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A Year In Review

We had another busy year. Below are just a few of the highlights …

Chapter Study Group now Forming!

APR Happenings … directed by our awesome and very capable APR Chair Jen Kellar, the APR Study Group begun in Fall 2014 continued the process with 12 candidates. To date, 3 of the candidates have received their APR! A new round of sessions began on 1/12/15. Click here for more information.

Mentoring Program … we launched our mentoring program and while still in its infancy, we’re looking forward to watching it grow. If you are interested in getting a mentor or being a mentor, let us know at info@dev.growsocially.biz.

Events … Always looking to advance our members professional development, we hosted/participated in a number of events:

∗ Visit to WBAL-TV 11, 2/1/15. Partnering with BPRC, we met with editors and reporters of WBAL-TV 11 and WBAL News Radio 1090. The event was a sell-out! Read recap by Jeff Davis here.

∗ Digital Media Panel, 3/17/2015. We were invited to join BPRC for their March meeting to hear a panel discussion on how you can work with local blogs that cover a myriad of topics from business to communities to entertainment.

Sporting some bling!

Sporting some bling!

∗ Crisis Communications with Kevin Byrne of The Baltimore Ravens, 5/20/15. With the Ray Rice controversy still fresh in our minds, we welcomed Kevin Byrne, senior vice president of public and community relations for the Baltimore Ravens for a frank discussion on crisis communications. Plus we got to hold – and some of us got to put on – the Ravens’ Super Bowl Ring. A special thanks to our event host Emerging Media/Loyola University Maryland.

Root Down to Rise Up

Root Down to Rise Up


∗ 2015 Chesapeake Conference, 6/4/15. Hosted by Erickson Living for the second year, #Chessie15 was touted as one of our best in terms of speakers and sessions. We began with a keynote from Sherry Llewellyn, Director of Public Affairs for Howard County Police Department and ended with a presentation by Michelle Andres, Vice President of Digital Media/Broadcasting and Chad Steele, Vice President of Public Relations for the Baltimore Ravens. Click here for a full recap and presentation handouts.


Meeting New Friends

∗ PRSA MD Summer Networking Event, 8/26/15.
We met on a beautiful summer evening at the BoatHouse in Caton for a casual get-together. The event coincided with PRSA’s New Professionals Week, yet it was an event for everyone to enjoy. And enjoy they did by swapping stories, advice and a few business cards in the process! We had over 25 PR pros and new pros attend.


Courtesy of Coyle Studios

Courtesy of Coyle Studios

∗ 2015 Best In Maryland Program & Gala. We exceeded our entry counts from last year with many of our entries receiving high scores. This year, we also did away with the binders/folders by accepting entries electronically. Winners gathered at the Best In Maryland Gala and Holiday party on Tuesday, December 1 for an evening of networking and celebration where we also presented 4 professional awards. Click here for recap.

∗ Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit, 9/30/15. We were a proud sponsor of this one-day event that brought together more than 300 marketing and communications executives to discuss high-level issues through a series of panels, keynotes, presentations and networking.

∗ Volunteer Appreciation Pizza Night, 12/8. We invited current and prospective volunteers to join us for pizza. It was a chance for us to show our current volunteers how much we appreciate their hard work, and a great chance for prospective volunteers to get a taste of what it means to be part of the chapter.

Other events that we participated in included …

∗ PRSA Webinar: How to Activate an Influencer Network with Converged Media – Free to members, this webinar featured Michael Brito, head, social strategy, WCG who talked about incorporating new earned, owned and paid media tactics to better engage influencers with content.

∗ PRSA Central Chesapeake Chapter, 04/16/2015. Learn ways to get elected officials to your event

∗ INTEGRATE DC presented by West Virginia University IMC program, 10/27/2015. PRSA Members received discounted registration.

p.s. Did you know that you can find recaps to many of these events in our Resource Library?

Coming soon … What’s in store for 2016? Well, we’re working on this year’s programming calendar including our annual Chesapeake Conference. Also be sure to keep a watch out in late spring for the 2016 Best In Maryland Call for Entries.

Looking forward to an even better year!

Want to get involved? Contact us at info@dev.growsocially.biz!

A Powerful Day of PR and Social Media at PRSA Maryland’s Chesapeake Conference

Submitted by Jeff Davis, APR
Originally appeared in Capitol Communicator June 9, 2015

*Photos courtesy of Harry Bosk PR & Photography*

General Session

General Session

At the 38th Annual Chesapeake Conference by the Maryland Chapter of PRSA held last week at the John Erickson Conference Center at Charlestown in Catonsville, Md., attendees heard the latest in PR and social media from expert presenters and industry leaders.

Sherry Llewellyn

Sherry Llewellyn

Communicators started the day hearing from Sherry Llewellyn, director of public affairs for the Howard County Police Department. Llewellyn discussed the changing face of media; benefits and obstacles in social media; using social media in a crisis such as the Columbia Mall shooting; the value of Twitter as a primary news source in a crisis; and how to integrate social media into a traditional media strategy. (See separate post on Llewellyn.)

John Trybus

John Trybus

An inspiring luncheon session addressed the power of strategic storytelling by John Trybus, APR, deputy director of the Center for Social Impact Communication at Georgetown University, who was joined by colleague Bridget Pooley, program manager. (See separate post on Trybus.)

Chad Steele

Chad Steele

The conference ended with a keynote from Michelle Andres, vice president of digital media & broadcasting, and Chad Steele, vice president of public relations, both with the Baltimore Ravens, who talked about the use of social media and online marketing to engage their vast fan base. Their talk addressed traditional public relations activities and the challenges teams face with new tools such as Periscope, and real-time pitfalls to watch out for with social media.

In between, attendees had the choice of a range of topics including social media strategies, brand awareness, marketing and storytelling.

Conference co-chairs were Courtney Benhoff of Abel Communications and Kelly Stoll of AECOM. Capitol Communicator was the media sponsor. For insights and reactions from attendees, search the event hashtag, #Chessie15.

Click here for more information on the conference and copies of presentations.

The Science Behind Compelling Content

Submitted by Mark Hoeflich

Amrit Dhillon

Amrit Dhillon

Your brain is working on a constant basis in receiving and processing information. But too much data and facts can strain the brain’s bandwidth, making it harder to absorb a message.

So how do you tap into the brain’s power to engage and motivate people to take action? Amrit Dhillon, president of AD House Communications, and featured speaker at the 2015 Chesapeake Conference, offers some unique insight on how the brain interprets messages and controls behavior:

  • Compassion: Compassion in the brain works best if you focus on one person, rather than millions. “When we give statistics, we like to show scale, but that doesn’t always resonate and get people to act,” says Dhillon. “Instead, consider focusing on the story of one person.”
  • Intuition: People make decisions based on their beliefs, values and gut reactions. “We tend to think that giving numbers and expert research will help people make decisions. But intuition is a stronger force,” Dhillon says.
  • Football effect: People have strong emotional ties to their favorite sports team. The same is true for a particular cause or issue. Therefore, it may be harder for your message to penetrate and change people’s minds if you don’t consider the social and emotional connections of your audience.

Learn more from Dhillon about the science behind compelling content at the PRSA Maryland Chapter’s premier educational and networking event of the year.

The 2015 Chesapeake Conference takes places June 4 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the John Erickson Conference Center at Charlestown. Time is running out to register.

Register today.

Bring Your Organization to Life Through Strategic Storytelling

John Trybus - Color Headshot-6

John Trybus, APR

Submitted by Mark Hoeflich

All of us can remember our favorite childhood stories. Even the greatest moments in history are filled with compelling stories.

Stories inspire, engage, trigger emotion and drive action. So what’s the secret behind effective storytelling for your organization? John Trybus, APR, deputy director of the Center for Social Impact Communication at Georgetown University, and featured speaker at the 2015 Chesapeake Conference, offers five tips for better storytelling:

  1. Successful organizational stories are composed of five essential building blocks: character, trajectory, authenticity, action-oriented and a hook.
  2. Profile a single, compelling “character” that your organization works with who is relatable to the audience and can relay specific details and experiences; your organization should only play a supporting role.
  3. Banish jargon. No one wants to hear your organization’s acronyms.
  4. Before producing a story, spend enough time planning. Let the ultimate purpose for the story drive choices for how it will be produced, shared and evaluated.
  5. Build a culture of storytelling within your organization by creating a story corp of employees that includes a member of leadership.

Learn more about the building blocks of successful storytelling from Trybus and Bridget Pooley, program manager, Center for Social Impact Communication at Georgetown University, at the PRSA Maryland Chapter’s premier educational and networking event of the year. The 2015 Chesapeake Conference takes place June 4 at the John Erickson Conference Center at Charlestown. There’s still time to register.

Register today.

Visit csic.georgetown.edu/research/storytelling for best practice research on nonprofit storytelling conducted by the Center for Social Impact Communication.

Social Media in a Crisis: Q&A with Sherry Llewellyn

Q&A with Chesapeake Conference Keynote Speaker Sherry Llewellyn …

submitted by Mark Hoeflich

Sherry Llewellyn

Sherry Llewellyn

When Sherry Llewellyn, director of public affairs for the Howard County Police Department, received the dispatch call about an active shooter at the Columbia Mall, it was almost surreal. “Is this actually happening, are we sure it is not a training exercise,” said Llewellyn. But it quickly became evident that police were dealing with a real and dangerous situation on the fateful Saturday morning in January 2014.

Llewellyn directed the Howard County Police Department’s crisis response and will share her perspectives on the crisis and lessons learned as a keynote speaker at the 2015 Chesapeake Conference hosted by the Maryland Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. Here’s a preview of what you can expect during her session:

Q. What was one of the most important lessons learned from this experience?

A. This experience made it clear that we can become our own new sources, providing information to the public at the same time as the media, while in the midst of a crisis situation. People could go to an array of places to get information, but if they stayed with us, we would be the confirmed source at a time when it was critically important. And the media was getting it at the same time.

Q. How did you use social media to help with the flow of information and be as transparent as possible?

A. First and foremost, we wanted to be the single place to come for accurate and confirmed information. During news conferences, we encouraged people to follow us on Twitter and it was interesting to see how quickly our followers increased within the first few moments. As a government agency, social media gives us a strong, additional tool for sharing verified information, and people seem to want that source in digital media.

Q. What do you think is a basic, fundamental skill necessary in today’s digital environment, particularly during a crisis situation?

A. As communicators, we have to share information in ways that are best for our audience. It may not always be the most comfortable, but you have to cover all the bases to cover all the people trying to reach you.  For many, it’s following along on social media. But some want to be at the scene with cameras and notebooks asking questions. So you have to provide information in that arena as well.

Learn more from Llewellyn at the 2015 Chesapeake Conference June 4 at the John Erickson Conference Center at Charlestown. The full-day event features keynote presentations, breakout sessions and networking, all designed to share best practices for helping you be successful in today’s digital environment.

Register today.

–Industry News