#PPRAMemberMonday: Michael Cavacini

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LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelcavacini
PPRA Member since 2007

PPRA: Michael, tell us about your background and your current job.

MC: I graduated with honors from Temple University with a B.A. in Strategic and Organizational Communications and an M.S. in Communication Management. I’ve worked for some of the top communications agencies in the region, including Brownstein Group and Tierney. And I’m currently a Public Relations Specialist for Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, one of the largest law firms in the country.

PPRA: What projects are you working on right now? 

MC: As a Public Relations Specialist for Drinker Biddle, I lead media relations efforts for more than 635 attorneys across the firm’s 12 offices. I’m also in charge of Drinker Biddle’s social media content, and I assist with various internal and external marketing and communications initiatives. 

PPRA: What is your favorite part about your job?

MC: Whether I’m editing an article, writing content for social media or drafting a pitch to send to a reporter, I’m always focused on how I can help the firm and our attorneys effectively and efficiently communicate key messaging. What I enjoy most is when my team and our lawyers recognize this commitment to excellence and thank me for helping them accomplish their goals. There’s nothing more gratifying than that.

PPRA: What was your latest and greatest accomplishment?

MC: My proudest accomplishment, so far, happened in 2014 while working for Brownstein Group. My work, along with my colleagues’, was recognized by the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Philadelphia Chapter with three first-place awards in one night. Even better, the client we did the work for was sitting right next to us when we won these back-to-back-to-back first-place awards. PRSA recently sent me these awards, and I proudly display them on my desk alongside my accolades from the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

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

MC: Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or talk to someone in person. Many of us rely too much on email. I’ve gotten great media opportunities simply by calling a reporter first. I’ve also gotten better and faster feedback from supervisors by talking to them in-person, rather than through email.

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

MC: Last year I read 50 books, including two by my favorite author: Harlan Coben. My favorite book of his, which I’d love to read again, is Six Years. I also love the French film adaptation of his excellent thriller Tell No One. I’ve watched it numerous times, and I highly recommend it.

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

MC: My favorite spot in Philly is Spruce Street Harbor Park. It’s where my fiancée and I spent part of our first date, and it’s where we got engaged. It’s a beautiful, vibrant part of the city that’s reflective of the resurgence Philadelphia has been experiencing, and I believe it’s a harbinger of great things to come. It’s an exciting time to live in Philadelphia.

PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?

MC: My favorite cheesesteak is from Jim’s on South Street and I take it with Cheese Wiz and nothing else. I haven’t had one in a while, but they’re fantastic.

#PPRAProgram Recap: Broadcast Media Panel Offers Tips for Getting Your Stories on the Air

By Kate Kanaby

On Friday, Feb. 17, six familiar faces in broadcast media came together to discuss the shifting media landscape with a room full of PR pros.  Moderated by Susan Buehler, Chief Communications Officer of PJM Interconnection, the panel included:

We talked tips for getting stories on air, PR pet peeves, and even saw some brave colleagues “live pitch” the panelists. Here are a few takeaways from our most recent #PPRAProgram:

  • Producers and reporters get hundreds of pitch emails each day – make yours cut through the clutter. Your pitch must be timely, relevant, and as always, a catchy subject line is key. Jodi Harris stressed follow ups if you don’t hear back from her, but Iris Delgado had one request: “Don’t call me 15 minutes before air time.”
  •  Know the outlet’s audience, and make your story relevant to them. Steve McKenzie reminded us that when he’s reading pitches, he’s asking himself, “Will my viewers care about this?” Meanwhile, Eugene Sonn admitted he’s received his fair share of pitches and thought, “Have they ever even listened to our program?” Don’t be that 
  • Sometimes your pitch ends up being the best backup plan, and that’s okay. Iris Delgado noted that stories can fall through all the time, but the show must go on, regardless. Make yourself an available resource, and take advantage of those opportunities that present themselves. 
  • Think about how your story can live on social media. Each panelist agreed that social media has changed the way they do their jobs. Paul Kurtz recalled using Facebook Live to stream protests at the Democratic National Convention in July. So, if you have a story that will do well on Facebook, or an expert with a sizeble Twitter following, that’s a huge plus.

Overall, the event was full of worthwhile insights and tips that we’ll definitely be applying to our future pitches.  Big thanks to everyone who attended – especially our media panelists. We can’t wait for the next #PPRAProgram!

 

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Kate Kanaby is an assistant account executive at Brownstone Public Relations     kate@brownstonepr.com

 

#PPRAMemberMonday: Dorin Elhadad

ppramembermonday_dorinLinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dorin-elhadad-42777b45

PPRA member since 2016

PPRA: Dorin, tell us about your background and your current job.

