COPRSA Match Program: Q&A with Brian Hammel

By Shannon Jack
COPRSA Communications Committee Chair

Whether you’re a young PR pro or a tenured expert, you’ve probably had a mentor (or three) along the way who was instrumental to your success. When you work in a fast-paced, ever-changing industry like public relations, it helps to have a mentor--someone who can teach you, offer guidance and share their insights. That’s why Central Ohio PRSA is launching a new program to help build connections among students and professionals in the area!

I sat down with Brian Hammel, Central Ohio PRSA Liaison Committee Chair, to discuss the 2020 Match Program and the key details that make this mentorship initiative so special.

Q: What is the COPRSA Match Program and how does it work?

A: The Match Program is a new initiative to help facilitate meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships between students and professionals in the Central Ohio area. After submitting interest via the Google Form (one for students and one for professionals), the COPRSA Liaison Committee will ‘match’ students and professionals based on their feedback, interests and goals. Initially, we’ll make email introductions and offer a variety of ways for students to foster the connection through coffee meetings, workplace tours, resume reviews and more. By strategically matching students and professionals, we hope the mentorship experience will be more impactful. 

Q: What inspired the Liaison Committee to start this program? What do you hope to accomplish?

A: The Match Program is designed to benefit the needs of students based on feedback we received in previous years. We know students and professionals are eager for connection, so we identified ways to optimize their experiences. By pairing students with PR professionals who work in an industry that interests them, we hope to ease the initial anxiety some students might feel and pair professionals with a mentee who is engaged and excited to learn.

Q: Why are mentor/mentee relationships so important for both students and professionals?

A: The overall relationship is critical for both students and professionals alike. Each person will get as much out of the program as they give--if not more! Mentorship is an opportunity for students to learn and build relationships early in their careers. Mentors not only have an opportunity to stay connected with the next generation of PR talent, but they are able to share their experiences and perspectives with those looking to follow in their footsteps. 

Q: How have mentor/mentee relationships helped you grow personally and professionally?

A: I have a handful of professionals--some I've worked for in internships, others I've connected with through PRSSA/PRSA--who have guided me through various stages of my career. They were my first calls when I was debating job offers or internship selections, and they always provided first-person accounts of what it's like to work in the field. My mentors have given me so much, and I'm excited to pay it forward for the next generation.

If you’re a COPRSA professional interested in serving as a mentor for the 2020 Match Program, please fill out this form by Feb. 28. For additional questions and information, email Brian Hammel at [email protected].

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Three Couples, One Chapter – A Valentine’s Day Tribute

By John Palmer, APR (past president, PRSA Central Ohio Chapter and chair-elect, PRSA East Central District Board of Directors)

A special time of year is approaching where gifts, cards, chocolates and flowers are shared between not just romantic couples but family members and friends. In recognition of Valentine’s Day, we wanted to highlight three couples who are members and who have made great contributions to public relations, PRSA and our chapter.

The Baileys

PRSA was a part of two important milestones for Karen and Todd Bailey - their first encounter was at a PRSSA Ohio Northern University Chapter meeting and their first date was at Café Due Monde in New Orleans during PRSSA National Assembly. They have been together for 19 years including 17 years of marriage. Karen is founder of Purpose Greater Than Profit and Todd is government relations director for Huntington Bank. Karen received the chapter’s Rising Star Award and Todd is a part of PRSSA National Hall of Fame and received the chapter’s Walt Seifert Award. Their commitment to the society, chapter and district is extensive. Karen served as PRSA Central Ohio Board President, Professional Advisor to The Ohio State University PRSSA Chapter, PRSA Bronze Anvil Judge, Nominating Committee and various committees. Todd served as PRSA Central Ohio Board President, PRSA East Central District Board President, Professional Advisor to the Ohio Northern University PRSSA Chapter, PRSA National Assembly Delegate, Nominating Committee and Membership Committee. The most significant impact on their life as a couple includes reading the book, “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. “It sounds simple, but knowing what makes another person feel loved and valued is the most important thing you can do in a relationship,” they said. The encourage future couples to “make each other laugh as often as possible.” Their plans for Valentine’s Day, “we will be at the game watching the Columbus Blue Jackets take on the Rangers with our boys, who also play hockey.”

The Fraziers

A grade school encounter led to a relationship of 41 years for Julie and Doug Frazier, including 32 years of marriage. Their first date was a sweetheart dance at their high school gymnasium. PRSA has had a profound impact on their lives, professionally and personally, as they have met amazing friends and colleagues along the way. “PRSA has been in our lives separately and together for three decades. So, we’ve grown a broad shared network of professional and social PRSA friends in most parts of our lives,” they said. Their advice for future couples, “have a sense of humor with each other. Life is ridiculous.” Julie and Doug have both earned their Accreditation in Public Relations. She is the health care program manager at STRS Ohio and he is a creative and brand consultant for FrazierHeiby. Julie was a chapter Rising Star, earned her APR and has won a nice handful of PRISM awards and Diamond awards (PRSA East Central District’s recognition). Doug has been recognized as practitioner of the year by our chapter and PRSA East Central District. Doug is honored to have received many PRISM awards as well. Julie and Doug have served on most of our chapter’s committees, served as assembly delegates and Julie served on our chapter board for more than five years. When they decided to have a family, Julie stepped back and Doug took on chapter board roles, served as chapter president and then assumed duties with the East Central District leading to service as the chair for PRSA ECD Board of Directors. They have both worked with the APR program over the years and Doug has served as a national Silver Anvil judge.

The Kompas

For three decades, including 27 years as a married couple, Natalie and John Kompa have had a great journey. They first met at the George Thorogood concert at the Newport Music Hall. Their first date was at Mac’s Pub in the Short North. John is vice president of Investor Relations and Public Affairs for Hexion, Inc. and Natalie is assistant professor and program director for the public relations and marketing program at Ohio Dominican University. Both have earned their Accreditation in Public Relations and are active with PRSA. John received the Chapter’s Tom Poling Award in 2005 and numerous PRISM awards for his work in public affairs. Natalie has received recognition for her role as faculty advisor for the PRSSA Ohio Dominican University Chapter, a role that she has had since 2008. Natalie is serving as Assembly Delegate for the Chapter and John served as president of the Chapter in 2000 and other positions over the years. The Kompas said that having three kids has had the most significant impact on their life as a couple. Their advice for future couples is, “marriage isn't 50/50. It's 100/100.”

In 2020, Valentine's Day shoppers plan to set new spending records. They will add $27.4 billion to the economy, according to the National Retail Federation. That's more than the $20.7 billion spent in 2019. Candy and greeting cards are projected to be the leading sources of purchases for consumers this holiday. For more information on the economic activity for Valentine’s Day, click here. Our members are the heart of our organization providing valuable time and resources to advancing the profession and the professional. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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The Benefits of Mentoring - and Being a Mentor

Coming from a small town in Appalachia Ohio to the big city, I was nervous about starting college. And my major. And schoolwork. There wasn’t one thing I didn’t have questions or worries about. 

But luckily, I was blessed with the guidance and wisdom of many mentors who helped me with pivotal life events – and even some not so pivotal moments where I just had a question or needed some quick advice.

Because I know I wouldn’t be where I am in my life without those mentors, I pay it forward through mentoring our next generation of PR professionals.

Mentoring is a powerful way to help young PR professionals. Research shows that there are many short-term and long-term benefits to mentoring.

Benefits for students:

  • Help with life questions and support. A mentor can help give practical advice, solve problems and provide encouragement. Conversations I’ve had over the years range from taking a job, to negotiating my salary and deciding between graduate school and starting a career.
  • Help with professional development. Have questions about resumes? Interviewing? Attire? A mentor can help with all of that – and more.
  • Gain insight into the field. When a mentor shares about everyday work – including accomplishments and challenges – it helps prepare students for what the “real world” looks like.
  • Expand your professional network. Mentors are great resources to help students meet others in the field who can ultimately connect them with future career opportunities.
  • Learn soft skills. Having a conversation with a complete stranger can be daunting. Meeting with a mentor and practicing follow up emailing a mentor builds those soft skills that are vitally important to the workplace.

Not only does the mentee benefit from a mentoring relationship, but I’ve gained many benefits from being a mentor. 

  • Fulfilment. Mentoring is my way to give back to all those people who have helped me. When I see a student I’m working with get a wonderful internship opportunity it’s a great feeling to know I played a part in that.
  • Insight into yourself. Talking about your own life experiences gives you insight into how you communicate and handle challenges in your life. It’s opened my eyes to how I could have better handled situations or how I’ve learned from these situations.
  • Leadership and communication skills. I’ve learned to hone my leadership and communication skills, which has helped at home, at work and in the community.
  • Learn something new. I learn something new about technology trends and how our future leaders think about our profession. It helps keep me young!
  • Making friends and colleagues for life. A lot of students I’ve worked with over the years have become my lifelong friends -- and even colleagues.


Stay tuned – in February we’re going to unveil a new program for students and professionals. 

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Changes coming to the PRism Awards in 2020

Author: PRism Awards Committee

For many of us, January represents a new beginning and fresh start to achieve new goals; but did you know PRSA Central Ohio made some new year resolutions, too?

Based on feedback from previous years and a commitment to offer a premier PR awards event in Central Ohio, PRSA Central Ohio has made some exciting updates to this year’s PRism Awards:

  1. An easier way to submit entries. The PRism Awards submissions will now be completed in Award Force—an award-winning software designed for awards that will offer entrants an easy, efficient and secure way to submit their entries. Entries will no longer be single-page or multi-page PDFs, but text submission areas for each item being judged will allow for clear, concise reporting of your successful work. Be on the lookout for an invitation from PRSA Central Ohio for an upcoming tutorial on how to use Award Force to submit your entries! Be on the lookout for an invitation from PRSA Central Ohio for an upcoming tutorial on how to use Award Force to submit your entries!

  2. Earlier opportunities to submit your best PR projects from 2019. The Prism Awards deadlines have been set as Monday, Feb. 24 by 11:59 p.m. for the early bird deadline, and Monday, March 2 by 11:59 p.m. for the final deadline. Review this year’s categories and entry guidelines document and start preparing your entries now!

  3. New awards category to highlight diversity and inclusion. PRSA Central Ohio has created a new category to recognize PR tactics that focus on diversity and inclusion. This year’s new category will honor PR pros who are leading diversity and inclusion efforts in Central Ohio while also highlighting the significance of diversity and inclusion in PR.

  4. New look, new venue. We’ve got a fresh logo and a great new venue at High Line Car House for a refreshed PRism Awards Ceremony that will not only celebrate award winners, but will serve as a place for Central Ohio’s communications professionals to mix and mingle. Plan to join us Thursday, May 7.

More information will be sent to you in the coming weeks.  Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Thank you,

PRSA Central Ohio

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Welcome to 2020 with Central Ohio PRSA!

Can you believe it? It’s already 2020, the beginning of a new decade! Speaking of new beginnings, I want to introduce myself.

My name is Homa Moheimani, manager of media & communications for the Ohio Restaurant Association. But more importantly, I’m honored to serve as your new Central Ohio PRSA Vice President of Membership.

THANK YOU for your membership because without you, PRSA wouldn’t exist.

2020 also marks Central Ohio PRSA’s 70th year! For the last 70 years, we’ve been furthering the development of public relations professionals in the Central Ohio region, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have you as a part of the family.

We’re the storytellers, leaders, communicators, defenders of the brand and so much more in our personal and professional circles. So, it’s important that we develop relationships, learn from one another and grow together in our careers.

I want to make sure you have everything you need to make the most of your membership, and give you a direct line of communication to your Central Ohio PRSA Board of Directors. Go ahead, send them an email. They’d love to hear from you!

I hope you’re already taking advantage of the PRSA member benefits available to you. Just in case, below my email signature highlight several available right now.

We all have new year’s resolutions, including expanding our professional networks, or maybe even finding a new job. What’s the best way to do that? MAKE CONNECTIONS!

Now is the perfect time to take your membership to the next level by getting involved in a committee as a volunteer. Serving your chapter is the best way to get your name in front of top industry professionals in an area that interests you. Not ready to serve on a committee? Write blog posts, volunteer to host a program or get a speaker for a program — there are many ways to make a contribution!

Have questions? Shoot me an email at [email protected], connect on LinkedIn or I'm always up for grabbing a coffee and chatting. Or, reach out to any board member; we're happy to answer any questions about member benefits, programming, or simply career and life questions. That’s what we’re here for, right? 😉

Let’s make 2020 the best yet. I look forward to seeing you soon!

Homa Moheimani
Vice President of Membership
Central Ohio PRSA

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Happy 2020, Central Ohio PRSA!

Happy 2020 - and happy 70th anniversary to Central Ohio PRSA! As chapter president this year, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and share what is in store for this exciting year.

Who am I?

Well, as you can see in the “from” address, I’m Katie Thomas! I joined PRSSA many years ago as a student at Otterbein University. Since taking that leap, PRSA has been one of the most valuable assets in my career. It’s allowed me to meet wonderful mentors; network with amazing professionals; stay on top of cutting edge technologies and trends; grow as a professional by getting my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) and hone my leadership skills. I credit Central Ohio PRSA with much of what’s happened in my career. 

I’ve served PRSA in many roles, including:

  • National PRSA Mentor Committee Chair

  • PRSA Central Ohio Liaison Committee member

  • PRSA Central Ohio Programs Committee Chair

  • PRSA Central Ohio Board of Directors, Director at Large

  • PRSA Central Ohio Treasurer

  • PRSA Central Ohio President-Elect

  • Speaker at local PRSSA chapters and PRSSA PaRtners Conference 

Outside of my work at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, I enjoy spending time with my husband and our dog, Rebel, and cats, Roary and Pippin, teaching spinning classes, watching musicals (just don’t ask me to sing them), reading and traveling (so excited to head to London this year!). 

Tiptoeing through the tulips in Amsterdam last year.

What’s in store for Central Ohio PRSA in 2020?

Last year, you had the opportunity to give feedback on our annual survey. We listened. 

  • You are most interested in programming. Last year, we started our successful Coffee Chats, free programs for members. These informal gatherings allow us to learn from professionals and network with our peers. We’ll continue these for 2020. Make sure to register for our January Coffee Chat now! 

  • You want to continue learning. In addition to Coffee Chats, we’ll offer quarterly luncheons, along with a revamped Annual Conference. Our first luncheon, February 20, goes behind the scenes of the Democratic Debate. On March 27, our Annual Conference, “The Modern Communicator,” will feature 14 fast-paced breakout sessions, a plenary address, and a keynote, all from the brightest minds in Central Ohio. Registration will open for both of these events soon. We’re also looking to enhance programming with Webinar Watch Parties -- more to come. And if you’ve been a member for 10+ years, you’re automatically part of our Master’s group, which offers free programming twice a year. Our Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) committee is also available to help you prepare for the APR process. 

  • You prefer to meet early or midday. We’ll offer our programming in the morning and at lunchtime, except for Meet the Media so we can continue to have local media personalities attend this event. 

  • Move the program locations around.We analyzed zip codes of where members live and work and plan to move programs to different venues and neighborhoods based on our findings. 

  • You want to network more. Expect some type of program from us each month. Whether that’s a Coffee Chat, luncheon, mixer, PRism Awards (which the committee is already working on some new ideas for this year!) or more, save your third Thursday each month for Central Ohio PRSA (with a few exceptions). 

  • We’ll continue to improve communication.We get it. Your inbox is overflowing. There’s so much on social media. We’ve audited our social media and are looking to streamline communication on those channels, through our website and through PRSA Matters, our biweekly newsletter that comes out the second and fourth Thursday of each month. We recently created a Members Only Facebook group so you can connect more with your peers and ask questions. We’ll also send calendar invites to remind you of upcoming events. 

In addition to all of these benefits, we’ll continue our quarterly podcast, “Good Morning, Communicators,” offering opportunities for students, including a new mentorship program for you to impact a student’s life and providing enriched learning on the topics of diversity, inclusion, and ethics.

I am also so proud that we started the Central Ohio PRSA Scholarship Fund last year, which allowed six students to continue their membership in PRSA; gave a stipend for one student to attend the PRSSA International Conference; and allowed several students to attend programming at no charge.

You get what you put into your PRSA membership. Attend an event. Write a blog post. Host a program. Work on a committee. Donate to the scholarship fund. There are plenty of ways to get involved and make an impact — for the future generation and for you.

I look forward to seeing you this year. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions, concerns or new ideas to explore. Let’s also connect on LinkedIn! 

Warm Regards,

Katie Thomas, APR

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Central Ohio PRSA 2019 Year in Review

As we gear up to celebrate Central Ohio PRSA's 70th anniversary in 2020, let's take a moment to review how far we've come in 2019. Thank you to all of our members, speakers, volunteers and sponsors that help make the Central Ohio PRSA chapter a success!

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3 ways to maximize organic social media engagement on a shoestring (or $0) budget

By Dan Beckley, Social Media Specialist, STRS Ohio

Everyone knows the benefits of organic. It’s transparent, controlled naturally and free from outside influences. Plus, it costs you nothing! Wait, we’re talking about social media, right?

Since 2016, STRS Ohio has been establishing a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The challenge: build awareness, generate inbound traffic, engage our community AND spend $0 on social media advertising.

I know what you’re thinking. How’d that turn out? What’s it like tweeting to the wind? If you post to Facebook in the forest and no one sees it, then what the heck is the point?

During the past four months, our Facebook business page’s organic average engagement rate per post has been stellar: 9.7% in July, 8% in August, 8% in September and 9.1% in October. All of these percentages are well above the Facebook average engagement rate per post for nonprofits (0.13% 1).

Our team has been building up to this crescendo of success for a while now, because we had a strategy in place that was built on three main pillars of success.

  1. Follow your social media mission.
    Your social media mission is very important because it defines your content and refines your audience. It will guide not only you, but also your organization in making decisions about what you want your channels to look like.

    Who is your audience? Who are you trying to reach? What specific information will you be sharing? All of the answers to these questions will factor into your social media mission. Once your mission is in place, your unique brand voice will begin to emerge, and you can start to get more creative with your content and imagery.

  2. Create engaging content about your audience.
    The first and most important rule when creating social media content is that it’s not about you—it’s about your audience. How can your audience get the most out of your product or service? How can you inspire them today? If you see your audience members winning awards or doing amazing things in their communities, feature them on your channels. Your posts should not only provide your audience with useful information, but also highlight your followers’ day-to-day journeys and engaging stories.

  3. Test new times and different types of posts.
    Many social media management platforms offer features that suggest optimal posting times for all of your channels. However, don’t be afraid to try different times or rely on other sources for guidance. One of the reasons that our engagement has been so stout for the past couple of months is because we’ve been following a comprehensive report2 containing detailed graphs about the best times to post. This is just one of the many reasons that you need to set up Google Alerts to stay up on all the latest social media trends.

    Also, experiment with different types of images. Our in-house communications team pairs inspirational quotes with images, designs infographics with interesting info from our publications and highlights audience members in a creative way. We’ve found that the more unique your image and content, the better your reach and engagement.

    The great news for PR professionals is that “pay to play” is not your only option for making an impact on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can generate great social media organic engagement with a sound strategy and a flexible, creative mindset.

Dan Beckley is the social media specialist for STRS Ohio. He is passionate about creating content that educates, entertains and inspires. Connect with him on LinkedIn: danbeckley

1 Feehan, Blair, Rival IQ 2019 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report, (Feb. 15, 2019).
2 Arens, Elizabeth, Best times to post on social media for 2019, (July 31, 2019).

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Central Ohio PRSA Well Represented at PRSA International Conference 

Many Central Ohio PRSA members journeyed to San Diego to participate (and win awards!) at the PRSA International Conference on October 18-22.

  • Ohio State PRSSA was recognized as the winner of the national PRSSA membership contest by recruiting more new members than any other chapter in the country.

  • Ohio Northern University PRSSA won a Dr. Frederick H. Teahan Award for Chapter Development and a Star Chapter Award.

  • Ohio University Scripps PRSSA received the Dr. Frederick H. Teahan Award for Outstanding Chapter Website.

  • Jaron Terry, APR, Fellow, PRSA, presented on “Getting It Right: Diversity and Inclusion in LGBTQ and Latinx Communications.

  • Lisa Arledge-Powell and Kevin Volz spoke on how to “Create a Video Storytelling Strategy That Gets Results and Shows the C-Suite the Value of Your Work.”

  • Dan Farkas, MBA, presented on “Cracks, Hacks and Backs: A Practical Guide to Multimedia Communication in 2019.”

  • MJ Clark, APR, Fellow PRSA, presented on “The Art of Managing Workplace Conflict.”

  • Katie Thomas, APR, John Palmer, APR, and Kery Francis, APR, represented Central Ohio at the Leadership Assembly.

We’re proud of all of our members who represented Central Ohio! And mark your calendars, next year’s event takes place October 25-27 in Nashville.

Ohio University Scripps PRSSA Chapter

Ohio State University PRSSA Chapter


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Get Your Ethics On: 5 Tips for the Ethical Practice of Public Relations

By Kerry Francis, APR

PR ethics sounds pretty straightforward and boring – always be truthful, disclose conflicts of interest and don’t plagiarize, right? Yet when you dig into it, the ethical practice of public relations is a lot more interesting and complex. Our jobs are more complicated thanks to social media, data privacy, social activism and today’s news environment, just to name a few. As the profession wanders into new territory, so does our ethical practice. For example, how many of us have grabbed an image off Google or used a GIF of a popular movie on social media? I know I have. The Code lays out what media is ok to use in what cases - personally, it’s probably ok to use much of this media, but using it professionally can get into a gray area.

Today it’s more important than ever to understand what is and is not ethical, not to mention legal. And it’s important that our work aligns with our personal ethics. As we close out Ethics Month, here are five tips from this month’s Coffee Chat to help you apply ethical practices to your work.

  1. Know your Code. PRSA’s Code of Ethics is simple, sets a strong foundation and offers guidance on some common areas. As members, we have all agreed to practice according to this Code.

  2. Promote good journalism. News-ed classes teach journalism as the fair, unbiased reporting of facts. With citizen journalists, the constant news cycle and competition for eyeballs and clicks, that’s not always the case. As PR pros, we can promote good journalism by supporting the outlets that do a good job, helping journalists report balanced news and calling it out when reporters don’t get it quite right.

  3. Know the regulations around endorsement. The FTC’s endorsement regulations specify what needs to be disclosed and when. They help guide work with influencers and work produced in- house as well as considerations for posting on personal channels. Knowing this ahead of time can keep you and your organization out of trouble.

  4. Research your target companies. It’s important to know what a potential employer or client stands for. This helps avoid personal conflicts later. And it helps us counsel clients on becoming involved in an issue or business and when responding to a crisis. These issues are bound to come up – just look at the discomfort Ogilvy’s employees had with taking on Customs and Border Patrol as a client, and the internal backlash at Google for its handling of sexual harassment claims.

  5. If you’re not sure what to do, seek guidance. Sometimes the answer isn’t very clear, or it can be hard to understand all the implications of doing or not doing something. Talk to a mentor. Talk to me, your Ethics Officer. Or talk with PRSA National’s Board of Ethical Practices and Standards.

While most of us likely won’t have to wrestle with a BIG issue, PR ethics is still critical. Small steps taken every day build our reputation as individuals and of the profession.

Thanks to Hinda Mitchell, president of Inspire PR Group, for sharing her expertise at this month’s Ethics Coffee Chat.

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