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Letter from the 2017/18 President Claudia Ciolfi

It has been my privilege to serve as president of PRSA Maryland Chapter for the past two years. This honor has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. I’ve enjoyed working with the board of directors and chapter volunteers to better serve our members’ needs.

Together, we have expanded our professional and networking programs, increased member engagement, strengthened our connections with area PRSSA chapters, increased membership, and attracted a record-number of APR candidates; nine of whom are scheduled to sit for the APR exam in 2019.

Additionally, I have witnessed numerous members take their next steps in their careers by tapping into our network. It’s what I call channeling the “Power of PRSA.”

While I’ve enjoyed leading the chapter in 2017 and 2018, it’s time to hand over the reins. I’m pleased to announce that the 2019 president of PRSA Maryland Chapter will be Lisa Brusio Coster, president of Coster Communications, Ltd.

I know Lisa will continue to build on our successes and lead our chapter to new heights.

Thank you PRSA Maryland Chapter members, sponsors, and volunteers for supporting me and the board of directors for the past two years. I hope you will continue to lend us your support in 2019. Together we will unify, strengthen, and advance the public relations/communication profession and professional.


Claudia Ciolfi
President, PRSA Maryland Chapter
2017 and 2018


President’s Letter – November 2016


Daniel Dunne, APR

Daniel Dunne, APR

Special thanks are extended to Lisa Coster, President, Coster Communications, Ltd., and many others (listed below) for their leadership and expertise in conducting the judging for the 2016 PRSA Oklahoma City Uppercase Award nominations. Each year, PRSA chapters throughout the country conduct annual chapter award reciprocal judging – however, due to scheduling factors, the 2016 “Best in Maryland” award entries were judged by the PRSA Philadelphia chapter. We appreciate the support of our City of Brotherly Love PRSA chapter and look forward to celebrating this year’s PRSA MD “Best in Maryland” award recipients on December 8.

Lisa Coster (Chair), Coster Communications, LTD
Teri O’Neal, A. Bright Idea, LLC
Melissa Mauldin, A. Bright Idea, LLC
Anita Brightman APR, Fellow PRSA, A. Bright Idea, LLC
Katie MacNichol, A. Bright Idea, LLC
Cobey Dietrich, A. Bright Idea, LLC
Danielle Duran Baron, ABET
Jennifer Kellar APR, AECOM
Kelly Stoll, AECOM
Diane Devaney, Devaney & Associates, Inc.
Lindsay Hebert, Devaney & Associates, Inc.
Maureen Kilcullen, Maryland Department of Commerce
Susan Matthews Apgood, News Generation, Inc.
Sarah Hinder, Prometric
Dorothy Fuchs, Purple Dot Public Relations
Glenda LeGendre, Strategic Marketing and Communications
Nikki Bracy, Vitamin

On October 4, I started paying closer attention to the tracking of Hurricane Matthew as it worked its way closer to Florida. Why? Because West Palm Beach was projected to get hit with the storms full force (110 – 165 mile per hour winds). This meant that Devonshire, an Erickson Living retirement community, would be significantly impacted. My experience in navigating this crisis provided me an opportunity to learn, which I shared in this edition – read “Matthew Hones my Crisis Comm Skills.”

Lastly, in conjunction with attending the PRSA International Conference in Indianapolis on October 22-25, I was able to represent the chapter as an Assembly Delegate at the annual leadership meeting, as well as attend the PRSA Mid-Atlantic Regional Board meeting. Ten of the many highlights from my visit to the Crossroad of America include:

  1. Announcement that the 2017 PRSA International Conference will be held on October 8-10, 2017, in Boston, Mass., and the following year in Austin, Texas.
  2. Selection of new Director, Mid-Atlantic District, Samantha Julie Villegas, APR, president, SaVi PR, LLC, Washington, D.C.
  3. Anthony D’Angelo confirmed as Public Relations Society of America’s 2018 National Chair.
  4. PRSA launches member only mobile app.
  5. New APR campaign initiative (“It Takes Apro”), PRSA.Org experience, PRSA chapter promotion platform (“Get Connected”), and web-based development resources (http://EasySites.PRSA.org), all coming soon.
  6. Approved vendor will be available to serve as a resource for chapter award judging.
  7. District Seed Program established that will provide funding to chapters for enhanced programming.
  8. PRSA members’ saving center created that will provide members discounts on a variety of products and services.
  9. New Chapter Resource Guides will be distributed soon.
  10. More interactive MyPRSA Communities web-based communication platform that continues to grow in member use and serves as a valuable resource for communication professionals.

At this year’s PRSA International Conference, pioneering U.S. Astronaut Captain Scott Kelly, mentioned that the “sky is not the limit” and that each of us should always be reaching for the boundless opportunities on the horizon. As many chapter members have already started planning 2017 goals, it’s important to keep in mind one of Captain Scott’s valuable life lessons — “team work is what makes the dream work.” Or put another way, if you want to climb a great mountain, its cannot be done alone.

I wish you continued success – keep dreaming and reaching beyond the stars.

Dan Dunne, APR
President, PRSA MD

President’s Message – October 2016

Daniel Dunne, APR

Daniel Dunne, APR


The month of September was full of exciting chapter activities and events. In addition to serving as a sponsor of the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit, which was attended by several chapter members, many had the opportunity to learn new photography skills at the Photo Safari in Fells Point (September 14), led by photographer-extraordinaire Harry Bosk of Harry Bosk PR & Photography. We also appreciated the public relations team at Planit hosting an informative discussion on September 22, regarding how to successfully pivot your PR strategy when traditional pitching isn’t effectively securing coverage for clients. The month of October will be equally exciting with a “Coffee with Vitamin” on October 5, which will focus on ways to navigating difficult conversations with the media. Additionally, on October 13, you have the unique opportunity to attend a presentation on how one of America’s top secret agencies (CIA) uses the world’s most public communications channels (social media).

One important goal for the chapter has been to shine a bright light on Baltimore’s finest communication professionals at the Best in Maryland (BIM) Gala and Holiday Party on December 8, 2016. Now is your perfect opportunity to make this vision come true and nominate someone for any one of the five professional awards. This is sure to be one of the chapter’s highlight events of the year, so take advantage of the opportunity to check out the application, past winners and more details at PRSA MD Professional Awards. Our deadline is October 15, 2016.

Each week, PRSA MD members are faced with having to address difficult and challenging situations. The expertise provided by communications professionals in these circumstances is invaluable and provides some important lessons. Here is an example:

A local television reporter calls — just what you were hoping would not occur just a few days into your role providing communication support for a potential community health threat. You were doing such a solid job of providing initial internal communication support (e.g., crafting a communication timeline, developing talking points and letters), but now a news media representative has learned about the potential health risk from a Facebook post, and the situation appears to be headed for the 11:00 p.m., news. People in your organization who have responsibility for managing this issue are concerned…what should you do? Should you email the reporter a media statement crafted the day before? Or, should you immediately request to go on-camera to share the information available at that time? Or, should you not respond to the inquiry and hope the reporter does not call back?

You elect to gain additional facts about the situation and call the reporter to share your prepared statement. During the discussion, you broaden your response to point out that the potential health concern is receiving priority attention, the welfare of those who could be affected is assured, and the initial Facebook post was misleading. You emphasize how no indications to date reflect an existing health-risk to the public (contrary to the social media comment) and that further analysis is necessary before any definitive conclusions can be drawn. The reporter acts surprised to hear these facts, leaving the impression that she believes much more has been involved. After your conversation, it appears that she will not pursue her potential news report (at this time, and unless circumstances change). Still, you monitor news reports the next few days; no stories appear.

You are engulfed in providing additional communication support for about another week, and then this situation is resolved without incident. The precautionary steps taken in addressing the health matter were successful, and there is no need to provide official notification of any community health risks.

This incident demonstrates three key communication lessons:

  • Initial Communication. As events initially unfolded, it became critical to establish an ongoing incident timeline for future reference. It also was necessary in this timeline to note the type (e.g., email, telephone conversation) and sequence for specific communications as they unfolded. This strategy was vital in helping guide incident responses, as well as reflecting to internal and external stakeholders the immediate and appropriate steps being taken to address the situation.
  • Reporter Conversation: If a media statement simply had been emailed to the reporter, there would have been a strong possibility that her story might become a reality. One of the main reasons why is because outside sources were providing her information that exaggerated the situation. By engaging in a conversation about the issues raised, the reporter gained not only a more balanced and greater understanding of the situation, but also an appreciation for the communication transparency.
  • Strategic Communication Impact: If the situation being addressed had received publicity, the entire communication dynamic would have changed. A significant amount of time would have been needed to respond to various internal and external stakeholders’ reactions to this news report – which would have heightened anxieties about a situation not yet determined to be an actual health concern. Investing in targeted “front-end” communications prevented the need to address a variety of presumption-based issues.

Dan Dunne, APR
President, PRSA MD

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors