Blog Archives

My APR Journey

Michael Vannest, APR

If you want to change how you conduct public relations strategy, if you want to learn how to gain a seat at the management table and if you want to grow professionally, then make earning your APR in 2019 your next personal goal. Those three little letters not only change how you work in the PR field but will transform you personally and professionally.

My journey was spread out across 19 months culminating on January 12, 2019 with the word “pass” plastered on my computer screen in a stuffy testing center. After raising my arms in celebration of the achievement, I got into my car and before I started the engine, I reflected for a moment on this journey and smiled because I knew how much my professional life had changed.

For me, the constant thirst for learning and gaining knowledge in my career field has always been fueled by my desire to succeed. Seeing the APR as a chance to broaden my PR skills, I went to a luncheon event hosted by my local PRSA chapter in the spring of 2017. At the luncheon I heard from a local member who just obtained her APR. In her presentation she outlined the benefits of accreditation and why one should pursue. From that moment I was hooked on the challenge of gaining my APR. After the luncheon I “ripped off the band-aid” and dove into the studying process. The first thing I did was plan my approach. I set my target exam date and worked backwards from there to create my studying schedule. I downloaded and placed in a binder the APR Study Guide from the Universal Accreditation Board and bought Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics from Amazon. I thought six months would be enough. Boy, was I wrong.

Upon beginning my studies, I quickly realized I basically had no clue how to properly conduct PR from a strategic standpoint. The terms, theories and communication models as well as learning the RPIE process (research, planning, implementation and evaluation) proved to be cumbersome and overwhelmingly difficult to digest. It was at this moment I realized six months to be ready for my exam was ambitious and not realistic. I needed to regroup and take more time to study.

In January 2018, as I continued to study, I began to talk to some local APR’s about the process and they all told me the same thing – “Take the online APR class.” The online class is $195. Without hesitation I registered. Little did I know this would be the game changer on my journey.

The online class is a self-paced, 10 module APR preparation course that included a weekly meeting where we reviewed potential exam questions, listened to current APR’s give their exam advice, discussed the online course modules and gave practice presentations on case studies. We also had the opportunity to deliver our panel presentations as practice for the real thing.

The online class proved to be invaluable for me. Not only did it help work out confusion on terms and models, it also gave me confidence in my studies. In addition, I learned early on from fellow classmates about the “Bible of PR” book, Effective Public Relations by Carter and Cutlip. This book gave me the context to understand all the terms we learned in the online class. To all of those starting the APR process, I recommend purchasing this book. Though the online class is self-paced, I did the best I could to keep pace with the weekly meetings and the weekly studies suggested. Three months after using the class and Effective Public Relations I volunteered to give a practice panel presentation. In my opinion, I quickly bombed on the presentation. I used output objectives instead of outcome objectives. My strategies were tactics, and my goals seemed like a marketing plan goal instead of a strategic PR plan goal. After this I quickly, once again, adjust my target exam date.

With my confidence quickly falling, I reached out to the online class leader who gave me some sound advice on managing some of the terms. Primarily, the class leader helped me with understanding the difference between outcome and output objectives. He also pointed out that PR is all about RELATIONSHIPS and to apply everything you read and study in the APR journey to your daily work. With this knowledge in mind, things began to dramatically change.

Understanding how to use outcome objectives and focusing on research, planning, implementation and evaluation (the RPIE process) while applying it to my current job helped make things begin to click. I began to see how to formulate goals. I understood how research helped find holes in my company’s business plan and how we communicate to our clients and prospects.

With my new confidence and knowledge gained in the online studies and daily readings, I mapped out a new internal communications plan targeted at our current clients. I conducted an online survey with our clients asking them their thoughts and ratings on customer service and their overall satisfaction with our company. This research led me to develop the goals, objectives, strategies and tactics to create my plan. The research also gave me a baseline to evaluate my program against during and at the end of the campaign.

By July of 2018, grasping the concepts in the online class were coming together, but I still did not think I was quite there yet to begin the application process. So I decided to participate in one more session of weekly meetings and another review of the ten modules. Along the way I bought a house and got married!

With my marriage and house purchase I quickly found that having $400 around to submit my application didn’t exist - once again another change to the mythical test date. Only this time it would be the last.

While sitting at lunch with a coworker I was asked how the exam process was coming. I said, “Good but I keep pushing back my test date. Whether lack of confidence, timing or life events I always come up with a reason to move my goal date and push it out further.” A few hours later my coworker, who is also my direct report, came to me with an envelope and said, “Here is an early wedding present from the company.”

Inside was a check for $400 from the owner. Tears of joy began to stream down my face. Excitement ruled and I quickly filled out my application, stuffed an envelope with it and the check, and reached out to my local APR Chair. It was on! My application was approved on Sept. 21, 2018. My panel was set for Oct. 4. I was pumped but apprehensive. Was I truly ready? I didn’t know. All I knew was I needed to just do it and stop making excuses.

In the days leading up to my panel presentation, I put together a nice binder with my latest company internal communications campaign - the one I had created with my new RPIE knowledge. At the panel I was greeted by the APR Chair, who was relaxed and welcoming. I had two other panelists as well. We met at the APR Chair’s office. I was super nervous but once we started, I quickly calmed. It was a conversation plain and simple. Not a grilling. It was a conversation about how the exam is conducted and what to expect. A discussion of my presentation. What I learned. What I would change. After two hours of conversation, I said my goodbyes and was walked to the door by the APR Chair. She told me great job and that I would know within two hours of my results. Needless to say, I was on the edge of my seat! When I got home, I stared at my email and waited. It finally came. In the subject line: “APR Advancement. You passed with flying colors!” The journey continued.

One more read of Effective Public Relations cover to cover and it was time to take the exam. The exam was 177 questions. All questions were scenario-based and had no more than five answers to choose from. Some questions required two-to-three correct choices and all of them must be correct to receive credit for the question. You have three hours and 45 minutes to complete the test. Upon entering the exam room all you are allowed to be equipped with is a small whiteboard and dry erase marker.

I used all of my time given and when I got to the “submit your exam” screen, I paused, took a deep breath and clicked “Submit.” On the next screen all I saw was the word “pass.” I did it! I raised my arms in celebration and with a huge smile, left knowing I am an APR!

It’s an amazing process. If you are thinking of getting your APR in 2019, do it! I assure that you will not regret the decision. It will change you personally and professionally. If you are in the process of getting your APR, don’t give up. There will be struggles and you may get discouraged, but keep driving, keep studying, and I promise you will pass the exam.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Podcasting in 2019

By Rachel Gies, Ohio University Class of 2019

During the Central Ohio PRSA Future of PR Conference, I had the pleasure of hearing Erik Jacobson speak about why he is so heavily invested in podcasting. In fact, Jacobson is the founder and CEO of Be My Guest, a podcast and PR production agency that helps brands grow through podcasting. According to Jacobson, podcasts will eventually overtake radio. Whether or not you want to believe it, here are 5 reasons why you should consider podcasting for your business in 2019.

  1. Half of U.S. homes are podcast fans
    That means that over 60 million U.S. homes enjoy podcasts, and 51% of the population has actually listened to a podcast. Listeners enjoy the personal connection they feel with the host through podcasting. There’s a type of vulnerability that they can’t find anywhere else.

  2. Podcast listeners are devoted
    On average, podcast listeners subscribe to an average of 6 shows and listen to an average of 7 shows per week which is equivalent to about 7 hours of listening.

  3. Podcasts reach people in ways no other media can
    The audio nature of podcasts allows people to listen in the car, while they’re exercising, at work, cleaning their house, etc. Other media such as video and print do not allow for the same listening flexibility. These listeners are typically hard to reach. These listeners are more likely to be “cord cutters” who subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime instead of cable, so they are less likely to be exposed to TV advertising. Sixty-nine percent of listeners agreed that podcasts ads were effective in product awareness.

  4. Podcast listeners are likely to purchase things that are talked about during a podcast
    Overall, research has found that podcast listeners are loyal, affluent and educated. These listeners trust the host and are willing to purchase products recommended by someone they trust.

  5. Spotify is moving toward podcasting
    Originally, Spotify was created as a music app, but recently Spotify announced that they plan to spend up to $500 million on podcast related acquisitions. This year, Spotify purchased two of the industries largest podcast production houses, Anchor and Gimlet Media. According to Jacobson, when Apple decides to join in, it will double and maybe even triple the industry.

The future looks very bright for the podcast industry. Since 2013, podcast listenership has steadily increased by approximately 20 percent with the biggest increase between 2018 and 2019 (Edison Research Infinite Dial 2019). If you’re looking for a new way to grow your brand, podcasting is quickly gaining the attention of the nation and could be the perfect solution for you.

Sources:
https://www.podcastinsights.com/podcast-statistics/
https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/streaming/8497377/spotify-gimlet-anchor-podcasts-marketplace-analysis-music

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Ethics Month: Be Prepared

Every September, we celebrate Ethics Month to remind ourselves about the importance of ethics and the resources available to PRSA members. PRSA has a Code of Ethics we all agree to follow when we become members (if you need a refresher, check out the Code of Ethics online). And we have a group - PRSA’s Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS) – charged with developing resources and offering guidance to help us navigate ethical dilemmas.

One only needs to pick up a newspaper or turn on the news to know that this year’s theme, Be Prepared, is timely. It’s never been more important to have a plan in place to deal with questionable situations – whether they’re true or false. We can all cite examples of when a situation wasn’t handled well and even more damage was done.

As PR professionals, our role is to advise our clients when they want to do something that crosses the line. Sometimes, we also are called on when that line is crossed – or someone is accused of crossing the line. We can take steps to prepare for those situations to help our clients – and ourselves – come out on the other side.

BEPS has built a schedule full of great advice and opportunities to help you Be Prepared, including:

  • Ethics Counsel Today: No Boundaries – The line between right and wrong sometimes can be blurry – new technology and practices allow us to push the envelope. Join PRSA at 8 p.m. Sept. 4 for a Twitter chat that will examine and discuss the ways in which – and the reasons why – communicators today must be ever mindful of varying perceptions of what constitutes ethical practice. #EthicsMonth

  • How to Prepare a Personal Crisis Plan – How do you call out unethical or even unlawful behavior on the part of employer or client – without damaging your own career at the same time? This webinar, scheduled for 3 p.m. Sept. 13, guides PR practitioners through ethical dilemmas. The webinar will help you create a crisis preparedness plan, recognize situations that require advance preparation to preserve reputation, evaluate career opportunities based on the PRSA Code of Ethics and handle the aftermath of an ethics-based career crisis you didn't create. Register online.

  • PR Ethics Curriculum – Teaching students about ethics is critical to protecting the reputation of our profession. Join PRSA at 8 p.m. Sept. 18 for a Twitter chat hosted by the PRSA Educators Academy/Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) PR Division & AEJMC Media Ethics Division. #EthicsMonth


The Central Ohio Chapter celebrates ethics month, and I’m excited to connect our members with these resources and more. There’s more to come, so watch our communication channels – the blog, newsletter, website and social media – for additional resources, activities and information.

And as always, if you’re facing an ethical dilemma, your Ethics Officer is here to help! Feel free to reach out to ask questions about an ethical dilemma or share insight into how you’ve handled an ethical question.

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Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Members of Central Oho Diversity & Inclusion committee (left to right: Gayle Saunders, APR; Shanikka Flinn, committee chair; and Jaron Terry, MS, APR, Fellow, PRSA) celebrated National PRSA D&I Honorable Mention, which the chapter received in 2017 for efforts last year. Board liaison, Kerry Francis, APR, its an integral team member.

Members of Central Oho Diversity & Inclusion committee (left to right: Gayle Saunders, APR; Shanikka Flinn, committee chair; and Jaron Terry, MS, APR, Fellow, PRSA) celebrated National PRSA D&I Honorable Mention, which the chapter received in 2017 for efforts last year. Board liaison, Kerry Francis, APR, its an integral team member. 

Talking about diversity and implicit bias can make some people uncomfortable and reluctant to dive deep for fear of saying the wrong thing. Others want to have an open and honest discussion about how implicit (or unconscious) bias can negatively affect not only our workplace lives, but our personal lives, too, but are concerned about being “politically correct” and so say nothing.

On August 30, from 6 to 8 pm, all are invited to attend "Diversity Exercises & Engagement: Uncovering & Confronting Implicit Biases," a judgment-free zone where we come together to talk about how the chapter and our work places can achieve diversity and inclusion goals, build diverse teams and recognize the value and strengths in cultures different from our own. The Central Ohio PRSA Diversity & Inclusion committee, led by chair, Shanikka Flinn, invites us to step outside our comfort zones to uncover our own unconscious biases, confront mistaken assumptions and work together to create an environment of acceptance and inclusion for all.

Jaron Terry Communications is delighted to sponsor this chapter professional development event in recognition of Diversity & Inclusion month.

To register for the August 30 event - which includes a pizza dinner and will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at NiSource, 240 W. Nationwide Blvd, Columbus, Ohio - please visit the chapter website.

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2018 PRism Award Winners

More than 150 communication professionals joined us to celebrate and honor the best work in our profession from the past year. Thanks for everyone who submitted and congratulations to our winners!  

Individual Award Winners:

  • Gayle Saunders, APR - Tom Poling Practitioner of the Year
  • Katie Thomas, APR - Walt Seifert Award
  • Logan Trautman - Rising Star Award
  • Lily Ng, The Ohio State University - PRSSA Outstanding Graduate


Best of Show:

  • Falghren Mortine with Niagara Falls USA: Media Relations Business to Business
  • AEP with FrazierHeiby: Media Relations Consumer Products and Services

 


Award Type Category Status Company Entry Title
PRism Annual Reports Non-Profit City of Dublin Communications & Public Information City of Dublin 2016 Annual Report
Award of Excellence Annual Reports Non-Profit The Catholic Foundation 2017 Annual Report
PRism Creative Tactics Non-Profit OhioHealth FSED Pop-up Experiences
Award of Excellence Creative Tactics Non-Profit MediaSource with The Ohio Development Services Agency Creative Video Content Drives Fight Against The Opioid Crisis
PRism Creative Tactics Profit AEP Economic Development with FrazierHeiby SelectUSA Trade Show Find Your Sweet Spot!
Award of Excellence Creative Tactics Profit Fahlgren Mortine with Capital University Capital University Brand Video
PRism Feature Stories Non-Profit Inspire PR Group with A Kid Again Columbus Dispatch Feature Story: Oyauma Garrison, Expanding A Kid Again
PRism Feature Stories Profit Inspire PR Group with Cameron Mitchell Restaurants Dinner at the James Beard House
Award of Excellence Feature Stories Profit Fahlgren Mortine with DHL DHL to Test Tesla Semi
PRism Interactive/Digital PR: Audio or Video Programs Non-Profit Friendship Village of Dublin with FrazierHeiby Showcasing Life in Perfect Balance Through Online Videos
PRism Interactive/Digital PR: Email Blast Non-Profit City of Dublin Dublin Irish Festival Black Friday Ticket Promotion
Award of Excellence Interactive/Digital PR: Email Blast Non-Profit Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau Destination Dublin E-Travel Club
PRism Interactive/Digital PR: Video News Release Non-Profit MediaSource with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Video Drives Thousands of Patient Inquiries to Hospital
Award of Excellence Interactive/Digital PR: Video News Release Non-Profit City of Dublin Communications & Public Information Cruiser Conversations
PRism Interactive/Digital PR: Websites Non-Profit Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau www.visitdublinohio.com
Award of Excellence Interactive/Digital PR: Websites Non-Profit Team Fleisher Communications with Eastway Behavioral Healthcare Eastway's New Website
PRism Interactive/Digital PR: Websites Profit RMD Advertising with Southern Recipe Pork Rind Appreciation Day
PRism Media Relations Business to Business Non-Profit Fahlgren Mortine with Niagara Falls USA Where Adventure Comes Naturally- Niagara Falls USA Media Relations Program
Award of Excellence Media Relations Business to Business Non-Profit Site Selectors Guild and FrazierHeiby Site Selectors Guild Placement in The Wall Street Journal
PRism Media Relations Business to Business Profit Belle Communications with Enevo Benefits Beyond the Dumpster: Enevo Helps Change the Conversation About Waste Management
Award of Excellence Media Relations Business to Business Profit Fahlgren Mortine with DHL DHL Transport Brokerage Name Change Announcement
PRism Media Relations Consumer Products and Services Non-Profit Fahlgren Mortine with COSI COSI Sees Dinosaur-Sized Results with Targeted PR
Award of Excellence Media Relations Consumer Products and Services Non-Profit Inspire PR Group with Butler County Visitors Bureau National Donut Day
PRism Media Relations Consumer Products and Services Profit AEP Ohio with FrazierHeiby Helping Our Neighbors in Florida
Award of Excellence Media Relations Consumer Products and Services Profit RMD Advertising with Graeter's Ice Cream Chunky Chunky Hippo Launch
PRism Online Communications: Blogs Non-Profit Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau Dublin CVB Blog
PRism Online Communications: Other Profit Fahlgren Mortine with CIRCOR Reliability Systems  Off-Roading the Product Roadshow: Increasing Awareness of RS Products
PRism Op-Ed Columns and Byline Articles Non-Profit Fahlgren Mortine with Coalition for American Electronics Recycling Refocusing Debate Through a Capitol Hill Op-Ed
Award of Excellence Op-Ed Columns and Byline Articles Non-Profit Jaron Terry Communications with PRSA Tactics A Singular They: Breaking Down AP Stylebook's New Rules on Gender
PRism Op-Ed Columns and Byline Articles Profit Belle Communications with Enevo Enevo Challenges Restaurants to Rethink the Role of Waste in Targeted Byline Article
PRism Presentations Non-Profit City of Dublin From Typewriter to Twitter 30th Anniversary Dublin Irish Festival Presentation
Award of Excellence Presentations Non-Profit Belle Communications with CDDC CDDC Elevates the Profile of Downtown Columbus through Presentation at NLC City Summit
PRism Presentations Profit Belle Communications with Lextant Lextant's Expertise in Human Trust Leads the Autonomous Vehicles Discussion at Wards Auto UX
PRism Publications: Brochures Non-Profit Inspire PR Group with Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau Brewed on the Bikeway Brochure
Award of Excellence Publications: Brochures Non-Profit Fahlgren Mortine with Ohio Business Roundtable Business Leadership for a Better Ohio: A 25-Year Retrospective
PRism Publications: Guides/Books Non-Profit Great Lakes Publishing with TourismOhio 2017 Ohio Travel Guide
Award of Excellence Publications: Guides/Books Non-Profit Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau 2018 Dublin Destination Guide
PRism Publications: Magazines Non-Profit Great Lakes Publishing with Ohio Humanities Pathways Magazine
Award of Excellence Publications: Magazines Non-Profit Mount Carmel College of Nursing The Lamp: Alumni/ Donor/Community Magazine
PRism Publications: Newsletters Non-Profit Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau Bureau Biz
Award of Excellence Publications: Newsletters Non-Profit Homeport @home
PRism Speeches Profit FrazierHeiby with Illuminology and Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio Generating Trust for Your Organization
PRism Social Media: Best Use of Facebook Non-Profit Inspire PR Group with Iowa Egg Council Easter 2017 Facebook Campaign
Award of Excellence Social Media: Best Use of Facebook Non-Profit State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio STRS Ohio Facebook
PRism Social Media: Best Use of Facebook Profit Fahlgren Mortine with Cardinal Health RNspire Honor: Igniting Nurses
PRism Social Media: Best Use of Twitter Non-Profit Inspire PR Group with Ohio Poultry Association #OhioTalksTurkey 2017 Twitter Party
PRism Blogger and Influencer Outreach Non-Profit Fahlgren Mortine with Wyoming Office of Tourism Wyoming Influencer Campaign Brings Tourism to Center Stage
Award of Excellence Blogger and Influencer Outreach Non-Profit Inspire PR Group with Ohio Beef Council Ohio Beef Council 2017 Blogger Event
PRism Blogger and Influencer Outreach Profit Belle Communications with Nestleí Nestleí Takes Outsiders Pizza Nationwide After Successful Influencer & Sampling Campaign
Award of Excellence Blogger and Influencer Outreach Profit MediaSource with Kilwins Dublin Kilwins Dublin Drives Brand Awareness & Sales
PRism Social Media Campaign Non-Profit Ohio Corn & Wheat with FrazierHeiby We Farm Ohio: Consumer Social Media Outreach
Award of Excellence Social Media Campaign Non-Profit Inspire PR Group with American Dairy Association Mideast June Dairy Month 2017
PRism Social Media Campaign Profit Geben Communication with Wolf's Ridge Brewing 614 Day Instagram Loop
Award of Excellence Social Media Campaign Profit The Wendy's Company Wendy's Nuggs Breaks Twitter History
PRism Special Events Non-Profit City of Dublin 30th Anniversary of the Dublin Irish Festival
Award of Excellence Special Events Non-Profit Ohio Association of County Boards with FrazierHeiby Always There 50th Anniversary Campaign
PRism Special Events Profit RMD Advertising with Graeter's Ice Cream National Ice Cream Month
Award of Excellence Special Events Profit Belle Communications with Piada Italian Street Food Piada Italian Street Food Launches Innovative Fall and Winter Menu with First-Ever Taste Tour
PRism Public Affairs Profit The Kroger Co. The Toledo Project: Turning Dissent Into Development
PRism Internal Communications Non-Profit City of Dublin Communications & Public Information “Employee Health Fair” campaign
PRism Internal Communications Profit Fahlgren Mortine with Vertiv Engaging Employees Through Change in Ownership and Identity
PRism Marketing Communications Business to Business Profit Fahlgren Mortine with Swisslog Swisslog Content Marketing
Award of Excellence Marketing Communications Business to Business Profit Fahlgren Mortine with IMI Hydronic Engineering Free Time Flow Campaign Launch and Trade Show
PRism Marketing Communications Consumer Products and Services Non-Profit Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau Celtic Cocktail Trail
PRism Marketing Communications Consumer Products and Services Profit MurphyEpson, Inc. with ODM/Buckeye, CareSource, Molina, Paramount, UHC Our Babies Count
Award of Excellence Marketing Communications Consumer Products and Services Profit Geben Communication with Royal Rhino Club Royal Rhino Club Launch
PRism Integrated Communications Non-Profit Fahlgren Mortine with Nevada Division of Tourism TravelNevada Bets on PR, Wins Big with Millennial Marketing
Award of Excellence Integrated Communications Non-Profit Friendship Village of Dublin with FrazierHeiby Showcasing “Your Life in Perfect Balance” in Year Two
PRism Integrated Communications Profit Fahlgren Mortine with Columbia Gas of Ohio Saving Matters: Data Drives Customer Connections During Moments That Matter
Award of Excellence Integrated Communications Profit RMD Advertising with Southern Recipe Pork Rind Appreciation Day
PRism Crisis Communications and Issues Management Non-Profit Inspire PR Group with Delaware Area Career Center Going Back to the Ballot for a Renewal Levy
PRism Crisis Communications and Issues Management Profit Geben Communication with The Parking Spot A Travel Brand's Communication during Hurricane Harvey
Award of Excellence Crisis Communications and Issues Management Profit Team Fleisher Communications with Kitrick, Lewis & Harris Fair Fatality
PRism Branding/Rebranding Non-Profit Site Selectors Guild with FrazierHeiby Elevating the Site Selectors Guild Brand
PRism Branding/Rebranding Profit Fahlgren Mortine with Midmark Corporation Point of Care Ecosystem Campaign
Award of Excellence Branding/Rebranding Profit Fahlgren Mortine with SWACO From Waste to Resources
PRism Community Relations Profit AEP Ohio with FrazierHeiby Save Energy and Score Big!
Award of Excellence Community Relations Profit Team Fleisher Communications with IGS Energy Bundle Up Campaign
PRism Corporate Social Responsibility Profit RMD Advertising with Graeter's Ice Cream Cones For The Cure
Award of Excellence Corporate Social Responsibility Profit The Wendy's Company Wendy's Partnership with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

 





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COPRSA Diversity & Inclusion Program Focuses on Forward Momentum: You’re Invited to Come On Board!

You’re invited to be part of maintaining the forward momentum of Central Ohio on the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) front by joining the D&I committee for 2018!

Our next meeting is May 9 at 5:30 pm in room #1 at the Driving Park branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 1422 East Livingston Avenue. Take a look at our accomplishments to date and bring your ideas to the meeting! Questions? Call Shanikka Flinn at 614.893.7711.

D&I Accomplishments

PRSA National recognized Central Ohio PRSA with a Chapter Diversity Award, Honorable Mention, for strides made in 2016 and 2017 to advance diversity and inclusion at the local level. The award – presented during PRSA ICON 2017 in Boston – acknowledges the outstanding efforts of our D&I Committee members: Shanikka Flinn, chair; Gayle Saunders, APR; and Jaron Terry, MS, APR, Fellow PRSA.

In addition to changing our chapter’s bylaws in 2016 to reflect 21st century D&I goals, the 2017 committee, which also included David Welsh and Kevin Terry Smith:

  • Sponsored a mixer for current and prospective members
  • Produced a panel presentation, “D&I: It’s Not Just HR, It’s PR,” at the August 2017 chapter luncheon, sponsored by The Saunders Group
  • Offered a seven-session APR Prep Course featuring COPRSA university professors and PR professionals
  • Published D&I articles in PRSay, PRSA Tactics and Columbus CEO magazine
  • Produced and hosted radio programs, which included a noted national author, and community and committee members
  • Presented on D&I to PRSA Health Academy; PRSA ICON16, PRSA ICON17 and Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Ohio.

We hope you will join us in helping to move the needle forward on D&I in PRSA and in the public relations profession.

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Member Profile: Christopher Stollar, APR

By Christopher Stollar
Public Relations Consultant for Nationwide

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My wife and I both work at Nationwide (we were even once on the same floor and shared the same printer!). We live in Clintonville with our two kids, a 4-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. We have been active members of Veritas Community Church in the Short North for almost 10 years, volunteering especially with our church’s anti-human trafficking ministry called She Has A Name.

What do you like doing outside of work, such as hobbies or volunteer activities?
I love to write. It’s always been my passion. In 2016 I got the wonderful opportunity to have my first novel published by Boyle & Dalton. The Black Lens is a dark literary thriller that exposes the underbelly of sex trafficking in rural America. My debut novel won Grand Prize in the 2016 Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards. As a former reporter, I conducted more than three years of research for The Black Lens, including interviews with survivors, social workers and police officers right here in Central Ohio. You can learn more at http://christopherstollar.com/.

What is your current job title and role?
I am a public relations consultant for Nationwide.

What is your professional and educational background?
I’m a former reporter who has a master’s degree in journalism and an accreditation in public relations. I spent three years working as a general assignment reporter in Oregon before realizing that it would be hard to balance family life with the long hours required to do journalism right. My wife and I moved to Columbus in 2009 right at the peak of the Recession to be closer to her family. I worked for several years in marketing at a local nonprofit before starting my career at Nationwide. Last year marked my fifth anniversary at our company!

What is your biggest accomplishment?
Since 2015, I have led a team that plans the PR strategy for Nationwide’s annual Business Owner Survey. We ask more than 1,000 business owners across the country dozens of questions about key topics, such as cybersecurity, disaster recovery and succession planning. That proprietary research has helped generate more than 135 million earned media impressions stemming from over 100 news articles with both niche trade publications and top-tier outlets like NBC, Forbes and Entrepreneur.

What do you like most about your work?
I love the challenge of using data to drive media results. Reporters love a good story, but they also want unique and proprietary research that nobody else has so their articles can stand out in an increasingly cluttered news landscape.

What inspired you to join PRSA?
I joined PRSA because I wanted the ability to network with and learn from local experts in this field.

How have you gotten involved with Central Ohio PRSA?
I just joined our local chapter’s social media committee because I wanted to help expand our reach in this critical area. I am also planning to sit on panel presentations for candidates who are pursuing their Accreditation in Public Relations. I received my APR last year and found the experience extremely helpful when it comes to strategic planning.

What advice do you have for people interested in PRSA?
Join your local chapter! You’ll love the experience. And once you join, become part of a committee. It’s a great way to network, get involved and make a difference in our profession.

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Breaking Down the AP Stylebook’s New Rules on Gender

by Jaron Terry, MS, APR, Fellow PRSA

In August, PRSA is celebrating Diversity Month by focusing on the diverse communities, people and practices that comprise public relations. We will also be providing advice and insight on how to build a better PR profession through diversity and inclusion. Here, the Diversity & Inclusion Committee and other PR thought leaders offer their insights on the importance of a diverse and inclusive workplace. Join the discussion by following @PRSADiversity and using #PRSADiversity in your social media posts.

As PR practitioners, we’re called upon to be creative and clear in our writing, and to follow rules of spelling, punctuation, grammar and style. Therefore, it’s logical for us to regard The Associated Press Stylebook as “the bible” for all things written.

With this in mind, it was a relief for me — the vice president of the board for PFLAG Columbus, a local chapter of the national organization that promotes dignity and respect for LGBTQ people — when AP announced new guidance on the use of “they” as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun in stories about people who identify as neither male nor female or ask not to be referred to as he, she, him or her.

“People have long thought that gender is a binary — that a person is either a man or a woman — when in reality gender is a spectrum,” said trans activist and consultant Jacob Nash, a panelist on gender at the 2017 PRSA Health Academy Conference in April and at PRSA ICON’16.

Nash said that some transgender individuals (who do not identify with the biological sex they were assigned at birth) eschew the gender binary altogether and refer to themselves as “gender-nonconforming,” meaning their gender expression differs from conventional expectations of masculinity and femininity.

“For all these persons, having a gender non-specific pronoun is important not only for spiritual and mental health, but in some cases for physical safety as well,” said Nash, founder of Margie’s Hope, an Akron, Ohio-based organization that helps transgender people.

The 2017 AP Stylebook has an entry on gender that includes descriptions such as “cisgender” (people whose gender identity matches their biological sex at birth) and “intersex” (people born with genitalia or chromosomes that don’t fit typical definitions for males or females). According to The AP Stylebook, “Gender refers to a person’s social identity while sex refers to biological characteristics. Not all people fall under one of two categories for sex or gender, according to leading medical organizations.” The Stylebook advises writers to “avoid references to both, either or opposite sexes or genders as a way to encompass all people.”

“We offer the new advice for two reasons,” said AP Stylebook editor Paula Froke. [As] recognition that spoken language uses ‘they’ as a singular, and [because] we also recognize the need for a pronoun for people who don’t identify as a he or a she.”

Increased acceptance

According to a first-of-its-kind Harris Poll conducted for GLAAD (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), a media-monitoring organization, “Young people today are more accepting of LGBTQ people than ever before. And as acceptance has grown in this country, so too has the number of young people who describe themselves as LGBTQ.”

According to the survey, 63 percent of cisgender, heterosexual millennials consider themselves allies of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning) people, and another 23 percent describe themselves as “detached supporters.” Of millennials surveyed, 20 percent identify themselves as LGBTQ and 12 percent of those say they are not cisgender. Regardless of why young people report higher numbers of gender nonconformity, the need for a singular, non-gender-specific pronoun is clear.

Although people often use “they,” “them,” or “their” as singular pronouns when speaking, writing still tends to treat these words as plural. AP now suggests using a person’s name in place of a pronoun or rewording sentences to avoid pronoun use altogether.

Singular use of “they” still takes a plural verb, which I find easier on the ear, as in “they walk” (as opposed to “they walks”). For me, using “they,” “them” and “theirs” as singular pronouns sounds better than other gender-neutral alternatives that have been proposed, such as “xe, xem, xyrs” or “ze, hir, hirs.” In my opinion, “they,” “them” and “theirs” as singular pronouns will become more commonplace over time, so that eventually writers will no longer have to explain that the person being referred to prefers a gender-neutral pronoun, as AP currently suggests.

Finding clarity

Froke said the 2016 Stylebook team had considered making the pronoun change, but because alternative proposals for gender-neutral pronouns existed, they felt more time was needed.

“This year’s team resumed the discussions at the outset of our work,” she said. “Over several months we crafted language intended to address the need for these usages in some cases while being mindful of the need for clarity for all readers.”

As someone who champions writing and speaking for LGBTQ inclusion, I applaud AP for its forward momentum. Writers can also look to the free, online “GLAAD Media Reference Guide,” which provides more extensive guidance on covering the transgender and gender-nonconforming community. It also includes a comprehensive glossary of terms.

“GLAAD has championed the use of LGBTQ-supportive language in media since our founding in 1985, and we welcome The AP Stylebook including new rules for citing gender that are in accord with those we have long advocated,” said Rich Ferraro, GLAAD’s chief communications officer.

Jaron Terry, MS, APR, Fellow, PRSA, is president of Jaron Terry Communications, Ltd. She teaches crisis communications at Franklin University, serves on the volunteer board of PFLAG Columbus (Ohio) and is a member of the national-level PRSA Diversity & Inclusion Committee. She is past president of the Central Ohio Chapter and provides strategic consulting as well as writing services. Find her at JaronTerryCommunications.com or jaronterry@columbus.rr.com @JaronTerry

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Action Item: Strategic plan survey for chapter members & PR professionals

By Erin Maggied, November 12th, 2015

The PRSA Central Ohio Chapter’s policy is to develop a new strategic plan (2017-2019) every three years to help guide resources of the chapter for programming, membership events, awards and recognition and more! 

This fall, the chapter is working with a communication research class at buypresentation.com Ohio University-Lancaster to conduct quantitative research of the chapter membership and PR professionals. Results will help the development of the new plan that will be announced in the fourth quarter of 2016.

A special planning committee will convene in early 2016 to work with the board of directors, committee leaders, volunteers, members and other stakeholders in developing a new strategic plan. To complete the online survey, click here. The survey is open to Chapter members, PRSSA members and PR professionals. Deadline to complete the survey is November 23.

If you are interested in joining this committee, please contact the chapter’s 2016 President, John Palmer at john.palmer@ohiohospitals.org. 

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Setting and Achieving the APR Goal

By Katie Thomas, October 14th, 2015

For a few years now, achieving the APR credential has been a goal of mine. I originally started studying after I received my master’s degree, figuring I was already in study mode from school. Unfortunately, life got in the way and that goal was put on hold.

Fast forward to 2015—I go into study mode again, when I receive word from PRSA that I’ve been selected as a beta tester for the new examination. I find myself essay-jedi.net on a three-month timeline to complete the Readiness Review and take the exam. The results would be emailed a month later. With a typical APR exam, you know (unofficially) right away if you pass.

On September 30, at 12:25 p.m., my heart raced as an email, subject line, “Notification for Beta Examination,” hit my inbox. I clicked it open and saw, “Congratulations!” I did it! I received my APR.

If you’re interested in pursuing your APR, here’s my advice for preparing for the exam:

  • Contact our chapter Accreditation chair. I met with Kara Allison when I was first thinking about the process. She was helpful in thoroughly explaining the process and going over the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) that would be on the exam. It’s important to work through each KSA and see where your strengths and weaknesses are when you begin preparing for the exam.

  • Study first—then apply. This helps in case those life events come up and throw your studying off track. You have a year to complete the Readiness Review and exam after your application is approved.

  • Set aside designated studying time—and stick to it. Going into this process, I knew to succeed I would need designated studying time. My husband was supportive in my schedule and did whatever I needed to help me stick to it. Since I was on a three-month timeline, I studied about 10 hours a week. The amount of hours per week depends on your timeline. I also enrolled in the APR Online Study Course. It’s divided into 10 self-paced modules with suggested readings, assignments and sample questions written by fellow peers so you get a better feel for how the questions will be worded on the exam. The course also offers a weekly call with peers and APRs where you can present notes on the readings or a case study. As part of the course, you can connect with APRs who can review your case study or answer questions. I highly suggest writing a practice case study and having it reviewed by an APR. It helped me take the concepts I was reading about and apply them more effectively.

  • Read Cutlip and Center’s Effective Public Relations. And read it again. Go ahead and buy the book. This book was helpful in my studying and has contributed to my growth as a PR professional. I now keep it at my desk at work.

  • Use the resources of APRs in our chapter. I am grateful to Kerry Francis, APR, who continually encouraged me on my APR journey and checked in to on my progress. My Readiness Review panel was also wonderful in their support and encouragement. Find someone to be your cheerleader or answer any questions you have.

  • Don’t give up! It takes time to achieve this credential but it’s well worth it. I feel I am a much better PR professional now. Make a goal and stick to it. You can do this!

Katie Thomas, APR, is a senior strategist-consumer marketing at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She is currently chair of the Central Ohio PRSA Programs Committee. Contact her at katie.crabtree@gmail.com.

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