Top 10 PPRA Firsts

As the outgoing PPRA president, I wanted to share my reflections on our last year without taking up time from the busy program at our recent Annual Meeting Reception, so I decided to put a Top 10 list together for our blog.

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Some of you may recall that 2016 is “My (Leap) Year of Firsts” – meaning I’m daring myself to try something new for the first time every single day this year.  Since PPRA’s calendar year is mid-year to mid-year, here are my Top 10 firsts from our 2015-2016 PPRA programming year:

  1. Founding the PPRA Sylvia Kauders 50-Year Club
  2. Jeff Jubelirer’s Hall of Fame Luncheon
  3. Mayor Nutter performing Rapper’s Delight and Mighty Writer Christian Precise reading her poetry at the Gold Medal Luncheon
  4. Greeting Card Workshop at Magic Gardens
  5. Launching the Firm Founders Series
  6. Grape Expectations outdoor fashion sketches at City Tavern
  7. Launching Networking 101 at CBS 3
  8. The “Meet the Messengers” breakfast panel with Mayor Kenney’s communications team
  9. “Kicking” off our exclusive in-studio breakfast program at CBS 3 with Margaret Cronan (and our matching boots)
  10. Lu Ann Cahn (a.k.a. the inspiration behind the “firsts”) interviewing Philadelphia Media Network Publisher Terry Egger

There were a lot more highlights, but the reason I’m emphasizing these experiences is because they were all “firsts” for PPRA.  We were not afraid to take risks and try some things differently.  For example, we revamped PResence – PPRA’s monthly e-newsletter – and the open rate has nearly peaked at 50 percent.  What were your favorite #PPRAfirsts from this year?

Furthermore, I would like to sincerely thank our PPRA members for their support and dedication.  It truly has been amazing to experience these “firsts” and grow with my PPRA family.  Thanks to all for the memories that will last.      

Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway is the immediate past-president of the Philadelphia Public Relations Association and director of communications and marketing at the Philadelphia Bar Association.  Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter at @MZApoetry.

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Member Get a Member

Congratulations to the following PPRA members, who all won prizes in the final “Member Get a Member” contest of the program year:

  • Cooper University Health Care System Marketing Manager Amanda Bednar, who received passes to Helium Comedy Club for referring her colleague Kate Johnston, who is also a marketing manager at Cooper University Health Care System.
  • Buchanan Public Relations President Anne Buchanan, who received tickets to the Philadelphia Folk Festival for referring Philabundance Deputy Communications Director Stafanie Arck-Baynes.
  • Brian Communications Assistant Account Executive Rachel Christie, who received Phillies tickets for referring Gregory FCA Account Coordinator Olivia Noble.

  • Anne Klein, who is founder of Anne Klein Communications Group, received a gift card to Hard Rock Café Philadelphia for referring Sandee Bengel.
  • Independent communications consultant Jessica Lawlor, who received a gift card to Hard Rock Café Philadelphia for referring Alexa Johnson, public relations manager at Visit Bucks County.
  • Lisa Simon, who is president of Simon Public Relations Group, received a gift card to Hard Rock Café Philadelphia for referring Amy Buckman, who is manager of public relations and special events at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com.

In addition, Adam Dvorin, media director at Winning Strategies, referred Della Bozeman.

Thanks to Cashman Public Relations, Lisette Bralow, Helium Comedy Club and the Phillies for providing this month’s prizes.

Finally, thank you to everyone who helped spread the word about joining PPRA.

The State of the Industry

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Public relations professionals from PPRA, PRSA Philly and PBPRS gathered April 19, 2016 for the third ever State of the Industry event. As attendees enjoyed a filling breakfast, PPRA President Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway welcomed the audience followed by PRSA Philly President Kimberley Ciesla and Philadelphia Black Public Relations President Vincent Thompson. Next, guests transitioned into the main part of the event which consisted of four interesting panel discussions about the state of public relations in Philadelphia organized into two breakout sessions.

During the first breakout session, “Staying Out of the News: Insight from Philly’s Top Crisis PR Experts” event attendees had the opportunity to learn more about crisis public relations from some of the top Crisis PR professionals. The panel consisted of Cathy Engel Menendez, Director of Communications for PECO, Joshua Peck, PR Head at international law firm Duane Morris, and Christopher Lukach, president and member of the ownership team at Anne Klein Communications Group. Neil Foote, president of Foote Communications LLC and the National Black Public Relations Society, moderated the conversation, introducing various challenges faced by professionals who perform crisis management. By the conclusion of the session, audience members learned the importance of getting the facts, identifying the ideal spokesperson, sharing a plan for dispensing information with stakeholders and setting the tone for a crisis during the first response. The panelists also explained the importance of preparing for crises before they occur, already having established relationships with C-suite executives and being able to communicate the values of your organization when in doubt.

555The other portion of the audience attended “The Influence Behind Philly Brands” during session one. This event was moderated by David Brown, Founder/Managing Director of the Marketing Collaborative and assistant professor of teaching at Temple University. Janeane Tolomeo of Di Bruno Bros., Trevor Prichett of the Yards Brewing Company and Paula Butler of Visit Philadelphia sat on the panel for this discussion.  Each professional discussed some of the unique challenges their brands face and the ways they leverage their brand’s Philly connection to meet their bottom lines. While Visit Philly tries to make cultural connections with Philadelphia and the outside world to engage their audiences, Yard Brewing Company competes with large companies on their small budget by appealing to Philly loyalty and using social media, traditional PR and multimedia content to develop campaigns like their “Brew onto Others.” Tolomeo explained that the Di Bruno Bros employs market research, high level connections and influential partnerships to keep their finger on the pulse of consumers.

The second breakout session focused on two different subjects: social media and changes in healthcare. In “We Snapped, Posted & Tweeted… What’s Next?,” Rakia Reynolds, CEO and Founder of Skai Blue Media, and Matthew Dickman, Executive Director of Digital Communications at Comcast Corporation, shared their expertise with the audience. After tweetgiving brief professional backgrounds, Boyd and Dickman dialogued about their recent shared experience in the Comcast lounge at SXSW. They reminisced about how Comcast spent 1/10th the amount as many other brands at SXSW but generated more engagement by providing great content, incorporating various forms of social media and creating an interactive and engaging space. Boyd and Dickman continued the discussion providing advice about strategically growing interaction on social media, organic posting versus paid search, determining the appropriate content according to platform, incorporating snapchat for large companies and more.

Other professionals who attended the event elected to attend “From Consumerism to the FDA—How Changes in Healthcare Impact Communications.” Rachel Schwartz, Vice President of Tonic Life Communications discussed the role that patient bloggers play in affecting policies in the healthcare industry. Leah Sheppard, Senior Director of Corporate Marketing and Communications, also spoke about the more active role patients are taking in healthcare consumerism. Rather than simply following doctor’s orders, patients have begun to take agency advice in seeking out physicians and institutions and it is shifting the conversation in this field. For Charlotte Sutton, Health and Science editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, she recognizes the rise in patient stories but what she looks for is the data underpinnings of these increasing patient stories.

 

After the breakout sessions, the audience heard from April Mellody, Deputy CEO of Communications of the 2016 Democratic National Convention Committee. The 2016 Democratic National Convention is coming to Philadelphia this July and Mellody is responsible for all aspects of official convention communications. A short Q&A session followed Mellody’s spiel that broached topics from communication challenges Mellody’s staff may face to volunteer opportunities. Attendees left the third State of the Industry event more informed about changes in the field of PR and with more insight about the state of Philadelphia in the near future.

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Jameeda Rucker is a senior at Temple University majoring in Strategic Communication and minoring in Spanish. Jameeda has held five public relations internships and multiple leadership roles in pre-professional organizations including her current role as Vice President of Public Relations for Temple’s Chapter of PRSSA. You can connect with Jameeda on Twitter @_JRPR_ and on LinkedIn here.

