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PRSA Maryland Member Spotlight: Lauren Walbert

This month, we talked to Maryland Chapter member Lauren Walbert. Lauren is Vice President of Sandy Hillman Communications, and has been an active volunteer serving on the PRSA Maryland Board of Directors since 2017.

How long have you been a member of PRSA and why did you join? I joined in 2015 at the urging of co-worker Dave Curley, who was tasked on asking me by past president Claudie Ciolfi. I had been considering joining a professonal group since I moved to Baltimore eight years ago. I joined because PRSA offers growth opportunities, events, and a community to meet other practitioners.

I was not a PRSSA member because my college, La Salle University (Phila.) didn’t have a chapter.  So, I started a PR club as a student. The club helped other LaSalle clubs or groups promote their events. 

 

What do you enjoy most about being a board member and volunteering? Being involved with a group opens me up to new world of colleagues who are also working in the field, providing a broader sense of the community in Baltimore and Maryland.

What is your current position at Hillman? I am a vice president of the lifestyle division, representing our consuming-facing clients. A sampling of our client list includes Diamond Resorts (a timeshare company with properties all over the world) and United Way of Central Maryland.

What do you love most about the PR field? I enjoy a little bit of everything and that I can place great stories in coveted outlets. I get to play a consultant role on different issues, coordinate events, write, and travel a little.  I do it all because Sandy Hillman Communications is a smaller company.

How do you define success? Overall, success is to be happy. On a professional level, making clients happy means placing the big story or orchestrating the big opening and securing the right media. Happiness is about making sure you can do it all while making time for other things in life, too.

Who inspires you? Our owner Sandy Hillman is my professional inspiration.  She’s done so many incredible things and has taught me about being a professional in Baltimore and about life.

Personally, my twin four-year-old daughters are my inspiration. Children have a different perspective on the world and life. They often make me stop and think about what’s important and re-prioritize.

What’s one thing – either industry-related or not – you learned in the last month? I just listened to an interesting podcast called WorkLife with Adam Grant. The episode was about personality and explored what being an introvert or an extrovert could mean for your work life. As it turns out, there are many levels of being introverted and extroverted, and everyone draws energy from the people around them (even introverts!) And, there are ways to stretch beyond your innate personality traits. If you’re interested, listen here.

What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know? I’m really into yoga and I practice Ashtanga, a modern arm of classical yoga. It is supposed to be done at dawn, so I try to get to the gym every morning. But, since the class starts at 6:00 a.m., I don’t always make it.

What’s the last book you read? A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne which has a current event link to the author A.J. Finn, a.k.a. Dan Mallory. The book was lyrical, interesting and had great character development.  Currently, I am reading the murder mystery about the “Golden State Killer” entitled, I’ll be Gone in the Dark, by Michelle McNamara with an introduction by Gillian Flynn (who wrote Gone Girl).

Where did you grow up and where would you like to retire? I grew up in South Jersey outside Atlantic City. Where to retire?  I have no idea, but I think near the water.

If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? Tacos!

Connect with Lauren via LinkedIn or by Email

 

Meet New Member Morgan Randall

As a communications coordinator with the Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, Morgan Randall contributes to numerous tactics and strategies on behalf of her school. Some of her tasks include providing content for the Arts & Sciences magazine that is put out twice a year, managing a monthly e-bulletin that gets sent out to faculty and staff, making necessary edits to department websites, and completing billing for departments requesting photography services through Homewood Photography. She also supports the Director of Communications and team with various projects.

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Currently resides: Baltimore, MD

Education:

Randall earned an M.A. in Contemporary Communications from Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Why did you choose a career in Communications/PR?

I’ve always enjoyed writing and storytelling, so I decided to explore the Communications field since there are so many areas within it that are relevant to that passion.

How did you get into your current position?

During my last job search, I reconnected with a supervisor (from when I was a college intern) and she informed me of a job opening in her department that was exactly what I was looking for at the time.

How do you stay on top of industry related news/trends?

Websites like Forbes and PR Newswire are useful in regards to staying informed, along with speaking/meeting with people who do similar work at Hopkins.

How has being a PRSA member benefited you?

PRSA has provided me with resources like Webinars and information about conferences (which are discounted) as well as ways to network with others in the field on a local level through the Maryland Chapter.

Who is your role model and why?

Besides my mother, who is outgoing and a great problem-solver, Damon Dominique and Jo Franco (it’s hard to name one without the other) are my biggest role models right now. On YouTube, they are simply known as Damon and Jo and they travel around the world, exploring different cultures and learning new languages along the way. Their videos show that you can truly be a world traveler on a budget, meet people abroad, and experience the charming nature of a city like a local. They’ve also taught me not to let material things or just being too comfortable in a situation hold me back from pursing my passions (they move a lot so they have to be minimalist to an extent).

A career in Communications/PR can be stressful at times. What do you do to relax?

Hot yoga is the best way to clear my mind and just focus on my body.

What are your passions/interests/hobbies?

Reading, writing, photography, and researching historical events through primary sources (like archives.gov), documentaries, etc.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

Sometimes I do writing exercises where I write from the perspective of a stranger (while on the metro, at the park, etc.) and just imagine what their internal monologue might be like or how they live their life based on what I see in that moment.

Best piece of advice received:

Not to let fear govern your decisions.

Connect with Morgan:

Email –morgan.g.randall@gmail.com

Member Profile: Emily McDermott

As an account supervisor at Van Eperen, Emily McDermott guides client strategy and manages accounts, overseeing client teams and deliverables. Emily also contributes to Van Eperen’s communications and supports business development in addition to recruiting and training staff and interns. This year, Emily was recognized as the PRSA-MD chapter Volunteer of the Year.

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Education:

I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in communications, specializing in public relations. I was lucky enough to go to Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. It’s part of the UNC School System and located in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

Describe your day-to-day job:

That’s the hardest question to answer! I love agency life because every day, every minute, is different and unpredictable. Possibly the best way to explain it is to imagine taking all the things I said I do at Van Eperen and put them in a really big bag. Toss in multiple clients, the integrated PESO (paid, earned, shared, and owned media) model, math for tracking and measuring, leave space for the things I’m surely forgetting, and give it a shake for 4-6 minutes and THAT’S my day-to-day job. I love it!

How did you get into your position with Van Eperen?

Funny you should ask! I moved back to Baltimore in 2013 after living in Atlanta for seven years and immediately joined PRSA-MD. I was quite active in the PRSA Georgia Chapter and knew I wanted to continue to be involved with the organization here. Jeff Davis, APR (Managing Partner of Van Eperen) was co-president of the PRSA-MD board of directors at the time and I saw him at the first event I went to and introduced myself. As I became more involved with the Chapter I was asked to join the board and got to know Jeff better. Over the years my admiration for Jeff and his work grew and grew. His public relations consultancy was acquired by Van Eperen and it wasn’t too long after that Jeff was ready to expand Van Eperen’s Baltimore office. I met with him and CEO Laura Van Eperen and the rest is history!

What did it mean to receive the Volunteer of the Year award?

It took time to sink in because it was a complete surprise. I couldn’t have been more honored. I invest time and energy into PRSA-MD because it’s an organization that I believe in and it has truly made a difference in my life and professional development. To be recognized by the Chapter as Volunteer of the Year encourages me to do more and I hope others are inspired to volunteer with PRSA-MD, too.

What work are you most proud of doing for the Chapter?

Increasing the number of programs the Chapter offers is what I’m most proud of. It has been, and continues to be, a group effort. People suggest a topic they’d like to present or one they’d like to learn more about and we’re turning those ideas into meaningful programming for communication practitioners. Networking and professional development are the two biggest reasons people join the Chapter and it’s been a huge focus to deliver both. It’s a lot of work but the feedback has been fantastic and we’re excited to bring even more in 2018!

What advice do you have for practitioners looking to do more with the Chapter?

Speak up and don’t take on too much, too soon!

 What are your passions/interests/hobbies?

Everything revolves around my family and friends. Spending time with them is the most important thing to me. I love music and going to concerts and productions. And I’m passionate about giving back. Just over a year ago, I started volunteering with Thread, Inc., a Baltimore City nonprofit. Thread aims to engage underperforming high school students confronting significant barriers outside of school by connecting students with a family of volunteers and increased access to community resources. We work to foster students’ academic advancement and personal growth into self-motivated, resilient, and responsible citizens. It’s been one of the most challenging and rewarding adventures of my life.

Best piece of advice received:

I have two; be kind and be true to yourself.

Connect with Emily:

Email – emily@vaneperen.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/EMcDermott48

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/emilymcdermott/

Member Profile: Ben Caplan, Strategic Factory

As a senior project manager of Strategic Factory , Ben Caplan is responsible for assisting clients with branding and marketing through print and direct mail, signage and display, digital media and promotional advertisings. He recently volunteered on the 2017 Best in Maryland Awards Gala Committee.

 

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Currently reside: Reisterstown, MD

Education: Ben earned a bachelor of science in marketing and communication from Towson University.

Why did you choose a career in Communications/PR? I love to talk and express myself and help others express themselves.

How has being a PRSA member benefited you? I recently joined and am starting to meet some influential people.

Who is your role model and why? My role model is my father, who passed away. He always taught me to be honest and to be there for those you love.

What are your passions/interests/hobbies? I am very interested in history, Civil War and JFK. I also love to play golf at a variety of places.

Best piece of advice received: Each day try to take a step forward in life and business.

Connect with Ben via LinkedIn

 

Member Profile: Phillip Yerby, Weber Shandwick

Phill Yerby
Weber Shandwick


As the senior manager, client experience at Weber Shandwick, PRSA Maryland Chapter Board of Directors member Phill Yerby is the strategic account lead for clients across numerous industries including energy, telecommunications, insurance and travel.

Hometown: Washington, D.C.

Why did you choose a career in Communications/PR?
I chose a career in public relations because I’ve always been enamored with the news. In college, I took an intro to public relations course and decided to switch my concentration from broadcast journalism to public relations.

How has being a member of PRSA benefited you?
It’s been an excellent way to stay up-to-date all the amazing work being done by PR practitioners across the region.

Who is your role model and why?
My role model is Bill Atkinson. Bill was one of my first managers at Weber Shandwick and he fostered in me a tenacity for always delivering results for my clients.

Passions/interests/hobbies:
Tennis, cooking, taking in as much live music as possible. I’m also a die-hard Washington Redskins fan. #HTTR

Best piece of advice received:
The devil is in the details.

Connect with Phill:
Follow Phill on Twitter @RealPhi11.

–Industry News