Consider This: Advocacy

Let PRSA’s values guide your decision-making
Erin Merz, M.A., APR

Ethics and decision-making go hand in hand. Next time you’re challenged with making a tough choice at work, consider the six core values in PRSA’s Code of Ethics: Advocacy, Honesty, Expertise, Independence, Loyalty and Fairness. We’re going to spotlight these values throughout the year, starting this month with Advocacy:

We serve the public interest by acting as responsible advocates for those we represent. We provide a voice in the marketplace of ideas, facts, and viewpoints to aid informed public debate.

We are advocates for our clients and employers when we put their interests first. We are responsible advocates when we also consider the interests of their publics. The foundation of our profession is mutually beneficial relationships. Consequently, we’re obligated to make a committed effort toward achieving mutual benefit. While the balancing act between institutional interest and public interest can be tricky, it’s always necessary. Don’t be discouraged when compromise is the result of a difficult decision. In fact, strategic adaptability is critical to long-term success.

Without a doubt, the recent demise of British agency Bell Pottinger will be used as a case study for what not to do when it comes to ethics in public relations. Their destructive advocacy on behalf of clients is what PRSA has been combating since its inception. Read PRSA Chair Anthony D’Angelo’s take in his letter to The New York Times.

On the opposite extreme, Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol recall nearly 40 years ago cost the company millions of dollars when it made public health and safety a priority. This classic crisis management case reminds us that putting public interest ahead of profit can pay off in the long run.

PRSA Oregon Chapter Announces New Leadership for 2018

The Oregon chapter of the Public Relations Society of America announces its selection of the 2018 board of directors, following the Annual Membership Meeting and Elections held Nov. 8, 2017.

2017 signified a landmark year for PRSA, as the organization experienced a successful and historic merger that established the unified chapter of PRSA Oregon. During a year of vast change, the recent integration of the Oregon Capital, Greater Oregon and Portland PRSA chapters skillfully applied its position as a statewide organization, as well as utilizing its enhanced ability to cultivate professional development and implement its resources throughout a vast region.

During recent months, a 20-person Nominating Committee assembled a compilation of outstanding candidates for the 2018 slate. The carefully-selected contenders included PRSA members from across Oregon with a variety of backgrounds in government, healthcare, higher education, nonprofit and public relations agency work.

Julie Williams, the 2017 president-elect of PRSA Oregon, was eager to attract influential leaders in 2018 that would work to continue the chapter’s transformation in the new year.

Members of the newly-elected 2018 board of directors include President Brian Terrett, APR, Interim Secretary Tracey Lam, Treasurer Siobhan Taylor, Immediate Past President Colby Reade, APR, Assembly Delegates Gail Dundas, APR, Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, PRSA Fellow and Julie Manning, APR, Events Director Victoria Wagner, Member Director Sally Ridenour, Service Director and Nominating Committee Co-Chair Casey Boatman,  Advocacy Director Erin Merz, APR Sponsorship Director Michael Lewellen, APR and Communications Director Judy Asbury, APR.

One outstanding position is that of president-elect and will be selected in the coming weeks by the 2018 Board of Directors.

“Oregon’s PRSA presence is one of the strongest among PRSA chapters around the country. We’ll continue to provide strong and skilled leadership at the national level and strengthen our reputation as a key voice in local, regional and national governance,” said Dianne Danowski-Smith, PRSA Oregon Assembly Delegate #2.

Looking forward, PRSA Oregon is excited to establish a strong presence among PRSA chapters throughout the country. Each of the newly-elected members of the new board of director’s have voiced exhilarating goals for 2018.

Congratulations to our 2017 Volunteer of the Year, Elisa Williams!

In her day job, Elisa Williams is a communications consultant at Oregon Health & Science University with an extensive background in journalism.This year, she’s been instrumental in communicating PRSA Oregon’s transition from three regional chapters into one.

Her dedication to the transition committee and enthusiasm for PRSA Oregon has earned her the title of Volunteer of the Year. Thank you and congratulations, Elisa!

As a side note, if you are curious about ways to get involved with our Chapter, I highly encourage all of you consider volunteering. Just reach out to service@prsaoregon.org and the service committee will be happy to get you involved.

 

PRSA Oregon Celebrates Banner Year

New 300-Member Chapter Marks Completion of Historic Merger, Hosts Two Signature Events to Close out 2017

Portland, Ore. – The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is in the midst of a major celebration as it caps off a banner year in the state of Oregon. The nonprofit professional organization dedicated to the growth and advancement of the practice of public relations opted to merge Oregon’s three chapters – Portland, Oregon Capitol and Greater Oregon – into a unified, statewide chapter.

“By merging our chapters from three regional groups into one, statewide organization, it becomes much easier for us to connect and network,” said Colby Reade, APR, PRSA Oregon President. “It also opens up vast opportunities for our organization to offer a much wider range of professional development and skill-building resources to our members.”

The merger is the result of several years of deliberation and collaboration by members from all three chapters. The decision appears to be a success as the organization is enjoying a substantial membership increase year-over-year.

Spotlight Awards Announced

Along with the merger of all of the chapters around the state, PRSA Oregon announced the 2017 recipients of the prestigious Awards of Distinction at this year’s Spotlight Awards Ceremony, held on October 20th at the Willamette Valley Country Club. They include:

Professional Award of Excellence

Nicole Early was selected as the 2017 New Professional Award of Excellence which is presented to a “rising star” who has entered the field of public relations in the past 5 years. The award is presented to a professional who has demonstrated his or her commitment to advancing public relations through career achievements, volunteerism, and the highest standards of professionalism.

North Pacific District PR Practitioner of the year, Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service, Ron Schmidt Community Involvement Award

Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow, had a very active fall as she was honored with the PRSA North Pacific District’s 2017 PR Practitioner of the Year, and the national Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service along with the PRSA Oregon Ron Schmidt Community Involvement Award.

The Lund Public Service Award honors a PRSA member whose participation as a volunteer in important public activities has increased the common good and reflected credit on the society. The Ron Schmidt Community Involvement award is given to a public relations practitioner who has performed exceptional service to the community, to achieve results that help the greater good.

Olga M. Haley Mentorship Award

Taraneh A. Fultz APR, a current senior field analyst at Cambia Health Solutions, was announced as the winner of the Olga M. Haley Mentorship Award, an award given to a PRSA Oregon Chapter member who demonstrates exceptional mentorship of others as they advance their careers in public relations.

 William W. Match Lifetime Achievement Award

John Mitchell, APR, Fellow PRSA, has been awarded the William W. Marsh Lifetime Achievement Award for 2017. Mitchell, a professor in the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications, was given this award because he has invested significantly in developing public relations as a credible profession, accomplishing landmark professional achievements and furthering the goals of PRSA.

For additional details on the event and winner bios, please visit prsaoregon.org.

Communicator’s Conference

Another key highlight of the year was May’s Communicator’s Conference in Portland, Oregon. Drawing hundreds of attendees from around the Pacific Northwest, a variety of speakers, including the University of Oregon, ODOT, Portland Public Schools and REI the conference offered insights on a variety of topics centered on the theme of “Leading Strategies”.

Founding Board Members of PRSA Oregon:

President: Colby Reade, APR

President-Elect: Julie Williams, APR

Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer: Dave Thompson, APR

Secretary and Chief Operations Officer: Tracey Lam, APR

Leadership Assembly Delegate: Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA

Leadership Assembly Delegate: John Mitchell, APR, Fellow PRSA

Communications Director: Beverly Brooks

Director of Student Affairs: Megan Donaldson

Director of Service: Taylor Long

Director of Events: Olivia MacKenzie

Sponsorship Director: Amy Ruddy

Director of Membership: Siobhan Taylor

Immediate Past President: Mark Mohammadpour, APR

Immediate Past President: Jill Peters, APR

Immediate Past President: Loralyn Spiro, APR

Annual Meeting

A brand new board of directors will be elected during our 2017 Annual Membership Meeting & Elections held on November 8th, via a webinar. In addition to the elections, current and incoming Chapter leadership will review 2017 highlights including the transition to a statewide chapter, 2018 priorities and hear elections results of the incoming board.

About PRSA Oregon:

The PRSA Oregon chapter, which serves approximately 300 public relations professionals in Oregon and Southwest Washington, supports lifelong professional development and honors excellence in public relations. More than one-fifth of chapter members have earned Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), the profession’s only national post-graduate certification program. The Oregon chapter is led by an all-volunteer board of professionals from across the state. Signature events include the annual Spotlight Awards, honoring excellence in public relations, and the Communicator’s Conference, a professional development event held once a year. The Oregon chapter of the Public Relations Society of America is one of 109 PRSA chapters across the country.

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

Meet the 2018 PRSA Oregon Leadership

2017 was an historic year of becoming PRSA Oregon – connecting with and understanding our community so that we can offer more robust programming and regional networking that best serves members across Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Representative Leaders with Geographic Diversity

In accordance with chapter bylaws the 20-person Nominating Committee assembled an outstanding slate of candidates from across the region to lead the future of PRSA Oregon.

This slate represents our members from all over the region, including Aloha, Beaverton, Corvallis, Eugene, Gearhart, Gresham, Lake Oswego, Portland, and Salem, various industries, including nonprofit organizations and foundations, healthcare, government, higher education and PR agencies, eight APRs, five past presidents and one Fellow PRSA, as well as members at every stage of their career from new to seasoned pros.  

Here is the leadership team who will steer PRSA Oregon throughout 2018 as we move from transition to transformation when elected by the chapter membership.

The objective of each role is listed after each position nominee and followed by a statement about what’s important to them next year.

Executive Committee

President & Executive Committee Chair (Officer) Brian Terrett, APR (Portland)

To successfully motivate and lead the PRSA Oregon Chapter and its Board of Directors in fulfilling its stated purpose: advancing the profession of public relations and strengthening and maintaining the highest standards of ethical conduct by all members.

“Somewhere in the state there are PR pros who feel completely isolated. What I want by the end of next year is I want them to feel supported and feel like they belong to a organization that can address whatever needs they have.”

Secretary/President-Elect & Nominating Committee Co-Chair (Officer) – See FAQ #2 below

To lead all internal operations of the Chapter in order to gather the insight and skills necessary to succeed to the office of President in the next fiscal year; and to keep records of Chapter materials, including a written record of all board meetings, chapter activities, board motions and policy decisions.

Interim Secretary (Officer) Tracey Lam, APR (East Portland)

To lead all internal operations of the Chapter; and to keep records of Chapter materials, including a written record of all board meetings, chapter activities, board motions and policy decisions.

“I’m excited to continue the work of the 2017 board and transition team to develop an even stronger and cohesive operation for our members.”

Treasurer (Officer) Siobhan Taylor (Lake Oswego)

To successfully forecast, budget and monitor the PRSA Oregon revenues and expenses to ensure that the chapter remains viable.

“The most important challenge I will have is being the wise steward our resources in the manner of our current Treasurer Dave Thompson. Dave’s done the heavy lifting, it will be my responsibility to ensure our continued accountability.”

Immediate Past President Colby Reade, APR (Aloha)

To serve as an informational resource to the chapter President and Board of Directors of the PRSA Portland Metro Chapter. The Past President is an ex-officio member of the Board. As Assembly Delegate, to interact with the PRSA Oregon Chapter Board of Directors regarding voting issues at the National Assembly and to make voting recommendations to the chapter Board.

“2017 was a monumental year for PRSA Oregon as we transitioned from three chapters to one. With the initial phase of our transition complete, 2018 will be a critical year. I look forward to helping the board cement new traditions, identify the most efficient ways to connect with members and provide whole new opportunities for professional development.”

Assembly Delegates

To provide leadership and support as well as guidance to the PRSA Oregon Chapter Board of Directors for operational decisions. Our delegate role also includes representation and making make voting recommendations regarding national governance issues at the PRSA Leadership Assembly.

