Manage Your Brand! Lessons Learned from the PRSA North Pacific District Conference

Prioritizing Your Personal PR

by Mary Ann Albright

We devote so much time and energy to building and protecting our employer’s reputation that our own personal brand can risk becoming the proverbial cobbler’s children with no shoes.

At the recent PRSA North Pacific District conference in Seattle, Nicole Leverich made the case for why it’s so essential to actively manage your personal brand. Nicole, who serves as senior director of corporate communications for LinkedIn, offered practical tips on how to strategically maximize your LinkedIn profile.

A current, carefully curated LinkedIn profile is practically a necessity at this point, whether you’re just beginning your career or are already established.

Nicole’s presentation opened the conference, and it came full circle on the last day during a breakout session led by Kelly Guenther and Chad Lakin of the video company Shootsta. Kelly is a video specialist, and Chad is Shootsta’s vice president for North America.

How to Maximize Your LinkedIn Presence:

1. Photo. Choose a professional-looking profile photo to help bring your page to life. Don’t forget to choose a custom background photo as well. If nothing springs to mind, a cityscape is always a nice option. A unique background photo shows that you’re being thoughtful with your image and aren’t passively settling for LinkedIn’s default blue photo.

2. Location. According to LinkedIn’s tips guide, including the city where you’re based makes you stand out up to 23 times more in searches.

3. Industry. Choose the appropriate industry category (e.g., “Public Relations and Communications” or “Marketing and Advertising”), so that people can easily identify your primary field of interest.

4. Summary. Think of your summary as your elevator pitch. It’s how you want to be positioned in the minds of prospective employers/clients/contacts. It should be at least 40 words in length.

5. Experience. You don’t want your LinkedIn profile to read like a résumé. Make the descriptions of your various roles more conversational vs. a bulleted list copied and pasted directly from your résumé.

6. Media. Upload photos, videos, presentations, and other non-proprietary work samples to showcase what you bring to the table. As Nicole noted, don’t feel like you need to have been the sole contributor to a project to share it on your profile. Most complex projects take a village, which people understand.

Finding impactful work samples to share when your primary focus is internal communications can be challenging. But as Nicole pointed out, most major internal campaigns have some external-facing element that can be representative of the project.

7. Education. Fill in your degree type, areas of study, and alma mater. LinkedIn members who list educational information on their profile receive up to 11 times more views, according to a company tips sheet.

8. Skills. You can pin up to three skills to highlight as top skills that appear prominently on your profile. Be thoughtful about which skills you choose, and how you order them. This will likely change throughout your career, so revisit this section regularly to make sure the emphasis is where you want it to be right now.

9. Endorsements. Skill endorsements are votes of confidence from other LinkedIn members. They lend credibility to your profile.

If your endorsements aren’t for the skills you want to highlight, ask people you’ve had positive working experiences with if they’d feel comfortable endorsing you for specific skills. You can offer to do the same for them.

Endorsement are quick and easy to give with the click of a button.

10. Recommendations. These are written statements from LinkedIn members endorsing you. They provide detail and context that skill endorsements do not. You can ask contacts for recommendations through LinkedIn, and you can also proactively give recommendations to others.

11. Volunteering. Employers like to see that candidates give back and make a contribution to their community. Be sure to add a section listing your volunteer experience. The causes you support help paint a picture of what you value.

12. Connecting and following. Best practice is to only connect on LinkedIn with people you actually know. But for people (or companies) you admire or want to get to know, following them is a great option. Following your organization’s competitors can also yield useful insights.

Nicole recommended following these influencers:
a. Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and co-founder of Microsoft
b. Jack Welch, executive chairman of the Jack Welch Management Institute
c. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group
d. Priyanka Chopra, actress and philanthropist
e. Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn

13. Updates and publishing. Nicole likens LinkedIn updates to Tweets, and the publishing platform to blogging.

Updates (which can be photo or video as well as text) are a quick way to build your brand while sharing things you find interesting and hope others will too.

Publishing is long-form (4+ paragraphs) and should be reserved for deeper explorations of topics about which you’re passionate.

Anything you publish becomes part of your profile and is shared with your network, unlike updates. So that content should be workshopped and fine-tuned.

Nicole recommends setting as a goal 1-3 updates per week, and 1 published post per month.

In the Shootsta presentation, Kelly discussed the power of video – and how it’s easy to capture quality video on your smartphone using a few tips and tricks like the AE/AF lock, shooting horizontally, and investing in a tripod or gimbal for stabilization.

He encourages people to share video updates on LinkedIn. You can either record video directly through the LinkedIn app, or you can save it to your phone then upload it to LinkedIn.

14. Integrating with personal websites. Gone are the days of going to a job interview with a physical portfolio. More and more, companies want and expect to see a digital portfolio.

If you have one, integrate it with your LinkedIn profile. You can list your personal website’s URL in your LinkedIn profile, and you can link to your LinkedIn profile from your website. This creates a loop of information showcasing you and your work.

There are many different content management platforms, and each is different. With Squarespace, for example, you can add a social links block to your website that will display the LinkedIn icon and hyperlink to your profile. You can also choose to automatically push content you add to Squarespace to LinkedIn.

15. Check your settings. Check your LinkedIn account settings and adjust as desired. For example, you might not want your profile edits broadcast to your whole network. There’s also a feature you can enable that will discreetly let recruiters know that you’re open.

Additionally, you can customize your profile’s URL, so it’s something clean like www.linkedin.com/in/yourname.

 

 

2018 Annual Membership Meeting Recap

Annual Membership Meeting & Elections Goes Virtual

On Nov. 8, 2017, PRSA Oregon hosted its first annual membership meeting and election results via webinar to celebrate this founding year’s efforts and next year’s elected leaders with 22 members joining online (of 32 registered attendees).
The 2018 board of directors slate was announced on Oct. 24 and voting was open through Nov. 7 via electronic ballot, 16 days in advance of the annual meeting in accordance with chapter bylaws, during which 48 members voted.
New Board Elected Unanimously
Twenty-two of the 32 registered members for this event cast their vote, forming a majority of annual meeting registrants. All nominations passed unanimously (Note: abstaining was not available on a role-by-role basis).  The election results are announced here.
The electronic voting and virtual meeting was a different format than chapter’s have done in the past and was very well received by the 22 members (+ seven of us in “green room”) who tuned in and engaged via chat throughout the webinar.
Attendee comments include:

Eric Jones: This e-meeting is great! Highlight of the year so far

Sherryll Hoar: Good way to hold a statewide meeting. Thanks.

Andrew Thompson: Great Kimmel reference, Colby.

Kathy Hubbell, APR, Fellow PRSA: This is a great way to hold a meeting!

Andrew Thompson: I’m excited to be a part of this organization. Thanks to the 2017 board for your leadership. Excited for 2018!

Elisa Williams: Great job you guys on this meeting.

During the webinar, presenters from the board reported on the following in addition to recap posts shared on our blog as linked:
  • Welcome & Overview – 2017 President Colby Reade, APR
  • Business Meeting
    • Assembly Report – Assembly Delegate Dianne Danowski-Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA
    • Treasurer’s Report – Treasurer Dave Thompson, APR
    • Membership Report – Membership Director Siobhan Taylor
  • 2017 Transition Accomplishments – 2017 President-Elect Julie Williams, APR, MA
  • Election Results – 2017 President-Elect Julie Williams & Service Director Taylor Long
  • Looking Ahead to 2018 – 2018 President Brian Terrett
  • Q & A – 2017 President Colby Reade, APR
It is not possible to recap in 60 minutes the 3,500+ hours of volunteer efforts contributed this year. Overall, these collective efforts were well represented even as time constraints limited presenter’s from appreciating every person’s and teams’ contributions.
To learn more about reports, accomplishments and plans, review the PowerPoint presentation (Note: large file due to imagery), listen to the the webinar and/or watch the webinar (skip ahead to beginning at 00:26:30) .
Upcoming Service Celebration
We can look forward to celebrating with all volunteers on Dec. 12, 5:30-7 pm, when we gather in the back room of Rogue Brewery & Distillery in NW Portland. Event details will be sent directly to volunteers and up on the website very soon.

Final Transition Steering Committee Report: October

Finishing Strong

At our final Transition Steering Committee meeting for 2017, we took a few minutes to celebrate the momentum we’ve built. We’ve been so busy working on projects, that I think even we were surprised by everything that our newly formed regional chapter had accomplished when we reflected upon the year.

As the final report of year, let’s take some time to review the details of the journey, directly leading to the plans for next year. This will be a long post, but I think you’ll be reassured and reminded that we apply the same passion and process to running the chapter as we do to our profession.

One-Year Plan Turns Into Two

In March, we had gathered in the same conference room at Make-A-Wish to review all of the commitments and programs grandfathered in by the former chapters, along with all of the transition tasks, that needed to be considered in combining the three local chapters that had served Oregon and SW Washington for the last 60 years.  There were nearly 100.  

At the time, we determined we couldn’t pursue them all this year. We resolved to undertake the transition over two phases in two years and prioritized projects for 2017 that best set up the chapter for success and that would ultimately bring the most value to our members.

Phase One: Nearly Complete

Work on phase one projects is nearly complete.  As we wrap up in November, last steps are to:

  • Back up and redirect the former chapters’ websites to the new PRSA Oregon website;
  • Finalize an inventory of the chapter’s accounts and subscriptions;
  • Complete the updated Policies and Procedures document compilation;
  • Send out chapter pins to founding members who didn’t attend events where they were distributed (please email your address to membership@prsaoregon.org if you need your pin sent to you!);
  • Reconcile final expenses from the former chapters to complete for the final annual income statement and balance sheet of the chapter’s finances;
  • Hold an orientation in November of newly elected board members;
  • And, have a virtual annual membership meeting & elections in November so everyone can attend!
Phase Two in 2018

We’ve also clearly defined what needs to get done next year as part of phase two of the transition. We have a well-documented road map built off our 2017 action plan to share with the incoming board during orientation.

This plan will guide the newly formed Executive Committee that is taking over the transition management and comprises officers, assembly delegates, immediate past president, for 2018 the communications director as well.

This team will take over for the ad hoc Transition Steering Committee from 2017 and the Statewide Governance Committee in 2016 and hold a quarterly call to make decisions and measure progress.

The Transition Phase 2 action plan includes:

  • Strategic priorities summary
  • Proposed schedule and milestones
  • New organizational chart
  • New job descriptions
  • New manuals, along with volunteer and board training
  • Detailed activity and task recommendations
Phase Two: Big Projects

The Executive Committee will oversee six phase two projects in order to complete the smooth transition of three chapters into one chapter that’s built on operational and communications best practices.

The six big projects support the current strategic priorities:

Sustainable Systems

  • Integrated annual budget across programs to ensure cost effectiveness
  • Useful and ethical policies & procedures manual to steer volunteer-run operations
  • Revised bylaws approved by national to reflect the organizational and programming structure

Consummate Communications

  • Comprehensive marketing and communications plan that will include external and internal strategies, including considerations of how to deploy technology to unify members
  • Membership engagement survey to set a baseline for the chapter in 2018 and then enable regular feedback and measurement the “pulse of the membership”

Everybody Connects

  • New database tool for tracking membership engagement and relationship management
Changes, FAQ for 2018

The creation of next year’s priorities, projects and programs were all influenced by our Listening Tour where we learned ideas and input, plus heard concerns and barriers, directly from members.

We’ve integrated as much of our findings into the planning process as feasible for 2018, including these additional changes throughout the year.

January

With all 25 committee members committed, the Service team will provide volunteer orientations.

We will also host a virtual annual membership meeting.

Q: Why another annual meeting so soon?

A: Because currently our bylaws required an “annual meeting” hosted prior to Nov. 30 in order to elect a board, but the membership preferred an annual membership meeting as a “state of the union” to kick off the year. Once switched in 2018, then the next one will be January 2019. Elections will likely remain separate, administered remotely and electronically.

February

To reflect our broad geography, we will host quarterly, in-person board meetings around the region instead of monthly in-person board meetings.

Q: So the board will only meet 4 times?

A: Not quite. The Executive committee (comprising half the board) will meet quarterly and likely remotely,  the board will meet quarterly and in-person, and each of the six program committees (events, membership, service, advocacy, sponsorship, and communications) will meet quarterly and in-person ideally though perhaps more frequently via remote meetings, to make decisions and measure progress. That breaks down to about a monthly meeting and potential travel per board role, which seemed reasonable. Some will have more meetings if they also serve on a subcommittee.

April

We will start the nomination committee process earlier and hold the service draft in June to nominate board members, followed by the service draft in August to nominate committee members.

Q: Why start so soon in the year?

A: The nominating, recruitment and commitment process is a long one. So that board members can be elected prior to the PRSA International Conference, as and if amended in our bylaws, we need to start sooner than July like in the past.

 Phase You: Getting Involved

Throughout the year and during the Listening Tour, we’ve consistently heard how excited members are about the changes, process and progress. Our unofficial motto this year has been: “it takes a village.”

So, how can you help out next year?

  • Host a board meeting at your office
  • Suggest or introduce contacts at a destination venue for CommCon or Spotlights
  • Work with the events team to set up a tour at a local media outlet
  • Volunteer — one-time events, self service, currently open roles (check out our writer opening) or suggest something else!

Those are just a few starter ideas, we’d love to hear more. Please reach out to listening@prsaoregon.org.

Above And Beyond

Personally, I’m very proud of the Transition Steering Committee team:

BeverlyDaveDavid, ElisaJillLilyLoralynMaritzaMarkMeganSiobhan, TaylorTracey, and consultation from Colby and Brian – what we accomplished and the connections we made in the process with so many members around the region.

Instead of monthly conference calls, this team opted to meet in-person every month, offered up their offices to host (with AV and snacks!), and stayed well past the scheduled meeting time every month in order to plan effectively and execute comprehensively because, in their words’, “the work was just too important.”

We knew what an honor it was for the membership to entrust the Transition Steering Committee, in consultation with board, with the mission to smoothly integrate three chapters into one.

We feel confident that this founding year set a strong foundation for future leaders to meet the chapter’s and profession’s needs going forward. Vision 2020, here we come!

Yours in Service,
Julie

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

Annual Meeting & Elections

Save the Date!

After a successful merger year, it’s time to elect the 12-member PRSA Oregon Chapter Board of Directors for 2018. Please save-the-date for our 2017 annual meeting held on Nov. 8, 2017, at 6 p.m. from the comfort of your own home or office. You’ll get a chance to hear from current and incoming Chapter leadership about 2017 highlights and our financial status, about 2018 priorities and plans and vote on the incoming board. There will be time for Q&A with the new leadership! Slate will be announced by 10/25 at the latest. More event details and how to register to come.

 

Transition Steering Committee Report: September

Rethinking the 2018 Programming Schedule

programming planning 2018

Julie Williams, APR, leads the Transition Steering Committee as it compiles feedback from Eugene-, Portland- and Salem-area members into a proposed 2018 programming calendar.

Membership participation was encouraged and documented during the Listening Tour follow-up sessions in Eugene, Portland and Salem.  At our September Transition Steering Committee meeting, we reviewed members’ ideas about where, when and what programs would best meet their needs.

About 25 members participated in the brainstorming activity.  While that’s a small percentage of overall membership, they did represent many locations, industries, stages of career and background. And, their strategic thinking was fascinating! So many questions and valid concerns.

We factored in rationale about cost, travel, distance, time, priorities, resources, volunteer capacity, communication fatigue and more as we compiled the feedback into a proposed programming schedule for the 2018 PRSA Oregon Chapter board’s consideration.

Many thanks everyone who contributed to the process!

Along with completing the proposed calendar, which was identified as a priority output for 2017, September was highly productive:

  • The service draft shifted into its second phase and began filling committee positions, thanks to my Nominating Committee Co-ChairTaylor Long. We worked together to write new versions of all of the 37 job descriptions;
  • New chapter policies and procedures and a first-ever code of conduct are in the works, thanks to Secretary Tracey Lam;
  • Members received a summary of Listening Tour feedback in a mailer thanks to the membership committee which helped with distribution;
  • And with the in-person follow up portion of the Listening Tour  now concluded, as of the membership brunch in Eugene on Sept. 16, big props to Membership Director and Outreach Co-Chair Siobhan Taylor and the membership team.

Can’t wait to #suitup and come together as a chapter at the Oct. 20 Spotlight Awards!

Given everything we’ve accomplished together, it will be especially satisfying to celebrate this year.

Yours in Service,
Julie

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

Transition Steering Committee Report: July-August

Building A Foundation For 2018

July and August were milestone months for PRSA Oregon’s transition to a regional chapter.

