I would like to thank the PRSA-Maryland board and chapter members, as well as many others, for your kind words of sympathy following my mother’s death in late April 2016. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to spend quality time with her because she relocated late last year from South Florida to my sister’s home in Warrenton, Virginia. Needless to say, your support and encouragement over these past several weeks have provided me with great comfort.
Not long after my mother’s passing, I found myself unexpectedly smiling after PRSSA Loyola University Baltimore members presented me with a gift for helping to strengthen their partnership with PRSA-Maryland. The laughter came after I unraveled the tissue stuffed inside a Loyola University gift bag to find three individually wrapped 3 Musketeers bars. Expressing thanks and a desire to ensure I fully understood the symbolism, the PRSSA chapter president shared how the bars represented the partnership involving PRSA-Maryland, Loyola University Maryland, and Loyola’s PRSSA chapter. For me, this was a priceless expression of appreciation presented in true student fashion, and it could not have come at a better time.
Since then, our partnership with Loyola’s PRSSA chapter has continued to grow. For example, Tania Cantrell Rosas-Moreno, Ph.D., Associate Professor and PRSSA Faculty Advisor, has expressed support for PRSSA’s involvement with this year’s “Best in Maryland” (BIM) event. It also appears other local university PRSSA chapters will be involved in the event. Special thanks to Clapp Communications for all the work underway to make this year’s awards gala and holiday party truly special. This month, details will be shared regarding the 2016 BIM award categories and submission guidelines. So, the time has come to start thinking about your best work in 2015/2016 and to consider nominating these campaigns or projects for special recognition.
This past month, the board approved the chapter’s 2016 Service Agreement with Mariner Management and Marketing, LLC. Over the past several years, Mariner has played a key role in serving the chapter, and this year it will continue to provide support in multiple areas, including financial management, membership, the PRSA Maryland Conference, “Best in Maryland” event, and much more. Special thanks are extended to Peggy Hoffman, Mariner’s president, and her staff for helping the chapter serve Baltimore’s communications professionals.
There is no doubt that the May 11 live-streaming video workshop, hosted by the Baltimore Police Department’s media relations team, was a special event. As shared in The Capitol Communicator, attendees received an inside look at how the department’s communications professionals use live-streaming video (e.g., Periscope, Facebook Live) to share vital messages, as well as provide an accurate picture of the country’s eighth-largest municipal police force. T.J. Smith, Chief Communications Advisor for the Baltimore Police Department, led the discussion, which included a review of the type of live-streaming tools (e.g., Square Jellyfish Spring Tripod Mount, Vastar cellphone mount adapter) that help in creating successful live streams. According to Dani Baldassare, Public Affairs Manager with Erickson Living, and a member of PRSA-Maryland Communications Committee, the chapter’s social media sites received numerous positive comments regarding the professional quality of the workshop.
To see an extended version of the presentation and to hear T.J. Smith and members of his communications team discuss crisis communications and the Baltimore unrest, please attend the PRSA Maryland Conference on June 14 at Loyola University Maryland. This year’s conference planning committee has done an exceptional job putting together a full-day agenda that will go a long way in helping attendees succeed in the fast-evolving world of communications.
As we enter June and prepare to focus on crisis communications at the Maryland Conference, it is hard for me to believe it has been 15 years since I faced one of the toughest challenges of my public relations career: being prepared for the media onslaught (1,800 news media representatives) in Terra Haute, Indiana, seeking to cover the Timothy McVeigh execution. As a veteran spokesman for the Justice Department, my role included not only helping to establish media guidelines and onsite planning for the event, but also conducting press conferences and media briefings that were televised worldwide. I have often been asked about the keys to success in preparing for what many news outlets claimed would be greater news coverage than what occurred at either the presidential inauguration or the Olympics. While there were many keys to success, one of the most crucial was the opportunity I had to learn of the value of a media advisory group.
Instead of planning in a vacuum, senior public affairs staff brought together national news media representatives for several meetings to provide their insights and recommendations regarding the Justice Department’s draft media plans. The advisory group’s feedback played a vital role in ensuring the final media guidelines established a workable plan for both the Federal government and news organizations.
For example, by working with advisory group members, we were able to reduce the over 100 news satellite trucks that were initially planned to cover the event to approximately a dozen trucks located on prison property. We made this possible by requiring all the major networks to share their satellite truck news feeds with their affiliate news stations. Additionally, by building this unique partnership, we allowed reporters the opportunity to take their own proactive steps (e.g., making sure their staff had appropriate press credentials while on property) to ensure the onsite reporting was achieved as planned. So, if you are ever faced with the responsibility of having to prepare for a large-scale media event, please remember that those who will be reporting from the scene can provide invaluable insights that can help you achieve your goals.
After the June conference, we are also planning two special events for July, including a summer social (location to be announced soon) and a webinar on “How to Write a Winning Best in Maryland (BIM) Submission.”
See you at the PRSA Maryland Conference on June 14.
Dan Dunne, APR