Member Get a Member Winners: Niki Gianakaris and Abby Rizen

Congratulations to PPRA Members Niki Gianakaris and Abby Rizen for winning the March “Member Get a Member” contest.

 

Gianakaris is the Director of Media Relations at Drexel University. She referred her colleagues Lauren Ingeno and Frank Otto.

Rizen is the Director of Media Relations at Vault Communications. She referred colleagues Amanda Michelson and Rachel Jakubowitcz.

The two will receive a prize package that includes a gift card to the Hard Rock Cafe Philadelphia, a gift certificate to U-Bahn and BRU Craft and Wurst and tickets to the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Helium Comedy Club and Eastern State Penitentiary, among other gifts.

Now, members have another chance to win prizes for recruiting their friends, clients and colleagues to PPRA. The third “Member Get a Member” contest kicks off today and runs until 5 p.m. on Friday, March 31.

You could win a package that includes restaurant gift cards, event tickets, and more. The prize is designed to exceed the $175 membership fee.

Here is how to get involved:

  • Work your network to let people know what YOU like about PPRA and why they should be a part of our organization.
  • When you refer someone, make sure that they mention your name when they register. New members will be tallied. The person who recruits the most members is the winner.
  • This contest is open to all members, including General Members, Board Members and Committee Chairs.

Good Luck!

Careers 101: The Headliner of Philly PR Student Networking

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Register for Careers 101 here.

Careers 101 is a networking and career advice event hosted by the Philadelphia Public Relations Association, aimed at helping public relations and communications students connect with professionals in their field. Maybe you are wondering: ‘so what?’ That could describe most networking events anywhere. What makes Careers 101 so special? Well, I could tell you that it is because of the hard work put on by the students and professionals that planned it, or the amazing quality of the panelists and networkers each year, or the amazing sponsors, such as The Creative Group, who make it all possible; but really it’s all that and more.

11 years ago, Careers 101 began as a small event at U Arts, and has since matured into a Philly PR staple for students and young professionals alike. This year, Careers 101 will be at the PECO Energy Hall on 23rd and Market Street, but in the past it has been held at Temple and Drexel Universities as well. At the event, students can look forward to meeting Philadelphia’s very best PR professionals, from the recently graduated to the not so recently graduated. This year, the panel will consist entirely of past PPRA Fast Track award winners. The Fast Track award is given to one individual each year who have made an impact on the profession early in their career and continues to be a trailblazer – so you can be firm in the belief that these panelists have only the very best to offer you. And if you’re feeling nervous – don’t.

Last year was my first time at Careers 101, and even though I’d helped to plan and host the event, I was still nervous as I walked in the doors of the building. Because I had helped to plan it, I was nervous that no one would show up or that people wouldn’t like it. And because I was (and still am) a student, I was nervous about mingling with professionals in the field that I want to become a professional in. But as it turned out, I had nothing to be nervous about. Why? Because all the older, super experienced PR professionals were once in yours and my own shoes: a PR student or newbie looking for some contacts to understand the industry. After the panel ended I picked out the first person I wanted to talk to, reminded myself that they were a student once too, and introduced myself. In fact, after about five seconds I blanked on the entire English language. Instead of any number of negative reactions I was envisioning, my conversation partner laughed, clapped me on the arm, and asked me what I thought of the panel. This opened up the dam, so to speak, and we had a great conversation and agreed to have lunch soon.

Attending Careers 101 helped me decide where I want to work after graduation, and gave me the resources to get there. I met some awesome people and created lasting connections, I heard some top-notch advice from PR’s best, and I even got free tips on my resume and a professional headshot! The Careers 101 of this year will afford you all of the same benefits, benefits that will only multiply as you attend more events, which is why you can expect to see me there again this year.

Faiz Mandviwalla is a senior at Temple University majoring in Strategic Communication with concentrations in Public Relations and International Communication. Faiz is an Assistant Firm Director for PRowl Public Relations, recently completed an internship with Bellevue Communications Group, and is an active member of PPRA’s College Relations Committee and the Temple PRSSA chapter. Follow Faiz on Twitter @faizmand and on LinkedIn here.