PRSA Boston Blog

This is a blog written by the PRSA Boston president (Tom Nutile for 2008) about events and activities involving PRSA Boston

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Initial 2008 PRSA Assembly Report

This past Saturday (from 8 to 5 - more on that in another post) PRSA had its annual assembly. It was my honor to serve as the delegate from PRSA Boston. Compared to past assemblies, this one was relatively low-key – although we laid the groundwork for the “Mother of All Assemblies” in 2009 (Where the plan is to potentially rewrite all of PRSA’s Bylaws…)
I will be making a series of posts recapping the assembly over the next week, but I wanted to get a quick one in now.

PRSA National provided us with an update on the state of the society. Overall, membership has increased by 4,000 over the past few years, and the PRSSA will have more than 10,000 members. This bodes well for the future of our profession. In my opinion, We still need more members, and to do that we need to provide even more value.

There are a number of new initiatives planned, including:

PR Journal
APR Study Guide
Capitol Hill Program
Internship Guide
Diversity Toolbox
Established research policy
Assembly survey

You may notice advocacy and thought leadership are missing from the list – that is because they are core to the growth and mission of the society and are being tackled separately (and I plan to lend whatever assistance National wants on those efforts). I am not sure I agree with the order of the above activities, but there are initiatives here to expand our value to almost every member.

PRSA National highlighted its Clean Elections campaign. They plan to continue the dialogue post election. Again, I applaud it, but is elections central to most of the members? We are not an organization focused primarily on politics – let’s focus on business, academics, etc. But my concern is a matter of degree and this will benefit the members.

For 2008, PRSA National is also presenting a new section model and focused on improving chapter support.

They also recognized we need to strengthen core benefits. One example of potential interest to independents, small agencies and those in transition is PRSA will be offering new insurance programs for companies and individuals. More details to come.

Some random notes:

For those of you that hate having to remember your PRSA Number to log into Membernet, you can now change it via the preferences section.

If you are interested in getting more involved nationally, fill out the My Preferences section on Membernet to highlight your volunteer interests. National is watching.

PRSA Job Center now has some salary information. I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but combined with PR Week’s study, this should be useful to members for various reasons.

Significant changes to the PRSA Website are coming and they look good. They are also working on tying the local Web sites to national. They will provide templates to use in site redesign chapters want to keep the same look and feel. PRSA National would like your feedback on the proposed site. You can check it out and provide feedback on Membernet through November 15.

As always, post if you have any questions.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

2009 PRSA Boston Slate

Good morning,

A special guest posting as immediate past-president and chair of the nominating committee.

The formal stuff:

Pursuant to Article III, Section 3 of the PRSA Boston Bylaws and Article VII, following is the slate of proposed officers for PRSA Boston. At the time of election (our annual meeting on November 19) all will be active members of the society and chapter. If any members of the Board up for election (or currently serving) let their membership lapse during the course of their term, their duties will either be suspended or revoked at the discretion of the board.

Now I have that out of the way, the slate:

President – Jack Jackson, president On-Message Public Relations

Jack Jackson is president of On-Message Public Relations, an agency that traces its roots to the corporate, product and issue communication programs he began doing independently in 1998. Since then, his client base has extended to computer hardware and software companies; biotech and life sciences firms; Web and IT service providers; and, for the past four years, clean energy and environmental technologies. Jack’s PR career has played out almost entirely in New England—with the single exception being the year he spent in Redmond, Washington, where he launched and directed a 55-person PR office servicing Microsoft. In this capacity, Jack was lead outside PR counsel for all of Microsoft’s high-profile Web properties and interactive digital products.

Before turning to PR, Jack was a reporter for United Press International, specializing in science and technology news; a writer and editor for the Harvard Medical School Health Letter; an editor for the Chicago Tribune-New York Daily News Syndicate; and a segment producer for WCVB-Channel 5.

Jack earned his MBA in marketing, with high honors, from Boston University and holds a BS in science from Penn State. He’s been a PRSA member for 11 years now, and has served on the Boston leadership team since 2000.

President Elect—Meghan Gross, Public Relations Manager at Foley Hoag LLP

Meghan Gross has over 15 years’ experience in developing and implementing strategic communication plans for clients in a wide range of industries including professional and financial services and technology.

She is currently Public Relations Manager at Foley Hoag LLP, a 250-lawyer firm with offices in Boston, Washington, and Waltham, Massachusetts. As the first in this role, Meghan works closely with firm management to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy for positioning the firm and its core practice groups with its key audiences. Prior to her current position, she spent four years in a similar role at Ropes & Gray LLP.

Prior to entering legal marketing, she spent several years working on the agency side at Weber Shandwick Worldwide and Arnold Worldwide, managing account teams serving the technology and financial services industries. Meghan also worked in public affairs in Washington, D.C. at the well-known bipartisan public affairs firm, Powell Tate. She began her career in political media relations, working on state-level referendum campaigns in Massachusetts and in state government.

She is an adjunct instructor of public relations at Boston College in the Department of Communication. Meghan received her M.A. from The George Washington University and a B.A. from Boston College.

VP, Programs—Rod Gibbons, APR, Raytheon

Rod has more than 15 years experience in successfully leading top performing communications programs for diverse, global organizations in higher education, aerospace and defense industries. He currently directs the employee communications program involving 13,800 employees in a $5B business unit of Raytheon. Previously, he was the Public Affairs Director for the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. A former naval officer, Rod has served in dynamic and high visibility public affairs and aviation assignments around the world.

VP, Membership—Guy T. Shields, APR Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems

Guy has 20+ years experience in communications. He currently leads the external communications efforts for a $5B business unit of Raytheon. Previously, he was the Deputy Chief of Public Affairs for the U.S. Army in the Pentagon. A retired Army Officer, has had multiple assignments working internal communications, media relations and community relations for organizations ranging from two thousand soldiers up through more than a 750 thousand soldiers and their families. Guy has served in dynamic and highly visible public affairs assignments including Panama, Bosnia, Rwanda and Iraq. Guy has a BS from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and an MA from the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI.

Treasurer- Darlene Hollywood, president, Darlene Hollywood Public Relations

Darlene Hollywood has supported publicity and public relations initiatives for both individuals and businesses for more than fifteen years. As sole proprietor of Darlene Hollywood Public Relations, Darlene, with a network of freelance consultants, currently supports PR efforts for national brands including Welch’s and Skinner Auctions & Antiques, as well as lesser know entities such as Kaon Interactive and Paxonix.

Prior to establishing her consultancy in January of 2006, Darlene was a director at Horn Group, servicing a high-tech clientele. Before Horn, Darlene was vice president of Laura Tomasetti & Associates (now 360 Public Relations) where she spearheaded several mom-focused campaigns for Hasbro, The First Years and Isis Maternity.

Secretary - Jackie Lustig, APR, Executive Vice President, Racepoint Group

With more than 25 years experience in public relations and marketing communications, Jackie focuses on business development, agency marketing, and a variety of initiatives that grow and strengthen Racepoint Group. In addition, she leads the agency team supporting One Laptop per Child – a campaign that has garnered the industry’s highest honors including the PRSA Silver Anvil and the United Nations Grand Award.

Prior to Racepoint Group Group, Jackie was senior vice president of marketing and business development at Weber Shandwick. She oversaw the firm’s advertising, intranet/extranets, collateral development, direct marketing, media relations and awards marketing programs. In 2005, both PRWeek and The Holmes Report named Weber Shandwick as “Agency of the Year.” In 2002, Jackie launched the newly formed Weber Shandwick in 68 offices in 23 countries.

Before Weber Shandwick, Jackie was deeply involved in the marketing of emerging technology companies. As the head of the Emerging Business Practice of The Weber Group and Vice President at Neva Group, she provided strategic counsel and architected award-winning marketing campaigns for numerous Internet-related, telecom and networking start-ups.

Jackie spent the first 13 years of her career in a variety of sales, marketing and financial communications roles in technology companies including Bytex Corporation, Prime Computer and Fujitsu Microelectronics.

Jackie has a BA magna cum laude in History from Brown University and an MBA summa cum laude in Marketing from Babson College.

Board member-At-Large, Diane Pardes, president of Pardes Communications, Inc

Diane Pardes, president of Pardes Communications, Inc., has 25 years of experience in high-tech, business-to-business, consumer and nonprofit PR. A veteran of major Boston agencies, Diane has a track record in providing creative and strategic counsel; designing and implementing results-driven campaigns; writing feature articles and whitepapers; and delivering high-level media coverage. She has worked with emerging companies as well as industry leaders such as the Wall Street Journal Interactive edition, IBM, Freixenet sparkling wine, Polaroid, Avid Technologies, and the Mass Technology Leadership Council. Diane has held senior positions at Miller/Shandwick Technologies (now Weber/Shandwick Worldwide), Redgate Communications (acquired by AOL), and Ingalls, Quinn & Johnson.

She graduated summa cum laude from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She is also a member of the Boston Club and serves on the Strategic Planning Committee and Enterprise Committee. Her programs received a Bell Ringer merit award and a Telly award. Diane was recognized twice as one of the top 10 PR professionals in Massachusetts by Women’s Business.

Assembly Delegate, Julie Lear, APR, Lear Communications

Julie has more than 14 years public relations and communications experience creating award-winning launch, cause-related, and educational awareness campaigns for companies in the packaged goods, retail, food and beverage, and consumer health & beauty sectors. In 2005, Julie founded Lear Communications which specializes in strategic marketing communications for consumer product and service companies. Julie was formerly consumer group director at Schneider Associates in Boston. She began her career in television production working for both local network and national cable stations. Julie has previously served as PRSA Boston’s vice president of membership.

Monday, June 09, 2008

PR Ethics Debate Rages over Book by Former White House Spokesman

PRSA National has found itself involved in a controversy over the nature of public relations and its ethical standards.

The brouhaha came in the wake of former White House spokesman Scott McClellan’s controversial new book, “What Happened,” in which he indicates that he and the Bush administration misled the public over the war in Iraq.

A CBS on-air legal analyst delivered a commentary noting that some in the public relations community “wonder whether the former flack violated the ‘ethics’ of his craft.”

The CBS analyst, Andrew Cohen, a lawyer, stated, in part, “Apparently, an industry the very essence of which is to try to convince people that a turkey is really an eagle has a rule that condemns lying….”The Public Relations Society of America states: ‘We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent...’ This clause strikes me as if the Burglars Association of America had as its creed ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal.’

”Show me a PR person who is ‘accurate’ and ‘truthful,’ and I'll show you a PR person who is unemployed.”

Them’s fightin’ words, PRSA National concluded, firing off a letter the same day as Cohen’s broadcast, blasting the legal analyst and urging members to blog on the CBS web site about our code of ethics and how we are, indeed, honest.

The PRSA response – both the letter from National and the blog posts – generated a second polemic from Cohen. In it, Cohen quotes a lawyer friend.

“In an academic sense, your hyperbole is inaccurate and therefore, perhaps, unfair,” the lawyer writes to Cohen. “There are certainly ethical PR folks out there. But, like lawyers and the Fourth Estate, there have been so many bad actors who for so long have abused the public’s trust, that the hyperbole pretty accurately represents the feelings of most in the public, and is sadly not that far from the truth. The PR industry needs to take some responsibility for this state of affairs (as do lawyers and the media) and work to restore the public’s faith.”

Another comment came from a blog posting on Cohen’s page on the CBS site. The unnamed poster claims to be both a journalism and PR professor. The professor recounted what one student recently said of the class:

“One student, a business major, told me he respected me because I spent the entire 15 weeks beating into him that PR was about mediated shared meaning founded on truth. He said he had no idea he had to tell the truth in PR before he started the class. He thought his PR experience was going to be akin to a creative writing course for the business world. The rest of the class seemed in agreement. I was glad I could help set the record straight for these students, but the real problem lies elsewhere. All of those leaders of industry-in-training, all of those future pols, have a misguided view of PR, and those are the ones who will one day be signing the public relations officer's paycheck. Public relations is equally duty-bound to the audience as it is to the organization. And, yes, I believe my idealism would get me fired if I was not in an ivory tower. The root of PR's PR problems lies with intent and influence of the client or the management, not the trained and ethical practitioner.”

That same day, PRSA National sent out a press release calling for government reform and challenging the 2008 presidential candidates to “adopt a communications policy engaging principles like those in the PRSA Code of Ethics.”

The next day, PRSA National CEO and Chair Jeffrey Julin posted a video response to Cohen on the PRSA National site. Julin said, in part,

“It is PRSA’s belief that in a free society every individual and organization has a right to communicate and to advocate for positions, and those positions are generally judged by the public not only on merit, but also on the credibility and reputation for honesty, earned over time, by the people and organizations putting forth those positions…

“Public relations is about relationships. Relationships are built on honest communications and trustworthy behavior. That is what the members of the Public Relations Society of America are about, and that is what we bring to our employers, to our clients, and our communities.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Committee declines to issue student award for 2008

Every now and again, an awards committee will decline to issue an award. It isn’t that the applications or the applicants themselves aren’t worthy of consideration. It’s simply that the level of excellence expected by the awarding body has not been met. It happens on occasion with the Pulitzer Prizes, considered the top awards in journalism. According to the plan of the Pulitzer Prize awards, "If in any year all the competitors in any category shall fall below the standard of excellence fixed by The Pulitzer Prize Board, the amount of such prize or prizes may be withheld."

After careful consideration, the PRSA Boston Scholarship Grant Committee has decided not to issue a PRSA Boston Scholarship Grant in 2008. The committee determined that the applicants, although worthy students of public relations no doubt, did not achieve the level of excellence in their grant applications that the committee has come to expect for a winner.

This is the first time in the eight-year history of the scholarship program that the committee has reached this decision.

In the words of the chairman of the Grant Committee, Art Dimond, the decision “was an extremely difficult one for us. Ultimately, we reached it because while we thought that each application had merit, we concluded that no one application had a special quality -- a spark, an originality -- that we have perennially sought.”

As someone who has competed for awards, both in public relations and, before that, when I was a daily journalist, for journalism awards, I can say that the times I did not win were as educational as the times I did win. I used the experience of not winning an award to examine my work, my application and the winners (either that year or in other years) and learn how to do a better job.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We Have Seen the Future of Journalism and It Is ....

Thanks to blogging and social media, within five years the New York Times and other major newspapers might simply be weekly or twice-weekly news magazines. That was one of the predictions at PRSA Boston’s monthly program, “The Future of Journalism in a Social Media World” held last night (May 20) at the American Cancer Society offices in Weston.

The session, put together by PRSA Boston Program Committee member Todd Van Hoosear of Topaz Partners, was moderated by veteran journalist Paul Gillin, author of "The New Influencers" and the upcoming book "Secrets of Social Media Marketing."

The panelists were:
-- Ted McEnroe, director of digital media, NECN

-- David Wallace, adjunct journalism professor at Emerson College who has written for the New York Times and online sites such as TechDaily

-- Robin Lubbock, director of new media, WBUR

-- Howard Sholkin, director of communications & marketing programs, IDG Communications

The sell-out session offered more questions than answers, as do so many thought-provoking takes on the future of a changing industry. But what good questions they were.

For example:
-- Do we need the so-called “traditional” media such as newspapers, radio, television, now that so many people have the ability to publish content and attract readers?

-- With so many people accessing blogs and other web sites handled by so-called “citizen journalists," who are not trained members of the mainstream media, are we going through one of the greatest standard-lowering exercises of all time?

-- Can we trust the accuracy of such blogs?

-- In a bid to reduce overhead and become more profitable through buyouts of reporters with the longest tenure, are newspapers shooting themselves in the foot? After all, the buyouts are offered to the most experienced reporters – those who often have the best sources and the most comprehensive knowledge of their areas of expertise.

One interesting take-away from the session:

The power of the Web allows news organizations to give us far more information than any other outlet all by itself (radio, television, newspaper or magazine) could give us. For example, MSNBC earlier this year examined inspection records for bridge repair throughout the United States and has made all those records available on its web site (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/) so that anyone who wishes to learn how safe the bridges she travels on every day can just click on the site and track her trip.

