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

Author:  Elisa Williams

How the new statewide PRSA Oregon Chapter could help members develop professional connections was the focal point of discussions during morning and evening Listening Tour sessions in Salem. These Listening Tour events, held at Willamette University in Salem on April 18 and 19, attracted members from Salem, Stayton and Lincoln City, in addition to including five past presidents of the former Oregon Capital Chapter.

Listening Tour hostesses Siobhan Taylor, PRSA Oregon membership director, and Julie Williams, APR, the chapter’s president-elect, shared their notes and experiences to ensure everybody is in the loop on how the conversation about the newly formed statewide chapter is developing.

The PRSA Oregon Chapter Transition Steering Committee launched the Listening Tour in March to give members a forum for sharing ideas and vetting concerns following the merger of the Portland-, Salem- and Eugene-area chapters in January 2017. Earlier Listening Tour sessions were held in Portland and in Eugene this spring.

Each of the Listening Tour sessions covered new ground, but also brought fresh perspectives to issues raised by members in other parts of the state.

Several themes emerged during the Salem discussions:

  • More connections, stronger network: Now that the chapter encompasses the entire state of Oregon as well as SW Washington, the potential for building new contacts through PRSA has expanded and that presents a new opportunity that members can leverage. Participants said they could take advantage of this benefit with something as simple as having access to a member list that makes it easy to reach out to a peer in another city or can be as deep as giving a member access to one-on-one mentoring with a seasoned pro.
  • High touch and high tech: Members’ discussed the need for technology to increase networking opportunities and to make it possible for members to virtually attend events that aren’t in their local communities. Specific ideas included past president Nicole Miller’s suggestion that PRSA Oregon consider adding a technology chair and past president Sherryll Hoar emphasized the need for helping members master new technical skills.
  • Actionable value: Participants in Salem said that if they need to travel for a chapter event in the future, they want to have a say in the timing and location. The event also has to deliver a concrete value for their careers. “It all comes back to usage of your time,” said Eric Johnson, who is willing to travel from his Lincoln City office for a PRSA Oregon event if it is relevant to his work. He drove for hours to attend a Meet the Media event where he was able to pitch a reporter who covered business on the Oregon Coast for the Portland Business Journal. “If I didn’t get any contacts out of it, or meet anyone, it wouldn’t be a good use of my time.”

With this first round of tour stops complete, the Transition Steering Committee has heard from 50 members (60 people if PRSSA members and students are included) or about 20 percent of membership. In May, the Transition Steering Committee compiled all of the tour findings into a report which will be shared in future PRSA meetings. The tour continues in June to do follow-up visits, as promised.

To ensure the tour is successful, the goal is to attract a strong showing of Portland-area members to a coffee meeting planned for June 20 where the tour findings will be discussed and participants will be asked to engage in program planning for 2018. The tour will also return to Salem and Eugene. For details on those three events, keep an eye on the events calendar in the chapter’s new website.

While the in-person, information-gathering portion of the tour is over, it’s not too late for members to share what’s on their minds. The Listening Tour’s goal was to launch what will be ongoing discussions on how PRSA Oregon can best meet members’ needs. Members can continue to share ideas and feedback by sending an email to with listening@prsaoregon.org.

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

Author: Maritza Rendon

To facilitate the transition to PRSA Oregon, chapter officers are visiting the Eugene/Springfield and Salem communities to meet with current and prospective members to hear their needs, concerns and ideas.  

On April 4 and 5, Oregon Chapter President-Elect Julie Williams, APR, and Membership Director Siobhan Taylor visited Eugene for morning and evening listening tour sessions. A mix of current and prospective members attended the sessions, including several past presidents of the Greater Oregon Chapter, based out of Eugene.

Prospective members including myself as current PRSSA President (and also a PRSA Oregon Transition Steering Committee member) and many Univeristy of Oregon (UO)  PRSSA members, participated. We were joined by students from Allen Hall Public Relations (AHPR), the student-run agency at the UO School of Journalism and Communications. AHPR is also the current agency of record for PRSA Oregon and as part of its work for PRSA Oregon, the students provided social media coverage of the event.

In the evening session, a group of PR practitioners and aspiring professionals gathered at Falling Sky Brewery in Erb Memorial Student Union to discuss the merger, voice their concerns and ask questions. The next morning another group gathered, also on the University of Oregon campus, to offer more professionals and students an opportunity to be heard. The PRSA leaders asked for feedback on the same questions at all of the listening tour stops. There were especially engaged discussions on “what are the strengths and weaknesses of being a statewide organization?”

Several themes emerged from the Eugene discussion:

  • Accessibility Opportunities, Challenges: Janice Bohman, APR, commented that one benefit of a statewide chapter was “more opportunities for involvement, [such as] access to more resources like the Spotlight Awards to connect and participate.” However, Jim Barlow expressed that “it is going to be more challenging to connect at an individual level.” Recurring points raised in the discussion included the value and power of connections, with a desire to continue face-to-face interactions.
  • Experienced Guidance, Mentorship: Another topic of conversation mentioned by several attendees was mentorship and the value of mentorship programs. Jennifer Winters shared that when she was working to obtain her Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) several mentors helped her through the process. Similarly, Bohman mentioned that when she entered the world of public relations during a career change, the local chapter was important to her because it provided a way for her to relationships and take part in support groups. Soon-to-be UO grads mentioned that mentorship and a buddy system would be helpful in the transition to the professional world and would make attending PRSA events less intimidating and more inviting.

As a prospective PRSA member, I appreciated the warm, welcoming and invested culture that was set by chapter leaders. Knowing that, as a young professional, I will have access to resources that will aid my learning and growth was motivating. But, most importantly, seeing first-hand that the value of connections will only continue to grow in a professional setting through PRSA was inspiring.

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

 

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

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
  • 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.

Update: the future of PRSA in Oregon

The polls are closed, and the results are in! Check out the announcement to members: http://eepurl.com/ceQTun.

Join us for one of our virtual town hall meetings…

…by phone.

Just call (800) 406-9547 and enter conference ID 417149 for any of the dates and times below.

  • 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesday, August 24
  • 5 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 31
  • 12 to 12:30 p.m. Friday, September 16
  • 4 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, September 22
  • 7:30 to 8 a.m. Wednesday, September 28

…by Slack.

Just join the PRSA Oregon Slack team and post your question to the #townhall channel. One of our committee members will answer your inquiry.

Don’t use Slack? Here’s your chance for self-guided professional development!

Having trouble joining the Slack team? Slack is an invitation-only tool, and so we need to authorize your email domain to get you registered. Please email treasurer (at) prsapdx (dot) org with the email address you’d like to use, and we’ll get you the proper clearance. It’s like a decoder ring — but better!

…by email.

Please reach out with your questions to the committee chair at treasurer (at) prsapdx (dot) org. We’ll get back to you within three business days.

OCPRSA Represented at National Conference

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