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Meet Chapter/Board Member Courtney Benhoff

This month, we talked to Maryland Chapter member Courtney Benhoff, regional communications manager at Erickson Living, while she took some time to walk around the Erickson Living campus getting her steps in on a picture-perfect day.

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

I joined PRSA back in 2013 when I was new to the Public Relations (PR) industry having recently transitioned from publishing world into PR. My background in publishing translated well but I wanted to educate myself on best practices and get up-to-speed in regards to the latest trends in the industry.

 

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

The professional and personal connections that you make are what I enjoy most about serving on the board. The relationships that you build can also become invaluable. When it comes to volunteering, I enjoy that it lets me explore different paths than what I do in my day-to-day, which provides a great education and overall learning experience.

What is your current position at Erickson Living?

I am the Regional Communications Manager, which means I handle external communications, public relations, social media, and crisis communications for a portfolio of continuing care retirement communities throughout the United States. I share positive stories about our residents and staff to strengthen the position of our communities and enterprise in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

What do you love most about the PR field?

I love the opportunity to tell stories. I also love that as the industry continues to evolve, PR consistently challenges us to be creative and try new things.

Who inspires you?

On a personal note, my family inspires me. I always want to do and be the best for them. Professionally, my team at the office is a wonderful source of inspiration. I’m fortunate to be part of a team that is incredibly supportive and collaborative. I am always learning something new from them as they provide constant education. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our residents, whose lessons and life experience inspire me every day.

What’s one thing you learned in the last month? Professional or personal.

A recent PRSA course in Digital Communications reinforced to me the increasing value of data-driven PR. It’s so important that you understand the role measurement plays in the industry and the crucial impact it can have on strategy.

What’s something about you not many people know? A fun fact.

Both my daughter and I were born on Super Bowl Sundays.

What’s the last book you read?

A recent favorite was Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

Where did you grow up?

I grew up right here in Baltimore, in the Towson and Lutherville areas.

What’s one career tip or piece of advice you’d share with others based on your experience?

Be proactive! Remember that you’re the only one in control of your career. 

Connect with Courtney via Email, LinkedIn or Twitter

 

Special Thank You to Our Volunteer Judges!

In April, we put the call out for volunteers to help judge the Agriculture Relations Council Golden ARC Awards. These volunteers not only heeded the call but went above and beyond to get it all done.

 A HUGE THANK YOU TO:

Christine Barnhart APR 

Lisa Brusio Coster, Coster Communications, LTD

Malissa Carroll, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

Rebecca Ceraul, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

David Curley, Sandy Hillman Communications

Jeffrey Davis APR, Van Eperen*

Laurie Farrell, Mission Street Communications

David Harrison, Harrison Communications

Shawn Herne, Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation, Inc.

Ashlene Larson, Planit*

Tia Malloy, Conteur Communications*

Allison Skipper Mayer APR, Maryland Department of Commerce

Kaitlyn McCoach, Weber Shandwick

Erika Murray     

Amanda Wolfe, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

Phillip Yerby, Weber Shandwick*

*Special TX to Jeff Davis, Ashlene Larson, Tia Malloy, and Phill Yerby for taking on extra entries at that last minute!

What’s next? Celebrating our Best in Maryland Awards! Call for Entries is open now! Click here for more information on how to get your entries in today!

Meet Chapter Volunteer David Harrison

This month, we caught up with volunteer David Harrison. David is the 2019 Best in Maryland Chair (a position he’s held twice before) and a past board member and chapter president. 

In his day job, David is principal of Harrison Communications, specializing in overall communications strategy, earned, social and owned media primarily for professional associations. 

When and why did you first join PRSA?
I joined when I was new to the field in 2000, primarily for networking.

What do you enjoy most about being a board member or volunteers?
When I first chaired BIM in 2015, we saw an opportunity to rejuvenate the program and encourage new people to become active in the chapter. I have since served on the board and as president. This year, I’m excited to chair BIM again and we have a new twist on the event that’s going to make it fresh and fun. BIM is the one opportunity we all have every year to celebrate the holidays, reflect on the great work of our PR community and connect with each other.

How did you become your own boss? 
Going out on my own was a professional passion I wanted to pursue. I wanted to be entrepreneurial, and I just jumped into the cold water. That was 12 years ago, and I’m very happy.

What do you love most about the PR field?
Every once in a while, you really can cause positive change. An example is a project I recently worked on with Abel Communications for the Wayland Baptist University women’s basketball team, the Flying Queens. Our goal was make the program more visible as they pursued enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Our work has been credited with helping to achieve that goal; I’m excited that the team will be enshrined later this summer.

How do you define success?
I separate personal and professional success. Professional success is everything that it indicates: career growth and financial goals. Personally, it’s about feeling good about who you are, being a strong spouse, parent, family member and friend.

Who inspires you?
David Letterman. He’s naturally funny, incredibly gifted, but also – admittedly — flawed. He is constantly evolving and improving himself. Clearly, his life’s ambition was to host the “Tonight Show,” but when it didn’t happen, he found a new path.

What’s one thing – either industry-related or not – you learned in the last month?
How to throw an axe! (see photo)

What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know?
I’ve never met a microphone I didn’t like. I served as the “voice of god” at an association conference, and I love the stage production aspect of conferences.

What’s the last book you read?
The biography, Shout!: The Beatles in Their Generation by Philip Norman. I found it fascinating.

Where did you grow up and where would you like to retire?
I grew up in Pikesville (MD) and I would like to retire at a beach. TBD – I can’t even think about it!

If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A 24-hour Las Vegas buffet

Contact David at 
Harrison Communications
david@harrisoncommunications.net
410-804-1728
@harrisoncomm

You Make it #Real – Thank you PRSA MD Volunteers

PRSA Maryland is fueled by members who give time to create programs and connect members. From our Board to committees to one-time and short gigs, member volunteers put on

  • Monthly events (check out April 23 WBAL-TV event)
  • Coffee Withs
  • APR Prep
  • Mentoring
  • Student Outreach
  • 1-day Signature Conference (Coming July 18)
  • Best In Maryland Awards & Gala (entries due in August, party in December)
  • And more.

So a special Thank you to our 2019 Volunteers – Lisa Coster, Kenneth R. Smith, APR, Christine Pieri Barnhart, M.S., APR, Claudia Ciolfi, Courtney Benhoff, Jeffrey Davis, Emily McDermott, Dianna Fornaro, M.A., APR, Debra Schindler, Lauren Walbert, Phillip Alonzo Yerby, Cathy Nyce, Laurie Farrell, David Harrison, Steph Vander Veen, MS, Angie Hamlet, Jessie Krebs, Tia Malloy, Lindsay McFarland, Danielle Minor, Erika Murray, Danita Terry, Adam Yosim!

And let us not forget all our past volunteers who have helped shape the Chapter into what it is today! We’re better because of you!

NVW volunteering

PRSA Maryland Member Spotlight: Lauren Walbert

This month, we talked to Maryland Chapter member Lauren Walbert. Lauren is Vice President of Sandy Hillman Communications, and has been an active volunteer serving on the PRSA Maryland Board of Directors since 2017.

How long have you been a member of PRSA and why did you join? I joined in 2015 at the urging of co-worker Dave Curley, who was tasked on asking me by past president Claudie Ciolfi. I had been considering joining a professonal group since I moved to Baltimore eight years ago. I joined because PRSA offers growth opportunities, events, and a community to meet other practitioners.

I was not a PRSSA member because my college, La Salle University (Phila.) didn’t have a chapter.  So, I started a PR club as a student. The club helped other LaSalle clubs or groups promote their events. 

 

What do you enjoy most about being a board member and volunteering? Being involved with a group opens me up to new world of colleagues who are also working in the field, providing a broader sense of the community in Baltimore and Maryland.

What is your current position at Hillman? I am a vice president of the lifestyle division, representing our consuming-facing clients. A sampling of our client list includes Diamond Resorts (a timeshare company with properties all over the world) and United Way of Central Maryland.

What do you love most about the PR field? I enjoy a little bit of everything and that I can place great stories in coveted outlets. I get to play a consultant role on different issues, coordinate events, write, and travel a little.  I do it all because Sandy Hillman Communications is a smaller company.

How do you define success? Overall, success is to be happy. On a professional level, making clients happy means placing the big story or orchestrating the big opening and securing the right media. Happiness is about making sure you can do it all while making time for other things in life, too.

Who inspires you? Our owner Sandy Hillman is my professional inspiration.  She’s done so many incredible things and has taught me about being a professional in Baltimore and about life.

Personally, my twin four-year-old daughters are my inspiration. Children have a different perspective on the world and life. They often make me stop and think about what’s important and re-prioritize.

What’s one thing – either industry-related or not – you learned in the last month? I just listened to an interesting podcast called WorkLife with Adam Grant. The episode was about personality and explored what being an introvert or an extrovert could mean for your work life. As it turns out, there are many levels of being introverted and extroverted, and everyone draws energy from the people around them (even introverts!) And, there are ways to stretch beyond your innate personality traits. If you’re interested, listen here.

What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know? I’m really into yoga and I practice Ashtanga, a modern arm of classical yoga. It is supposed to be done at dawn, so I try to get to the gym every morning. But, since the class starts at 6:00 a.m., I don’t always make it.

What’s the last book you read? A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne which has a current event link to the author A.J. Finn, a.k.a. Dan Mallory. The book was lyrical, interesting and had great character development.  Currently, I am reading the murder mystery about the “Golden State Killer” entitled, I’ll be Gone in the Dark, by Michelle McNamara with an introduction by Gillian Flynn (who wrote Gone Girl).

Where did you grow up and where would you like to retire? I grew up in South Jersey outside Atlantic City. Where to retire?  I have no idea, but I think near the water.

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

Connect with Lauren via LinkedIn or by Email

 

Volunteering for your association has benefits

By Peggy Hoffman, FASAE, CAE

“I’ve got a full plate. I don’t know if I’ll be available for those meetings. I just can’t commit right now.”

I’ve said that in response to an invitation to volunteer. Now, I don’t. Instead I ask will the volunteer opportunity help me meet my personal and business goals? Volunteering isn’t simply a time commitment, it’s a key. A key to unlocking a door to career development and advancement, health and wellness, and to meeting business goals.

Volunteering …

  • Helps you acquire new skills.
  • Hone current skills – skills-based volunteering (Experteering is the word MovingWorlds uses) offers an opportunity to build leadership skills as you apply your skills to new environment. Strong leaders can think quickly and adapt to new situations.
  • Builds your network – contacts and references.
  • Demonstrates an energy and interest is learning.

Those four benefits translate to job advancement. As The Wall Street Journal wrote: “According to the survey of 202 human-resource executives, skilled volunteer work — such as helping a nonprofit with its finances — makes job applicants look more appealing to hiring manager.”

 

“Talent, not capital, will be the key factor linking innovation, competitiveness and growth in the 21st century.” – World Economic Forum

 

Not currently employed or looking for something new? Consider these stats.

  • The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) study, Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment, research found that volunteers have a 27 percent higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers. “Service can increase a person’s professional contacts, skills and experience — all factors positively related to finding work.”
  • A LinkedIn survey reports that volunteer experience can give job candidates an edge with hiring managers: 41% consider volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience of the professionals surveyed and 20% made a hiring decision based on a candidate’s volunteer work experience. Not sure where to put volunteering on your profile, check out Add Volunteer Work to Your LinkedIn Profile.

How about the physical and mental benefits? Volunteering lowers stress (and who doesn’t have stress these days) and, because it allows us to build relationships, boosts happiness. Read more on the evidence about these benefits at 15 Unexpected Benefits of Volunteering that will Inspire You and Volunteering and its Surprising Benefits.

It’s important, of course, to pick the right the opportunity for the pay-offs. Often, if your motivation is professional development or business goals, you can find the right opportunity in your professional or trade association. Chapters, Communities of Practice, committees and task forces in associations are great places to hone skills and gain leadership experience.

PRSA Maryland has many opportunities available from on-site, couple of hours jobs to short-term like setting up a series of Coffee Withs to committees. Click here to learn more.

So, do your homework. Get a clear picture of the opportunity from schedules to responsibilities to what done looks like, and have a frank conversation about your interests, skills and time to make sure the job fits. Where will you start?

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors