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Working to Continue with a Bold PR Future – Conference Recap

by Lisa Brusio Coster, Chapter President

It was a dog day of summer and the conference did not wilt under the heat. While NDMU did its best to keep us cool, 72 attendees at this year’s PRSA Maryland conference networked and learned new ideas and skills from our panelists and presenters. (To see details on the presenters, see the conference agenda here.)

In the opening panel on Changing Baltimore’s Narrative, we heard about the “Charm City Three-Step” – how Baltimore takes one step forward only to take two steps back. We were reminded Baltimore has a brand perception problem and we need to come together on a common theme. It was a deep, intelligent discussion with a few opposing views and in the end, a 15-minute Idea Lab was implemented for problem-solving, which allowed each table of attendees to work within specific parameters.

Afterwards, there were so many strong ideas expressed, PRSA Maryland decided to create a task force of sorts to take the lead on re-branding Baltimore. More to come on that concept, but initially, the goal will be to invite other PR, communications, marketing, and advertising organizations into the fold to accomplish the task.

Six sessions were held throughout the day, which covered diversity in internal communications, podcasting, public affairs, storytelling, niche audiences, and crisis. 

In the podcasting session, we learned the podcast audience is highly educated with high income and that most listeners fall between the ages of 25 – 34. During the storytelling session, we were told stories are the currency of human life. We were encouraged to find a way to blend informal and formal stories.

In crisis communications, we heard we must maintain trust with our stakeholders and whether you are viewed as caring is the single biggest predictor of how you are perceived after a crisis. In internal communications, we were counseled to expand our communications styles and platforms for various audiences and add our preferred pronouns to our email signatures. We were also reminded how important it is to have conversations with people with viewpoints different from our own.

In developing content for millennial black mothers, we heard how influential this audience is in terms of brand perception and buying power. And, in public affairs (PA) bootcamp we learned that while both PR and PA professionals represent organizations, PA is strictly related to the political, legislative, and government function, and closely related to lobbying. Some of the pressing challenges for PA practitioners revolves around crisis communications and risk management strategies.

Our day wrapped up with a panel presenting Towson University’s (TU) re-branding campaign. The TU staff took us down the path of research through implementation, covering an 18-month process. While they couldn’t share their budget with us, one of the best takeaways was that brand ambassadors include faculty and staff; hence, that internal audience required a communications strategy that culminated with a roll-out presentation long before the external audience was informed. We were also reminded logos are not brands and key messages are not tag lines.

Events like these are not possible without financial and in-kind support, over and above our attendees’ fees. Once again, we thank our sponsors: Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company, The Bozzuto Group, Notre Dame of Maryland University, Researchscape, Coster Communications, Maryland Women’s Heritage Center, Megan Evans Photography, and Quandra Gray for design.

Is all trust lost? How to recover from a brand damaging crisis

Submitted by Jennifer Donahoe, PR & Social Media Account Director, Planit

On June 4, 2019, shocking and gruesome undercover video broke showing animal abuse at a dairy farm in Indiana where the popular milk brand Fairlife produces its milk.

Originally posted on social media, the video quickly went viral and national media and local media across every major market in the country covered the story. The words “horrifying,” “torture,” and “disturbing” became synonymous with the Fairlife brand.

The result? The brand’s perception was immediately damaged and public trust tanked, with customers banning the product, and chains such as Jewel-Osco, Casey’s Foods, Family Express and more pulled Fairlife milk from shelves. In response, not surprisingly, the “where to buy” section of Fairlife’s website was taken down.

As communicators, there’s a lot we can learn from this crisis. When Fairlife responded, how Fairlife responded, and most importantly, what Fairlife did in reaction to the crisis, will all be discussed on July 18 at PRSA Maryland’s conference session on How a Crisis Can Become an Opportunity.

You will learn:

  • How to prepare for a crisis
  • Rules of effective crisis response
  • What works – and what doesn’t work – in a crisis
  • Key messages to communicate, regardless of the crisis
  • The most important question to ask in a crisis
  • When to respond in a crisis

We’ll discuss all this and more, analyzing major recent crises to help you prepare for the foreseen – and unforeseen – so that your business or clients are ready no matter when or how a crisis strikes.

The reality is a crisis can happen at anytime to any company. If you’re ready to prepare and protect your client or brand, this session is for you.

Click here for more information on this session and more!

2019 PRSA Maryland Conference – Call for Presenters: Now Accepting through Friday, April 26

Posted updated 4/19/2019

Thursday, July 18 (NEW DATE)
Notre Dame of Maryland University

 

CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT RFP

 

“What’s Truth Got To Do With It? The Future of PR!”

Truth. Transparency. Authenticity. The push to do business and communicate in a more open and transparent way.

Today’s consumers want more in their purchasing choices than a great product or service. Whether it’s shoes or eye glasses, luggage or even ice cream, the soul and character of an organization carry just as much weight.

What’s all this got to do with public relations? Turns out, pretty much everything.

When facts aren’t always facts and anyone can share information and call it news, public relations professionals – and their clients – are having to work harder than ever to tell their stories in an authentic voice that feels genuine and relatable. The expectation toward greater transparency influences every aspect of our profession – corporate messaging, internal communications, media relations, social media and digital strategy, storytelling, special events, how a CEO or organization responds to a crisis, and more.

While the need to sharpen and advance our skills is hardly new for the public relations professional, achieving the level of transparency required isn’t exactly easy. Bring your experiences to light and help raise the bar for Public Relations education by being a presenter at the 2019 PRSA Maryland Annual Conference on Thursday, July 18. This year’s conference will be held at Notre Dame of Maryland University.

For “What’s Truth Got To Do With It?,” we’re looking for great examples of how you are addressing and applying the demand for transparency in your work as a public relations professional. As a presenter, you will have the opportunity to impact individuals driven to improve themselves, the organizations they serve, PRSA and our profession. At the same time, you’ll have the added benefit of elevating your own skills and stature among peers who share in your passion and commitment to the profession.

Your experiences and insights toward innovative concepts and solutions are in high demand. By serving as a presenter, you’ll have the chance to demonstrate your evolution as a professional and further position yourself as an expert and role model in the industry.

 Suggested topics from our members include, but are not limited to:

  • Executive communications
  • How advancements in technology are changing the way we tell stories and share information
  • Shifts in the media landscape affecting how PR pros do their work moving forward
  • Social media strategy – finding the right voice and personality, engagement with audiences, use of influencers, etc.
  • Social media video applications – how you’re building engagement and/or solving a problem through applications like Instagram stories, IGTV, Facebook Live, etc.
  • Crisis communications and issues/reputation management
  • Telling powerful stories
  • How to build brand awareness
  • Measurement, tracking and metrics
  • Integration of traditional and social media
  • Tools for PR people on the cloud and via apps
  • Building your own brand as a PR professional (use of LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Marketing to multiple generations
  • Tools for creativity
  • Content development and strategy for multiple mediums
  • Effective writing in an authentic voice
  • Word-of-Mouth marketing – grassroots public relations using new tools
  • Making your message go viral 
  • Building your personal brand—do’s and don’ts of social media

Most sessions will run 60 minutes including question & answer periods. We are also considering 30-minute flash sessions intended to give attendees quick tips on a targeted topic.

Proposals must be submitted on or before FRIDAY, APRIL 26 (NEW DEADLINE). For more information, contact PRSA Maryland office at info@prsamd.org or 443-283-8060.

CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT RFP

*Graphic by Quandra Gray

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?

Recap of Morning With The Baltimore Sun

At PRSA Maryland’s Morning With The Baltimore Sun on February 7th, key staff shared how decisions are made regarding content – unique pitches, subject lines, and best time of day to share story ideas are just a few of those covered. Attendees learned about the analytics that go into editorial planning and how staff use real-time findings to determine placements in the shifting landscape of print versus digital.  

After the panel, attendees had the opportunity to ask additional questions, meet the staff, and see the facilities. Check out pictures and video below.

A special thanks to our event sponsor Strategic Factory for providing our morning coffee and more.

APR Boot Camp scheduled for April 10-12, 2019

The PRSA Mid-Atlantic District is hosting its fifth annual APR Boot Camp April 10–12 at Harrisburg University in Harrisburg, PA.

The APR Boot Camp is a 3-day intensive course for APR candidates to prepare and advance through the Panel Presentation (formerly called the Readiness Review™) and take the computer-based Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations (APR).

The cost of the APR Boot Camp is $400. There is an additional $385 fee to take the APR exam on April 12 at 2 p.m. Spots are limited to 18 participants, so register soon, as this popular session fills quickly.

Click here for more information or to register. 

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors