Blog Archives

AP Style Guide Updates on the Coronavirus

In early March the Associated Press Style Guide made updates in relation to the coronavirus outbreak named COVID-19. Here is an overview of the updates made. These updates are taken directly from the AP Stylebook website.


A family of viruses, some of which cause disease in people and animals, named for crownlike spikes on their surfaces.

The viruses can cause the common cold or more severe diseases such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) and COVID-19, the latter of which first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.

As of March 2020, referring to simply the coronavirus is acceptable on first reference in stories about COVID-19. While the phrasing incorrectly implies there is only one coronavirus, it is clear in this context. Also acceptable on first reference: the new coronavirus; the new virus; COVID-19.

In stories, do not refer simply to coronavirus without the article the. Not: She is concerned about coronavirus. Omitting the is acceptable in headlines and in uses such as: He said coronavirus concerns are increasing.

Passages and stories focusing on the science of the disease require sharper distinctions.

COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2. When referring specifically to the virus, the COVID-19 virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 are acceptable. But, because COVID-19 is the name of the disease, not the virus, it is not accurate to write a new virus called COVID-19.

SARS is acceptable on first reference for the disease first identified in Asia in 2003. Spell out severe acute respiratory syndrome later in the story.

MERS is acceptable on first reference. Spell out Middle East respiratory syndrome later in the story.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and breathing trouble. Most develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.

Do not exaggerate the risks presented by any of the three diseases by routinely referring to them as deadly, fatal or the like.


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The Ethical Use of Interns

By Kerry Francis, APR

Summer is fast approaching, and students are looking for internships and preparing to graduate. As you prepare to hire interns, there are a few questions to ask yourself to make sure you’re using interns in an ethical manner.

What should I pay my interns?

Compensation can be in the form of an hourly wage, class credit or a combination or both. While an unpaid internship sounds like a great solution when budgets are tight, getting something of value for free – the intern’s work – raises ethical questions. A few points to help determine compensation:

  • Are the interns replacing a regular employee? If an intern is doing work that you would pay another employee to do, they should be compensated.
  • Are you billing clients for the interns’ work? PRSA’s Board of Ethical and Practical Standards (BEPS) advises that interns should be paid if they are performing real, billable work.
  • Does your company have a policy? Some organizations have policies around if and how much interns are paid.

In addition to the ethical issues, there also are legal considerations when determining the compensation for interns. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires for-profit employers to pay employees for their work. In some cases, interns are considered employees. The FLSA uses the primary beneficiary test to determine in an intern is an employee – simply put, if an intern is the primary beneficiary of the internship, they aren’t considered an employee under the FLSA and you aren’t required to pay them. This U.S. Department Labor Fact Sheet offers more information, but check with your Human Resources Department or legal counsel for guidance.

What kind of work should I assign to my interns?

The first thing to remember is that the student is the primary beneficiary of the internship experience. While you benefit from the work your intern completes, the benefit to the student should guide your decision-making. You should be assigning your interns real-world, portfolio-building work that allows them to develop skills that will prepare them for that first job – not grunt work that no one else wants to do.

While you should be assigning your interns “real work,” it’s important to remember that they are students first. The assignments you give them should be flexible enough that they can take a few days off to complete an important school assignment or study for an exam.

How should I supervise my interns?

Supervising interns isn’t that different than supervising regular employees. The same processes apply, including setting goals, holding regular meetings to touch base on progress, and offering ongoing coaching and feedback. You may need to spend more time offering explanation about the work and your expectations, as well as helping your interns connect their work with the company’s objectives. This is critical to helping interns gain real-world experience that they can learn from and apply.

If your interns are completing the internship for class credit, be sure you understand what documentation is needed for them to earn that credit so there aren’t any surprises at the end of the internship.

Do employee policies apply to my interns?

A good rule of thumb is that, if you are paying your intern, all the same policies that apply to regular employees apply to interns. If you aren’t paying your intern, only broad policies that encompass non-employees such as contractors, vendors, and visitors apply, such as workplace violence and sexual harassment policies. Regardless of whether or not you pay them, it’s a good idea to have your intern complete the same orientation process as a regular employee – this ensures they receive the same information about policies and procedures, and it gives them a glimpse into what to expect when they start their first full-time PR job. Just be sure to point out any policies that don’t apply to them as interns so there’s no confusion.

An important note: Interns are young and may have little to no experience in the workplace. It may be difficult for them to identify and report inappropriate behavior due to their inexperience, or fears that they will be labeled as a complainer early in their career. It’s critical your interns know they have the same protections as regular employees. Be sure they are aware of your company’s policies, and who they can raise an issue to without fear of reprisal.

Should I hire a post-graduate intern?

I’ve seen questions around the topic of post-graduate internships from employers and recent grads who are looking at different employment opportunities. To put it simply, post-graduate internship are great opportunities for recent grads and employers, but they are still internships and should be treated as such. The same guidelines I mentioned above apply. Remember that any internship is a learning experience and the primary beneficiary is the intern, not the company – a post-graduate intern should not be viewed as an entry-level employee.

Internships are a great way to help the next generation of PR professionals to gain real-world experience. Structuring them in an ethical manner is important to helping students gain the most out of the experience.

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Healthy Eating During COVID-19

By Michael Vannest, APR

Ok, I will be the first to admit I didn’t buy all the coronavirus hype two weeks ago. I thought it was an overblown, overhyped, media-driven hysteria with nothing to warrant the precautions being placed.

Fast forward two weeks and I was wrong about everything. Now, I am the one running to the grocery to get provisions. Stocking up on the necessities to get through the next several weeks. And I am not talking about hoarding toilet paper, or boxed food. I am talking about stocking up on the things that will keep my wife and me healthy and promote a good immune system.

It is important to note that as we all go through these uncertain times together, we need to focus on keeping ourselves as healthy as possible. By that, I mean understanding everything about COVID-19 and what government and health officials are telling us and most important - what foods will keep our bodies prepared to fight.

What should I eat and stock up on?

Simple. Anything on the perimeter of the grocery store.  This includes fruits, vegetables and meats. Stay away from the aisles unless it is for spices. Trust me, you do not need anything in the aisles.

Now in a perfect world, you want to eat non-processed whole foods.  However, from a budget point of view, that may be hard. If you are shopping on a budget, some, and I stress some, processed meats are fine (i.e. lunch meat) but look for the processed meats with minimal additives and no added sugar.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, whole and unprocessed foods with no antibiotics or sugar added will provide your red and white blood cells with the added nutrients needed to combat a virus.

Studies also have shown eating the right whole foods will not only boost your immune system but helps increase brain power.  How about that? Not only will eating the right foods fight off the coronavirus, but it will also make you smarter!

So, what do you look for when stocking up at the grocery store? Here is a shopping list.

Simple grocery list to follow

  • Chicken breast, turkey meat, fish
  • Apples, grapes, dates, oranges, and pears
  • Veggies – any and all!
  • Almond milk
  • Water
  • Rice
  • Quinoa

So I purchased this food, how can I keep it fresh?
Freeze it! Everything in the above shopping list freezes perfectly and will keep for weeks and months. Pressure cooking and canning are other great ways to preserve your extra items.  

Food for thought tips

  1. Blanche vegetables such as zucchini, squash, asparagus and green beans.
  2. Thoroughly rinse all meats before you cook.
  3.  Spaghetti squash can create a lasting meal for days and feed an army. Here is a great recipe.

What are some sites to get healthy recipes?

Here are my favorites:

Remember: shop smart and shop for the things that will keep your immune system healthy. You won’t regret your decision. Use this time to take care and love yourself. We all will get through this and be healthier for it.

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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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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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