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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.

Are You Worth the Investment? (Chessie Recap)

Submitted by Sandy Arnette, APR

KeynoteSo often, we’re busy on our jobs, managing our budgets and households, and just racing through life trying to keep up with the hectic pace of things.

In the midst of it all, we often leave little or no time for ourselves – particularly to invest in our careers and professional growth.

One culprit is infobesity – or information overload – where we’re constantly bombarded with content. Each day, 499 million tweets and 500 million emails are sent and 4.7 billion pieces of content are shared. And, it’s estimated that by 2020, 5 billion people will always be online. It’s simply mind-boggling, but another important reason why we must make time and invest in ourselves.


Well, kudos to those of you who did just that by attending this year’s PRSA Maryland Chesapeake Conference – now in its 37th year. We had great speakers and workshops and an awesome venue thanks to Erickson Living. The feedback from conference attendees was overwhelmingly positive. We were told it was definitely worth the time and a true investment in their PR careers.

Here are a few key take-aways:

  • Participate in real-time conversations that matter with people who matter. Employ surgical strikes, target your content and be sure to always measure your effectiveness.
  • Give reporters a few key sentences about your pitch rather than a long release. Personalized pitches are most effective regardless of the platform.
  • A social media specialist needs strong writing skills, a deep knowledge of differences in platforms and the ability to integrate content.
  • People will give up anything to have their smartphones. So make sure you’re leveraging this audience and the technology.
  • Set goals for each conference session and introduce yourself to new people. Get out of your comfort zone and forge new relationships. Networking is key and can be a spring board to help launch your career.

Chessie showed how data drives good decisions; how metrics and research are critical to any PR campaign; how mobile technology is disrupting everything we know about PR; and why SEO (search engine optimization) is vital. Attendees also learned effective video marketing techniques and discussed study results of how the communications industry is adapting, how PR professionals are leading and how consumers are connecting. This included a focus on emerging media and how many seniors are keeping pace with technology for their news consumption.

If you missed this year’s Chessie Conference, you definitely missed a treat. Check out the highlights and get some great PR tips on Chessie Page, PRSA Maryland’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages and on Twitter (hashtag #Chessie14).

Click here for an Animoto Video of the conference!
And check out all conference photos by clicking here and here!

Photos and video courtesy of Bob Stockfield Photography. For copies, contact Bob at bob@stockfieldphoto.com

Presentation handouts are available on Chessie page.

Quick peek at some Chessie Sessions!

Want to get a heads up on some of our sessions? Here’s a look at what’s in store for you from some of our speakers …

A Taste of Effective Video Marketing Methods – From Tried and True to Leading Edge: Barbara Haupt, President and Elissa Leif, CEO, MiniMatters Video & Marketing

Barbara and Elissa offers up a quick taste of 5 video marketing methods they have seen pay off in big results for organizations and businesses.
Click here for handout

Networking: Not an Event! Joni Daniels, M.S. Ed., Daniels & Associates, speaker, author, consultant, trainer

Joni will share practical advice on how to network for success … how to convert a collection of business cards into genuine business leads and relationships.
Click here for handout
About Joni Daniels

SEO: Not even half the story: Jay McCutcheon, Principal & Marketing Director, Mission Media, LLC and David Harrison, Harrison Communications

Jay and David will provide five effective steps you can take to position your content for greater discovery by those you care most about reaching.

Mobile: Disrupting Everything We Know About PR: Sterling C. McKinley, Internet Marketing Specialist, McKinley Media Group

Sterling will help you discover how Mobile is effecting every communication channel from publishing to taxi services. 

Click here for a full descriptions of these and all our events!



–Industry News