#PPRAMemberMonday: Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway

In honor of her last week of presidency, today we are featuring PPRA President, Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway.  Meredith wears a dual hat as both the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Director of Communications and Marketing as well as the Philadelphia Public Relations Association’s President. Meredith is a past PPRA Fast-Track Award & Dr. Jean Brodey Award winner. Come out and meet Meredith at PPRA’s Annual Meeting Celebration held tomorrow at the Liberty View Ballroom at the Independence Visitor Center. Register here.

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Twitter: @MZApoetry
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/meredithavakian

PPRA: Meredith, tell us a bit about your background and your current job.

MZA: Prior to my roles as PPRA President and the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Director of Communications and Marketing, I spent nearly eight years at DuPont working in a variety of positions with vast responsibilities. Most recently, I served as a regional public affairs manager. In this role, I led internal and external communications, including 24/7 issues and crisis communications support, for eight manufacturing plant sites in three states – Delaware, New Jersey & Rhode Island.

I have received notable recognition for my work. Most recently, I received the Lew Klein Alumni in the Media Rising Star Award from my alma mater. I also was named a “Rising Star of PR” by PR News, a “Hero” by the American Red Cross and “Notable Alumni” by Temple University’s Department of Strategic Communications. PPRA honored me with its Fast-Track Award & Dr. Jean Brodey Award. I am a member of the Public Relations Society of America and have received a couple of national awards from the student chapter of the organization. I also am an active member of the National Association of Bar Executives.

 In addition, I am a past chair of the Philadelphia chapter of the Armenian General Benevolent Union Young Professionals and have led communications efforts for the annual Armenian Genocide Walk.

 In my “spare” time, I have published two books of my own poetry – “Propaganda Begins with PR: Poetry for the Soul” and “PRhyme Time: Power of Poetry.”

PPRA: Who are your clients and what projects are you working on right now?

MZA: My clients essentially are the 12,000 members of the Philadelphia Bar Association – a diverse cross-section of lawyers, judges and politicians.  I’ve been working on creating and promoting a number of important forums lately, from the recent one we held on the proposed sugary drink tax to the joint PPRA “Meet the Messengers” panel with the mayor’s new communications staff to hosting a forum with the three new justices of Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.  Other projects focus on pending legislature related to merit selection bills, medicinal marijuana and more.

PPRA: What is your favorite part about your job?

MZA: The people.  I enjoy working with some of the most influential leaders in Philadelphia and beyond, as well as helping to get the word out about all of the free legal advice and other pro bono support our members provide for the community-at-large.

PPRA: What was your latest and greatest accomplishment at your job?

MZA: Contributing to our chancellor’s mission to increase the Philadelphia Bar Association’s relevancy and visibility this year, which has led to an uptick in media coverage and increase in event attendance as well as timely and enhanced programming and membership initiatives.

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?

MZA: Get involved.  From serving on trade/industry association committees to volunteering in your communities to attending conferences and seminars, it is important that we be connected, relevant and educated.

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?

MZA: I’m sure these answers will surprise some, but I can’t get enough of The Bible (book) and the original 1971 Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (movie) with Gene Wilder.  Here’s to righteousness and breaking through glass ceilings!

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

MZA: I’d disclose this information if it were public knowledge, but privacy also starts with “PR.”  😉

PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?

MZA: Sometimes “wit” and sometimes “wit-out.” Often with extra cheese, but never whiz.

PPRA: Since this is the last week of your presidency take us down memory lane and describe your first week as President?

MZA: I had very big goals, including a detailed month-by-month plan for the year. However, most of my energy and efforts the first week as president were focused on team-and-relationship-building with PPRA’s new leadership and planning our annual Board Retreat. This immediately started with 1×1’s with every Board member, followed by our Board Retreat and then culminated with a special happy hour for Board members and committee chairs.

PPRA: You had many accomplishments as PPRA President, what would you consider your greatest?

MZA: Moving the needle while staying committed to our three initiatives for the year. We weren’t afraid to try things differently.  PPRA programs were substantive, creative and fun.  Our partnerships helped us build bridges.  The support we provided to Mighty Writers has been meaningful.  Plus, founding the PPRA Sylvia Kauders 50-Year Club will forever be something I am honored to say we launched this year.

PPRA: What do you see for the future of PPRA?

MZA: For one, a much-needed, long-awaited and highly anticipated new website.  We weren’t able to complete the project this year, though I know Ashley Berke and Gary Bramnick will carry the torch to completion in 2016-2017.  Additionally, we are looking to rebrand PPRA, so in addition to a new website, we may also have a new logo and more.  Furthermore, I envision us being the go-to association for reporters who are looking for PR experts on any given industry or beat as well as the place every active Philly PR professional can call “home.”

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#PPRAMemberMonday: Kellsey Turner

Today we are featuring Kellsey Turner, Assistant Account Executive for Vault Communications. Kellsey was last year’s 2015 Dr. Jean Brodey Student Achievement Award winner along with Rachel Christie. At this years Annual Meeting Celebration, Alissa Steele will receive the 2016 Dr. Jean Brodey Student Achievement Award and Darrah Foster will receive the 2016 Fast-Track Award. Register for the Annual Meeting Celebration here.

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Twitter: @KellseyTurner
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/kellseyturner

PPRA: Amanda, tell us a bit about your background and your current job.

KT: As a transplant from a small farming town near Reading, I’ve enjoyed exploring my new home in the City of Brotherly Love. I’m a 2015 graduate of La Salle University where I earned my bachelor’s in Communication with a concentration in PR and minors in Environmental Science and Leadership & Global Understanding. Today I enjoy staying involved by volunteering for PPRA’s College Relations committee.

PPRA: Who are your clients and what projects are you working on right now?

KT: I work with a variety of corporate and nonprofit clients on media relations, speech writing and social media. We recently wrapped up pitching the First Day of Spring free Italian Ice giveaway for Rita’s Italian Ice, which was such a fun project to be a part of.

PPRA: What is your favorite part about your job?

KT: The diversity and the challenges that come with every day. I’m always learning something new.

PPRA: What was your latest and greatest accomplishment at your job?

KT: I recently drafted college commencement remarks for the CEO of one of my clients. It was a challenging assignment, but I enjoyed the opportunity to showcase my writing.

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?

KT: I actually wrote a blog for PPRA on this! The content is directed at recent entrants to the field of PR, but the advice is transferable across all experience levels. Check it out: http://bit.ly/1SwLQo5

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?

KT: I have a soft spot for “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

KT: I love the Art Museum steps at night. It’s the perfect vantage point to look out over the city.

PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?

KT: Whiz wit.

#PPRAMemberMonday: Kerry O’Connor

Today we are featuring Kerry O’Connor, Senior Communications Manager at Einstein Healthcare Network. Kerry has been a PPRA member for nine years and has been working in the PR field for 18 years. As an avid writer Kerry has a passion for telling stories.

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Twitter:@PenandLens
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kerry-o-connor

PPRA: Kerry, tell us a bit about your background and your current job.

KO: Since graduating from La Salle in 1998, I’ve been working in Public Relations. It’s a career born out of necessity. As a credentialed but broke journalist and photographer just out of college, I started working in PR as a way to keep the lights on between newspaper assignments.

In PR, I’ve worked for organizations like Communities In Schools of Philadelphia and Magee Rehab, to name a few of the many, before coming to Einstein Healthcare Network. As a writer, I’ve written for everything: Inquirer, Northeast Times, Irish Edition, Weekly Press. I even had a piece in Tattoo magazine once. (Never saw that coming.)

PR or writing…I just like to tell stories.

PPRA: Who are your clients and what projects are you working on right now?

KO: At Einstein Healthcare Network, I work for a variety of service-lines and network initiatives, like our 150th anniversary campaign this year. But, the bulk of my work is for MossRehab, Einstein’s physical and cognitive rehabilitation facility, which I really enjoy. There’s always new technology and new methods that truly help people with disabilities.

I’m working on some fun stuff right now, including our #BornAtEinstein campaign–a crowd-sourcing initiative to collect pictures and stories of people who had their kids or who were born at an Einstein hospital over our 150 year history: BornAtEnstein.com. I’m also putting together MossRehab’s sponsorship of the GlobalAbilities wheelchair racing team for the Broad Street Run and spearheading MossRehab’s involvement with They Will Surf Again in June–a one day surfing event for persons with disabilities.

PPRA: What is your favorite part about your job?

KO: My favorite part about my job here at Einsten is that I work for a place that is open to me not just writing/pitching about what is going on, but to creating community partnerships and programs. (Then I get to pitch them, so It’s a win-win.)

They Will Surf Again is a great example. I surf, so I volunteered. When I came to Einstein/MossRehab, I thought it was the kind of thing MossRehab could be involved in and my leadership in PR and the leadership at MossRehab said “Go for it!” This June will be our fourth year. We’ve sent down over 150 volunteers so far and we’ve gotten lots of great publicity. This year our art therapy program is working with the Philadelphia Museum of Art to create graphics for a surfboard to be used at the event. All because leadership was/is willing to hear ideas. You can’ take that for granted.

PPRA: What was your latest and greatest accomplishment at your job?

KO: The #BornAtEinstein campaign that is running till the end of this year. We’re asking Philadlephians to take the time to find baby pictures and share them, along with their often-times very personal stories about their experience at Einstein and people are sharing them. We have over 500 submissions so far, ranging from people who were born at an Einstein hospital in the 20s to babies that were born a few days ago.

The Hospital Association of Pennsylvania is highlighting the campaign at their annual PR conference in April.

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?

KO: Never take the first no as the last no when trying to do something new. A few adjustments–and a little tenacity–may be all it takes.

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?

KO: Movies: Casablanca, Jaws, Goodfellas…and my guilty pleasure, Captain Ron. Books: I love Hemingway. I’ve read his novels and short stories a ton of times.

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

KO: The Blue Horizon on Broad Street. When I started writing sports features, I covered a lot of boxing matches there. It’s closed now.

But, if I’m honest, my favorite all-time Philly spot is probably XIX Nineteen. Had my first date with my wife there. Proposed there. Now we have a three year-old son. That place is the epi-center for my happiness.

PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?

KO: Being a Boston native, I was exposed late in life to the wonders of the cheesesteak. My favorite, by far, is a cheesesteak from Donkey’s Place in Camden. (They only make it with American cheese, on a round roll and you can get grilled onions, which I do.)

When I lived in Manayunk, I loved Delassandro’s. But, I gotta say, a heart-attack wit’ (provolone, american, whiz in a hollowed-out roll) from Pat’s is pretty spectacular.

#PPRAMemberMonday: Jeff Jubelirer

Today we are featuring Jeff Jubelirer, Vice President of Bellevue Communications Group. Jeff has been a member of PPRA since 1999 and this Friday, May 20th he will be inducted into PPRA’s Hall of Fame. Register for the event Here. 

Jeff is widely recognized as one of the top communications strategists in Greater Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Perhaps best known for his unparalleled expertise in issue and crisis management and public policy advocacy, Jeff is a “go to” media and political analyst for local broadcast and newspaper outlets. In addition, Jeff is a regular panelist on 6abc’s venerable weekly public affairs show, “Inside Story.”

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Facebook: www.facebook.com/jjubelirer
Twitter: @jeff_jubelirer
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeff-jubelirer

PPRA: Jeff, tell us a bit about your background and your current job.

JJ: I am the “chief architect” behind the development and execution of the strategic communications, media & community relations and crisis management issues for my clients, who constitute many of the state’s most well-known businesses, executives, institutions and non-profit organizations.

I was named as one of the regions “40 under 40” by the Philadelphia Business Journal and recognized as one of “22 People to Watch” by Philadelphia Magazine. In 2012 I received the prestigious national Daniel Ginsberg Award for his exemplary leadership on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

I am an adjunct professor teaching issue & crisis management at Temple University. In addition, I write a quarterly column in the Pennsylvania Law Weekly on emerging issues in public relations.

I serve on the Boards of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Philadelphia, Northern Delaware & Susquehanna Valley, The Moyer Foundation, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, Legacy Youth Tennis and Education and the ADL of Eastern Pennsylvania/Southern NJ/Delaware. In addition I serve on the Department of Political Science Board of Visitors at his undergraduate alma mater, Penn State University.

PPRA: Who are your clients and what projects are you working on right now?

JJ: Mastery Schools of Camden, Philadelphia Charters for Excellence, A Renewable America, The Wind Energy Foundation, Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation, Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia, Free to Breathe, Livengrin Foundation, and some others that shall remain nameless because of the sensitivity of the work!

PPRA: What is your favorite part about your job?

JJ: The strategy. Figuring out how the puzzle pieces in the communications arena come together to make for a great result, whether that means lots of visibility to help a client’s business or organization prosper, or on many occasions how to help them navigate the headwinds of an angry public and political class.

PPRA: What was your latest and greatest accomplishment at your job?

JJ: I consider helping a few clients through some challenging periods, including a leadership transition, an investigation by a federal agency and an employee threat, to be some of my better accomplishments that do not – and should not – receive any public recognition!

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?

JJ: Consume as much as you can from news sources near and far, in and out of agreement with your views and via different mediums.

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?

JJ: Thank You For Smoking.

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

JJ: Rittenhouse Square.

PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?

JJ: Wit…of course.

PPRA: What’s your favorite thing to do with your kids in Philly?

JJ: Anything from seeing a show or concert with the girls to finding an old school amusement park and going on the rides (we are especially smitten with Fun Land in Rehoboth).

PPRA: What is your favorite album and who is your favorite musician?

JJ: Album: August and Everything After/Counting Crows  Musician: Foo Fighters

PPRA: What is the biggest major milestone in your life?

JJ: Marrying a South African and raising a household full of girls and one male French Bulldog (sorry, need some levity here!)

PPRA: What tools are out now that you wish you had back when you first started?

JJ: Twitter and Google Alerts.

PPRA: What is your favorite traditional tactic that you still use today?

JJ: I still love good ol’ pen and paper.  I write notes, compile my “to do” lists and make outlines still on paper. It helps me remember things more easily.

PPRA: What is your fondest memory of your first decade working in the field?

JJ: Advancing events when former First Lady Laura Bush was in the area.  I learned so much about event planning, what the media needed and how to run a tight ship.  Plus, she was pure class.

PPRA: What is your favorite PPRA memory?

JJ: Going to the Newseum in DC with a great group of PR gurus and friends.  We took a limo and laughed the whole way down with Dan Cirucci telling story after story.

#PPRAMemberMonday: Art Ellis

Today we are featuring Art Ellis, Vice President for Communications and Member Relations at WHYY. Art has been a PPRA member for 23 years and is a past PPRA Hall of Fame recipient. He has worked for WHYY since 1987, making this year his 30th year with WHYY.

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Facebook: www.facebook.com/art.ellis.12
Twitter:@mediamaven12
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/arellis

PPRA: Art, tell us a bit about your background and your current job.

AE: I started at WHYY as a publicist in 1987 and over time picked up additional responsibilities in branding, marketing, on-air promotion and customer service. For the last 18 months I’ve also been managing membership, with a $12.5 million annual goal. Prior to WHYY I held PR positions at Case Western Reserve University and what is now Philadelphia University.

PPRA: Who are your clients and what projects are you working on right now?

AE: My clients are all internal departments at WHYY. One issue we’re paying attention to is how best to reinforce WHYY’s position as the region’s leading non-profit media provider in light of the recent shifts at Philadelphia Media Network.

PPRA: What is your favorite part about your job?

AE: Constant change in the media field is both a favorite part and the greatest challenge. I get to figure out how to use new technology to better serve the public and at the same time have to deal with the challenges of pitching stories in a shrinking print media world.

PPRA: What was your latest and greatest accomplishment at your job?

AE: Working with my team to say farewell to Downtown Abbey. Our goal was to provide a great experience for our viewers while leveraging the popularity of the series to increase engagement and membership. We did everything from gala costume dinners to a City Council proclamation. Who knew 300 people could eat 700 scones in 15 minutes?

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?

AE: Working at a media outlet I often receive errant PR pitches. Even the most experienced folks in our profession need to remember the basics: Before calling or sending an email, make sure you research the reporter/editor/program. And keep those pitches short and timely.

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?

AE: I’ve watched Broadcast News (which ironically was released the same year I started at WHYY) many times. I’ll always remember the line uttered by William Hurt’s character when he is accused of “crossing the line” of ethical journalism. “It’s hard not to cross it–they just keep moving the little sucker, don’t they?” A great reminder of the need to pay attention to the ethics of any profession.

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

AE: My favorite stress reliever is to hike or bike in the Wissahickon section of Fairmount Park.

PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?

AE: Sorry, but I’d prefer a grilled veggie hoagie.