We launched a service draft to fill board and committee positions for 2018 after all members were invited to volunteer for a role. With this input, the Nominating Committee, including all current board members,  gathered and selected nominees starting in July.

Part two of the service draft will include all nominees for incoming board positions as additional Nominating Committee members, to weigh in and help build their teams. Our goal was to ensure next year’s leaders represent the chapter’s geographic diversity and that the new team has plenty of time for onboarding folks from all over.

This new system was prototyped by last year’s Service Committee and validated by  feedback from this year’s Listening Tour. Its benefits include leadership succession planning for the continued growth and sustainability of the merged chapter.

Also in July, the Transition Steering Committee published a full report on feedback from the Listening Tour and mailed a summary to all members in late August.

In creating the report, we saw that the Becoming PRSA Oregon Communications Plan, which included Listening Tour activities, can serve as a model for engaging membership and supporting organizational change in any chapter.

We continued the Listening Tour sessions in Portland in June and in Salem during the member welcome brunch in August. It was fun to reconnect with members and report out what we learned and how we’re adapting already. We also eagerly collected input on chapter programming for next year.

The discussion sessions have exceeded our expectations. It’s encouraging to see such a high level of engagement – exactly what our members agreed was needed moving forward. All members are welcome to join the final session, which will be part of the member brunch in Eugene on Sept. 16.

During the summer, headway was also made on updating policies and procedures and developing a draft code of conduct, along with starting planning for the chapter’s leadership elections in November (date still to be determined).

The transition from three chapters to one regional organization has been time consuming, but  rewarding. It has required the Board of Directors and volunteers to spend way less time on direct programming and way more time on setting up operational systems and best practices. Short-term trade-offs for long-term benefits.

At a recent meeting, I asked the team: “What has been most rewarding for you this year?”

Some of the responses:

  • Seeing new members and prospective members be welcomed.
  • Watching #BecomingPRSAOregon (the communications plan) unfold and be embraced by members and watching them really getting it —and feeling excited about it!
  • Seeing the enthusiasm from members and volunteers about the new service draft process.
  • Experiencing the overall enthusiasm and support for transition at statewide level.

Thanks for sticking with us during this transition time.

Yours in Service,

Julie

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

Transition Steering Committee Report: June

Change Creates Opportunities to Engage 

Summer has barely begun, but for PRSA Oregon leadership it’s time to shift our focus to plans for 2018.
Work planned for consolidating chapter operations in 2017 is nearing completion or well underway.

And we have a clear list of transition activities to guide continued efforts in 2018, for instance completing all of our Policies & Procedures. We’re one of the first chapters in the district to commit to this operational necessity, so we’re figuring it out as we go.

As we fine-tune operations, we also started a second round of Listening Tour sessions to report what we heard. As promised, we’re coming back around to see you in person. To make sure everyone has access to the findings, the report will also be distributed digitally and through the mail.

We hosted a morning session with Portland-area members on June 20; additional sessions will be part of member orientation events in Salem on Aug. 12 and Eugene on Sept. 16. Mark your calendars!

Here’s how we’re already putting your great feedback to work:

  • Accommodating travel: This year’s Spotlight Awards will be on a weekend night, Friday, Oct. 20, to allow for travel time. The location, Willamette Valley Country Club in Canby, Ore., was selected because it is central to our region.
  • Geographic diversity: A Service Draft, designed to fill board and committee positions with PR pros from throughout Oregon and SW Washington, will launch on July 15.
  • Events throughout the region: With eager local volunteer support, Meet the Media events can be hosted in multiple cities. Email events@prsaoregon.org if you’d like to host one. Spotlight Awards and Listening Tour sessions provide event options throughout the region in the last half of 2017.
  • Enhanced programming: Members can provide input on a pilot PRSA Oregon “editorial calendar” of programs and activities during upcoming Listening Tour sessions.

We know that members get out of PRSA what they put into it. If you are feeling disconnected given all the changes taking shape, I urge you to learn more about service. As we work on the Service Draft, it will help to know how you’d like to be more involved, so please do reach out to service@prsaoregon.org or complete the form on our website.

We look forward to hearing how you’d like to take part in reaping the benefits of our regional chapter spanning from Vancouver to Medford to Bend to Baker City to Tri-Cities.

