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Celebrating Teri O’Neal, APR, on Becoming Accredited

Teri O’Neal, APR, Director of Public Relations for the woman-owned, full-service creative agency A. Bright Idea Advertising and PR, was the latest PRSA Maryland member to become accredited. Dianna Fornaro, our chapter’s APR Manager, recently sat down with Teri to discuss her APR journey. As Teri herself says: “It’s definitely about the journey, not just the destination.”

  1. Can you share why it was important to you to earn your APR?  The timing felt right to renew my commitment to my career and the PR profession in a very public fashion. Currently, I provide leadership and strategic oversight for a five-person public relations department. I serve as a working manager, allowing me to lead by example and grow talent within the agency. I take my role as a leader and mentor very seriously. I wanted to instill a commitment to lifelong learning in my team. But, even more than that, I chose to do it for myself. The sense of accomplishment and overcoming my fear of taking the [APR exam] is priceless.
  2. How long did it take you? Were there particular challenges? It took me 13 months from the approval of my application to the date I took the CBE [Computer-based Exam]. However, realistically, I have been stopping and starting this process since 2008. I have terrible test anxiety, always have, and I let the thought of this challenge overwhelm me time and time again. It wasn’t until I chose to do this for myself and my team that I decided to hit this challenge head-on during the pandemic.
  3. Was it particularly difficult or not during the pandemic? Committing to this process during a global pandemic had its challenges and opportunities. While I had more time available to study and participate in the online course, I was also working virtually and experienced the burnout from staring at my computer all day and all night. The cohort of people also going through this process at the same time really helped get me through it, as did my mentor, Anita Brightman, APR, Fellow PRSA.
  4. Has earning your APR enhanced your career professionally? If so, how? Even after 23+ years in the industry, I learned so much about PR through this process. It confirmed the theories and communication models I knew and added additional tools to my toolbox to enhance my approach further. Understanding that this industry requires a passion and a thirst for knowledge, I feel like this is the beginning of the journey, not the end. I look forward to learning and growing in the profession as part of this distinguished network of PR practitioners.
  5. Would you recommend your colleague pursue their APR? If so, why? I would definitely recommend any PR professional pursue the APR. Investing in your career and committing to making yourself better, regardless of whether you are new to the industry or more than two decades in, will make you more confident in your practice and opens up relationships with others in the industry. I am truly grateful to all those who encouraged, guided, and supported me through this process. I have solidified old relationships and established new ones. I have gained additional resources that I immediately put into place with my clients. It’s definitely about the journey, not just the destination. I have grown and learned so much in the last year.
  6. Would you like to share anything about the challenge of earning your APR? The biggest challenge for me involved not wanting to let anyone down, including myself. I have been practicing for 23 years, and the fear of failing a test that gauged what I do for clients every day scared me. Once I pushed myself to overcome my fear and the stigma that I didn’t have the time to invest in the process, my commitment to making this happen solidified. PRSA has the tools and resources necessary to give you the foundation necessary to succeed—you just have to believe in yourself.
  7. Any pointers? Take the online course and join several cohorts!!! I did a summer and fall cohort because I couldn’t commit the time at first to attend every session. Use the online course to set the rhythm for your studying. Study before you submit and schedule your panel presentation. It is important to know all aspects of the RPIE process and other KSAs before meeting with your panel. Know that your panel has gone through this as well and wants to see you succeed. Any feedback provided only seeks to make you better. If you can find a mentor it really helps to keep you focused, build your confidence, and encourage you to keep going, even during a global pandemic. Read the Effective Public Relations (EPR) book and the study guide. I spent the days leading up to the exam re-reading the study guide and looking at the flashcards provided by the online class. Use the strikethrough and flagging features in the online test; these help to narrow down your answers. Don’t forget to go back to review your answers before you submit the test. And, most important, relax and breathe. Find the courage within yourself to accept the challenge, and you can achieve this goal.

 

PRSA MD Sponsorship Opportunities

For nearly 60 years, PRSA Maryland has taken great pride in helping our 300+ members stay connected professionally and personally, providing training, resources, support and access to the latest industry trends as well as an annual professional development conference and Best in Maryland awards gala.

To support our members’ continual growth in their field, PRSA MD provides multiple sponsorship opportunities that allow businesses and organizations to connect with Maryland’s PR and communications influencers and decision makers. Our sponsorship opportunities are fully customizable, giving you the freedom to interact with our members in a way that best aligns with your business goals.

Review all of our current sponsorship opportunities here.

Don’t see a sponsorship level that meets your unique needs? Contact PRSA MD board member Laurie Farrell at laurie.farrell2715@gmail.com – she’ll be happy to work with you to develop a package that best showcases your brand!

Our DE&I Goals for 2021

Over the last year, PRSA, the Maryland chapter, and our industry as a whole have made incredible strides in the incorporation of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. The DE&I committee spent significant time over the last few months conducting research and interviews with folks in our industry and beyond, carefully considering the ways that our DE&I goals can best serve our members.

Our goal for 2021 is to create tools and educational opportunities that will allow you, as members to incorporate these essential pillars into your daily work for the organizations you serve. We plan to offer several programs that will allow you to learn different topics like the need for equitable internships and how to use inclusive language in your communications plans. We’ll introduce you to diverse media outlets that could prove to be useful contacts for your work. And, we plan to offer resources about anti-racism and how to get started on your own journey. In addition, we will create educational toolkits for members to reference at any time to ensure that their efforts are truly inclusive.

In addition to these educational efforts for members, it is also essential that we, the leaders of PRSA Maryland, incorporate standards and practices that promote equity. We are making a concentrated effort to use our platforms to elevate the voices of underrepresented groups in our profession. You can expect to hear from experts who have diverse backgrounds at all of our panels and events. We are also going to elevate minority-owned businesses by hiring them for events and by providing a resource for our members who would like to expand their own vendor base.

We appreciate your continued support on these endeavors and ask that you hold us accountable. We welcome your feedback! If you have ideas, suggestions, or even criticisms, we are ready to hear them. Please feel free to email us directly at mmiles@weinbergharris.com or kalethajanori@gmail.com  

Sincerely,

Kaletha Henry & Mary Miles

 

Museum of Public Relations Tour Reminds Maryland Chapter of First Woman President

A press kit premiering the movie “Dumbo,” a stereograph, Edward L. Bernays’ wooden in-box and

Virginia H. Pie, APR (Photo: C-SPAN’s coverage of American Red Cross leadership and others during a news conference about workers with AIDS in the workplace, April 19, 1988)

history-making PR artifacts and books were all part of PRSA Maryland’s live and customized virtual tour of The Museum of Public Relations in New York. The tour included a focus on famous Maryland PR execs, as well as women in PR, to mark Women’s History Month in March. 

Tour leader and museum founder Shelley Spector reminded attendees of an important Maryland chapter milestone with national significance. The Maryland chapter is known for having one of the first female chapter leaders in the nation and doing so a year ahead of National.

That leader was Virginia H. Pie, APR (later Virginia Pie-Pistolesi, following her marriage to Domenic “Tony” Pistolesi).

Chapter members were saddened to be reminded that Virginia passed away from cancer in 1991 at age 57 at her home in Hedgesville, W. Va. 

Pronounced PEE-AY, Virginia Pie-Pistolesi’s obituary in The Sun noted that she was a special events and promotions officer at Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C. and had been the organization’s national director of public affairs from 1981 until 1988. She also served as community relations director for the Baltimore chapter of the Red Cross from 1964 to 1973. The Washington Post noted she also worked for the Red Cross in El Paso, Alexandria and Richmond.

She was Maryland chapter president in 1972 during her time at the local Red Cross, marking the first year the chapter was recognized as “Maryland.” From 1961 to 1971 the chapter was known as the Baltimore chapter of PRSA.

The former Virginia Hughes was a native of Charlottesville, Va., and a graduate of the University of North Carolina where she earned a degree in journalism. She won a Silver Anvil award among other honors.

 

PRSA MD Service Opportunity: Call for Judges for Wisconsin PRSA Awards

It is that time of year again where our chapter performs a valuable service for another PRSA chapter around the country – the judging of their chapter’s annual professional awards.

This time we are being called to judge The Northeast Wisconsin Chapter awards. https://prsanewis.org/index.php

This service is invaluable because without judges PRSA chapters would not have a ready remedy to celebrate the hard work and professional achievements of PRSA members.

Of course, this act is reciprocal.

Because of our participation in this, it allows our Best In Maryland entries to be judged by a sister PRSA chapter later this year. We are expecting an announcement soon about what chapter will be judging us this year for our December BIM awards.

With that said, I am soliciting your help. We will need at least 20 volunteers to participate in this year’s judging.

Here are the touchpoints:

1. If you won a PRSA MD Best in Maryland Award last year or your company did, this is a great way to pay your win forward. Your award was made possible because other PRSA members around the country volunteered their time to look at your entries.

2. If you want to submit an award this year for PRSA MD BIM, this is a good chance to see what the judging process is so that you can form a strategy when our BIM call for entries goes out later this year.

3. If you want to see what other PRSA professionals are doing around the country with campaigns, this is a great opportunity to get a look at the landscape of work in another part of the country especially with COVID communications.

If you can help, please send me an email: david.marshall@morgan.edu letting me know that you are willing to participate.

The entries are expected to be delivered to PRSA MD this weekend, and all entries are due back to NE Wisconsin on March 27.

I will be in touch with further directions once I receive your email saying you can volunteer.

Thanks so much for considering this meaningful service opportunity. It would be great to hear from volunteers by this Saturday.

Best to all, and thanks for being a member of PRSA MD.

David Marshall, Ph.D., APR
PRSA MD Chapter President

–Industry News