Assembly Delegate #1 – Gail Dundas, APR (Gearhart)

“Having served PRSA as an Assembly Delegate many times in the past, I look forward to stepping back into the arena to ensure equal representation locally and nationally.”

Assembly Delegate #2 Dianne Danowski-Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA (Beaverton)

“Oregon’s PRSA presence is one of the strongest among PRSA chapters around the country. We’ll continue to provide strong and skilled leadership at the national level and strengthen our reputation as a key voice in local, regional and national governance.”

Assembly Delegate #3Julie Manning, APR (Corvallis)

“After 32 years in the profession and as a long-time member of PRSA, I would look forward to reflecting the views of our chapter as an Assembly delegate.”

 

2018 PRSA Oregon Board of Director Nominees

Click image to see in full screen for better legibility. Roles are also listed in order of display in Organizational Chart for easier navigation.

Directors-at-Large & Committee Chairs

Events DirectorVictoria Wagner (Portland)

To oversee planning of cost-effective and engaging chapter events that align with Chapter goals and strategic plans.

“I’m humbled by the opportunity to create events that will encourage participation from members statewide. My focus is overcoming the challenge of diverse locations and ensuring every member can participate and be involved.”

Membership DirectorSally Ridenour, APR (Salem)

To successfully lead the PRSA Oregon Chapter’s membership retention and growth through a focus on member services, recruitment and relationship building.

“I’m excited to get to know PRSA members, especially new members or soon-to-be new members across the state. With our new statewide chapter, this is a great opportunity to turn the old song ‘Make new friends and keep the old, one is silver and the other gold…’ into reality.”

Service Director & Nominating Committee Co-Chair Casey Boatman (Eugene)

To successfully staff the PRSA Oregon Chapter’s volunteer service needs through a focus on recruiting and retaining an engaged volunteer work force through meaningful service.

“I’ll use my Service Director role to encourage service with PRSA Oregon to talented PR and communication professionals over the next year. An engaged membership is key to the growth and success of our Chapter.”

Advocacy DirectorErin Merz, APR (Portland)

To contribute to public discourse on issues that affect the profession directly and those that impact free and open communications within our community.

“I’m excited to elevate PRSA Oregon’s aptitude for advocacy. In particular affirming our role as a trusted, valued resource and partner in the business community.”

Sponsorship Director Michael Lewellen, APR, ABC (Portland)

To assist the chapter President in all activities necessary to successfully lead the PRSA Oregon Chapter through a focus on attracting and retaining chapter sponsors.

“I look forward to connecting other organizations and corporations with our chapter’s vast network of members, along with the broader communications community, to find mutually beneficial ways to support awareness, resources and engagement.”

Communications DirectorJudy Asbury, APR (Portland)

To successfully lead the PRSA Oregon Chapter’s communication efforts to keep members, prospective members, community members, partners, sponsors, and the media informed of and engaged in Chapter activities and influence.  

“I am excited by our key challenge: to create a web of communications that keep PRSA members throughout the region informed, engaged and feeling part of the chapter, no matter where they live.”

 

2018 Slate FAQ

  1. How were these candidates selected?

The Nominating Committee was chaired by both President-Elect Julie Williams, APR, and Service Director Taylor Long to best utilize our volunteer talent. The 20-person Nominating Committee was composed of the entire 2017 board and eight members at large giving broader visibility to the process and casting a wider net.

We used a new process for the Nominating Committee this year to “draft” members, aligning the strengths and resources each member has to offer with roles that directly support their professional development goals. All nominees met the qualifications for the role per the job description. We drafted all chapter leadership nominees, as well as all committee roles, from our members talent pool, adding even more value to your membership.

  1. Why is the Secretary/President-Elect role vacant? Why are those roles combined now? And, when will there be a candidate for this position?

The Nominating Committee completed a rigorous search for this role including outreach to six members who were considered qualified candidates, none of which were able to serve at this time.

