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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?

Take PR leadership skills to next level

Leadership training. Building your network. Boosting professional skills. Having fun.

These are promises we will deliver on when you say “Yes!” to volunteering for PRSA Maryland. Just ask any of our current Board members and they will share with you outcomes like developing skills leading to promotion, new positions, new clients, new friends and fun.
 
We’re forming the 2019 Board and committees and so we’d love to hear from you. Positions currently open:

  • President – guide the board in serving members’ needs
  • Secretary – officer position to assist in leading the board
  • Membership Chair – welcome new members, meet other PR pros
  • Communications Chair – guide the chapter’s communications and marketing
  • Conference Chair – guide the planning and hosting of the Maryland PR Conference
  • Mentoring Chair – guide the chapter’s mentoring program
  • New Professional Chair – guide the planning and activities to meet new professional’s needs
  • Volunteer Coordinator – connect members to chapter volunteering & engagement
  • And seats on all committees including Best In Maryland, Mentoring, and APR

Plus, we’ve have openings for blog writers, social media posters, program hosts, Coffee With hosts, awards judges, PR writers and more.
 
Let us know you are interested by completing this quick survey or send us email right now at info@prsamd.org
 
If now isn’t the right time for you, we are always interested – just let us know what you’d like to do and when you are available – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PRSAMDGetInvolved.

Thank you to our volunteer judges!

We put out the call for volunteers to help judge the Central Michigan PACE Awards and these volunteers heeded the call!

To get it all done, nine teams judged 84 entries (36 campaigns/48 tactics) in 24 categories. While some teams met in person, others judged virtually (check out Pattie’s team in action via Skype below). And they did it all in just 2 weeks!

So a huge THANK YOU to …

Cami Colarossi, Notre Dame Preparatory School

Elizabeth Homan, Howard Community College

Angie Hamlet, Anne Arundel Community College

Claudia Ciolfi, Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Dianna Fornaro, Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Lisa Brusio Coster, Coster Communications, LTD

Dorothy Fuchs, Purple Dot Public Relations

Pattie Yu, The Yu Crew LLC

Berry Brady

Bill Furmanski

Phillip Yerby, Weber Shandwick

Kaitlyn McCoach, Weber Shandwick

Chuck Fitzgibbon, Weber Shandwick

Kara Joyce, Crosby Marketing Communications

Becky Ceraul, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

Malissa Carroll, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

Erin Merino, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

Nancy Sherman, Caroline Center

Duane Carey, IMPACT Marketing & Public Relations

Joe Bawol, IMPACT Marketing & Public Relations

Peggy Hoffman, Mariner Management

What’s our next step? Launching our own 2018 Call for Entries! Watch your in-boxes and mailboxes for details in late spring.

Member Profile: Emily McDermott

As an account supervisor at Van Eperen, Emily McDermott guides client strategy and manages accounts, overseeing client teams and deliverables. Emily also contributes to Van Eperen’s communications and supports business development in addition to recruiting and training staff and interns. This year, Emily was recognized as the PRSA-MD chapter Volunteer of the Year.

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Education:

I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in communications, specializing in public relations. I was lucky enough to go to Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. It’s part of the UNC School System and located in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

Describe your day-to-day job:

That’s the hardest question to answer! I love agency life because every day, every minute, is different and unpredictable. Possibly the best way to explain it is to imagine taking all the things I said I do at Van Eperen and put them in a really big bag. Toss in multiple clients, the integrated PESO (paid, earned, shared, and owned media) model, math for tracking and measuring, leave space for the things I’m surely forgetting, and give it a shake for 4-6 minutes and THAT’S my day-to-day job. I love it!

How did you get into your position with Van Eperen?

Funny you should ask! I moved back to Baltimore in 2013 after living in Atlanta for seven years and immediately joined PRSA-MD. I was quite active in the PRSA Georgia Chapter and knew I wanted to continue to be involved with the organization here. Jeff Davis, APR (Managing Partner of Van Eperen) was co-president of the PRSA-MD board of directors at the time and I saw him at the first event I went to and introduced myself. As I became more involved with the Chapter I was asked to join the board and got to know Jeff better. Over the years my admiration for Jeff and his work grew and grew. His public relations consultancy was acquired by Van Eperen and it wasn’t too long after that Jeff was ready to expand Van Eperen’s Baltimore office. I met with him and CEO Laura Van Eperen and the rest is history!

What did it mean to receive the Volunteer of the Year award?

It took time to sink in because it was a complete surprise. I couldn’t have been more honored. I invest time and energy into PRSA-MD because it’s an organization that I believe in and it has truly made a difference in my life and professional development. To be recognized by the Chapter as Volunteer of the Year encourages me to do more and I hope others are inspired to volunteer with PRSA-MD, too.

What work are you most proud of doing for the Chapter?

Increasing the number of programs the Chapter offers is what I’m most proud of. It has been, and continues to be, a group effort. People suggest a topic they’d like to present or one they’d like to learn more about and we’re turning those ideas into meaningful programming for communication practitioners. Networking and professional development are the two biggest reasons people join the Chapter and it’s been a huge focus to deliver both. It’s a lot of work but the feedback has been fantastic and we’re excited to bring even more in 2018!

What advice do you have for practitioners looking to do more with the Chapter?

Speak up and don’t take on too much, too soon!

 What are your passions/interests/hobbies?

Everything revolves around my family and friends. Spending time with them is the most important thing to me. I love music and going to concerts and productions. And I’m passionate about giving back. Just over a year ago, I started volunteering with Thread, Inc., a Baltimore City nonprofit. Thread aims to engage underperforming high school students confronting significant barriers outside of school by connecting students with a family of volunteers and increased access to community resources. We work to foster students’ academic advancement and personal growth into self-motivated, resilient, and responsible citizens. It’s been one of the most challenging and rewarding adventures of my life.

Best piece of advice received:

I have two; be kind and be true to yourself.

Connect with Emily:

Email – emily@vaneperen.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/EMcDermott48

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/emilymcdermott/

Chapter Committees Now Recruiting Volunteers, Leadership Positions Available

Hone your skills, meet new people, and make yourself more marketable. Sign up to volunteer with the Maryland Chapter today. We welcome volunteers at all levels for the committees listed below.

There are immediate openings for chair positions for the 2018 Maryland Conference and Best in Maryland Awards. If you have good planning skills and wish to gain more visibility as a PRSA leader, please consider volunteering for one of these two chair positions.

Contact info@prsamd.org to volunteer today. 

Lead or join a PRSA Maryland committee

Maryland Conference Committee (2018)

 Chair:  Open

Best in Maryland Awards/Gala Committee (2018)

 Chair:  Open

APR Accreditation Committee

 Chair:  Dianna Fornaro APR, Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance

Communications Committee

 Chair:  Stephanie Vander Veen

Diversity & Inclusion Liaison (NEW)

 Chair:  Open

Membership Committee

 Chair:  Jeff Davis, APR

Mentoring Committee

 Chair: Nancy Sherman

New Professionals Committee

 Chair:  Dan Dunne, APR

Programming Committee

 Chair:  Emily McDermott

Sponsorship Committee

 Chair:  Open

Click here for a description of each committee.

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors