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Online option now available for the Examination for Accredited in Public Relations By Toby Lichtle

Adjusting to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has changed daily routines for many of us. How and from where we work has — at least for now — changed to varying degrees, making flexibility welcome and often necessary. The good news is PRSA is now offering an online testing option for those pursuing their Accreditation in Public Relations (APR).

APR candidates now have two options to take the Examination for Accredited in Public Relations (EAPR):

  1. A Prometric Testing Center, or
  2. Remotely, through Prometric’s ProProctor application.

Candidates who choose to take the EAPR remotely must have a computer equipped with a camera and microphone, internet connectivity and the ProProctor application installed prior to the test event. ProProctor allows candidates to test wherever and whenever is most convenient for their schedule.

At this time, remote testing is not available for the Certificate in Principles of Public Relations Examination (CERT). CERT candidates must schedule their examination at a Prometric Testing Center; however, ProProctor is expected to be available for CERT exams in September 2020.

Additionally, PRSA Central Ohio candidates ready for their panel presentation, or motivated to start the process, should contact Susan Alyse Bowers Fortner, Accreditation Committee Chair, for virtual options.

Best of luck to this year’s candidates!

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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

By Gayle Saunders

Guess who’s coming to...

Dinner. Why is it the same question EVERY.SINGLE.DAY – Son: “Mom, what’s for dinner?” Me: “Son, we are in the middle of a pandemic, there are more important things to worry about. Let’s be grateful we have options for dinner.” Son: “Okay, mom, I was just wondering.”

Listening to your audience and responding to its need is critical. During these times of COVID-19, it is more important today than ever before.

As we watch our leaders communicate to their constituents, one thing has become abundantly clear...leadership matters, and having the right and diverse people on your team makes a difference. Ohio has become an example and will become a case study for communicators near and far on how to lead and communicate during a crisis, thanks to our governor, his team, and their commitment to transparency in communications.

In this unprecedented time of “alternative facts.” revisionist history, propagandist storytelling and daily barrage of misinformation, we as public relations practitioners, have a responsibility to develop strategies and communications that are transparent, real, and inclusive.

The roles we play, especially during crisis situations, are invaluable. There are examples after examples of communications gone bad, and how that negatively impacts community trust. And, let’s not overlook the social media disaster that targeted blacks, saying “there’s no need to worry about COVID-19.”

We must push the envelope to ensure our leaders are thinking about ALL constituents, how words matter, how strategies matter, how imagery matters. As we continue to drive toward our lives on the other side of the coronavirus, it is imperative that communicators of diverse backgrounds and experiences are at the table to counsel leadership and help drive strategies, messaging, and creative approaches to ensure ALL audiences impacted are receiving the critical information needed.

I offer a few key considerations as we work with clients during a crisis:

  1. Ask the tough questions – probe deeply.
  2. Determine if the right people are at the table to address multiple issues and audiences. Look around and see who is missing. Bring people of diverse perspectives into the discussion on the front end, rather than after the stuff has hit the fan.
  3. Be willing to acknowledge loss and be sincere in your sympathy to the loss. While you may not be able to share all the details, for various reasons, share what you can. And remember, it is imperative to show some heart during tough times.
  4. Communicate consistently and in a timely manner. Create a steady cadence of communications updates, and be sure media and community know when these occur. Provide access to these via social channels and other avenues.
  5. Develop communications approaches to reach audiences with the right message, where they are, and how they best receive the information. This includes your internal and your external audiences.
  6. Know who the key influencers are for your audience...who or what makes them believe?
  7. Select the right messenger(s) – be sure the people are relatable, trusted, demonstrate leadership, and exude confidence with a high level of compassion.
  8. Listen to your team, knowledgeable experts in the field, and your audience.
  9. Use social media to your advantage. Keep a pulse of chatter on social media channels and other networks and be prepared to respond as needed.
  10. Dispel myths quickly, address misinformation promptly.
  11. Most importantly, keep your crisis plan updated and have your team prepared.

Now, back to the question of the day – dinner. What is the relevance you ask? Audience matters...what is important to him matters. Responding in a timely manner, matters. Showing compassion and an understanding of his need, matters. You get the connection.

My diversion and avoidance tactic left an unnecessary void that could easily be addressed with an honest and transparent response. So today, when my son asks the dinner question, my response will be: “Son, I have not gotten that far yet, what would you like, or do you have a suggestion?” I guarantee, our engagement during dinner, and beyond, will be a totally different result – for the better.

E. Gayle Saunders, APR, is CEO of The Saunders Company, a full-service public relations firm in Columbus, Ohio. She is engaged by clients for support during crisis situations and has led public relations, crisis communications and acted as spokesperson for big brands such as The Ohio State University and Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at [email protected].

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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!

Blessings,
Homa Moheimani
Vice President of Membership
Central Ohio PRSA

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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, https://www.rivaliq.com/blog/2019-social-media-benchmark-report/ (Feb. 15, 2019).
2 Arens, Elizabeth, Best times to post on social media for 2019, https://sproutsocial.com/insights/best-times-to-post-on-social-media/ (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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Adulting 101: how informational interviews and a polished resume can help you stand out from the crowd

By: Sam Metcalf

I’ll never forget the spring semester of my senior year in college. It brings everyone a lot of stress. Finding a new job, somewhere to live, not having a meal plan anymore – all of it was hard for me. I said to myself over and over again “I wish there was a welcome weekend for post-grad so I could figure out what I was doing.” A lot of that doubt came from the fact that I didn’t have a job lined up after graduation. Graduation day crept up faster and faster, and my confidence levels fell lower and lower after each rejection email I received. I had great internship opportunities, I was involved on my campus, I had good grades. I really couldn’t figure out why someone wouldn’t hire me.

Luckily, my Aunt Pam, one of my biggest mentors and supporters, is an executive coach. I met with her to chat about my frustrations with this process and how hard it was for me to find a job. That’s when she introduced me to informational interviewing. A concept I had never heard of, but helped me land my first job. Note: I found out I got said job the day before I graduated! It will all come together – I promise you.

With that being said, I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to nail your informational interviews and make your resume stand out. I’m not an expert by any means, these were just things that really helped me along the way.

Informational Interviewing

We all know that networking can be exhausting. Going to a room full of strangers all trying to meet everyone else in the room is no bueno. Personal opinion. Anyways, if you find yourself agreeing with that, informational interviews can be an amazing solution! My Aunt Pam gave me this tip my senior year of college, and it 1) was the best tip I received as a graduating senior, and 2) helped me land my first post-graduate job!

How to start preparing for informational interviews:

  • Make a list of organizations! This is your “target organizations” list. Start by thinking of industries you think you’d enjoy working in ­– sports management, tourism, retail, government, IT, etc. Aim for 3-5 industries with 3-6 companies listed under each one. This does require a little bit of effort and maybe even some homework.
  • Tap into your personal network. Reach out to previous or current bosses, coaches, professors, and mentors to ask for 30 minutes of their time. You’ll want to formally type out your target organizations list and attach it to this email! I use the same heading that’s on my resume and cover letter just to stay consistent.
  • Meet at their office: A great way to learn more about job spaces is to go to them! If you get lucky and get an interview at this company down the road, you’ll be familiar with the space going into things.

 

In an informational interview:

  • Let them get to know you: Tell them hobbies you have, activities you are involved with, your career goals, passions, etc. This will help frame the entire conversation.
  • Discuss your target organization list together: Ask them if they know of other people who have worked with these companies and if their experience was positive or negative. After one of these interviews, you may be able to cross 2-3 organizations off of your list if they don’t match with your values and career goals.
  • Ask them about themselves: Their career history, their interests, their take on industry trends, etc. You have their undivided attention, so use it wisely! If you get nervous or anxious talking to strangers, compile a strong list of open-ended questions to take with you. Open-ended questions = conversation.
  • Take notes: One conversation I always made a point to have was about the target lits in general. Are these good companies to work for? Do you know positive or negative things about any company listed? You’d be surprised what you’ll learn! Jot these things down, and make sure to cross off a company if it doesn’t end up matching your personal values.
  • You’re not here to get a job: Going into an informational interview with the hopes that you leave with a job lead will only lead to disappointment. It’s just a conversation – for you to know them, and for them to know you. Be yourself, show your personality, laugh, and really engage with the person you’re chatting with.

 

After an informational interview:

  • Give them your thanks: Most people you’re chatting with will be on company time. After an informational interview, I would send a $5 Starbucks card through the app to express my gratitude. A quick “Thanks for your time today! Your next cup of coffee is on me” will really help make a lasting impact

 

Resume Tips

  • There’s less room for interpretation with numbers than with words. Use successful metrics when discussing a job duty or project you’re discussing on your resume.
    • "I wrote e-mail campaigns" (Weak)
    • "Crafted ten monthly e-mail campaigns to an audience of 1,582" (Stronger)
  • Get rid of your objective statement. You’re applying for a job – someone reading your resume knows what your objective is!
  • If you’re a recent grad, and you have a GPA that you’re proud of, by all means list the GPA. If you have a GPA that you aren’t so proud of, then don’t list it! Employers who want that information will give you an advanced heads-up if they want an official transcript.
  • I always avoid the use of pronouns to be more descriptive.
    • “I strengthened their web traffic.” (Weak)
    • “Grew Company A’s web traffic by 15% over a two-month period.” (Stronger)
  • Don’t list the same skill twice! If you had three internships that you’re listing on your resume, if you used InDesign in all three jobs, only list it under one position. This is the first chance you have to showcase how broad your skillset is!
  • Always, always, always send your resume and cover letter as a PDF!

 

I hope this was helpful for you! I know these are things I wish I would’ve learned earlier on. Make sure with the time you do have left in undergrad that you’re challenging yourself, taking the hard classes in your major, and taking classes with the tough professors. That’s where you’ll learn the most. Your experiences in this field are far more important than your GPA. If you need help preparing a target organizations list, fine tuning your resume, or preparing for an interview, I’m happy to help. Let’s chat – [email protected]

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