PRSA Oregon is the state’s leading professional development association for public relations and communications professionals. We value and are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion and being a professional organization that is welcoming to all.
As was widely published, in December 2018, the DoubleTree Hotel in Portland evicted Mr. Jermaine Massey, an African American hotel guest, who was falsely accused of loitering. PRSA Oregon soundly denounces the treatment of Mr. Massey.
PRSA Oregon has a longstanding relationship with the DoubleTree by Hilton Portland Hotel. The hotel has served as an event venue for PRSA Oregon’s professional development events, including our signature Communicators Conference. The recent racially-motivated incident at the hotel raised serious concerns about whether our organizations share the same values, and we advised the Doubletree Hotel of our position and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The DoubleTree has been responsive to Mr. Massey and the community at large. We acknowledge the DoubleTree’s corrective action that included a public apology to Mr. Massey, terminating employment of the staff involved with the incident, and a public statement of commitment to ongoing and specific actions to evaluate and change business and human resource policies and practices to demonstrate a commitment to DEI principles and ensure this situation is never repeated.
PRSA Oregon will continue to be a vigilant proponent of diversity, equity and inclusion — in our practices and with our community and professional peers. We ask you to join us in supporting this important agenda.
Julie Reed, M.S., APR
2019 President, PRSA Oregon
By Jean Kempe-Ware, APR
Member, PRSA Oregon Membership Committee and APR Coaching Team
As a member of a Maine Wilderness Rescue Team and an emergency medical technician, she hung by ropes off cliffs and carried the injured on litters down mountains.
As a cyclocross racer, she navigates barriers, jumps off platforms and sprints through mud and has won multiple state titles and a bronze medal in a national championship.
And last fall, Rhonda Morin, executive director of communications and marketing for Clark College Foundation in Vancouver, WA, achieved another goal: Accreditation in Public Relations (APR).
“I can fix your wheel, fix your public relations problem and fix your broken arm … all in the same hour,” Rhonda laughs. “I know how to help people in crisis.”
From elephants to APR … a 20-year journey
During her 20-year career in communications and public relations, Rhonda organized a trip for international journalists to Zimbabwe, where she witnessed elephants in the wild. She worked as a journalist for niche magazines and in corporate communications for Maine Public Broadcasting. Currently, she edits Clark Partners, a 28-page alumni magazine.
In 2015, she received the platinum/gold award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District VII for Best Practices in Fundraising Campaigns for Clark College Foundation’s $20 million campaign.
Why did Rhonda pursue APR at this stage in her career?
“Chuck Williams, APR, (PRSA Oregon’s APR guru) called me. He was kind, direct and persistent. ‘See you in February,’ he said.”
But Rhonda hesitated.
“I am curious and a lifetime learner. I have attended countless conferences and workshops in my career and thought I knew everything about public relations. I wondered what more I could learn. Plus, I’m a person who completes things. I hold my free time precious, and I knew the process would take time.”
After attending the APR orientation session, Rhonda knew she was in for the long haul.
“What I learned was above and beyond my expectations. The chapter’s APR sessions helped me put the puzzle pieces together. Everything I learned was applicable to my line of work.”
Rhonda gives up three races to study
Rhonda set a deadline to complete the process. She worked on her oral presentation at work during down time.
“That process helped sharpen my presentation skills,” she notes.
To study for the APR computer exam, she hunkered down for three solid weekends and for a few hours after work for about four weeks.
“Fall is my busy season. I race almost every weekend. I gave up three races to study for the APR test. That’s a big deal to me,” Rhonda said.
Rhonda’s credibility goes up tenfold
Was it worth it?
“As soon as I told my supervisor I was pursuing my APR, my credibility went up tenfold. Colleagues started coming to me to ask high-level questions. My credibility is higher than ever,” she says.
But, she notes, with accreditation comes responsibility. “You are now the voice of ethics and reason. You need to say, ‘Wait. Why do we need this?’ when someone suggests a tactic. ‘What is the goal? What is the objective?’”
Rhonda encourages fellow PRSA chapter members with at least five years of experience to pursue APR.
“You are busy. You have family. You have obligations. I had races. You’ve got to fit it in,” she says. “If you are serious about your career, if you want to jump to the next level, if you want credibility, if you want to boost your confidence, APR is how you do it.”
APR Orientation: Saturday, Feb 16
PRSA Oregon offers a series of free Saturday morning classes to help chapter members prepare for and successfully complete the accreditation process. The course begins with an orientation session Saturday, Feb. 16, location to be announced. Email [email protected] or [email protected] for more information.
We provide objective counsel to those we represent. We are accountable for our actions. Part three of our six-part series highlighting the PRSA Code of Ethics principles.
By Lee Weinstein
Twenty years ago, PR staff weren’t in most of the rooms where C-suite leaders were making important decisions. Today, smart organizations know that to succeed, PR not only needs to be in the room, but will provide counsel to help them make better decisions that may ultimately drive strategies.
When we take on a new client, we commit to serve them as an independent resource. We aim to tell them the truth and give them our best advice, no matter what. Our role is listen and ask, to discern and consider, and then to provide objective counsel—even if they or their stakeholders don’t like it.
We need to be able to walk clients 360 degrees around an issue without mincing words—for their benefit and our own self-protection, so we don’t get embroiled in a communications mess, or have them tell us we didn’t warn them when it happens. It is our job to share the upsides and downsides as we see them, and to be prepared for clients to disagree, or to walk away if their choice isn’t one with which we can live
I once had a manager who coached me to, “Always remember your first instinct.” It was good advice, and is something to always come back to before making recommendations. Another leader came into our organization, looked around and observed, “There’s not enough gray hair in this department.” She was right: Experiences matter in PR, and every project, announcement, issue and crisis we work on makes us better practitioners.
Independence from our own biases needs to be consciously considered as well. As counselors, what don’t we know? What view isn’t represented and being considered? Whom else should we consult? Have we included diverse voices and backgrounds?
Independent counsel and expertise is what clients pay us for, and we must be accountable to them and ourselves. If we don’t deliver the goods (and sometimes, the bad and the ugly), we’re not doing our jobs.
(Lee Weinstein is president of Weinstein PR based in the Columbia Gorge and Portland, Oregon, and PR Boutiques International, an association of more than 40 boutique PR agencies in 17 countries. He is also author of “Write, Open, Act: An Intentional Life Planning Workbook.”)
By Vicky Hastings, APR
Why is it hard for some organizations to be transparent with media?
Honesty is always the best policy, as everyone knows. Not only do consumers prefer brands that are truthful, the PRSA Code of Ethics calls for it.
Many of us have faced situations in which an employer or client doesn’t want to comment on a controversial topic when queried by media. You, too, may be tapped to “keep us out of this story.”
What’s a PR practitioner to do?
If it’s a legal or personnel issue, and your organization has a policy of not publicly commenting such matters, you can say that with complete integrity.
But in other cases, it’s more complicated. Saying “no comment” is a comment it itself − one your client may not want to see when published.
Here are some alternatives:
- Advocate for transparency so the organization can shape the outcome rather than allowing others to manage the message.
- Be ready with a pre-approved reactive statement to be shared only when asked by media.
- Advise that if the company is addressing the issue on social media, those comments may be included in the media story because reporters gather information everywhere. When asked by media for a for a point of view, share the social statement.
- If leadership is unwilling to go on record after you’ve recommended taking the interview, authentically decline. You can tell the journalist “no one is available to comment” or “sorry, but we are unable to participate in this opportunity.”
- Remind your client that they came to you to build visibility and they’re being giving an opportunity to share their point of view. Perhaps over time they’ll become more comfortable publicly taking a stand.
When unsure what to do, turn to the Code of Ethics for guidance on ethical practices. Honesty and integrity are among a successful PR practitioner’s most important assets.
It is easy to jot down a few goals each year, but how many of us actually take the time to figure out how we will accomplish those goals?
Communicators know it takes research and planning to implement an organization’s big goals, and the same is true for your personal goals. As you plan how to reach your professional targets for 2018, consider mentoring as a strategy to get you there.
Benefits for mentors and mentees
The mentor/mentee relationship can guide your professional growth and help you map out the steps to realize your dreams.
“Dave Thompson has been a fantastic mentor who helped me realize the different career paths within communications and provided many great networking and educational opportunities,” said Pete Donahue, Internal Communications Manager, Johnson Controls. “We meet regularly to review my progress toward certain career goals and I learn something new every time we meet.”
Mentees are not the only ones who benefit from this relationship. Veteran communicators find that time spent investing in someone’s future enhances leadership and helps them develop new skills.
“Mentoring develops and enhances the professional growth of both mentor and mentee,” said Dave Thompson, APR. “I think I learn more from the experience then the professionals I mentor!”
The mentoring program matches communicators based upon the needs of the mentee and the skills of the mentor. Then, it is up to the pair to establish a meeting schedule. We recommend meeting at least once a month.
To learn more about becoming a mentor, contact us at [email protected]
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.
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.
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 [email protected] and the service committee will be happy to get you involved.
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.
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
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.