#PPRAMemberMonday: Cara Schneider Bongiorno

Today we’re featuring Cara Schneider Bongiorno, Media Relations Director at VISIT PHILADELPHIA, who’s been a PPRA member for 12 years. Outside of work, she lends a hand to Honey’s Angels, an organization devoted to providing food and supermarket gift cards to struggling families. She has also sat on the board of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, dedicated to inspiring creativity through folk, mosaic and visionary art.
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PPRA: Cara, tell us a bit about your current job.
CSB: I am the Director of Media Relations for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, a position I assumed in 2006 after seven years with the company. In this role, I manages the media relations team and their efforts to publicize to local and national press Philadelphia’s history, art, food, neighborhoods, family attractions and more, as well as VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s own campaigns and tactics—all of which build the region’s image as a premier leisure destination.
PPRA: What projects are you working on right now?
CSB: I’m knee deep in the DNC now, working with a team on creating resources for the media covering the convention. We studied coverage from the Papal visit, recent political conventions, and even the RNC in 2000 to come up with a plan to give media what they need, when the need it, and possibly even if they didn’t know they needed it!Working on the DNC segues into the other big project, a big push around Historic Philadelphia. Delegates coming to town with a hot political agenda, eating and drinking late into the evening, feeding the press, roaming all over town…is it 1776 or 2016?! Our World Heritage City has an amazing, current story to tell, and we’re working hard to amp up what visitors know about it. 
PPRA: What is your favorite part about your job?
CSB: Being trusted by media.
PPRA: What was your latest and greatest accomplishment at your job?
CSB: I was thrilled with the buzz around the being named Best in the U.S. by Lonely Planet. We and LP pitched the news together, generating more than 35 unique stories. (They told us back in November that we’d get the top honor in February.) The Visit Philly social media team got huge reach on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and the uwishunu post got nearly 70,000 page views. It’s even mentioned in a With Love, Philadelphia ad in the American Way magazine’s Spotlight on Philadelphia. That’s integrated marketing sweetness! On a personal note, it’s very cool to be a lunch and hear the speaker refer to a great Philly accolade, secretly knowing that I worked on that. 
PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?
CSB: If something doesn’t look right, say something. Nothing is worse than having to admit, “I knew that didn’t seem right, but I just figured it was OK because everyone else was OK with it.” It could be about something simple, like the spelling of a name, or big, like the idea behind an event.
PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?
CSB: Henry V with Kenneth Branagh (and Emma Thompson!) I know some of the speeches by heart, and even some of his expressions which are so subtle, but so powerful. Shakespeare can be gobbledygook at times to me, but when I really understand the simple truths behind the words, it’s sublime. (Shout out to the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater for the great job they do.) 
PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?
CSB: The white gazebo beyond the PMA, overlooking the Water Works, Boathouse Row and the river. 
PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?
CSB: Roasted pork, broccoli rabe and sharp provolone. But if we go to Shanks at Pier 40, my husband gets the Chicken Cutlet Italiano, I get the roasted pork and we split both.
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