Does it work? After the session, I tracked the route from my home in Natick to my hometown, Needham, just a few miles away. I found that all the bridges I would need to cross are “functionally obsolete,” yet all met safety standards – as of early 2006, the latest data available on the MSNBC site. Good information. And I’m not dismayed that the data is only available through early 2006. As a veteran newsman who left that field for public relations and marketing, I know that most state and federal inspection data available to news organizations is at least one or two years old.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Not Content with just Content

Do you have a piece of interesting news related to public relations in the Boston area? We're not content to just post content; we'd like to hear about living, breathing news, such as the item on the Sabre awards (see posting below). It could be an issue of concern in the Boston public relations community, it could simply be the news of a new public relations agency that has formed recently or an award your agency has won.

PRSA Boston is looking for news tips, breaking news and story ideas for its blog and for its monthly newsletter, News & Views. If you have any news you believe we should be aware of and possibly write about in the blog or newsletter, please send an e-mail to both Christopher.ranjitkar@gmail.com and tom.nutile@comcast.net. Chris can be reached by phone at (781) 526-6444. Tom is at (508) 397-2810. If possible, include a telephone number where we can reach you during the day as well as your name and e-mail address, if you're not sending your information by e-mail.

Boston makes a strong showing at the Sabre Awards

Last night The Holmes Report held its annual Sabre Awards dinner at Cipriani's in New York City. The Sabre's are one of the most prestigious awards in the PR industry and it is an honor to be a finalist, let alone win.

I am an agency guy, so my attention was on the agencies...and Boston represented well at the Sabres. No one agency dominated and that is a testament to the great work PR pros in Boston are doing.

Shift Communications was named New Media Agency of the Year. Congratulations to Todd Defren and his gang. They have done a lot in this area and it is a well deserved honor. Shift was also a finalist for a Silver Sabre.

Racepoint won a Silver Sabre for their work on behalf of NeuroLogica - Scan on Demand.

Schwartz Communications (and some of my teams) also did well. Schwartz took home a Gold Sabre for its work on behalf of Digication, a small tech startup in Rhode Island. What makes this especially compelling is it beat out Hitachi, New York Life and Rubbermaid to win. Schwartz was also a finalist for a Bronze Sabre.

It just goes to show you, the awards do not always go to the multinationals. If you do go work for your client, submit it.

I saw Greenough and a few others among the finalists as well. If I left your name out, my apologies. Leave a comment on send me some pictures and I will add them or likes to them. I try to know all PR people in Boston, but I am sure there are some I missed. And for agencies with offices around the country, unless I know the work was done out of Boston...I did not mention it.

Congratulations again to all the winners.

Award season is upon us. The Bell Ringers are in a few weeks and the Silver Anvils follow in early June.


Friday, May 09, 2008

The Future of Journalism in an Online World

A major television news station offers buyouts to some of its best-known on-air talent. The audience -- and the ad revenue -- just isn't there to support the salaries of the television stars.

The editor of a major newspaper writes to me to say that “Ours is a faith-based business: We have to have faith it'll all work out.”

People are getting their news online. Advertising revenue is going there, but not enough, for newspapers with web sites, to offset the lost print revenue. Newspaper publishers still are searching for the right online business model. Does one charge, as does the Wall Street Journal’s site, or does one offer it for free, as does the Boston Globe?

Radio, in the meantime, is making its content available online around the globe, but still has not solved the problem of how to maintain ad revenue.

Where is journalism headed in this increasingly online, social media world? Our PRSA Boston colleague and Program Committee member Todd Van Hoosear of Topaz Partners has put together a top-notch PRSA Boston program to examine this question.

The program, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 20 at the American Cancer Society offices in Weston, will be led by veteran journalist Paul Gillin, author of "The New Influencers" and the upcoming "Secrets of Social Media Marketing".

The program is entitled “The Future of Journalism in a Social Media World.” Todd tells us that the questions the panel will discuss include the following:

  • How are blogs, podcasts and online video impacting the both the business and the reporting of news?
  • Will journalists need to master video, audio and photography in order to practice their craft in the future?
  • How has the journalism profession been impacted by the success of bloggers moving into the reporting business?
  • What does the future have in store for mainstream media? How can those media stay relevant in a changing information world?

Panelists include:

  • Ted McEnroe, Director of Digital Media, NECN
  • Robin Lubbock, Director of New Media, WBUR
  • Howard Sholkin, Director of Communications & Marketing Programs, IDG Communications

To sign up for this important program, click on this link.