Public Relations Society or America Northeast District

Spring-Summer 2015 News

PRSA Northeast District Spring-Summer 2015 News


Jo-Ann-LeSage-Nelson-square.pngNomComm’s contributions to the future of PRSA

Jo Ann LeSage Nelson, our representative on the PRSA National board, explains the importance of the PRSA Nominating Committee process. 



social-networking.jpgHow Social is Changing the Media

PRSA Boston’s Amanda Flitter reports on Boston's 2015 Social Media Summit, held on May 12 at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. The Summit offered a terrific line-up of experts from media and top brands talking all things social.

strategicPlanningMain3.jpgRochester’s Strategic Planning and Measurement Summit

Couldn’t make it to the PRSA Rochester Strategic Planning and Measurement Summit? Emily Bliss and Ruth Harper, PRSA Rochester members, offer a comprehensive recap of the hot topics presented with tips to improve your next campaign.

wish.jpgYour Wish List: 2016 NE District Conference Feedback

In early April a survey sent to all members of PRSA’s Northeast District chapters posed formative questions to guide the planning of our next regional conference, to be hosted by the Boston chapter. Here's what you told us!


northeast.jpgChapter News

Events around and about the district—from Bangor, Maine to Buffalo, New York. What's been going on and what's coming up.


webinar.jpgUpcoming PRSA Webinars

10 upcoming professional development programs offering value to your career and your organization




roundtable copy.jpg

 Diversity: When PRSA Chapters Just Get It 

Diversity isn’t just about representing the demographic. It’s also about generating diverse ideas, insights and creativity. Contributed by Laquanda M Fields, PR Intern at McDougall Communications



Your Spokesperson Isn’t Always Your CEO

NED Chair-Elect Crystal DeStefano, APR shares a podcast to help plan plan your best approach. 


LinkedIn_logo_initials copy.jpgYour New LinkedIn Group

Want to network and get to know, share with, interact with or learn from your fellow Northeast PRSA members? We thought so. Join our brand new PRSA NED LinkedIn group and post away! We look forward to hearing from everyone on topics that we all think about, want more info about, or want to share learnings about.



involved_volunteer.gifCommunications Committee Correspondents and Digital Editors

Gain additional experience in online content strategy and management, mobile email and digital web optimization as a PRSA Northeast District volunteer.


Special Thanks 

prsa volunteers.jpg

We offer thanks to all our writers and contributors listed in our stories, and also to our newest PRSA NED Communications Committee digital assistants, Jill Sarber Goddard and Jon Salas, both from our Boston chapter. 

NomComm’s contributions to the future of PRSA

by Jo Ann LeSage Nelson, APR
PRSA National Board

Jo-Ann-LeSage-Nelson-square.pngServing on PRSA’s Nominating Committee (NomComm) is a wonderful way to participate in identifying and selecting candidates to lead our organization. Charged with presenting nominees for the office of chair-elect, treasurer, secretary and board directors to the delegates at PRSA’s Leadership Assembly in the fall, NomComm members play a very important role.

Each August, members of NomComm representing districts and sections across PRSA’s membership gather in Chicago to review nominations and assess the qualifications and characteristics of the nominees, with consideration given to proven leadership skills, professional accomplishments, diversity of practice sectors, geographical origin and candidate diversity.

My time serving on NomComm for two years was one of the most interesting, enlightening and, frankly, exhausting experiences I’ve had as a member of PRSA. Starting on a Friday evening, committee members convene to review and evaluate nominations, and go full throttle throughout a long day on Saturday and to mid-day on Sunday. On Saturday, in-person interviews are conducted with all nominees seeking an officer position. With dozens of additional director nominations to review and phone interviews to conduct with each one, the rest of that day and Sunday are packed full.

But the time is so well spent. Committee members have a wonderful opportunity to hear a variety of perspectives on where PRSA is heading — or should be heading, on what the organization needs of its leaders, and on how we can all work together for the benefit of the entire membership. During both my terms as a NomComm member I was very impressed by the caliber of the nominees and by what they had to offer as potential officers and board members.

Last year, I was able to participate in the process from a very different standpoint – that of a candidate for a board position. I found it to be a well-thought-out and well-organized process, from start to finish. The committee communicated with candidates very clearly about what was expected of us, and what was required according to PRSA’s bylaws. The phone interview I had with the committee, sitting on my sun porch in New York while they sat in a board room in Chicago, was a pleasant, interesting conversation.

I was very pleased to learn on that Sunday that the committee had selected me as the nominee to represent the Northeast District on the 2015 board. I remain honored to represent all of you, and PRSA’s membership at large, on the national board. 

Why should you care about NomComm? This committee is responsible for recruiting and identifying the leaders of our professional organization, an important responsibility in shaping PRSA’s future. As a district, it is important that we participate in the process and send a committed, interested member to represent us. In the Northeast District, the past chair typically serves as the district’s representative on NomComm, but sometimes that person is unable to get away to Chicago for that weekend. It then falls to the current chair to appoint another district representative to serve in the role.

How can you participate in the nominating process? First, consider whether you would be interested in serving on the board in one of the at-large director positions that is available for 2016. If you are, be sure to get your nomination together and submitted by the June 15 deadline. You can find all relevant information here: Also, reach out to colleagues who might be interested in serving on the board and encourage them to submit a nomination.

Once the nominees are announced in early August, review their applications and bios on to learn more about each one, particularly candidates for officer positions so you can give input to your delegate prior to Assembly.

I encourage you to consider a leadership position on the district board, which might lead you to becoming a member of NomComm. That experience might do for you what it did for me… inspire you to seek a national leadership experience, whether it be on the board or as a member of a national committee. The opportunity to get involved with colleagues across the organization is invaluable!


How Social is Changing the Media

by Amanda Flitter
PRSA Boston

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 12.45.49 PM.pngAt this year’s Social Media Summit in Boston, panelists of “The Impact of Media on Social Media” grappled with the way social media is shifting the landscape of traditional media.

Bob Collins, senior vice president of Racepoint Global, moderated the discussion featuring Adam Gaffin, founder and CEO of Universal Hub, Lauren Shea, product director of, and Jesse Floyd, editor-in-chief of

All panelists said that social media has changed what they write and how they find topics. Gaffin noted that reporters used to be able to have a good sense of the news of the day if there wasn’t any breaking news. Today, however, reporters like him are writing more instant news.  One time, citizens were sending him photos and asking questions about a bus that had caught fire before the fire department had even arrived. “You are always on,” he said.

Shea pointed out how social has caused an essential philosophical shift in how the media views a story. She said there used to be the concept that you could “put a story to bed.” But, now its life really begins once it’s published.

Social media has also had an impact on how they find and vet sources. Floyd said social media has opened up a stream of potential sources so large that he called it a “cacophony.” As reporters, they must sort and filter them.

Despite the pressure to break news, all panelists said stressed the preference of verifying online sources and opting to wait for confirmations rather than be the first with a story. Floyd also highlighted the importance of training their new reporters on vetting what they see on Twitter.

“The internet is full of bad journalism and bad tweets that got people into trouble in a hurry,” he said.

Gaffin also pointed out that even though you can edit posts or tweets, a reporter’s mistakes may not always go away. Even a deleted errant tweet can live on in the form of retweets.

For PR professionals, social media has become another tool to contact reporters, and each panelist had their own ideas on how to use it most effectively for pitching. Gaffin said email is still preferable for full stories, but he uses social media to track down and spread the word about events. For, Shea said that buzz on social media about a topic can increase the odds that a pitch will make it beyond their daily meeting and get covered by the newsroom.

Despite the novelty of social media, the basics—do your research, know the outlet to which you are pitching—still hold true. Shea suggested looking at historical coverage to see if it’s a topic the outlet has covered before, and then working that knowledge into your pitch.

She also pointed out that it can often be a challenge to create interaction between their reporters and their audience, so it can be useful if you pitch with an idea in mind of how to build social engagement around it.

Being helpful also doesn’t hurt. Floyd said that the more a PR professional can do to write a complete press release and offer photos if needed, the better.

The session wrapped up with a pertinent question asked by an audience member: “Have the lines between PR, media, and social media blurred too much?”

“It’s a pendulum,” Floyd said. “It swings back and forth. It will correct itself.”


Rochester Strategic Planning and Measurement Summit Focuses on Analyzing Analytics to Improve Campaign Performance

by Emily Bliss (top photo) and Ruth Harper (bottom photo)
PRSA Rochester Chapter


Social media is an important component of public relations these days, but it can be quite a challenge to keep up with the ever-changing outlets and options. Recently, PRSA Rochester held the PRSA Rochester Strategic Planning and Measurement Summit on May 12 where public relations and marketing professionals heard from area experts in the measurement and planning space. Speakers included Beth LaPierre, VP of marketing at Adventive; Craig Troskosky, research director at Edelman Berland and Jon Alhart, director of social and digital media at Dixon Schwabl.

LaPierre kicked off the summit defining the function of analytics as the collection, analysis and presentation of data to optimize and recalibrate marketing programs and initiatives. The need to justify marketing and public relations actions and spend is increasingly required in the corporate, agency and non-profit setting – and rightfully so. People want to know where their money is going; we can’t disagree with that.

headshot.jpgTroskosky brought us back to the first of the Barcelona Principles – reiterating the importance of goal setting and measurement. Part of campaign planning is goal-setting including key performance indicators (KPI’s). Aligning your campaign insights with your pre-established KPI’s will ensure that your data is speaking to your goal and overall campaign performance.

Alhart spoke on social media analytics through sharing a case study example on RBC Heritage where their main goal was to sell more tickets and they did that using a variety of both paid and organic social media tactics. Alhart’s presentation highlighted their analytics and tweaks, which led them to grow their social media each year from 2013 to 2015.

After analyzing their analytics, here are a few tips Alhart shared on behalf of RBC Heritage that made a difference for their campaign.

  1. In any campaign, start with your audience and your goal. 
    This tip goes back to PR or Marketing 101, but it’s something worth a reminder as we work in new and changing digital landscapes. Social media can be targeted to your goal and the people you want to reach, so it’s important to always keep that in mind as you’re working on any kind of social media campaign, paid or organic.
  2. Post videos directly to Facebook
    I think this was my favorite tip from the whole event. And it’s so easy! From 2013 to 2015, they saw a huge bump in reach and engagement, believed to be primarily a result of posting videos directly to Facebook rather than posting it to YouTube and then posting the link on Facebook. Take this, try it and let us know what your success is in the comments below.
  3. Twitter mirrors are so cool! But the point is to use influencers in some way. 
    Prior to this event, I had never heard of a Twitter mirror. Basically, it allows celebrities to take selfies at events, “sign” the digital photo, and then post it to Twitter. RBC Heritage had one of their golfers do it and it helped immensely. While sadly we might not be able to have Twitter mirrors at smaller events, the simple takeaway here is to find your influencers and engage with them in some way.  Invite them to your event, ask them to tweet about you or work with them to promote your cause or client.
  4. Relate metrics to what leadership or the client knows or wants to know. What do they care about? 
    At the end of the day, it’s not about the number of likes a post gets or how many people comment on it; it’s about whether your client’s or boss’ objectives were met. When talking to leadership or clients, make sure you put metrics or results in their terms. Show them not only what they want to know but express it in words that make sense to them.

Keeping this information in mind, we can understand the function of analytics in a campaign, think about measuring our results right from the start, make sure we’re gathering the right data and adjust our campaigns if necessary. We have the tools at our fingertips to work smarter and more efficiently so we know when to make a change to get the results we’re looking for.


Your Wish List: 2016 NE District Conference Feedback

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 8.21.45 AM.pngby Loring Barnes, APR
President-Elect, PRSA Boston
Co-Chair, 2016 PRSA NED Conference

In early April a survey sent to all members of PRSA’s Northeast District chapters posed formative questions to guide the planning of our next regional conference, to be hosted by the Boston chapter.

Where in the Boston area do you want it held? we asked. And when? What are the hot topics and experiences you want included? And how can we build a useful program that will have the widest benefit and appeal?

And here’s what you told us:

  1. The City has it:  Boston trumps other destinations. And it would be nice if it would be uncommonly inexpensive. We look to address this challenge through room sharing and offsets by exciting sponsor partnerships (see What’s Next).
  2. We want what everyone else does:  A pretty spring day in Boston… a morning jog, a Red Sox home stand, dining at an award-winning restaurant, terrific shopping and nightlife. Nothing beats it — especially if the landslide choice of a Thursday/Friday conference allows an extended weekend stay. After factoring projected conflicts (holidays, school vacations, conferences, graduations, etc.) our lean is toward the first two weeks of May, which may double as our annual Social Media Summit (see What’s Next). 
  3. What we’ll deliver: Learning experiences led by corporate communications officers, media professionals, digital directors and social matter experts. And among the topics: Integrated Communications, Measurement, Media Relations and Strategic Communications Planning.
  4. And while we’re planning the agenda… You told us that a social networking mixer, guided media tours and a LinkedIn makeover workshop should be included.

What’s Next?

We need every chapter’s profile data: We’ve asked all NE District chapter boards to furnish profile data for their membership and media reach. Our Sponsorship directors– Julie Dennehy, APR and Sarah Leaf-Hermann have an early jump on packaging underwriting partnerships. They’re also compiling an impressive list of hot companies that are driving the invention economy, including emerging, tech-driven organizations for which PRSA is a new introduction. PRSA’s membership of early adopters and influential connectors points to a worthy and potent audience.

Other data we need: Key employers in your region, chapter website and social media analytics, enewsletter distributions, higher education (these companies are employers), etc. Please send company ideas and data their way!

Help steer the conference!  We’re also building cross-chapter collaborative teams in the following areas:

  • Sponsorships –‘sell kit,’ partner experiences
  • Programming – speaker experts, agenda, networking
  • Marketing + Communications– call for speakers/website content, sponsor showcase/lounge, publicity/social/blogs, branded and sponsor signage
  • Logistics– venue, A/V and onsite social, hosting, registration/check-in, VIP/speaker hospitality).

Please send any inquiries to the 2016 NE Conference Co-Chairs:  Erin Callanan, APR or Loring Barnes, APR.

Chapter News


The Boston chapter announced that Prof. Kirk Hazlett, APR, PRSA Fellow, is leading its new Faculty Forum, a chapter-area network of active PR academics and adjunct professors dedicated to teaching our next generation of practitioners. In its first year this group looks to create a new Accreditation Preparation Text Library for intended APR candidates and to connect the members of student PR clubs. The goal is to encourage more students to take advantage of the chapter's learning, scholarship and career jumpstarting programs, especially those subsidized through The Ted Chaloner Learning Fund.


PR colleagues enjoyed an engaging inside look into some of Western New York’s best news outlets on visits to four radio and TV stations May 8, 13, 20 and 27 during May Media Madness. Buffalo also hosts its Annual Excalibur Awards on Thursday, June 18 at the Tralf Music Hall. 

Capital Region

One of the PRSA Capital Region’s most popular annual programs, the 3rd Annual Speed Pitching Event, took place on May 28 at the Hotel Indigo in Albany. Members and guests got to "speed pitch" a wide variety of reporters in a fun, fast-paced setting. 

Central New York

And speaking of speed, members of our Central NY PRSA chapter also engaged with reporters, journalists, editors and news directors from 10 different news outlets at a luncheon program held on June 10. Roundtables included Media (print, radio & TV), Social Media, Crisis Communications, Government Relations, Internal Communications, and more. 

Finger Lakes

The New York Times called the recently opened Contemporary Art + Design Wing at The Corning Museum of Glass “a light-gathering masterpiece.” So naturally, our Finger Lakes PRSA pros asked for a behind-the-scenes tour! The chapter enjoyed lunch, a tour and a case study presentation of how the Museum created and implemented a new brand to coincide with the opening all on 
Tuesday, June 16. The museum's Rob Cassetti, senior director of creative services, and Yvette Sterbenk, senior manager of communications, discussed the strategic thinking behind the new brand, the process of collaborating with local designers to create it, and the nuts and bolts (and challenges) of implementation.


The chapter's Strategic Planning and Measurement Summit took place on May 12. Read more about the half-day workshop in our featured story. Rochester also presented its PRism Awards ceremony on June 18 at the Rochester Museum & Science Center, and led a spring series of three events for students from the Greater Rochester area. “From URL to IRL – A Better U!” was the name of the series, which was a first-time collaboration between the chapter and PRSSA and PR Club students from St. John Fisher College, Rochester Institute of Technology and The College at Brockport, SUNY. Topics included LinkedIn best practices, resume writing and networking.

PRSA Southeastern New England Chapter (PRSA/SENE) held its annual Excellence Awards on April 15, at the Park Theatre in Cranston, Rhode Island. The event highlighted the amazing public relations work of local companies in Rhode Island and southeastern New England. The guest speaker for the evening was Providence Business News (PBN) Editor Mark Murphy who provided insights on "behind the curtain" of PBN, and on the changing media landscape.


Members enjoyed a good crowd and lively conversation at an April 15 media panel event. About 30 attendees, including students from Southern New Hampshire University, interacted with journalists from several mediums, including radio, television and print. A Regional Airport Tour and Discussion also took place on May 25. Attendees got a behind-the-scenes tour of the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and learned what it takes to provide world-class, safe and efficient transportation—and how to develop, manage, and promote communications in the aviation/tourism industry. 

Upcoming Webinars

Your PRSA membership allows you FREE access to more than 50 free live and on-demand webinars annually. The entire catalogue of live and on-demand online professional development training webinars for PRSA members represents nearly $2,000 in annual savings for members who participate in one PRSA webinar per month! The list of upcoming live webinars, with embedded links, follows below



Views from our members from across the district. Want to be featured? Please send your blogs, essays, opinion pieces, videos or podcasts for consideration to Please be sure the submission is about a PR, communications, digital or related topic. PRSA NED reserves the right to edit any piece submitted. 

Diversity: When PRSA Chapters Just Get It

by Laquanda M Fields
Public Relations Intern, McDougall Communications

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 1.50.46 PM.pngNationally the public relations industry struggles with issues of diversity. National statistics show that PR doesn't reflect the demographic makeup of the country, in fact, we're behind.

But diversity isn’t just about representing the demographic. It’s also about generating diverse ideas, insights and creativity.A diverse environment ultimately leads to better results! This is why diversity committees within local PRSA chapters are important. It shows the commitment of our industry's professionals to drive diversity in PR. When successful, these committees start the conversations about diversity and inclusion that will help achieve a diverse landscape.  

There are some PRSA chapters that just get it. The diversity committees within are putting “boots to the ground” and are successful in involving all chapter members in their diversity initiatives. Two in particular have my attention and I wanted to highlight their efforts to show that they are truly committed to achieving diversity in the PR profession.  

Orange County Chapter of PRSA
Chair of the diversity committee for the Orange County PRSA Chapter, Charla Batey, wrote, “The commitment to industry diversity is not an “option” for OC/PRSA, it’s part of our DNA.” Batey discussed the committee’s diversity efforts in her contributing blog post for PRSAY. OCPRSA has a strong diversity program and here’s why: Committee members are well versed in the latest issues and trends within the field, specifically those relating to diversity. Their knowledge is shared with all members and the chapter even has a Diversity page.

The committee hosts an annual diversity event and they partner with other committees that share the same focus. The committee’s efforts to drive diversity are unique and current to the time. Every year the committee changes their focus for diversity programming, choosing topics that are relevant and will keep their members engaged. The committee has strong support from chapter leadership, making diversity a priority initiative. 

PRSA Rochester Chapter
I had a great discussion with Nadine General, chair of the Diversity Committee for the PRSA Rochester Chapter. General explained how the committee is driving efforts, locally, to increase racial diversity in public relations. In the past, the Diversity Committee worked with minority high school students which gave them the chance to practice PR and receive mentoring from PR professionals. Early exposure to public relations gave students first-hand experience of what the field is about.

The committee is using that same initiative with college students and has partnered with the Young Professionals committee to spearhead the Rochester Public Relations Apprenticeship Program which will launch this fall. Students will get hands-on experience by developing an awareness campaign for a local non-profit organization.  

Diversity is about inclusion and an effective way to make everyone feel included starts with a conversation. Those conversations lead into actions. The diversity committees have modeled just what those actions can do. What’s next? 


Your Spokesperson Isn’t Always Your CEO

Crystal-Smith-DeStefano-2014-web.gifby Crystal (Smith) DeStefano, APR
President and Director of Public Relations, Strategic Communications, LLC
Chair-Elect, PRSA Northeast District 

The CEO doesn’t always have to be your organization’s spokesperson. In fact, there are several scenarios in which that can hurt your organization.

Whatever you do, don’t wait until the media is calling to think about who your spokesperson and subject matter experts should be. In this edition of the Strategic Minute, Crystal DeStefano explains how to identify the right spokesperson now, so you give it the consideration this significant decision truly deserves.


Your New LinkedIn Group

LinkedIn_logo_initials copy.jpgWant to network and get to know, share with, interact with or learn from your fellow Northeast PRSA members? We thought so. Join our brand new PRSA NED LinkedIn group and post away! We look forward to hearing from everyone on topics that we all think about, want more info about, or want to share learnings about.

Immediate Volunteer Opportunity with PRSA NED

involved_volunteer.gifHere’s a great opportunity for a PRSA or PRSSA member to gain additional experience in online content strategy and management, mobile email and digital web optimization as a PRSA Northeast District volunteer.

The PRSA NED Communications Committee is looking for two or three additional members to help prepare and assemble content for the NED website and quarterly e-newsletter. Candidates should have a strong design eye, some knowledge of content management systems (CMS), and if possible basic experience with Constant Contact or MailChimp, but we will provide instruction and training in any areas.

You’ll have the opportunity to come in contact with some of the PRSA NED leadership, which covers chapters from Boston to Buffalo, and to work under their guidance. Please apply to John Senall, immediate past chair, PRSA NED at or call 716-361-9124 for more information.


Thank you for reading this edition. Remember to send us your feedback, questions, and ideas to to help improve our district-wide PRSA networking and professional development opportunities.