Yours in Service,

Julie

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

Transition Steering Committee Report: May

Author: Julie Williams, APR, MA

Big Accomplishments This Spring

Gathering with peers at the 2017 Communicators Conference was the perfect opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come since the PRSA Oregon Chapter was formed in January.

As participants checked in and collected their conference materials, current members received pins recognizing their status as founders of PRSA Oregon. By the time the opening keynote session launched, the ballroom was filled with members from throughout Oregon and SW Washington wearing their new pins.

At lunch, PRSA Oregon President Colby Reade, APR, shared highlights from the transition communications plan developed to support the chapter during this crucial foundational year. Here are a few high points from the plan that we’ve accomplished so far, thanks to the dedication of many volunteers:

• On May 3, PRSA Oregon launched its website. PRSA member and web strategist David (Kuo-Hsuan) Pan and Beverly Brooks, PRSA Oregon Director of Communications – as well as too many others to mention − deserve to take a deep bow. Going forward, you’ll also see our social media channels evolve to reflect new PRSA Oregon branding and messaging.

• The first phase of the Listening Tour, which included events in Eugene, Portland and Salem, wrapped up in April. We’re now starting the process of sharing the feedback we received.

Less visible than communications, but absolutely essential, members of the Transition Steering Committee have made impressive progress in unifying administration of the three chapters that merged to form PRSA Oregon. You name it, it needed to be dealt with and consolidated: taxes, budgets, contracts, storage rooms, membership lists, bylaws and procedures, logos, filings with PRSA National and on and on. On May 15, our treasurer, Dave Thompson, submitted 990 taxes for all three chapters.

We are so fortunate that the leadership and volunteers from the former PRSA chapters in Eugene, Portland and Salem have a long history of service and a depth of expertise so we can get operations as one unified chapter running smoothly.

Now we’re focused on getting a new team in place in the coming year. We’re calling upon many contributors to help us conduct a wide-scale draft to find a strong mix of PR pros to serve in leadership and committee roles in 2018. In our May Transition Steering Committee meeting, we reviewed each role in detail and took a step back to ensure we have a structure that best supports where we’re heading.

I’m really excited about the difference our service draft is going to make. In all, our organizational chart now includes more than 50 lead roles and 150 opportunities for self-directed service contributions. I’m so proud of what that says about the potential for engagement. We’ll share more about the draft as the process unfolds.

As founding members, we can all take pride in what we’ve been accomplished together so far. We couldn’t be better positioned for new growth!

Yours in Service,
Julie

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

Transition Steering Committee Report: April

Author: Julie Williams, APR, MA

Member Outreach Connects Statewide  

Wahoo, we’ve finished the official information gathering phase of the Listening Tour throughout the state! Overall, we had positive experiences in respective communities with genuine interest, honest input and creative ideas.

The tour featured discussion sessions in Eugene, Portland and Salem with some members traveling from as far away as Lincoln City (thank you!). Due to the high level of engagement from 50+ members in this process (60 people if you include PRSSA members), the Transition Steering Committee has a wealth of feedback and ideas to synthesize and inform future planning.

At our April 25 Transition Steering Committee meeting we broke into small groups to sift through all the information, including dozens of pages of notes. We looked at the input through many different lenses, including what had we heard before, what was news to us, what was actionable and what should be further researched.

Member input is already informing decisions and resetting priorities for this year and for 2018. The next step is to report out on the findings so the entire chapter benefits from the insights. We’ll get that process under way starting with a coffee session in Portland on June 20.

The tour was designed in tandem with the membership committee’s new member orientations, the first of which was held at ODOT on April 22 for 17 Portland/Vancouver/Beaverton area members and prospects. We’ll be reporting listening tour findings to attendees of orientation sessions in Eugene and Salem.

Originally, we were planning to host those in June and we’ve postponed them until August and September to work on electronic and printed versions of our findings so that all members have access, no matter their ability to attend the tour session. For more details, keep an eye on the events page, chapter blog and the chapter newsletter.

After enduring a challenging winter in the Pacific Northwest, coupled with the daunting reality of long to-do lists to get our merger off to a strong start, it is so gratifying to see how far we’ve come. Signs of growth and renewal are all around us  inspiring new beginnings and fresh starts!

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 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.