Words from PRSA Member – Kate Virden

I recently moved back to Oregon after pursuing a Master’s in Public Relations and Corporate Communications at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. It was an incredible program and experience, but I was more than ready to be reunited with the Pacific Northwest and friendly people again. The friendliest people I have ever met are part of PRSA Oregon.

In graduate school, PRSA membership was a revered aspect that led to job opportunities and professional growth. I knew I wanted to be a member of the national and local chapter as soon as I had the chance.

My chance came when I started working at University of Western States, an integrated health care university in NE Portland as the Content Strategist. The university paid for both memberships just one day before my 24th birthday, which was a better present than I had dreamed of and a great way to kick off my new job.

Since becoming a member, I have had the opportunity to hone my social media skills by running the PRSA accounts at the Spotlight Awards last year. I was asked to be the Volunteer Coordinator for this year to help recruit new volunteers and get them just as excited about PRSA-Oregon as I am. This group of individuals are some of the nicest and hard-working individuals I have ever met with a strong dedication to service.

As a new professional in Portland, this is a group you do not want to miss out on. Hope to meet you soon!

Kate Virden

Becoming PRSA Oregon Listening Tour Visits Members

As we become PRSA Oregon this year, merging membership from around the state with the majority from Portland, Salem and Eugene chapter hubs, we want to understand your pressing needs and concerns and get to know more of our members.

All spring, we’ve been coming to you! Membership Director Siobhan Taylor and President-Elect Julie Williams, APR, MA, hosted the evening and morning visits and engaging all in a lively discussion.

Our goal: Give members at every stage of their career a chance to speak up about how a statewide chapter can best serve us all.

We visited the former chapter hubs in March/April to hear your thoughts and will be returning in June to share what we learned and our suggested plans for moving forward together as the founding members of PRSA Oregon.

In Eugene and Salem, we hosted a second session the next morning to make sure members with evening commitments aren’t left out. Those events are part of series of stops planned for collecting input and sharing feedback that include:

  • Portland: 3/14, 5:30-7:00 p.m. at Rogue Ales & Brewery
  • Eugene: 4/4, 5:30-7 p.m. @ Falling Sky Pizzeria & Public House in University of Oregon student union
  • Eugene: 4/5, 7:30-9 a.m. at Starbucks in University of Oregon student union
  • Salem: 4/18, 5:30-7 p.m. at Willamette University
  • Salem: 4/19, 7:30-9 a.m. at Willamette University
  • Eugene: 6/3
  • Portland: 6/10
  • Salem: 6/17

We understand that not all of our members live conveniently close to our stops in Portland, Eugene and Salem. A lot of you live in or near Vancouver, Tualatin, Tigard, Beaverton or Hillsboro, to name a few.

If you’d like us to consider a stop in your community this spring, please contact listening@prsaoregon.org to see if we can arrange one!

This event series is free for members and refreshments will be provided. Stay tuned on Twitter and Instagram (@PRSAOregon), Facebook and LinkedIn to learn more specifics about tour stops and about how to register.

APR: Prepare for Luck

“I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been
prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been ‘lucky.’”
— Oprah Winfrey

My journey to “lucky” began in 2011 when I managed public relations for Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Conn. I was responsible for media relations, web content, social media and member publications for the state’s largest cultural institution. While my work was a critical part of the aquarium’s overall communication strategy, the position was heavily tactical. Earning my APR allowed me to gain more advanced knowledge, skills and abilities that weren’t constant during my nine-to-five.

Fast forward to 2013. Changes in my personal life spurred a solo cross-country move to Portland. I didn’t have a job lined up and only knew a few people in Oregon. But my work experience and APR designation gave me the confidence I needed during a big — and somewhat risky — life change.

I immediately joined and started volunteering with PRSA Portland (now PRSA Oregon). I quickly formed a network of PR professionals and an informational interview led to a mid-level agency job.

Then in January 2015, I landed my current role managing communications for Portland State Campus Rec. It was exactly what I’d hoped for when I ventured west — a position that combined my personal passion for health and wellness with my career aspirations. It was my shift from tactician to strategist.

How did APR help? Oprah Winfrey said it best. My degrees, decade of work experience and APR fully prepared me for my new opportunity managing a team and serving as the trusted adviser to departmental leadership. And maintaining my APR will ensure that I’m still prepared when luck strikes next.

Erin Merz

 

Erin Merz, M.A., APR, manages communications for Portland State University Campus Rec. She’s been a member and volunteer of PRSA Portland since 2013 and served as COO on the 2016 board. Find her online at erinmerz.com and on Instagram and Twitter @erinmerz.

Transition Steering Committee Report: January – February

PRSA Oregon Merger in Full Swing

If you’ve ever worked at a startup or started a family, you know that the first year is mostly about learning and making decisions to build a foundation for the future.

As of Jan. 1, 2017, the three local PRSA chapters in Oregon and Southwest Washington merged to form the PRSA Oregon Chapter, known nationally as the “Greater Oregon Chapter,” for the time being. Now we are busy creating a new and truly unified 501c6 nonprofit organization that serves the needs of all its members.

Steering Decisions and Direction

To get work under way, a 12-member Transition Steering Committee was appointed to develop an action plan. Led by 2018 PRSA Oregon President-Elect Julie Williams (me!), the committee includes board members with oversight of transition-related activities along with representatives who have institutional knowledge. Most important, this group also reflects the diversity of the combined chapters’ membership, both in terms of geography and the stages of their careers. A number of volunteers have also stepped up to help. (If you want to get involved, drop a line to volunteer@prsaoregon.org.)

Transition Team

The Transition Steering Committee includes:

  • Treasurer Dave Thompson, APR, who oversees chapter finances and accounting;
  • Secretary Tracey Lam, APR,  who handles operations, including policies and procedures;
  • Communications Director Beverly Brooks, who is in charge of rebranding and communications channels;
  • Web Strategist David Pan, who is guiding the new website; and,
  • Membership Director Siobhan Taylor, who leads member outreach including the upcoming Becoming PRSA Oregon listening tour.

Joining them on the team are the three chapters’ Immediate-Past Presidents, Jill Peters, Loralyn Spiro and Mark Mohammadpour, APR; John Mitchell, APR, Fellow, as a representative from last year’s Statewide Governance Committee (and 2017 Assembly Delegate); University of Oregon PRSSA President Maritza Rendon; and Student Affairs Director Megan Donaldson (2016 New Professional Award of Excellence recipient) to represent the transition from college to the profession.

transition-plan

The 2017 Transition Steering Committee meets monthly to discuss topics and provide guidance on transition-related activities as outlined in the Transition action plan.

First Quarter Momentum

In January and February, the team began rebranding our social channels, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as this newsletter. It outlined an interim Policies & Procedures manual, designed a listening tour to hear from current members (kicking off March 14 in Portland), started building the new website (hopefully fully launched by the Communicators Conference in May) and initiated 2016 tax preparation (for three organizations – yikes!). And that’s just a few of the many projects in progress that are important to the 2017 board’s overarching goals of streamlining operations, supporting recent college graduates and retaining our members.

Ensuring a smooth transition is also a priority for the board, but we’re realistic that some unexpected stuff will likely come up. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we get organized and hope to hear from you in person at a listening tour event.

Stay in the Loop

We promise to keep you up to date on progress through the newsletter and blog. And, we encourage you to keep us in the loop! Please email us at listening@prsaoregon.org with questions or any kinks you discover. We may take a few days to respond while we determine who can help, but we so appreciate the extra eyes and ears!

Yours,
Julie

Julie Williams, APR, MA
PRSA Oregon President-Elect
Transition Steering Committee Chair
Outreach Task Force Co-Chair