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The results are in: Congratulations to 2020 Best in Maryland Finalists!

The following organizations will win a Best in Maryland or Award of Excellence.

Attend the gala on December 10, 2020, for the reveal.

Now it is time to celebrate. Please join us on December 10, 6:00 – 7:30 PM for our 2020 Virtual Best in Maryland (BIM) Awards Gala! During the evening, we will announce winners in 26 categories. We will also honor our professional award recipients including Lifetime Achievement, Paul E. Welsh, Educator of the Year, Rising Star, Partner of Distinction, and PR Team of the Year. And the top prize, Best in Show, will round out our night, so stay seated even after your first win!

The event is free so bring the whole team. Register today. All you need to do is BYOB, find a comfy chair and let the celebration begin! We will host a bartender, games, polls, virtual sponsor booths, and giveaways. Have a question? Contact us at info@prsamd.org or 443-283-8060.

Support the event while increasing your organization’s visibility!

We have unique sponsorship opportunities available.

Wikipedia for PR

by Josh Greene, The Mather Group, LLC

It’s been a long time since Wikipedia was simply a website kids were actually told not to use for their essays and book reports. Now the behemoth encyclopedia is the second most visited website in the U.S. and the third most visited site in the world. It’s become a trusted reference, and is always listed on the first page of Google’s search results – if a page relating to the search term exists, that is; and, with over 6 million English articles, one almost always does.

What does this mean for the world of PR marketing?
In a positive scenario, Wikipedia articles for businesses and individuals promote visibility and drive traffic to a brand’s website, helping create a positive public image. Thanks to Wikipedia’s top billing on Google SERPs, an article can even help to push down any negative press results.

In a negative scenario, outdated Wikipedia articles or articles overtaken by a controversy section drive traffic away from a brand. This is what we all want to avoid.

While complicated, Wikipedia isn’t impossible to navigate. Here’s what you need to know about Wikipedia to leverage its power for good.

Article Creation
While it might seem like anything and everything under the sun has a Wikipedia article, there are guidelines to follow when creating a new one. First and foremost, the article must meet Wikipedia’s notability guidelines. In a nutshell, this means that you must be able to prove that your topic has been significantly covered by trusted, third-party sources. For an article of only a few paragraphs, this means finding 3-5 news sources that devote an entire article to your topic. For a longer article, you’ll need 5+ sources.

If you’re curious about what to include and/or how to organize your article, go and check out some competitors’ articles. Depending on the topic, it’s typical to see sections such as:

  • History
  • Structure
  • Activities / Areas of Service
  • Affiliates / Subsidiaries
  • Special Interest Areas (significant charity work, a second career, hosting a well-known podcast, etc.)

You cannot use primary sources, whether creating a new article or editing an existing one. Say goodbye to hopes of copying+pasting your “About Us” page or your favorite press releases and calling it a day. Wikipedia editors will jump all over that and cover your article in flags – if they don’t simply recommend it for a speedy deletion. Flags can alert someone that there’s a suspected COI on the page, or that the page uses too many primary sources, has multiple issues, is written like an advertisement, etc. Flags are at the top of an article and tell everyone that there are concerns about some information in the article.

Editing an Article
Once you’ve gathered your sources, it’s time to draft content. Anything added to the page should be fact-based, neutral in tone, and added with the intent of bringing the page up-to-date and/or correcting errors. The best way to add content is to move slow and steady, so you’ll need to prioritize content in terms of must-have, nice-to-have, and your ultimate wish list.

You can directly edit the article yourself, although Wikipedia prefers that anyone who works at a company/for an individual leaves the editing of that article to someone else. If that’s the case, you can visit the article’s Talk page, share a sentence or two at a time of your drafted content and the applicable sources, and request that another editor make the change.

If you’re drafting a brand new article, the process is similar. Visit Wikipedia’s Request an Article page and share why you think a topic needs its own article, and provide content and sources.

Removing Negative Content (aka the Dreaded Controversies Section)
If you’re a PR professional, this is probably high on your list of priorities. While there isn’t an easy way to strip a page of negative content, there are a few different options.

  1. You cannot simply delete content, even if it isn’t sourced or it uses non-trusted sources (someone’s blog, for example). If you do want to delete false or misleading information, be sure to include a note in the Talk section of the page as to why the information was inappropriate for a Wikipedia article.
  2. You can review the content and see if it can be edited in any way so as to minimize the implications – i.e. were claims proven false? Did the controversy happen five years ago and a brand has since gone above and beyond to address the initial issue and create a better path forward?
  3. You can propose additional info to the page so that the controversies section gets pushed farther down, or gets lost in the middle. Remember that all content must be factual and neutral.

Monitoring an Article
Whatever stage of the process you are in, don’t forget to consistently monitor your Wikipedia article. Articles can be edited at any time and you want to always ensure that your page accurately reflects your brand. There are different monitoring tools available, including:

  • Wiki Alert: an extension that can be added to your browser and connected to your Watchlist. You’ll receive an alert every time that an article you follow is updated
  • Wikipedia’s Emailing Tool: this allows you to be alerted anytime one of your tracked articles is edited. Each article can only be tracked by one account and one email address.

Meet Board Member and Volunteer Laurie Farrell

For the November issue of WebNotes, we met Laurie Farrell, PRSA Maryland board member and volunteer. Laurie is the owner and president of her own freelance firm, Mission Street Communications, and was the chair of the PRSA Maryland Conference this year.

How long have you been a member of PRSA and why did you join?

I have been involved with PRSA Maryland since 2004. I’ve always been excited to learn new skills, meet new people and make connections, and PRSA has helped me do that.

What did you enjoy most about being the conference chair for the 2020 PRSA Maryland Conference?

I also chaired last year’s conference and at first, I thought that this year’s conference might not be as much work because it was virtual. But it became a challenge as we had to figure out what was going to resonate with people and what would keep viewers engaged when so many have “Zoom fatigue.” This led us to get to work with some awesome speakers from all over the country, who we would not ordinarily be available for an in-person event. We brought in a producer, Laurie Reuben, who was great to collaborate with. Overall, I love creating content and experiences as a team, rising to the occasion when there’s a challenge and collaborating with others.

What is your current position?

The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been an easy time for anyone. I was part of a layoff due to budget cuts as a newer employee. This provided me with a bit of a break to focus on the conference and my family, and allowed me to gain clarity on what I want to do next. I also have my own freelance business called Mission Street Communications, which I’m starting to do more for. My goal is to land with a mission-based organization where I can be part of a team and help them reach their goals and make some meaningful contributions while also continuing to learn and grow.

What do you love most about the PR field?

The essence of PR is cultivating and growing mutually beneficial relationships, which I’m all about. I also love the strategy that goes into it, collaborating with organizations to solve problems and provide solutions that make an impact. So much has changed and developed over time, but the fundamentals are always going to be the same. You always have to think about reputation management and crisis communications, hone your writing skills, and strategize about how to engage different audiences. It’s fast-paced and always changing, which makes this profession so interesting and fun.

How do you define success?

First, just giving back, participating in my community and being a good human being. Our measures for success tend to change over time as we travel along in life. For me, success is making the time to do the things I truly enjoy, either on my own or with the people I enjoy most. And then, making sure to be very present for it. You can accomplish all kinds of things, but you need to ask yourself “how am I making the most of the time I have?” There’s so much joy in everyday, ordinary moments – like seeing a cool leaf or savoring the first sip of a hot cup of tea or skipping with my granddaughter. Really recognizing the value of those simple moments makes for a great life.

Who inspires you?

Anyone who is doing good things in the world, taking risks, and stretching themselves. All three of my daughters inspire me when I see the people they have become. Now that my kids are older, I get to continue to share in their lives, and they inspire me a lot.

What is one thing – either industry-related or not – you learned in the last month?

Going back to the conference, the different ways and tools to provide engaging content for people virtually. There’s so much more you can do now. I think when we’re back in person, these lessons I learned are important to remember as well. Keep it interesting and keep it relevant.

What is something about you (a fun fact) that many people may not know?

I make amazing playlists. I like to create playlists based on how I want to feel the next day, or what I want my mood to be. I have magic powers to transform my day with playlists, and it absolutely works!

What is a podcast you would recommend?

“How I Built This.” It’s an NPR podcast where Guy Raz interviews innovators, entrepreneurs, and those who have started successful businesses. Guy is such an excellent interviewer and the stories are interesting and inspiring. Guests include the founders of Ben & Jerry’s, Airbnb, Warby Parker, Canva and Bobbi Brown.

Where did you grow up and where would you like to retire?

I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and grew up in Pasadena, Maryland. I like to think about retiring in New England, like Massachusetts, or Beaufort, North Carolina.

If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Gluten-free pancakes with maple syrup (and maybe some bacon). For obvious reasons, that’s not a good idea. So, I’ll replace that with one of my super healthy (and delicious) soup recipes.

Chapter member Ashlene Larson has been selected by The Daily Record to receive one of its 2020 Leading Women awards

Ad Agency Leader Ashlene Larson Named One of Maryland’s 2020 Leading Women

The Daily Record Recognizes the Next Generation of Maryland’s Women Leaders

Ashlene-LarsonBaltimore, Md., (October 15, 2020) — The Daily Record selected Ashlene Larson, director of public relations and social media for the award-winning, Baltimore-based advertising agency, Planit, to receive one of its 2020 Leading Women awards.

“This year’s Leading Women are professionally accomplished, involved in their communities and committed to making a difference and inspiring change,” said Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, group publisher of The Daily Record. “They are the next generation of leaders in Maryland, and The Daily Record is pleased to recognize their achievements.”

The Daily Record’s Leading Women awards honor women who are 40 years of age or younger for the accomplishments they have made so far in their careers. A panel of previous Top 100 Women and Leading Women winners selected the honorees based on their professional experience, community involvement and commitment to inspiring change.

“We are thrilled, but not surprised, that Ashlene was named to this year’s Leading Women honorees,” said Matt Doud, president and co-founder of Planit. “While she certainly brings a unique and critical perspective to the field of public relations, resulting in worldwide news stories for our clients, it is her passion – her commitment – to mentoring the next generation of PR professionals and her never-ending crusade to elevate working moms that make her an invaluable leader. Ashlene has helped architect policies for the betterment of all employees at Planit while simultaneously serving as a changemaker, a mentor, and an unstoppable force in our industry.”

Larson moved to Baltimore from Canada in 2009 during a recession, continuing a career in PR where she immediately had to assimilate to an entirely different country, American culture, and the PR/media market. Ten years later, Larson leads an award-winning PR team at Planit. Due to her strategic leadership and vision, Planit’s PR & Social Team won the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Maryland’s 2019 PR Team of the Year.

Larson is an active pillar in the community. She is a volunteer within the PR and advertising agency, but also within the community via Girl Scouts and St. Vincent de Paul. She currently serves on the Board of the American Advertising Federation (AAF) of Baltimore, a position held since 2015, where she also chairs the PR Committee and is the current Second Vice President. Through this volunteerism, she has traveled to Annapolis on behalf of the Federation’s members and the advertising community to oppose a digital tax, which was recently voted down. Larson is a published thought leader featured in WYPR, the Baltimore Business Journal, the Baltimore Sun, and more. She also gives back to the industry through speaking engagements with Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Maryland and the AAF on the topics of crisis communications and PR, and by serving as a judge for the PRSA Maryland ARC Awards in 2019.

To view The Daily Record’s complete list of Maryland’s 2020 Leading Women, visit https://thedailyrecord.com/leading-women/winners/.

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About Planit
We’re Planit. A strategic, digitally-minded agency that leads revolutions for national and global clients. Whether that’s through a variety of media channels, PR, social, or the “next big thing”—if it isn’t bold, creative, and smart, we’re not doing our job. That’s why clients including Royal Building Products, Kiddie Academy, Sheetz, Barclays US, and The AMES Companies trust Planit. And that’s why we continue to receive stellar industry recognition, including being named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur 360™ List, winning the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® Award, and Advertising Age’s Small Agency of the Year.

PRSA MD Announces 2021 Slate of Officers

Each year, PRSA Maryland Chapter installs a new board of directors and member volunteers who work together to ensure the Chapter achieves its mission, plans professional programs, and grows membership. Today, the Chapter is pleased to present you with the slate for the 2021 board of directors for your review. 
Click here for full bios.

 

Executive Committee

President

David Marshall, Ph.D., APR
Professor and ChairDepartment of Strategic Communication
Morgan State University

 

Vice President

Emily McDermott
Director
Van Eperen

 

Secretary

Tracy Imm, M.S., M.B.A.
Founder Tracy Imm Worldwide, LLC

 

Treasurer

Renata Allen, M.B.A.
Director, Scheduling & Events
Baltimore City Community College

 

Immediate Past President

Lisa Brusio Coster, MA.
President
Coster Communications, Ltd.

 


Directors

Nikki Bracy, M.S.M.
PR & Social Media Supervisor
Planit
Area of Board Responsibility: Communications

Jeffrey A. Davis, APR
Principal
J. Davis Public Relations, LLC
Area of Board Responsibility: Communications

Laurie Farrell
President and Owner
Mission Street Communications
Area of Board Responsibility: Sponsorships

Melanie Formentin, Ph.D. 
Associate Professor of Public Relations
Towson University
Areas of Board Responsibility: PRSSA Liaison 

Dianna Fornaro, M.A, APR
Senior Communications Specialist
Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company
Area of Board Leadership: Accreditation (APR)

Kaletha Henry, M.F.A.
Owner/Director
Be Local Go Global
Area of Board Leadership; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Lisa Lance, M.A.
Director of Communications and Marketing
Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
Area of Board Leadership: Membership

Tia Malloy, M.S.
Communication Strategist
Applied Development LLC
Area of Board Leadership: Professional Development and Programming

Mary Miles
PR & Digital Strategist
Weinberg Harris & Associates
Area of Board Leadership: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Anthony Naglieri, M.P.A
Chief of Staff & Head of Communications
Petal
Area of Board Leadership: Community Service and Engagement

Phillip Yerby
Group Manager
Weber Shandwick
Area of Board Leadership: Membership

 

Assembly Delegates serve as 

1) the Chapter’s representatives at PRSA Leadership Assembly, and 
2) liaison between the Society and Chapter.

Cathy E. Nyce, M.A.
Director
Marketing and Communications, Maryland Auto Insurance

 

Kenneth R. Smith, APR
Director
Global Sales and Strategy Communications
Boeing

____________________________________________________________

PRSA Maryland Chapter members:

Voting for the 2021 board of directors will commence on November 9 via Survey Monkey. Please watch your inbox for your chance to vote.

If you are interested in holding a leadership position within PRSA Maryland or running for any of the  board seats above, please contact info@PRSAMD.org within the next 30 days.

We are also seeking volunteers to chair or be part of a committee. Not sure why you should volunteer? Finding your place in PRSA Maryland will answer a few of your questions. You can also click here to take a simple poll.

The pandemic, protests and politics shape PRSA Maryland’s 2020 fall virtual conference, “Navigating the Next Normal”

Kathleen Koch, former CNN correspondent, and Jardena London of Souls@Work to keynote

The past year has taken “planning for the unexpected” to a whole new level as the pandemic, protests and politics continue to bring unimaginable challenges to the world, the economy and the communications profession. This will be the focus of the Public Relations Society of America Maryland Chapter’s (PRSA MD) 43rd annual conference “Navigating the Next Normal,” a completely digital event taking place Sept. 24-25, 2020.

Highlights include keynote addresses from former CNN correspondent and crisis communications leader Kathleen Koch and Jardena London, an agile transformation consultant and founder of Souls@Work. Sessions will also explore:

  • Social media marketing in a post-COVID-19 world;
  • How to respond to and address issues raised by protests;
  • How organizations can effectively discuss diversity, equity and inclusion;
  • The latest techniques to reach and engage audiences;
  • Corporate social responsibility and “corporate personhood;” and
  • How to remain inspired and maintain your stamina.

“Navigating the Next Normal” is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sept. 24, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 25. More details on featured speakers as well as the full conference lineup will be announced soon. The fee is $50 for PRSA members and $60 for non-members. Registration information and additional details can be found at https://prsamd.org/event/prsa-maryland-virtual-conference-navigating-the-next-normal/.

Koch spent most of her career as a journalist, starting as a reporter on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and ending as a Peabody Award-winning network television White House correspondent. She left the news business in 2009 and wrote Rising from Katrina, the prize-winning bestseller about the recovery of her Bay St. Louis, Miss. hometown from Hurricane Katrina. Koch led a nationwide letter-writing campaign to encourage the survivors of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan before turning her attention to aiding in disasters at home by creating LeadersLink.

Jardena London’s life mission is to help organizations become healthy, productive and fun. She is the founder of Souls@Work, a movement to create workplaces that give us energy and nourish our souls. As an agile transformation consultant, she works with leadership teams on Enterprise Business Agility. Her most recent successes have been transforming large legacy organizations into modern workplaces with breakout results. She has also served as co-founder and CEO of Rosetta Technology Group since 1997.  Check out her blogtoon on workplaces that thrive at www.rosettatg.com/blogtoon.

Conference sponsors include Chesapeake Employees Insurance and Devaney & Associates (graphic design), with additional sponsorship opportunities still available. Approximately 125 communications professionals are expected to attend.

Meet Chapter Member Kelsey Harman

For the September Issue of Web Notes, we talked to Maryland Chapter member and volunteer Kelsey Harman. Kelsey is an Account Manager at Cision, and has been an active volunteer on the PRSA Maryland Communications Committee since 2019.

How long have you been a member of PRSA and why did you join?

While in college at the University of Tampa, I was a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). After graduating in 2018, I became a New Professionals Committee Member and last year I joined the Communications Committee as a social media volunteer. I knew I wanted to be a part of a community specifically in my industry that allowed me to grow and network.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

I like having the ability to develop social media content. It allows me to be creative.

What is your current position at Cision?

I have been working at Cision, a leading global provider of earned media software and services since 2018. I am currently an Account Manager.

What do you love most about the PR field?

I love how diverse the PR field is. People assume that if you work in the public relations field you must work at an agency. That is not the case. There are many different roles. There is a lot of flexibility in this industry.

How do you define success?

For me, success is knowing the work I am doing is making a positive impact. Eventually, I want to take the non-profit route. I want to wake up knowing my work is improving someone’s life for the better.

Who inspires you?

My mom and all the women in my family in general. I have some strong and hardworking female influences in my family, which I am grateful for. Quite a few of them work in the communications industry, including my cousin, who is the Vice President of Public Relations for an agency in Baltimore.

What is one thing – either industry-related or not – you learned in the last month?

I was recently promoted. At first, I was doing my old job, while also trying to learn my new job. It was overwhelming. I had to learn to reflect on my accomplishments instead of focusing on all the things I didn’t get done. I had to give myself some lead way and learn how to relax and unwind.

What is something about you (a fun fact) that many people may not know?

I love to travel. I have been on an airplane every month since 2018. I love exploring new places and visiting friends. Although I can’t travel right now, I still have a lot of places I want to visit after the pandemic.

What is the last book you read?

1,000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz.

Where did you grow up and where would you like to retire?

I grew up in Annapolis, Maryland but I currently live in Austin, Texas. I am not sure of the exact location but I want to retire somewhere warm in a laid-back environment. It could be within the United States, Italy or maybe an island.

If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Pizza or Tacos.

We’re moving ahead and celebrating our successes!

Best in Maryland Call for Entries is now open! Early deadline is August 31, 2020; final deadline is September 15, 2020.

Remember a time before the pandemic when you completed an award-worthy project, campaign or single tactic that wasn’t tied to COVID-19? And, can you believe you have produced more incredible work because of coronavirus?

We want to celebrate all of those accomplishments with the 2020 Best in Maryland Awards. This year’s program will feature two new awards recognizing how PR and Communications Professionals have stepped up to the challenges brought to us by this year’s pandemic and the racial justice movement.

  • COVID-19 COMMUNICATIONS (Campaign Award) – 2020 has been particularly crisis-oriented as the entire world continues to deal with a global pandemic. This new category includes programs designed to address issues resulting directly from the novel coronavirus and its effects on industry throughout the world. Entries can entail any work done to address COVID-19-related issues through the time of the award deadline. Given the circumstances of this pandemic, leniency will be employed when considering supporting documents, research, and results.
  • DIVERSITY & INCLUSION (Professional Award) – PRSA Maryland is committed to building consciousness by increasing visibility of D&I standards, resources and best practices for racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, and gender differences, as well as diverse skill sets, mindsets and cultures at all levels of the organization. This award recognizes PR firms and organizations that have developed strategies, established more diverse workplace environments, and have established management programs to help minority groups and LGBT practitioners move up the employment ladder.

We will celebrate virtually and creatively in December, toasting to the achievements of our colleagues and friends.  Details TBA.

Best in Maryland also honors those who have made great contributions to our profession and provides a communications student with a scholarship!

Click here for categories, guidelines and more!

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors