practices through blog posts, information on the district conference and more.

As with your national PRSA and your local Chapter, your member benefits grow the more you’re involved! This is your District and we encourage you to become engaged, and provide feedback to your District leadership on how we can provide more value for your membership. If you would like ideas on how to become more engaged, see our related story in this newsletter.

Thank you for reading!


Message from Our National Board Representative

Jo-Ann-LeSage-Nelson-May-2014.jpgWhen I was elected to the national Board of PRSA last fall, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to participate in this great organization at a national level. I have spent many years involved with PRSA at the chapter and then district level and know that those years prepared me well for this new position. 

In mid-January I attended the first board meeting of 2015 and am happy to report that this organization is in very good hands. The members of the board, and the staff who joined us during the two-day meeting, are smart, engaged, committed and creative people. And they are funny, easy-going and collaborative as well!

The Northeast District is well represented on the national board. Deb Silverman, APR from Buffalo is in her second term as a board member and Mark McClennan, APR of Boston serves on the executive committee as chair elect. I encourage you to reach out to any of us if you have any questions or issues you’d like addressed.

Later in January I was invited to join the Northeast District Board at its annual retreat. Although I was only able to spend a short time with the board members, I again witnessed the interactions of a collaborative, creative and fun-loving group.  I’m certain that District Chair Jane Law will serve us all well this year, and she has the good fortune to be supported by many very involved and capable leaders from across the district. If you have any interest in serving PRSA at the district level, I’m sure Jane would love to talk to you.

PRSA needs strong volunteers to lead this organization, so please consider getting involved in a leadership position!

Jo Ann LeSage Nelson, APR
National Board Member


PRSA Boston: 2015 PRedictions

by Amanda Fountain
PRSA Boston Chapter

PRedictions image.pngWhat can public relations professionals expect in 2015? If 2014 studies hold true, we may see increased budgets and overall growth to continue. But what can PR professionals expect from the evolution of our field?

At a January 15 PRSA Boston Chapter event, a panel of Boston-area industry experts tackled the emerging trends that are expected in 2015 and beyond, and shared their insights on where we can see changes.

Panelists included:

This well-rounded panel offered perspectives offered from the industry, agency and client sides. Here’s what they say we should look out for.

Storytelling will be faster

At its heart, public relations is about telling a story. Stories can be told in many different ways and it has often felt like PR is competing against advertising, marketing and other similar fields. Instead, we can expect to see a convergence of digital, content, research, creative and investigative approaches to tell a story.

The manner in which stories are created and shared will more closely resemble a TV newsroom – and it will be fast. Attention spans are getting increasingly short, making it necessary for PR professionals to identify the strongest story and share it quickly. For those in PR this means learning new skills, such as learning how to write a creative brief, explained Prodromou.

Analytics will be king

Numbers are the new black; Measurement has to evolve and metrics that show how PR influences sales will be necessary to demonstrate ROI. McClennan asserted, “PR professionals must embrace the language of business – numbers and analytics – to be successful and trusted advisers.”

Likewise, Ho said he measures conversion rates to benchmark against competitors. "Just talking about needing metrics is not going to work anymore. We need to find a method for capturing the right analytics to show clients how our works connects to the bottom line. Analytics will be the best way to show how we are capable of moving people toward action."

Pushing boundaries will be necessary

We may not quite be at an “evolve or perish” stage, but innovation is key to moving forward. To stay competitive, PR professionals will need to start adopting different tactics to give their clients what they need. Clients hire us for the experience and know-how; in turn, it’s our job to push back and suggest thoughtful strategies that push boundaries and get results.

Ho said, “An expectation for me is for PR firms to test our understanding and push back on the client.” With the lines blurring between creative, social and media relations, it’s become necessary for PR to take on a hybrid role that can tap into many methods for sharing stories and getting results.

Do you have your own prediction for 2015? Share your thoughts with us!

Amanda Fountain is a Senior Account Executive at MSL Group and a member of the PRSA Boston chapter. This story was originally posted on the PRSA Boston website.


Five Ways to Raise the Bar in Your First Six Months

By Jim Mignano, PRSA Rochester Chapter

5 ways image.pngThe first six months of your career are incredibly important. Throughout this period, you are setting expectations for what people can expect from you, and also what you can expect from yourself. You are learning a ton about your company and co-workers and simultaneously establishing the habits and work ethic that can make or break a career.

I recently had my first six-month review as an account coordinator at Text 100. While it was great to receive feedback from a number of colleagues and clients, it was also a great opportunity to reflect on my own about what has gone well since I began and what I could still improve upon. If you are a new professional, consider these tips to push yourself through the first six months of your new job.

1. Be present

Of course, it is (or should be) a given that you are physically at work when you need to be. But that isn’t exactly what I mean by being present. This tip applies much more broadly. For example – if your company hosts happy hour events, you should be there. If your colleagues participate in volunteering opportunities, fundraising efforts, fantasy-football leagues, etc., try to be a part of the fun. Being present extends to the online realm, as well. If your company is active on social networks, you should do your best to be active in those communities.

2. Raise your hand

Raise your hand whenever it’s possible to get involved in something. This could be in the form of new business pitches, helping out a team with some work that needs to be turned around on a tight deadline, or more operational activities like joining an HR committee or holiday party planning committee. Not only will raising your hand and saying “yes” show your colleagues your flexibility and dependability, you will also be exposed to more projects and activities. Ultimately, you will learn more and be a more-rounded professional.

3. Ask questions

You’re young and you’re new; nobody expects you to jump into the job already knowing how to do everything. And, frankly, if you did – it probably wouldn’t be a challenging enough job for you in the first place. Admitting when you need some extra help and guidance shows a level of maturity to your colleagues, and it makes it much more likely that you will deliver exactly what they need from you.

4. Make suggestions  

Diversity is important in every workplace. Don’t forget that part of what you have going for you as a young professional is that you come from a different background than some of your more senior colleagues. Your different training and unique mix of experiences can sometimes allow you to see opportunities for change that others can’t. You could be the change catalyst needed to improve long-standing policies and processes. Making suggestions in a very respectful way signals to others that you are thinking critically about the business, and that you care enough about constant improvement to put your own reputation on the line.

5. Have a side-hustle

Much has been said about the benefits of working on something else other than your typical “day-job” work. In fact, some forward-looking companies even allow employees to use a certain percentage of their time on the job to work on other things important to each individual. While you may not work at Google or Apple, you should still be using some of your personal time to foster a hobby or develop new skills. That could take the form of blogging, volunteering for your local PRSA chapter or practicing your graphic design skills.

What other tips would you provide for new professionals just starting out in PR?

This blog was originally posted on The Edge—New Voices in Public Relations, as part of the PRSA New Professionals Section blog. Jim Mignano is a member of PRSA Rochester, an account coordinator at Text 100 and a recent graduate of The College at Brockport, SUNY. He loves making new friends on Twitter (@J_Mignano).

Quality, Not Quantity, of Media Mentions is What Matters

Crystal DeStefano, APR
PRSA Central New York
Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 6.05.22 PM.png


For the most part, the more media attention your organization receives, the more your stakeholders will recognize you. But visibility isn’t enough. It’s the content of news stories and online posts that determine whether your audiences will have a favorable impression of you.

So how do you know whether the content was good or bad? And what do you DO with that information?

In this edition of the Strategic Minute, a podcast by Crystal DeStefano, APR, DeStefano explains how to identify the right opportunities to pursue, and how to respond to other media posts and inquiries.

You can also subscribe to the Strategic Minute in iTunes. Just search for “Strategic Communications” or “Strategic Minute” under Podcasts. 



"Upset Basket" Leads to Employee Rally and Campaign Success

Yankee chapter event shares case study of Market Basket protest

Contributed by Yankee PRSA

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 3.28.29 PM.png

Yankee Chapter members and guests were treated to an insider’s view of last summer’s Market Basket protest of the firing of long-time CEO Arthur T. DeMoulas at the chapter’s Annual Meeting November 20 at Red River Theatre in Concord.

Tom Bebbington moderated a panel discussion that featured Adam Vaccaro, of who covered the protests from beginning to end, and Jim Fantini, a long-time vendor to Market Basket who orchestrated the We Are Market Basket Facebook group employees used to organize and rally.

The events took place in the summer of 2014 and involved two cousins and a family dispute over ownership of the chain of supermarkets owned by DeMoulas Super Markets, Inc.

As reported in The Washington Post, "After Market Basket’s board of directors ousted Demoulas, thousands of the supermarket’s employees risked their jobs to march outside the company’s headquarters in Massachusetts. The protestors weren’t asking for more money, better benefits or additional time off. They just wanted their boss back. Under Demoulas’s reign, Market Basket was considered a happy and successful company that paid employees well and promoted a positive, employee-centric culture. Six weeks after he was ousted from the family board and replaced by his cousin, Demoulas’s horde of riotous fans made enough noise to get him reinstated."

Following the presentation, Jason Alexander, founder of Alexander Technology Group was presented the chapter’s annual Patrick Jackson Award.

Following up on the PRSA Yankee Chapter discussion, the November 23rd edition of the Concord Monitor carried this story about Market Basket called “Market Basket Official: How’d we do it? We just did it.” The December 7 issue of the Concord Monitor also carried this article by Sarah Palermo, which features comments from YPRSA Chapter members Rosemarie Rung and Brett St. Clair: Messaging & Timing Key to Public Relations for Labor Actions like FairPoint, Market Basket – Concord Monitor

During the business segment of the meeting, members elected next year’s chapter leadership team, headed by president Erin Hathaway of CCA for Social Good. See the entire 2015 slate.


$5 Million Business Challenge Proves There's More to Buffalo Than Winter and Wings

Contributed by PRSA Buffalo Niagara

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 3.55.26 PM.png


Despite being postponed by the Snowvember storm that paralyzed much of the Buffalo area, PRSA Buffalo Niagara's rescheduled annual meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 10 focused on a different large-scale event with more positive results: 43 North, billed as "the world's largest business idea competition."

With $5 million in cash prizes, including a top award of $1 million, six $500,000 awards and four $250,000 awards, 43North set out to turn the best new business ideas from around the globe into reality, according to its website. The contest was administratively centered in Buffalo.

Leaders from 43 North visited the Buffalo Niagara chapter and presented on how their marketing/communications team formulated and executed a plan that resulted in more than 14 million social media impressions. They also garnered coverage in media outlets from the Wall Street Journal and Forbes to Financial Times and the Toronto Star. 

The 11 winners are set to receive free incubator space for a year, guidance from mentors related to their field and access to other exciting incentive programs. They have agreed to operate their business in the Buffalo, New York for a minimum of one year and provide 43North with 5% non-dilutive equity in their companies.

Panelists from 43 North included Executive Director Andrew Pulkrabek, Senior Marketing Manager Peter Burakowski, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise Marketing and Communications Director Jenna Kavanaugh and Matt Davison, founder and principal of AMDG Public Affairs.

Also at the meeting, members of the 2015 PRSA Buffalo Niagara Board of Directors were elected and remarks were presented by outgoing president Tony Astran, APR and incoming president Jen Gallardo. Two recent APR recipients - Astran and Jennifer Pratt, APR - received their pins and were recognized.


Capital Region's "Communicators on Communications" Share 2015 Forecasts 

Contributed by 
Alison Krawczyk

Group_800_1153.gifWhere are we going as communicators in the social media age? Where have we been and how can we use that experience going into an uncertain future?
More than 50 PR professionals heard four prominent Capital Region communicators tackle those big questions and others during the “Communicators on Communications” summit held by the Capital Region Chapter of PRSA on January 28 in the Dora Maxwell Auditorium at SEFCU corporate headquarters in Albany.

Panel members for the event included:
• Jonathan Pierce, APR - Founder and President of Pierce Communications
• Paul Larrabee - Executive VP and Managing Director of Corning Place Communications
• Liz Grimes - Public Relations Director at Overit Media
• Jake Dumesnil - Managing Partner at Gramercy Communications
The event was moderated by Nicole Stein, VP of Marketing at SEFCU, who helped panelists explore both current and emerging trends in communications and marketing through their observations and experience. 

How these experts landed in the field of PR? What was their big story of 2014? What trends could be the demise of the industry. Although each speaker had a different background and area of expertise, there were some common themes they could all agree on. 

Q: What was the big story of 2014?

Pierce mentioned during the panel discussion that whatever story is most relevant to your client is going to be the biggest story of the year for you. This couldn’t be more true. As agency PR professionals, we’re always taking on the messaging and branding of each client, and this can change at the drop of a hat depending on which account we’re working on. So although Hoffman’s Playland was closing here at home, Common Core was a nationwide issue, and Ebola was worldwide news in 2014, this panel was working on more niche stories pertaining to their clients.

With a client in the cybersecurity space, Liz Grimes’ year was laced with high-profile data breaches at companies like Target, Home Depot and eBay. By leveraging this news, she was able to connect with reporters at top-tier outlets and insert the client into those conversations. Although they couldn’t speak on the specifics of each breach, they were able to discuss what could have happened and how other organizations can protect themselves.

Throughout the last year, Paul Larrabee and his team worked extensively to save the City of Albany’s Ladder 1 Fire Station. The city’s mayor had proposed shutting down the fire truck in an effort to save $1.2 million, but this cut would have risked the lives of other firefighters and the safety of Albany residents. Paul’s team worked with the firefighter’s union to develop a strategic message to gain the community’s support and save the station. Ultimately, the outreach campaign was successful by offering alternate solutions to saving the city money.

Q: What PR trends will have an adverse effect on the industry?

Implementing new trends in marketing strategies are always an objective decision, but the panel this morning consistently agreed that there are some changes in the PR field that may negatively impact our roles within the marketing mix. Some include shrinking newsrooms, journalists’ use of social media and pay-for-play agencies.

As traditional media continues to decline, there are less reporters and more work. This leads to sacrificing the quality of stories coming from newsrooms, as pointed out by Larrabee. "It’s difficult to chase the news of the day, while at the same time planning unique and interesting feature stories, with a smaller team of writers."

Dumesil also discussed that as the job market for journalists is changing, respected reporters are leaving their posts. This means time spent by publicists building a relationship with that person has to begin again with their replacement. Ultimately, articles begin to lack a complexity and depth because the writers don’t have the same background they would if they had remained in the same beat and outlet.

The expectations of reporters have also shifted in recent years, relying more heavily on social media. While this marketing strategy is a necessity for brands, Pierce said he has witnessed news media making decisions on what’s a worthy story based on how many likes the post will earn on Facebook. Unfortunately, this means certain journalists are passing on excellent stories because they don’t think it will lead to enough social media attention.

Grimes shared an anecdote about a reporter telling her that a client was interesting and perfect for their readers, but that his editors wouldn’t approve the story because they could never see the client’s name in a headline.

A growing concern throughout the PR industry is pay-for-play agencies. These groups promise their clients coverage in particular outlets, and charge them based on each placement. This isn’t a method that Grimes said she would recommend, and the panel seemed to agree. Instead, building relationships with a wide-variety of journalists will lead to higher quality stories. This takes time, however, and across the panel, the experts agreed that the fundamental strategy to PR success is relationships with press.

Throughout the hour-long discussion, common themes the PR professionals discussed were relationships and quality of stories. PR is about delivering an accurate message, and telling an interesting story. As 2015 brings fresh news items and different trends, this essential message will remain throughout. Read more...


Making Sense of Mobile 

mobile-technology-business1.jpgContributed by
PRSA Finger Lakes

How are the ways people use mobile devices different from how they use a desktop or a laptop? What about tablets versus phones? And how can organizations and businesses use mobile to their advantage, regardless of their size or budget? 

On Thursday, February 5, the PRSA Finger Lakes chapter hosted a program called Mobile Marketing for Success: Tips, Tactics and Trends at the Elmira, New York Holiday Inn. The program was presented by John Senall, principal and founder of Mobile First Media, and the immediate past chair of the PRSA Northeast District.  

Among tips presented, Senall shared that businesses and not-for-profits should consider not just how messages and websites appear on mobile devices, but also what unique extra offerings we can tap into through the medium. Some of these include integrating SMS text, geo-location recognition and mobile scanning for payments, special offers and loyalty programs of any kind.

He also added that while the smartphone adoption rate has continued to increase overall, communicators should be careful not to make assumptions that every audience now has the same comfort and usage patterns.

"Smartphone use by the over 55 age group, for example, is now over 51%," said Senall, "so it's tempting to think that enough seniors are mobile that we can abandon some traditional mediums. However, if you start the statistics at age 65, the audience shrinks to only an 18% smartphone adoption rate," he said. "Household income is also a factor for seniors, and smartphone ownership can vary as much as 30% between the $30,000 and $75,000 levels."

Participants also spent time discussing their own challenges and wins in the area of mobile communication for their organizations, before a final Q and A and review of some best practice examples.


Start-ups, Summer Socials and Small Business PR

Contributed by PRSA Southeastern New England (SENE)


Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 5.45.32 PM.pngFive member networking and educational events, a re-launched LinkedIn group, a new media collaboration with Providence Business News and two new PRSSA chapters were highlights of PRSA Southeastern New England's 2014 year.

The lineup of member programs included:

PR for Startups and SMBs with Gil Lantini 
Lantini is the founder of the Rhode Island Small Business Journal (RISBJ)—considered the "voice of entrepreneurship in Rhode Island."  In its first 15 months, RISBJ grew to be the most circulated business publication in the state. Lantini provided tips and insights for PR, web, SEO, and social media best practices.

Inside Waterfire with Barnaby Evans and Bronwyn Dannenfelser
WaterFire Providence® is an independent, non-profit arts organization whose mission is to inspire Providence and its visitors by revitalizing the urban experience, fostering community engagement and creatively transforming the city. Evans, a sculptor, and Dannenfelser, Director of Resource Development at WaterFire Providence,  dove into Waterfire’s success and how its artistic vision is individualized while maintaining the site's messaging and meaning locally and globally.

PRSA/SENE Summer Social hosted with Newport Interactive Marketers
Members enjoyed celebrating summer with networking and conversation among peers with a great view at the top of the Viking Hotel in Newport!

Meet the Media with Kim Kalunian, Pam Reinsel Cotter, Scott MacKay, Artie Tefft, and Erika
Panelists focused on “how to break through the noise during an election year,”
and discussed best media relations practices during one of the Chapter’s most popular annual events.

Your Brand in the Digital Age hosted with the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce
This dual workshop included a presentation from PRSA SENE board member, Chris Watson, etitled, “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon is so 1994: Effective Networking and Best Practices in the Age of LinkedIn" and RDW Group’s Sarah Johnson on “Social Media for Small Business (and you).”

Besides a full year of programming and activities, the chapter was pleased to also welcome new PRSSA chapters at Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island. 



Have something to share with your fellow PRSA Northeast members? An opinion about an industry trend, or personal thoughts about a best practice or emerging best practice? Maybe you have thoughts to help others succeed in a certain niche area you excel in?

We want to feature as many members' blogs, podcasts and videos as we can.

Please send your content via email for consideration to: prsaned@gmail.comThank you for your interest and submissions!