The roles were combined because the Secretary role has evolved to be point-person on chapter operations, which aligns perfectly to best prepare the President-Elect for the presidency. The two job functions can be completed without adverse effects on the chapter or significant increase in the amount of time required from the Officer. Read the full job description here.

We hope to finalize this role within the new year, so that the board can vote and elect this role per our bylaws as soon as possible. Due to the new status and broader scope of our organization, finding the right fit is critical. We are continuing to explore options and welcome candidates to apply. Until we have a candidate, Tracey Lam, APR, will serve as Interim Secretary, carrying on her 2017 role and transition efforts developing our Policies & Procedures.

  1. How can I vote?

As a member of PRSA Oregon, please cast your vote by completing the electronic ballot.

  1. When does voting end?

Voting will close on Nov. 7, 2017.

  1. When will the results be announced?

The elected slate will be announced on Nov. 8 at the 2017 Annual Membership Meeting & Elections, held virtually via webinar to ensure accessibility to all members. Register directly for the webinar here.

PRSA Oregon Shines at 2017 PRSAIcon

PRSA Oregon showed its “Revolutionary Leadership” at this year’s PRSA International Conference (#PRSAIcon), Chapter Leadership Rally (#PRSArally) and National Assembly (#PRSAdelegates) held in Boston, Mass., Oct. 6-10.

Ten PRSA Oregon members attended, two received industry awards, three advocated for members’ rights at Assembly and one networked with chapters from around the country at Rally, showing leadership within the organization, the industry and society. View a photo album on Facebook.

Here’s a recap of the highlights (in order of date):

Leadership & Networking at Rally – Oct. 6

President-Elect Julie Williams, APR, MA, joined representatives from nearly all 100 chapters, including the North Pacific District’s (NPD) 15 chapters from California to Alaska. During the Leadership Rally orientation for chapter leaders, Oregon chapter’s lessons learned from the chapter merger, new models for succession planning, career planning guide and membership engagement were in high demand. Chapter leaders, especially from larger 250-400 member chapters, sought Oregon’s materials, expertise and partnership. Julie made connections for the chapter with national board members and chairs, regional and district leads, along with leaders from Reno, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, New York, Oklahoma City, Illinois, West Palm Beach, Minnesota chapters and more.

Oregon PRSSA Presence – Oct. 6-10

The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) has 25 chapters at colleges in the North Pacific District. The PRSSA conference was held concurrently, Oct. 6-10, and attended by six board members from the University of Oregon’s (U of O) chapter, led by PRSSA President and Oregon chapter committee member Lily Gordon. President-Elect Julie Williams, along with the students’ adjunct professors John Mitchell and Kelli Matthews, enjoyed seeing the Boston sights with the students and making introductions to PR pros across the country during #PRSAIcon networking events.

Elections & Voting Results at Assembly – Oct. 7

About 300 Assembly Delegates from 100 chapters around the country gathered on Saturday, Oct. 7, to discuss and vote on amendments to the national bylaws as well as hear results of the 2018 Board of Director elections, including Brad Hilliard, APR, serving as Assembly Delegate At-Large next year. Oregon sent President-Elect Julie Williams and two other seasoned delegates.

There was heated debate prior to and during Assembly about Amendments 1703 and 1704, including testimony from PRSA Oregon delegates, Dianne Danowski-Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA and John Mitchell, APR, Fellow PRSA.

The result: upholding all district seats on the National board and rescinding 1704 by the board of directors (fairly unprecedented according to longtime delegates) to many cheers by delegates.

  • Amendment 1701 – APPROVED: Documents the Requirement for District Bylaws to Comply with National Bylaws was approved
  • Amendment 1702A – APPROVED (as amended): Change the term “public relations” to “public relations and communications” was approved
  • Amendment 1703 – NOT APPROVED: Eliminate requirement for District Representation Among Directors on the National Board
  • Amendment 1704 – TABLED: Allow the Board of Directors to Amend Bylaws

Industry Award Honorees – Oct. 8-9

During the PRSAIcon Opening Ceremony on Sunday and the Networking Luncheon on Monday, longtime PRSA members from Oregon were two of four practitioners recognized as industry leaders before thousands of peers and surrounded by their loved ones.

Louis (Lou) Capozzi, APR, Fellow PRSA, received PRSA’s Gold Anvil Award for Lifetime Achievement in Public Relations. Lou is semi-retired in Bend, teaches at U of O and credited the formative relationships that have shaped his career during his acceptance speech.

In addition to this year’s awards from our chapter for service and from the district for practitioner of the year, Dianne Danowski-Smith, received PRSA’s Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service. Dianne spoke about her cancer survival journey’s inspiration for starting a new nonprofit organization to help other patients, all while running her own PR firm in Portland and serving on the Oregon chapter board.

PRSAIcon Professional Development Opportunities – Oct. 8-10

PRSA Oregon member Ann Wylie presented on how to write for mobile reading and members* Lou Capozzi, Dianne Danowski-Smith, Kathy Hubbell, APR, Fellow PRSA, Barbara Kerr, APR, Fellow PRSA, Kelli Matthews, John Mitchell, APR, Fellow PRSA, Sally Ridenour, APR, Tom Unger, APR, ABC, Fellow PRSA, and Julie Williams, attended many of the PRSAIcon keynote sessions and nearly hundred sessions related to the six tracks of industry trending topics: big data & measurement, integrated marketing communications, leadership & management, reputation management, tools & techniques and special interests.

Attendees noted that the sessions were informative, especially the case studies and new tools, though not overwhelmingly “revolutionary.”

Mark Your Calendars – 2018, 2019

Per the last couple years, Leadership Rally, Assembly and PRSAIcon will continue to be consolidated into one event next year and hosted in early October, 2018. The conference will be held in Austin, Texas, and even more exciting for the North Pacific District – it will be in San Diego, Calif. in 2019. As of publication, there was not information available on the PRSA website.

Tip: Travel, accommodations and conference registration are about $3,000. So, start saving up or budgeting for Austin and/or San Diego now!

*Attendance list is to our knowledge. We’d love to hear if anybody else from the chapter was in Boston that we missed.

Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow, recipient of three huge PRSA honors!

At this year’s PRSA Oregon Spotlight Awards, we will be celebrating creative, award winning practitioners. Register here for tickets to this year’s Spotlight Awards.

Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow, is named PRSA North Pacific District’s 2017 PR Practitioner of the Year, receives PRSA’s Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service and the PRSA Oregon Ron Schmidt Community Involvement Award

As a 20-plus year, award-winning public relations practitioner, Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA, turned her thoughts to the principles of engagement and empowerment she learned in her practice of public relations, to support others struggling with cancer.

Practitioner of the Year

PRSA’s North Pacific District named Smith PR Practitioner of the Year. Smith created an Oregon event called Answer2Cancer. Her remarkable work was performed while she was recovering from surgery and weak from chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Drawing on her connections, she secured sponsorships, built a consortium of support and helped host the day-long event in Portland. She ultimately raised enough funds so the event could be at no cost to cancer patients, their families and friends. As she managed the social strategy for the event, she rolled out the social channels and literally overnight, went global.

Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service

This week in Boston during the PRSA 2017 International Conference, Smith received the Paul M. Lund Public Service Award, which honors a PRSA member whose participation as a volunteer in important public activities has increased the common good and reflected credit on the society.

 

“It sounds cliché, but if you look up ‘community-minded’ in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Dianne,” said Colby Reade, APR, PRSA Oregon President. “I have never met anyone who invests so much of herself into growing and developing those around her. Dianne has tirelessly worked as a mentor to countless young professionals (myself included), helping to grow the next generation of public relations practitioners. Within our organization, she always has her hand raised to contribute to the discussion at a regional and national level. She never stops.”

Ron Schmidt Community Involvement Award

Smith also received the PRSA Oregon Ron Schmidt Community Involvement Award for 2017. This honor is awarded to a public relations practitioner who has performed exceptional service to the community, generously giving their time, talent and efforts to achieve results that help the greater good.

“There is no way to track the magnitude of Smith’s impact on our community, across the state and really around the nation. Our industry, our city and our region are far stronger because of her contributions and we are incredibly fortunate to count her as a member of PRSA Oregon,” adds Reade.

Smith serves on the 2017 board of directors for PRSA Oregon as a leadership assembly delegate, served as the 2006 president of the Portland Metro chapter and as 2004 chair of PRSA’s North Pacific District. In 2012, she was inducted into the PRSA College of Fellows.

Smith is also the recipient of the 2009 PRSA Portland Metro Chapter William W. Marsh Lifetime Achievement Award and PRSA Portland Metro Chapter Spotlight Awards for her work on both an advocacy campaign that educated Oregonians about the availability of affordable prescriptions, as well as extensive citywide campaign to promote community policing in an around Portland.

Change is in the air!

We’re wrapping up transition activities going from 3 chapters to 1 this year very soon. That means we are archiving site content this month and then redirecting the former chapter’s sites to our new site as of Oct. 31.

Old sites and pages may still show up in your search, but you’ll be redirected to prsaoregon.org.

Email webmaster@prsaoregon.org if you have any questions.

Some notes about ethics, during ethics month

by Kathy Hubbell, APR, Fellow PRSA

September is ethics month, and as with most of you, I feel a bit overwhelmed by the ethical problems we are seeing all around us. I wasn’t sure where to begin with an article about our ethical challenges and responsibilities as public relations professionals. Talking about the small challenges we face each day – Should I fudge on my time sheet to look better? Should I score points with the client by saying yes, I can pretty well guarantee this social media campaign will work? – seemed a little like rehashing old territory. We’re people who have signed onto our PRSA Code of Ethics. We’re supposed to know this stuff.

But what happens when you become aware of wrongdoing in your own organization or in a client’s organization? Should we blow the whistle, and if so, how and when? What will be the consequences to us personally?

Two good friends and colleagues, Dr. Cary Greenwood, APR, Fellow PRSA, and Mary Beth West, APR, Fellow PRSA, have written about what it is to be a whistleblower, and when to quit the battle.  Greenwood conducted a study titled “Whistleblowing in the Fortune 1000: What practitioners told us about wrongdoing in corporations in a pilot study” which appeared in the Public Relations Review (Volume 41, Issue 4, November 2015, Pages 490-500). She found that just under half, about 44 percent, of the respondents knew about some kind of wrongdoing, and of those, about two-thirds had reported it. The greater majority, 81 percent, said that reporting wrongdoing was not part of their job.  Nearly a third of those who reported and were identified suffered some form of retaliation.

West wrote on her blog, just this week, about her own experience as a whistleblower. In “What is your Whistleblower Threshold?” she described her experience in an unexpected role herself that she self-describes as investigative journalist and activist. I remember following her tale earlier in the year on her Facebook posts. She was, as always, clear and articulate, but had a seemingly intractable foe. She ended her post saying, “Survival mentality dictates that you cut your losses when you finally decide you’ve stopped caring – or the thing you cared so much about which prompted your whistleblowing is no longer worth caring about to the extent of the pain being inflicted by those who feel threatened by your challenges to their actions, over an organization that they – after all – largely control.”

Because her battle caused her enormous personal and professional pain, I can understand that last paragraph.  There comes a time when you wonder if the battle is still worth it.

There are also some battles that go on for years.  Since 2000, I’ve been involved in a whistleblowing effort as part of a protest against the military’s mandatory, experimental anthrax vaccine. I got involved when my son, then in the Air Force, was required to take the first three shots in the series, saying back then that they’d “just done that to the wrong mother’s son.” During the first few hours that I researched the vaccine online, I wasn’t alarmed. There were lots of reassurances that it was both safe and effective. Eventually, however, the truth began to surface. The Pentagon had asked the manufacturer of the vaccine which veterinarians use for cows and sheep – called the cutaneous or “of the skin” anthrax vaccine – to reconfigure it so that it could be used against aerosolized, or air-borne anthrax. The manufacturer did. The Pentagon used the new vaccine – without researching it, although in all fairness you can’t exactly spray people with anthrax and hope the vaccine works – and without testing or licensing it. It was experimental, and mandatory. To make matters worse, the manufacturer falsified the expiration dates on some lots of the vaccine; used vaccine that had become contaminated; and changed it once again without notifying the FDA.

