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Meet long-time PRSA Maryland member (and avid Orioles fan) Ken Smith, APR

A lifelong Orioles fan, Ken has been a season ticket holder since he was in college. At 13, he and his family began a tradition of celebrating Orioles opening day at the ballpark and has attended nearly all of them since then. Ken is shown with his uncle Don Smith at Opening Day 2019.

Meet Ken Smith, an active member of PRSA MD since 1999 who has some sage words about his experience with the chapter: “Ideally today’s members become tomorrow’s chapter leaders, keeping the chapter meaningful and relevant well into the future.”

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

I started attending PRSA MD events in 1991 when I was working as branch marketing coordinator at Provident Bank of Maryland. My good friend and mentor Fran Minakowski suggested it would be a good way to develop my skills and meet people in the profession. I formally joined in 1999. 

What do you enjoy most about being a board member and volunteering?

Serving on the PRSA MD board has given me the privilege of working with many talented professionals who have become life-long friends. I view the chapter as a perpetual trust for its members. The people who were leaders when I first started participating contributed their time and talents leading programs that were valuable in my career. This is my opportunity to pay that forward for those building their careers now. Ideally today’s members become tomorrow’s chapter leaders, keeping the chapter meaningful and relevant well into the future.

 What is your current position at Boeing?

I’m part of the Communications function at Boeing’s Defense, Space & Security business unit working on the Global Sales and Marketing team. I provide executive communications support to the vice president, Global Sales and Marketing and the GSM leadership team, and to the director of Marketing and Operations. I’m also responsible for developing and executing the GSM employee communications and engagement plan for the function’s 600 employees worldwide. I also work with BDS’ trade show team and perform occasional media relations activities.

 What do you love most about the PR field?

One of public relations’ greatest strengths is its ability to connect people, ideas and action for the mutual benefit of multiple stakeholders. There are few things more rewarding than executing a well-crafted plan, monitoring the results, adjusting for changing variables and seeing the impact of our work through the end of a campaign. It also attracts interesting, creative people working in a field where no two days are alike.

 Who inspires you?

My mom. She was able to build a successful career in media, publishing and marketing at a time when opportunities for women were limited. It wasn’t easy but she worked hard, persevered and delivered results at each stop in her career. She loved travel and lived her life with a spirit of fun. We unfortunately lost her not long ago but she remains an important part of our family’s life.

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

Tires for sport utility vehicles cost more and don’t last as long as one would think.

 What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know?

For five years I led a contract public affairs team supporting the U.S. Army organization responsible for the environmentally safe disposal of recovered chemical warfare materiel.

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

I grew up in Hagerstown, Md. and Bowie, Md., and have good memories of both. Retirement is a long way off and a lot will happen between now and then. When the time comes, I’ll know where I want to be.

Spring Session of APR Online Course begins January 28

The next session of the APR online course begins with an Orientation on Jan. 28 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. This course is invaluable to help you prepare for the APR exam.

Participants in this course are PR and communications professionals from all over the country. Facilitators are senior PR professionals who hold the APR designation as well as senior level positions at private and public organizations across the U.S. They often speak from experience to the various topics at hand.

The course is supported by a Study Guide as well as several textbooks. Over the course of 13 weeks, you will delve into the 10 modules, or chapters, covered in this course. Chapters include: Public Relations: A Management Function, Applying Ethics and Law, Communication Models and Theories, Managing Issues and Crisis Communications, Leading the PR Function, Managing Relationships, and, of course, Research, Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation (RPIE), the 4-step process that is at the heart of all successful public relations campaigns

During the final week of the course, you’ll have a chance to discuss your ideas for a Communications Plan utilizing RPIE. This information will be especially helpful in preparing your individual Panel Presentation, which must be presented and approved before you can take the APR exam.

The course is very convenient; it will be held completely online for one hour each week during the evening from 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. The PRSA member price is $195 (group discounts are available), and participants may take this course up to three times a year – in the spring, summer, and fall.

For more information on the APR online course, click here,

For the Spring 2020 course schedule or to enroll, click here.

 

PRSA Maryland Announces Four New APRs

Photo caption: PRSA Maryland Chapter Accreditation Manager Dianna Fornaro, M.A., APR (center) with Janice Smith, Ph. D., APR (left), and David Marshall, Ph.D., APR, at BIM19 in Dec. 2019. (Not pictured: Christine Frey, APR and Kelly Stoll, APR.)

PRSA Maryland is proud to announce our chapter’s four newest APRs! The four were first announced at our Best in Maryland (BIM) Awards Gala on December 4.

The APR is our profession’s only national post-graduate certificate program. It demonstrates a PR practitioner’s or educator’s commitment to the highest standards of the profession, to ethical conduct, and to professional excellence.

Unlike the credentials required for competence in many other professions, the accreditation process for PR professionals is voluntary, Consequently, the APR credential is held by very few today. Currently, only 19% of PRSA members are accredited, according to PRSA National.

PRSA Maryland Chapter’s four newest APRs are:

Christine Frey, APR
Senior Corporate Communications & Patient Education Manager
American Urological Association

David Marshall, Ph.D., APR
Professor and Chair of the Dept. of Strategic Communication
Morgan State University

Janice Smith, Ph.D., APR
Asst. Professor & Director of The Strategy Shop, Morgan’s in-house PR agency
Morgan State University

Kelly Stoll, APR
Senior Strategic Communications Specialist
AECOM

Congratulations to all of them!

Meet Chapter Member Tom Williams, APR

Tom Williams is Managing Director of Communications for Maryland Public Television where he plans and executes both institutional communication and production-related publicity and promotion for the statewide public TV network. He also supports MPT communications with local, state, and federal elected officials; contributes strategy and content for social media engagement; and handles a range of internal communications and external relations assignments.

Did you always want to be in public relations?

As a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut, (laughs) but all kidding aside I wasn’t a star student in math and science in high school. In college I entered St. Bonaventure University as a Communications major since I enjoyed writing, and felt my way through those four years in an effort to determine what I wanted to do with my degree. It wasn’t until my senior year that a possible career in public relations came into focus.

What is it that appeals to you?

What I love is contributing to an organization’s success by whatever the key measures or objectives are. The communications team here at MPT works hard to both protect the reputation of our statewide public TV network and enhance that reputation with key stakeholders. We have great stories to tell about the value of public television and we attempt to capitalize on those opportunities to grow relationships and engagement with Maryland citizens and increase viewership.There are times, too, when we contribute to issues management and help overcome organizational challenges. It can be very satisfying to troubleshoot an issue, deal with it, and come out on the other side without harm being done to the organization or minimizing the issue’s impact. Knowing I’ve made a mark in all these areas, I find that very rewarding.

Describe your start in public relations.

I found a job out of college as an assistant account executive for the N.W. Ayer advertising agency in New York City, working on the U.S. Army account. This is the agency that created the iconic “Be All You Can Be” campaign for the Army. I worked there two years, a portion of which included helping to coordinate PR campaigns for the U.S. Army Reserve. At that point I moved back to my hometown of Buffalo to join an agency there, and continued for another year as an advertising account exec before moving laterally within the agency to the PR department. I remained at that firm for seven years before moving to Baltimore.

Was there one thing, person or event that you reflect back on, as something that propelled you forward in PR as you began your career?

I had a tremendous mentor early in my career, a real strategic public relations pro. His name is Bill Collins and I worked for him at Collins & Company, a PR firm in Buffalo. Like me, he graduated from St. Bonaventure University and he took a sincere an interest in my professional growth and development.  His impact on my career speaks to the value of having a mentor willing to share their knowledge and experience with you and provide feedback to steer you in the right direction. Bill was certainly supportive of me, and when I needed redirection or a critique he would be quick to tell me how I needed to change or how I should adjust my approach.

Can you identify anything specific that you learned from him?

One particular area I remember, Bill taught me how to be a counselor to clients – not to be bashful about putting forward my ideas and recommendations, and expressing a point of view. That’s hard to do as a young professional. But he would tell me, ‘move forward with that recommendation’ or would say, ‘that’s what they’re paying you for.’

How else has mentorship impacted how you work?

When I moved to Baltimore I was also blessed to secure a position working for Sandy Hillman at Trahan Burden & Charles (TBC), another great mentor. Sandy is a remarkable PR counselor and project manager. Here again, I was able to observe and learn from a wonderful boss. Sandy is fully dedicated to providing clients with the highest level of service possible and helping them meet their campaign or project objectives. She possesses a unique combination of strength and kindness. I try to approach what I do professionally using the example she showed in the years I worked for her.

Do you advocate for mentorship as a PR leader?

Yes, I do. In many of the places I’ve worked, including here at MPT, I’ve taken a lead in standing up or managing an internship program. I’m cognizant of the value of a good internship for students and what that can do to propel them forward in their careers. I put a premium on providing students with a rewarding and beneficial internship experience, offering advice and counsel, and helping them any way I can after they graduate and enter the job market. In a few cases that has evolved into a longer-term mentorship relationship with particular students.

What advice to you have for students considering a career in public relations?

I tell students that if you want to work in public relations, develop two important capabilities – critical thinking and writing skills. It’s very important to be able to assess an issue or opportunity and provide good counsel and it’s essential to develop strong writing skills. Both are foundational for a successful career.

Are you still challenged in the work?

Working in a media organization has been both fun and challenging. I’ve spent four years here at MPT and I’m still learning quite a bit about public media. Part of that learning is understanding the ways our industry is changing and the potential impacts of these changes. It’s not just about broadcasting anymore – it’s streaming, direct to consumer video, creating relationships with our viewers, and taking advantage of social media channels. For instance, MPT will soon be a streaming company. By the beginning of 2020 MPT will be available on YouTube TV in our DMA, livestreaming our main channel (MPT-HD) for the first time. It also give us an opportunity to offer viewers a live stream of the channel on our website and MPT app. We already provide a livestream of the PBS KIDS channel, which parents with kids absolutely love. It’s very exciting to be a part of these kinds of changes. We’re taking advantage of technology so that more and more people have access to our content and can benefit from what Maryland Public Television has to offer.

Describe your PRSA membership. Has it been helpful along the journey?

I’ve been a PRSA member since 1989, first with the Buffalo-Niagara Chapter, where I served on several committees and eventually served as Chapter president in 1994. While in Buffalo I also passed the Accreditation exam.

When I moved to Baltimore I joined the PRSA Maryland Chapter, where I got involved on committees, and eventually served for seven years as chair of the accreditation committee. During those years I enjoyed working with our chapter’s accreditation candidates and seeing many of them earn their APR designation. We added some 40 new accredited members to our chapter during those years. I also served for several years on the chapter’s board of directors and the national Accreditation Marketing Committee.

I’ve benefited greatly by being a member of PRSA both in this market and where I came from previously. The organization has provided wonderful learning and professional development opportunities and a setting to build and grow relationships with others in our field.

Connect with Tom on LinkedIn.

Presenting the 2020 Board of Directors Slate

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 2020 board of directors for your review. Click here for full bios.

 

President

  • Lisa Brusio Coster, M.A., President, Coster Communications

Treasurer

  • Ken Smith, APR

Directors              

  • Christine P. Barnhart, M.S., APR
  • Jeffrey A. Davis, APR, Managing Partner, Van Eperen
  • Dianna Fornaro, APR, Senior Communications Specialist, Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company
  • Dr. David Marshall​, Professor and Chair, Department of Strategic Communication, Morgan State University
  • Emily McDermott, Account Supervisor/Project Manager, Van Eperen
  • Debra Schindler, Regional Director of Media and Public Relations, MedStar Health
  • Lauren Walbert, Vice President, Sandy Hillman Communications
  • Phillip Yerby, Group Manager, Weber Shandwick

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

  • Cathy E. Nyce, Director, Marketing and Communications, Maryland Auto Insurance
  • Kenneth Smith, APR

PRSA Maryland Chapter members: Voting for the 2020 board of directors will commence on November 25 via Survey Monkey. Please watch your inbox for your chance to vote.

We continue to accept nominations for the board of directors, specifically a vice president and president-elect. This is a great opportunity to steer the Chapter into the future.  If you are interested in holding a leadership position within PRSA Maryland, please contact Lisa Brusio Coster at lbcoster@costercommunications.com.

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.

 

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors