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
  • Portland: 6/20, 7:30-9:00 a.m. at Elephant’s Deli on Corbett
  • Salem: 8/12, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Willamette University
  • Eugene: 9/16, 10:00-12:30 p.m. at Valley River Inn

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

Meeting Agenda 09.08.2016

4 p.m. to 5 p.m. PT Thursday, September 8, 2016
Meeting via Skype

Expected participants

John Mitchell, Colby Reade, Jill Peters, Taraneh Fultz, Harvey Gail, Loralyn Spiro

Anticipated meeting outcomes

  • Monitor member engagement, feedback
  • Review member Bylaws voting polling results (to date), alert nominating committee of any unanticipated trends
  • Progress on road map and implementation plan
  • Next steps

Merger action plan

Nov 2014

  • Oregon Capital Chapter alerts North Pacific District to depleted leadership pipeline
  • Oregon Capital and Portland Metro Chapters explore shared governance options

Oct 2015

  • Greater Oregon Chapter implements financial stability plan

Dec 2015

  • Oregon chapter boards form statewide governance committee, appoint representatives

Apr 2016

  • Statewide governance committee forms committee charter, launches prsaoregon.org

May 2016

  • Oregon chapter boards approve statewide governance committee charter

Jul 2016

  • Research indicates membership open to merging three chapters into a single, statewide chapter
  • 2017 nominating committee forms

Aug 2016

  • MILESTONE: Oregon chapter boards approve merger, revised bylaws for a single, statewide chapter
  • 2017 board / organization structure finalized; call for nominations opens
  • Polls open to membership to approve/not approve merger, revised bylaws
  • Virtual town halls: August 24 and 31

Sep 2016

  • Virtual town halls: September 16, 22 and 28
  • MILESTONE: Membership approves/does not approve merger, revised bylaws

Oct 2016

  • MILESTONE: National board approves merger
  • 2017 board slate presented to boards for endorsement
  • RFPs for key roles and/or initiatives (such as PRSA Oregon brand campaign, event planner, development consultant, executive director)

Nov 2016

  • MILESTONE: 2017 elections – board, official chapter name – submit results to National
  • File Articles of Incorporation with the State of Oregon, secure new Tax ID
  • Secure venues for 2017 signature events

Dec 2016

  • Governance transition / leadership rally
  • MILESTONE: 2017 board approves new chapter policies and procedures
  • RFP review, interviews
  • Transition web, social networks to new chapter

Jan 2017

  • Transition banking, bookkeeping to new chapter
  • Board approves RFP recommendations
  • Revise media/sponsor kit

Feb 2017

  • Launch brand campaign

Mar 2017

  • Ratify 2017 budget

Apr 2017

  • File 2016 taxes for Greater Oregon, Oregon Capital, Portland Metro chapters

June 2017

  • Board approves signature events strategic plan