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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.

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.