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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

 

A Special Thanks to our #BIM16 Sponsors, VIPs & Volunteers

 

It’s hard to believe that after months of planning and some finger-crossing on behalf of the entrants/nominees, the Best in Maryland program came to a close last week … and what a close it was! Coupled with high quality entries and tough competition on the awards side, and a top-notch venue, an outstanding keynote, and some exciting surprises on the Gala side, this year’s awards program was a resounding success. A great finish to the Chapter’s 55th year. (Check out Jeff Davis’ recap of the Gala.)

Of course, none of this can happen without the support of our sponsors and volunteers so we would like to take a few minutes to once again thank you all:

To our #BIM16 sponsors, because none of this can happen without your contribution and support …

Clapp Communications
for helping us put on this great event

Vitamin
Premier sponsor and VIP
for your continuing support of the Chapter

Van Eperen
for creating our #BIM16 design

Harry Bosk PR & Photography
for giving us your time and expertise
(pictures coming soon!)

PCA | An RR Donnelley Company
for providing all our printing needs with a smile
(even those last-minute items)

Flowers & Fancies
for providing our wonderful centerpieces

Erickson Living
for sponsoring the keynote Susan Goldberg
(she was amazing!).

We also want to thank our VIPs – your support helped us afford those few extras that made the evening sparkle … A. Bright Idea, LLCBGEChesapeake Employers’ Insurance CompanyCrosby MarketingErickson LivingPlanit, and Lifetime Achievement Honoree Louise Lake Hayman, APR, Fellow PRSA.

To our #BIM16 volunteers for finding a way to balance our needs with your day jobs …

  • Dana Cohen, Clapp Communications
  • Lauren Moyer, Clapp Communications
  • Sarah Tuccitto, Clapp Communications
  • Timmy Ruppersberger, Clapp Communications
  • Daniel Dunne, APR, Erickson Living
  • Claudia Ciolfi, Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company
  • Amanda Nolan, The Associated
  • Nancy Sherman, The Caroline Center
  • Dani Baldassare, Erickson Living
  • Lisa Coster, Coster Communications, LTD
  • Blaine Dunford

See you all next year!

One More Pro Gives Tips on Creating That Winning Entry

 

Here, former Maryland Chapter President Jeffrey A. Davis, APR shares his tips on how to get that entry noticed.

And Jeff should know. He is not only a past winner and a past senior judge, but also just won a 2016 Silver Anvil for his collaboration with Judy Phair, APR, Fellow PRSA on behalf of client the Council of Independent Colleges in Washington, D.C., for “Securing America’s Future: The Power of Liberal Arts Education.”

Tips:

  • Look at your entry through the eyes of the judges and realize they are going through multiple entries and making quick judgements about the strength of your submission.
  • Is the summary written in a light, understandable way that flows easily? Or do the judges have to pause, re-read sections and work to understand what you’re trying to say?
  • Match measurable goals with measurable results. The final numbers don’t need to match (not all programs magically meet a set of specific goals), but it helps to know what you set out to measure.
  • For programs, simply printing out the results of web research usually isn’t strong enough for a winning campaign. Judges look for primary research to supplement downloaded web pages.
  • Find ways to flag key elements of your entry – use headlines or other techniques to outline major points and draw attention to areas you want to highlight.
  • Finally, recruit a “judge” from within your organization who was not part of the campaign or entry process. Ask for a quick read and instant comments about what flowed, what didn’t and what improvements they suggest.

Click here and here for more tips!

Click here to get started on your entries!

Tips from Pros on Creating a Winning Entry

 

Over the years, we’ve collected tips on creating a winning entry from those that know – past winners and judges. Here’s what a few had to say.

Harry Bosk, APR, Harry Bosk PR & Photography
Make sure when you say that you want to increase awareness that you state with whom, why and by what measurement.  Otherwise, it’s not a measurable objective.

Lisa Miles, APR
Media relations is not a measurable objective. It’s a tactic used to reach your target audience.  Start asking yourself the question of “why” each time you write an objective and if you can get to something measurable and timely, THEN you have an objective.  Also make sure your objectives match up with the rest of the program, particularly the results.  I heard a great quote from another judge when we were at the Silver Anvil judging this year – it’s the Alpha and Omega that we look at first – the beginning and end.

 Chuck Fitzgibbon, APR, Weber Shandwick
Judges value outcomes more than output.  Behavioral change is seen as more valuable than volume of messaging, impressions, material distribution, etc.  Smaller, local programs that moved the needle and affected real change often receive higher scores than massive national programs that had a lot of output, but didn’t demonstrate real change.

Organization is key.  If your entry isn’t organized as specified in the guidelines, judges may overlook critical information in your entry, or may assume that either you’re not paying attention, or just resubmitting an entry from another competition.

Jody Aud, APR, MedImmune
Make sure what you are entering is really a “campaign.” So often I see entries that are really a single tactic – such as the launch of a newsletter or an Intranet and the entry focuses on just the tactic and why it was selected, audience reach and so on. For me, an entry that’s primary importance on the research, planning and evaluation, and secondary importance on the tactics, is usually one that will stand out from the rest.

Peter Stanton, APR, Stanton Communications
Keep in mind that the awards are as much about what you did that’s new and innovative as what you did well.  While the judges may be impressed that you scored a major hit in the national media, it’s far more interesting to know how you did that.  Did your overall program incorporate some new approach or some new tactic that galvanized media attention?  Was there something in your program that could be instructive for the rest of the profession?  If so, flag it.

Judges may be called upon to review dozens of entries.  If you are hoping they discern the key element of your creativity, they may miss it.   If you are hoping they will be awed by very traditional tactics and outcomes, you may be disappointed.  Demonstrate innovation and prove that it accomplished your goals and not just achieved a nice news piece.  That’s the way to win.

Paul Eagle, APR

  • Winning entries go far above and beyond typical campaigns …
  • Results must match objectives
  • Campaigns are too focused on media placements – especially “integrated campaigns”
  • Pay close attention to the categories you enter – I judged three last week that were simply in the wrong category
  • Backup is critical – if you say you wrote a plan, include it…or at least parts of it so we know it exists
  • Research is more than “we conducted an informal poll at our agency”

 

Click here and here for more tips!

Click here to get started on your entries!

And of course, if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at info@dev.growsocially.biz or call our chapter office at 301-725-2508 and ask away.

 

 

 

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors