Transition Steering Committee Report: March

Author: Julie Williams, APR, MA

Planning Hones in on 2017 Priorities

We have a unique opportunity to start fresh with PRSA Oregon in 2017and embrace changes that better reflect today’s career opportunities and challenges. Plus, there’s a unique challenge: maintain the former chapters’ legacy of extensive member services but expanded to 300 people as a new statewide chapter meanwhile forming the foundation of a new PRSA Oregon as we learn how the chapter best serves a region, not solely the city of Portland. Pretty daunting, huh?

With so much ahead of us, it’s now looking like some non-critical transition activities will shift to 2018 implementation.

The post-merger work is well under way at a rapid pace. I spoke to the president of a professional services firm specializing in association management recently and he said, “Pretty amazing that you’ve gotten this far [on your merger and startup process] on an all volunteer basis, so don’t forget to pat yourselves on the back!

Here is just a sample of what we’ve gotten done in Q1 and discussed in our March committee meeting:

  • Launch of the listening tour to collect feedback with a first session held in Portland, thanks to my co-chair Siobhan Taylor, our outreach team and lots of event volunteer support.
  • Completion of a social media plan by Allen Hall PR, which will be part of an overarching transition communications plan that is in development, along with rebranding efforts that are in the works, thanks to Communications Director Beverly Brooks and the communications team.
  • Outline for an interim Policies & Procedures manual, creating standard operating procedures for handling money, event registration refunds, job descriptions and onboarding volunteers and more, thanks to Secretary Tracey Lam and Service Director Taylor Long.
  • New bank accounts, chart of accounts and budget process, along with compilation work for submitting 990 tax forms on behalf of Greater Oregon, Oregon Capital and Portland Metro Chapters, thanks to Treasurer Dave Thompson, our bookkeeper and volunteer counsel.

Fine-Tuning Focus

To ensure transition efforts stay on track relative to this year’s guiding principles and focal points, along with a cost effective transition budget, we took a step back to reflect upon the big picture and asked ourselves a lot of questions.  Among them:

  • What is absolutely essential to accomplish this year?
  • What activities create the best member experience?
  • What are we really good at as a chapter, and, in turn, must remain committed to doing? For example, Meet the Media events, for example, differentiate us and the annual Communicators Conference has been going strong for 20 years.
  • And, finally, what is achievable this year? (After all, it’s already April!)

To get the conversation going, I posted sticky notes on the wall representing nearly 100 commitments (various tasks, programs, events etc.) already in the works within the chapter as a whole, including transition projects we aspired to tackle. Next, the four transition committee members present voted on what was essential for members, for operations and what’s really expensive. That way we could determine what requires too many resources to be feasible this year.

Quick to Reach Consensus

Each item was evaluated by the team using agreed upon criteria, including whether the project supports professional development and fills members’ needs. The committee quickly reached consensus on priority items including holding Meet the Media events throughout the state, development of the new chapter website and providing frequent communication to members through the newsletter and tour outreach.

As you can imagine, it was a lively (and long!) discussion and we ended up in a really strong place. I will be sharing the committee’s feedback with the board and other chapter leaders, so that it can be incorporated into broader planning and the budget process 2017 and 2018.
I’m so grateful for all the doers involved in PRSA Oregon and the transition committee! There are so many people who are “leaning in” this year – saying yes to new, unexpected responsibilities. Of course, these are also opportunities for their own growth, credibility and fulfillment.

With clear priorities and sound planning, we are well on our way to setting up PRSA Oregon with a strong foundation and legacy of operational best practices!

Yours in Service,
Julie

Julie Williams, APR, MA
2018 PRSA Oregon President-Elect
Transition Steering Committee Chair
Outreach Task Force Co-Chair

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 and policy leaders.

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

Author: Elisa Williams

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.

Words from PRSA Member – Kate Virden

Author: 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

Author: Erin Merz, M.A. APR

“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

Author: Julie Williams, APR, MA

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

PR Working for You

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

This month we highlight C+C’s Better Buildings Challenge campaign, which won the 2016 Spotlight Award for video program.

Energy Efficiency Meets Reality Television with Better Buildings Challenge SWAP

It’s been called must-watch TV for the energy efficiency world—the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge SWAP which takes energy management teams from two organizations and makes a swap, looking for ways to improve each other’s energy usage and practices. And, it’s all documented for a reality-TV style YouTube series that’s garnered thousands of views.

DOE worked together with C+C, a Portland/Seattle social marketing and PR firm dedicated to environmental and social cause work, to create the campaign and won a 2015 PRSA Spotlight Award.

Objective: The team wanted to provide a unique, first‐hand look into the increasingly important roles that energy management teams play for both energy efficiency peers and the mainstream business audience—even though energy management isn’t necessarily the most exciting topic.

Strategy: The key was to reach people where they are most engaged—according to Brightcove, social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined. All video content was leveraged through multiple platforms: a dedicated campaign landing page, participant websites and social media. C+C also executed a nationwide media outreach effort, generating coverage from national media outlets.

Budget: The campaign budget was approximately $300,000 for the planning, travel, production and promotion of the video series. The team remained within budget through completion of the project.

Outcome: SWAP exceed all campaign goals. The series has more than 45 million total media impressions, and drove a 2,700 percent increase in YouTube followers. The series has also gained national media coverage from top-tier outlets like Bloomberg, Politico, The Guardian and more. In an article about SWAP season two, Fast Company called the series “great television” and “easily the DOE’s most effective vehicle in years.”

Tune into SWAP here: https://betterbuildingssolutioncenter.energy.gov/swap

Our Ethical Obligations as PR Professionals

Author: Kathy Hubbell, APR, M.S., Fellow in PRSA

“Truth is the foundation of all effective communications.” That’s the opening sentence of PRSA’s excellent rebuke of the term “alternative facts.” As professional communicators, none of us would question that. In these challenging times, it’s worth reviewing a few other basic premises in the PRSA Code of Ethics that guides our profession.

  1. Preserve and protect the free flow of communication. In the code, there is specific reference to giving or receiving gifts and entertaining government officials as possible violations here. However, this section also emphasizes honesty and accuracy in all your communications, and the obligation to correct any erroneous information immediately. a. The “Expertise” part of the code recognizes the need for continued professional development, research and education. It is through your research and thorough knowledge of the organization and the issue at hand that you will be able to achieve accuracy in your communication. It is through your education and professional development that you will understand the best channels, strategies and methods for accurately conveying information.  b. Being honest is, of course, assumed. It is our job to speak truth to those who supervise us and employ us, and then to carry that honesty through in all our public communication. If people begin to suspect that you and your organization are deliberately misleading them, then credibility will be difficult, if not impossible, to rebuild. The old saying that it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and five minutes to destroy it remains as true as ever.
  2. Avoid real, potential, and perceived conflicts of interest. The points of this is “to build trust with the public by avoiding or ending situations that put one’s personal or professional interests in conflict with society’s interests.” I have a personal story to tell here. Some years ago, I worked on an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) project for the Montana Air National Guard, which of course was under the auspices of the U.S. Air Force, and thus the Pentagon. At the same time, I had started fighting the Pentagon tooth and nail over its mandatory, experimental and dangerous anthrax vaccine. I formed a web site, formed a national group, and even twice walked the halls of Congress. It was obvious that I had better inform the supervising officer of the EIS project what I was doing in my personal life, so I did. She took my written information and forwarded it to the appropriate attorneys in the Pentagon.I waited. A couple of weeks went by, and finally the answer came back down: “Tell her it’s fine – just to keep the two projects entirely separate.” What would I have done if the answer was negative? I would have had to resign from the project or stopped my anthrax work. At that time, the anthrax work would probably have won out, because my own son had received some of those shots and I had gotten to know several veterans whose health was permanently compromised by the shots. But I’m glad it never came to that. The Montana Air National Guard and the Air Force did an incredible job on the project, and it was a privilege to be part of it.
  3. The independence and loyalty statements in the code can be difficult in practice. They are:
    INDEPENDENCE: We provide objective counsel to those we represent. We are accountable for our actions.
    LOYALTY: We are faithful to those we represent, while honoring our obligation to serve the public interest.The independence statement harkens back to speaking truth to power. We are obligated to provide objective, honest facts and truth to those who employ us. We are not “yes” people. I used to explain this to my clients within the scope of our first one or two meetings, and everybody would say yes, they understood. Well – they didn’t always. When a company hires an employee or an outside contractor, the assumption is that the person hired will do as told. We are in the position of being sure we do what’s right first. I overheard a hilarious conversation between a nurse and a doctor this weekend, who had just met at a gathering, and were laughing when the doctor said “Nurses are critical – they save your butt!” The nurse told the story of overriding a physician’s orders at one point, because those orders would have killed the patient. She wrote up her own orders, which could have gotten her fired, but the physician later thanked her for her foresight.We’re not quite in that position, thankfully. But any amount of time we spend training the management team about what’s ethical and legal, and explaining the possible ramifications of any given situation is time well spent.This of course feeds into the loyalty statement: we are faithful to those we represent, but at the same time we have an obligation to serve the public interest. If a chemical has leached into the ground from a company’s operations, it’s in the public interest to be informed of any danger that chemical poses to the public. Whether or not the company wants to release the information is not the point. This kind of situation plays out across the country nearly every day. However, if the public interest is endangered, it’s my belief that the public interest takes first priority and the public relations counsel must work to ensure the company understands and takes the appropriate action.

To echo an excellent speech by NBC news anchor Lester Holt, the best thing we can do in these challenging times is continue to do our jobs. Do your homework. Be honest. Be accurate. Build good mutual relationships. Build trust. Tell your story. Be fair. Be loyal. Advocate for our profession. And serve the public interest as well as those we represent.

Kathy Hubbell

Kathy Hubbell, APR, M.S., Fellow in PRSA, is the 2014 William W. Marsh Lifetime Achievement Award winner. She founded the Montana Chapter of PRSA, has served as the Pacific Northwest District Chair and has served on PRSA’s national board of directors. She is a co-author of the 2016 PRSA Career Guide with Aaron Sewell, and serves the Oregon Chapter by working on the mentorship program and providing guidance on ethical matters. Kathy has a 35-year career in public relations, and enjoys teaching PR whenever possible and working with private clients.

Introducing the nominees for the 2017 PRSA Oregon board of directors

2017 will be a landmark year for PRSA in the state of Oregon as our three chapters merge to form PRSA Oregon. In accordance with chapter bylaws and after working closely with national and the membership of all three chapters (Oregon Capital, Greater Oregon and PRSA PDX), the 2016 nominating committee has assembled an outstanding slate of candidates to lead PRSA Oregon in the coming year.

Members of all three chapters will receive a separate, electronic ballot to cast their vote on the 2017 slate, but we wanted to provide a preview of this year’s candidates.

President,
Chief Executive Officer

President-Elect

Colby-Reade

Colby Reade, APR (bio)

JulieWilliams_022413

ulie Williams, APR (bio)

 

Immediate Past President

MarkMohamm_Web

Mark Mohammadpour, APR (bio)

jill_20peters_mar_202015

Jill Peters, APR (bio)

loralyn

Loralyn Spiro, APR (bio)

 

Treasurer and Chief
Financial Officer

Secretary and Chief
Operations Officer

Dave Thompson

Dave Thompson, APR (bio)

Tracey Lam

Tracey Lam, APR (bio)

 

Leadership Assembly Delegates

dds

Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA (bio)

johnmitchell_134a

John Mitchell, APR, Fellow PRSA (bio)

Colby-Reade

Colby Reade, APR (bio)

JulieWilliams_022413

Julie Williams, APR (bio)

 

Directors-at-Large

beverly-brooks

Beverly Brooks (bio)
Communications

megan-h-donaldson

Megan Donaldson (bio)
Student Affairs

taylor-long3

Taylor Long (bio)
Service

olivia-mackenzie

Olivia MacKenzie (bio)
Events

amy-ruddy

Amy Ruddy (bio)
Sponsorship

siobhan-taylor

Siobhan Taylor (bio)
Membership