I went to D.C. to hear testimonies before Congress from service members and veterans. With the help of the pilots leading the effort and many professionals lending their services pro bono, I formed a national group. I went back to D.C. twice to walk the halls of Congress, educating any staffer who would listen about the dangers of the anthrax vaccine. I wrote a “friend of the court” brief for a lawsuit. For a time, the vaccine was declared illegal. That lasted about two years. Then the FDA declared it to be legal, and that was that. These days, the number of shots has been reduced, the vaccine is supposedly safer, and I’m not aware of the same number of complaints. I’m mostly aware of people wanting to know how they can refuse the vaccine (if ordered to take it, they can’t.).

One of my fondest memories is from a radio interview I gave shortly after 9/11. If you’ll recall, there were post office workers in D.C. who received anthrax spores in the mail, and thanks partly to some members of our group, they had the sense to refuse the vaccine and insist on antibiotics instead (Cipro was the recommended drug at the time.). The radio station was somewhere in Ohio, and the announcer asked me if I wouldn’t want to take the vaccine if there were a threat of aerosolized anthrax. “No,” I said.  “You can actually recover from anthrax, but you can’t recover from the effects of the anthrax vaccine.” First time I’ve ever heard “dead air” for about a full minute on the radio.

My son is long since out of the military, and is just fine. He’s a pilot now, flying cargo for a company in Utah. As for me, I run a website at http://mvrd.wordpress.com , which is being redone. I discovered I can’t emotionally handle talking every day to the veterans whose health has been severely compromised or even destroyed by the vaccine. I was constantly crying for their suffering and for their country’s betrayal (this also happened in Australia and Great Britain, just FYI). But because a lot of those men and women became good friends, and because I’ve watched these last 17 years as they’ve sometimes made progress, and sometime just endured, I keep the website going.

Three of the major things I’ve learned from my own activist years are these:

  1. If you repeat something often enough and long enough, people really do believe it. No one checks the source documents anymore. The fight against half-truths, lies, alternative facts and fake news can never be dropped.
  2. If something affects people personally, they will speak out and often take action. It was because of my son that I got involved. It was because of her own battle that Mary Beth West spoke out this week. It was because she had been a whistleblower and suffered retaliation herself that Cary Greenwood changed the course of her career and became a nationally renown researcher and instructor in the field.
  3. Even if you don’t have a job at stake, which I didn’t, there can still be negative consequences to your activism. I had stepped out as a leader on the national stage concerning the anthrax issue, and as such was subjected to both intense criticism and conspiracy theories concerning my involvement – even from members of my own group. There was an incredibly painful transition when I stepped down. A lot of people who were furious that the group was disbanding had no interest in helping to run it or to contribute financially. Others were sure I had some evil intent, and spread lies all over the internet. The pain lingered for some time. Still, years later when the FDA (or someone) floated a proposal to test the anthrax vaccine on civilian children, there was a tremendous outcry and the attempt was shut down. I like to think we had something to do with that.

It is tempting and easy to turn a blind eye and say, “whistleblowing isn’t part of my job.” I’m sorry, but it is. If we are to be leaders in our profession — and I would submit that every single member of PRSA is a leader precisely because of our Code of Ethics — then we must speak out about ethics, and speak out constantly, all the time. A fear of retaliation is a genuine fear: we can’t afford to lose a job, to risk not supporting our family, to see our own reputations trashed. But sometimes we must take up the battle. If we turn a blind eye, we are part of the problem. Be authentic; be fair; be accurate; be transparent. And most of all, be ethical.