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PR Working for You

For April e-news

Throughout the year, we will feature local campaigns to showcase the impact that PR has on business and the community.

This month, we highlight Quinn Thomas. The Northwest-based company won the 2016 Spotlight Award for Marketing Business to Business for its work in introducing a revolutionary product to the U.S. building community.

In 2015, Oregon-based D.R. Johnson Wood Innovations was preparing to announce the release of a new building material that had the potential to revolutionize America’s building and construction trades.

The product, Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT), is a wood building material that is stronger than steel and can be used to build skyscrapers. It has been used internationally for decades, yet was virtually unknown in the U.S. market.

The company was at the cusp of being the nation’s first certified manufacturer of CLT and was in search of a brand strategy to guide this effort. D.R. Johnson had no history of public relations or advertising outside of trade shows and trade publications. It enlisted Quinn Thomas to develop a marketing and communications strategy.

Quinn Thomas conducted market research and developed a communications strategy that established D.R. Johnson the lead expert and thought leader for this emerging technology—using earned media, public speaking opportunities, and policy advocacy to drive awareness of D.R. Johnson and generate leads for the company.

The resulting effort netted over $2.5 million in national and regional earned media coverage, elevated investment in CLT research as a policy objective in the Oregon Business Plan, and positioned D.R. Johnson as the convener or featured topic at events with state and regional business an policy leaders.

We’re All Ears: PRSA Statewide Listening Tour Visits Portland

Portland members participated in an energetic brainstorming session on March 14 to explore how PRSA Oregon should evolve now that it’s a statewide chapter.

The conversation, moderated by Outreach Committee Co-Chairs Julie Williams, APR, and Siobhan Taylor, focused on two big-picture questions: How are we better as a statewide organization?  What can be done to overcome geographic distance between members?

Collecting input on these and other questions is the goal of the PRSA Oregon Transition Steering Committee’s listening tour that will include discussions in Eugene and Salem in April. By opening up a statewide dialogue to share ideas and vet concerns, leadership will be better equipped to ensure the newly formed chapter is off to a strong start.

Three themes emerged from the Portland discussion:

  • More Access, Knowledge: A statewide chapter provides huge potential for members to be enriched by a more diverse professional network that also includes a presence on college campuses. As one participant put it, members throughout the state are likely dealing with different types of clients and issues that provide learning opportunities.   
  • Active Network: To fully reap the benefits of a statewide professional network, PRSA Oregon will need to create a mix of quality touch points for members to share ideas virtually as well as face-to-face. This discussion, in particular, generated a lot of energy. Participants said they want social events as well as problem-solving opportunities through online forums. There was widespread support for exploring how a pilot of PRSA Oregon leadership’s collaboration on Slack might be expanded to enable members to communicate.
  • Representative Leadership: Finally, there was consensus that members from all parts of Oregon and Southwest Washington, as well as all phases of career development, must continue to be represented in the chapter’s leadership. Ensuring diversity in decision-making has been a priority of the PRSA Oregon board, led by 2017 Chapter President Colby Reade. Reade also chaired the 2016 Nominating Committee which selected leaders to oversee the merger planning and execution.

While they won’t be attending future feedback sessions in person, Portland-area members who participated in the discussion were keen on hearing what others from around the state have to say. By learning from each other about new ways to work, we can “set new standards,” and “advance the profession,” one participant said.  To that end, PRSA Oregon can develop solutions that could be useful for chapters throughout the North Pacific District (spanning from southern California to Alaska) as well as throughout the country.

To learn about future listening tour discussions, look for posts on the PRSA Oregon blog. You may also share your feedback by contacting listening@prsaoregon.org.