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President’s Letter – November 2016


Daniel Dunne, APR

Daniel Dunne, APR

Special thanks are extended to Lisa Coster, President, Coster Communications, Ltd., and many others (listed below) for their leadership and expertise in conducting the judging for the 2016 PRSA Oklahoma City Uppercase Award nominations. Each year, PRSA chapters throughout the country conduct annual chapter award reciprocal judging – however, due to scheduling factors, the 2016 “Best in Maryland” award entries were judged by the PRSA Philadelphia chapter. We appreciate the support of our City of Brotherly Love PRSA chapter and look forward to celebrating this year’s PRSA MD “Best in Maryland” award recipients on December 8.

Lisa Coster (Chair), Coster Communications, LTD
Teri O’Neal, A. Bright Idea, LLC
Melissa Mauldin, A. Bright Idea, LLC
Anita Brightman APR, Fellow PRSA, A. Bright Idea, LLC
Katie MacNichol, A. Bright Idea, LLC
Cobey Dietrich, A. Bright Idea, LLC
Danielle Duran Baron, ABET
Jennifer Kellar APR, AECOM
Kelly Stoll, AECOM
Diane Devaney, Devaney & Associates, Inc.
Lindsay Hebert, Devaney & Associates, Inc.
Maureen Kilcullen, Maryland Department of Commerce
Susan Matthews Apgood, News Generation, Inc.
Sarah Hinder, Prometric
Dorothy Fuchs, Purple Dot Public Relations
Glenda LeGendre, Strategic Marketing and Communications
Nikki Bracy, Vitamin

On October 4, I started paying closer attention to the tracking of Hurricane Matthew as it worked its way closer to Florida. Why? Because West Palm Beach was projected to get hit with the storms full force (110 – 165 mile per hour winds). This meant that Devonshire, an Erickson Living retirement community, would be significantly impacted. My experience in navigating this crisis provided me an opportunity to learn, which I shared in this edition – read “Matthew Hones my Crisis Comm Skills.”

Lastly, in conjunction with attending the PRSA International Conference in Indianapolis on October 22-25, I was able to represent the chapter as an Assembly Delegate at the annual leadership meeting, as well as attend the PRSA Mid-Atlantic Regional Board meeting. Ten of the many highlights from my visit to the Crossroad of America include:

  1. Announcement that the 2017 PRSA International Conference will be held on October 8-10, 2017, in Boston, Mass., and the following year in Austin, Texas.
  2. Selection of new Director, Mid-Atlantic District, Samantha Julie Villegas, APR, president, SaVi PR, LLC, Washington, D.C.
  3. Anthony D’Angelo confirmed as Public Relations Society of America’s 2018 National Chair.
  4. PRSA launches member only mobile app.
  5. New APR campaign initiative (“It Takes Apro”), PRSA.Org experience, PRSA chapter promotion platform (“Get Connected”), and web-based development resources (http://EasySites.PRSA.org), all coming soon.
  6. Approved vendor will be available to serve as a resource for chapter award judging.
  7. District Seed Program established that will provide funding to chapters for enhanced programming.
  8. PRSA members’ saving center created that will provide members discounts on a variety of products and services.
  9. New Chapter Resource Guides will be distributed soon.
  10. More interactive MyPRSA Communities web-based communication platform that continues to grow in member use and serves as a valuable resource for communication professionals.

At this year’s PRSA International Conference, pioneering U.S. Astronaut Captain Scott Kelly, mentioned that the “sky is not the limit” and that each of us should always be reaching for the boundless opportunities on the horizon. As many chapter members have already started planning 2017 goals, it’s important to keep in mind one of Captain Scott’s valuable life lessons — “team work is what makes the dream work.” Or put another way, if you want to climb a great mountain, its cannot be done alone.

I wish you continued success – keep dreaming and reaching beyond the stars.

Dan Dunne, APR
President, PRSA MD

President’s Message – October 2016

Daniel Dunne, APR

Daniel Dunne, APR


The month of September was full of exciting chapter activities and events. In addition to serving as a sponsor of the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit, which was attended by several chapter members, many had the opportunity to learn new photography skills at the Photo Safari in Fells Point (September 14), led by photographer-extraordinaire Harry Bosk of Harry Bosk PR & Photography. We also appreciated the public relations team at Planit hosting an informative discussion on September 22, regarding how to successfully pivot your PR strategy when traditional pitching isn’t effectively securing coverage for clients. The month of October will be equally exciting with a “Coffee with Vitamin” on October 5, which will focus on ways to navigating difficult conversations with the media. Additionally, on October 13, you have the unique opportunity to attend a presentation on how one of America’s top secret agencies (CIA) uses the world’s most public communications channels (social media).

One important goal for the chapter has been to shine a bright light on Baltimore’s finest communication professionals at the Best in Maryland (BIM) Gala and Holiday Party on December 8, 2016. Now is your perfect opportunity to make this vision come true and nominate someone for any one of the five professional awards. This is sure to be one of the chapter’s highlight events of the year, so take advantage of the opportunity to check out the application, past winners and more details at PRSA MD Professional Awards. Our deadline is October 15, 2016.

Each week, PRSA MD members are faced with having to address difficult and challenging situations. The expertise provided by communications professionals in these circumstances is invaluable and provides some important lessons. Here is an example:

A local television reporter calls — just what you were hoping would not occur just a few days into your role providing communication support for a potential community health threat. You were doing such a solid job of providing initial internal communication support (e.g., crafting a communication timeline, developing talking points and letters), but now a news media representative has learned about the potential health risk from a Facebook post, and the situation appears to be headed for the 11:00 p.m., news. People in your organization who have responsibility for managing this issue are concerned…what should you do? Should you email the reporter a media statement crafted the day before? Or, should you immediately request to go on-camera to share the information available at that time? Or, should you not respond to the inquiry and hope the reporter does not call back?

You elect to gain additional facts about the situation and call the reporter to share your prepared statement. During the discussion, you broaden your response to point out that the potential health concern is receiving priority attention, the welfare of those who could be affected is assured, and the initial Facebook post was misleading. You emphasize how no indications to date reflect an existing health-risk to the public (contrary to the social media comment) and that further analysis is necessary before any definitive conclusions can be drawn. The reporter acts surprised to hear these facts, leaving the impression that she believes much more has been involved. After your conversation, it appears that she will not pursue her potential news report (at this time, and unless circumstances change). Still, you monitor news reports the next few days; no stories appear.

You are engulfed in providing additional communication support for about another week, and then this situation is resolved without incident. The precautionary steps taken in addressing the health matter were successful, and there is no need to provide official notification of any community health risks.

This incident demonstrates three key communication lessons:

  • Initial Communication. As events initially unfolded, it became critical to establish an ongoing incident timeline for future reference. It also was necessary in this timeline to note the type (e.g., email, telephone conversation) and sequence for specific communications as they unfolded. This strategy was vital in helping guide incident responses, as well as reflecting to internal and external stakeholders the immediate and appropriate steps being taken to address the situation.
  • Reporter Conversation: If a media statement simply had been emailed to the reporter, there would have been a strong possibility that her story might become a reality. One of the main reasons why is because outside sources were providing her information that exaggerated the situation. By engaging in a conversation about the issues raised, the reporter gained not only a more balanced and greater understanding of the situation, but also an appreciation for the communication transparency.
  • Strategic Communication Impact: If the situation being addressed had received publicity, the entire communication dynamic would have changed. A significant amount of time would have been needed to respond to various internal and external stakeholders’ reactions to this news report – which would have heightened anxieties about a situation not yet determined to be an actual health concern. Investing in targeted “front-end” communications prevented the need to address a variety of presumption-based issues.

Dan Dunne, APR
President, PRSA MD

September 2016 – President’s Message

Daniel Dunne, APR

Daniel Dunne, APR


If you were like me, back in 2013 when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos purchased the Washington Post, thoughts quickly emerged about his plans for the newspaper and what would be next? Well, this past month Bezos’ history of aiming high was reflected in the announcement that his paper would be joining the growing number of news organizations which are using language-generation technology to produce stories automatically.

What’s next in the media landscape? It’s here…training software for writing stories. Adding to this summer’s portfolio of new story-telling methods is the two-way text-messaging service offered by The New York Times to enhance news coverage of the Summer Olympics. Those who signed-up for this service in advance were able to receive a behind-the-scenes look at the Games in a personalized and user-friendly manner. This innovation was developed by the Times’ Director of Personalization – who is focused on helping the paper tell stories through a lens that brings readers closer to the journalism and to the journalist.

Lastly, CNN has also joined the ranks this summer of news organization expanding and enhancing their technological capabilities for news gathering and storytelling by launching CNN Aerial Imagery and Reporting, or CNN AIR for short. The CNN AIR team is made up of several drones, or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), along with two full-time UAS operators. The drones are being used for all CNN platforms as well as other Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner entities. CNN produced this video as part of the launch of CNN AIR. With both the Post, Times and CNN, it’s clear that attracting and reaching readers in new and creative ways and on platforms that are central to their lives is a core component of their business plans. Having a knowledge of these type of strategic initiatives provides us with just the type of perspective needed to more fully understand and appreciate reporting and storytelling the “new-fashion” way.

As we enter the month of September, the deadline (September 12, 2016) for submitting “Best in Maryland” (BIM) award nominations is drawing near. This year’s gala and holiday celebration is an ideal opportunity to join Baltimore’s finest communication professionals in celebrating another successful year in Maryland public relations and communications. What will surely lead to a large turnout at this year’s event includes the revised award categories, valued sponsorships, creative promotion, elegant venue, as well as fabulous speakers. For example, Barb Clapp, President and CEO at Clapp Communications, will serve as the evening’s emcee. In July 2016, The Daily Record named Barb as one of Maryland’s 2016 Most Admired CEOs. Joining her as our keynote speaker will be Susan Goldberg, the first female Editor-in-Chief for National Geographic Magazine and Editorial Director of National Geographic Partners — an expanded joint venture owned by the National Geographic Society and 21st Century Fox that combines the National Geographic television channels with National Geographic’s other media and consumer-oriented assets. Under her leadership, in 2015 National Geographic won two National Magazine Awards and the George Polk Award for magazine reporting. In 2013, Susan was voted one of Washington’s eleven most influential women in the media by Washingtonian magazine. Her keynote presentation will address how National Geographic Magazine leaders and other communicators can tackle the new challenges facing media and journalism in the digital age. Special thanks to all of the sponsors who are working tirelessly to make this year’s gala and holiday celebration the best ever — Gala Chair – Clapp Communications; Design – Van Eperen; Keynote Speaker – Erickson Living; printing – PCA; and photography – Harry Bosk PR and Photography. 

Special thanks are extended to Anita A. Brightman, APR, Fellow PRSA, and founder and CEO of a “A. Bright Idea,” and her staff for hosting a “Coffee With” on August 22. PRSA MD members had a first-hand opportunity to see why A. Bright Idea is one of Maryland’s leading public relations agencies. Also, special thanks is given to Bobbie Battista, Director of Corporate Communications and Culture at ExpressJet Airlines, for being a part of a special virtual discussion on August 25.

I hope you had a great summer and look forward to seeing you at one of the chapter’s upcoming events, including the Photo Safari in Fells Point (September 14), Coffee With Planit (September 22), 2016 Best in Maryland Gala and Holiday Celebration (December 8), at The Belvedere.

Dan Dunne, APR
President, PRSA MD

President’s Message – August 2016

Daniel Dunne, APR

Daniel Dunne, APR


The recent events in Dallas, Texas, involving the ambush and killing of five police officers, brought back recollections of the 2016 PRSA Maryland Conference and the presentation by T.J. Smith, regarding the Freddie Gray case and related crisis communications. What T.J. shared about the importance of transparency and being authentic in crisis communications was once again on full display after the July 7th police officer killings in Dallas. During multiple press conferences, David Brown, Dallas city’s police chief, became the face of the nation’s shock and provided what NBC News described as words that were “simple, direct and powerful.” According to Dallas officials and onsite news media, what Dallas needed the most throughout the crisis was a “voice of compassion and concern” – and chief Brown delivered just that under very difficult circumstances. While talking points and scripts for dealing with crisis situations have their value, what the Baltimore and the Dallas police departments have shown us is that when faced with tragedy, messages coming from the heart connect with audiences.

If you are looking to get more involved in Baltimore’s PR community, PRSA Maryland is a perfect choice. Survey results from the over 125 attendees at the PRSA MD Conference (held June 14 at Loyola University) reflect very engaging presentations and quality speakers. Additionally, the Happy Hour at Ryleigh’s Oyster was a perfect opportunity to enjoy time with fellow communicators in a relaxed environment. Looking ahead, there is even more to be excited about, including opportunities to serve on one of the Chapter’s exciting committees.  Please contact the chapter at info@dev.growsocially.biz to learn more…let’s make 2017 a year of meeting interesting people and promoting professional growth.

I’m excited to announce that call for the Best in Maryland (BIM) 2016 Awards entries has been posted to the Chapter’s website. Extensive planning is underway to make this year’s award’s event a unique occasion to celebrate the exemplary professional skills, creativity and resourcefulness of Baltimore’s finest communicators. Award-winning Clapp Communications leadership is serving as the BIM Committee chair and is doing a fabulous job of preparing to make this pre-holiday event an elegant and memorable evening. Barb Clapp, President and CEO at Clapp Communications will serve as the evening’s emcee. In July 2016, The Daily Record named Barb as one of Maryland’s 2016 Most Admired CEOs. Joining her as our keynote speaker will be Susan Goldberg, editor-in-chief for National Geographic Magazine. Goldberg previously worked at Bloomberg News as executive editor of federal, state and local government coverage and prior to that was the top editor at Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer and the San Jose Mercury News. Both Barb and Susan are sure to entertain and provide insightful comments regarding today’s communications profession. So don’t wait too long before reviewing award categories and submitting your entries (which can be done electronically); tickets for the awards ceremony (December 8) will be available soon. Those organizations interested in learning about BIM sponsorship opportunities can contact me or call (301) 725-2508, for further details. Special thanks go out to our 2016 Design Sponsor, Van Eperen.

Interested in joining in a 30-minute virtual lunchtime discussion with Bobbie Battista, Director of Corporate Communications and Culture at ExpressJet Airlines? Then register today for this special August 25th conversation that will be presented in an interview format with time also for Q&A’s. Bobbie will share details about her communication position at ExpressJet Airlines and the value of PR in today’s media landscape, as well as provide a few tips on how communicators can be successful in their diverse roles. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to talk with a distinguished news veteran who not only serves in a corporate communications role, but is also a media personality, consultant and pundit.

I hope you are enjoying a great summer and I look forward to seeing you at upcoming events…such as our first-ever Photo Safari on September 14, led by photographer-extraordinaire Harry Bosk of Harry Bosk PR & Photography.

Until then, all the best of success!

Dan Dunne, APR
President, PRSA MD

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors

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