DE: After graduating from communication studies in college, and some traveling the world, I moved to Philly from Israel about three years ago. I immediately fell in love with the city. Looking to continue my career in public relations, I joined the super-team of Brownstone PR as an Account Executive. Before that I worked for an Israeli PR firm, “Shalmor Communication,” and that was when I realized this is my passion.

PPRA: What projects are you working on right now?

DE: I’m working on an exciting project alongside Sage Communications for the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual DisAbility Services (DBHIDS). We’re assisting DBHIDS with the implementation of a holistic approach to alleviate the stigma of behavioral health across Philadelphia. Bettering people’s lives while working in the industry I love so much is very satisfying – a definite perk.  In addition, we’re working with the PHLCVB as Philly prepares to host the NFL Draft this year. I’m really looking forward to seeing our city in the spotlight in April!

PPRA: What is your favorite part about your job?

DE: I enjoy all aspects of my job – creative writing, executing ideas and meeting people. My favorite part is brainstorming, devising strategies, and letting the creative beast loose. Transforming an idea to action is exhilarating!

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

DE: Find out what you need to get the creative juices going, be daring, and always try to look at things in new and different ways.

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

DE: Edward Scissorhands. Secret Window. Pulp Fiction. And anything with Dax Shepard 🙂

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

DE: There is no way I could choose just one place! I’m a walker so I guess my favorite route would be Boathouse Row, when it’s sunny.

PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?

DE: Peppers, onions, and no cheese! Jim’s Steaks is my jam!

Networking 101: Go for the Coffee, Stay for the Content

Network.

It’s a word that all communication majors are familiar with, spoken by professors and colleagues from the minute we step into a classroom.

We are told over and over again how critical networking is to securing internships and jobs. However, the actual task itself can seem daunting at times. How do we just walk up to a professional and start a meaningful conversation with him or her?

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Luckily, PPRA offered local Philly communication students some help. Last fall, the professional organization hosted “Networking 101” at the Saxbys Coffee office headquarters. The aim: Join professionals and students in one space where students could practice their networking skills. Students also were able to win door prizes, such as shadow days and informational interviews with PPRA members.

And because the event was hosted by Saxbys, attendees had access to free coffee. All. Night. Long. #DoubleWin

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While the free coffee was clutch (#ThanksSaxbys), students also learned a great deal of networking tips from Justin Pizzi, Saxbys Coffee’s vice president of Sales & Marketing and a former news reporter on NBC10.  

My personal favorite tip: Justin gave us is to ask memorable questions. His favorite question that he was ever asked is, “What is your biggest work failure, and what did you learn from it?” Questions like these are so much more impactful than the regular run-of-the-mill, “What do you like best about your job?” #Borrrrinngggg

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After Justin wrapped up his remarks, students tried out their newly-learned networking tips on the professionals in attendance. We were split into groups and rotated between public relations professionals in the tourism, non-profit, sports/entertainment, and agency sectors. We heard a little bit from the professionals first, and then were given some time to speak up and stand out a little bit. If we wanted to speak to a specific professional for more than the allotted networking time, we could approach him or her after the event was over with the ice already broken. Only now, some of the pressure was alleviated.

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This event was definitely the favorite networking event I ever have  attended. It was low-cost, we networked with numerous professionals from various industries, and we left fully caffeinated.

My biggest takeaway? That there is no set path for public relations practitioners. After networking with all of the professionals and learning how they fell into their current positions, I learned that all of their career journeys were different and there is no right or wrong career choice, as long as you learn from each position. Through networking, I was able to have meaningful conversations with industry professionals and these conversations helped me feel more ready to take on my last year in school and eventually, the “real” world.

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Elise Corbett is a senior at La Salle University majoring in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Leadership and Global Understanding. She is the current President of La Salle University’s PRSSA chapter.

#PPRAMemberMonday: Christina Cassidy

ppramembermonday

Twitter: @christinacass_

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christina-cassidy-39a93a54

 

PPRA: Christina, tell us about your background and your current job.

CC: I joined the PHLCVB team in 2012 after returning home to the Philadelphia area post graduation from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Having very little idea what I wanted to do with my career and having no idea what a Convention & Visitors Bureau or a Destination Marketing Organization was, I was fortunate to be mentored by some pretty incredible women in communications who saw the potential for me to thrive in the tourism/hospitality world. Since working at the PHLCVB, I’ve dabbled in marketing, public relations, social media, and international tourism, specifically working with international writers, hosting press and securing Philadelphia coverage in such international publications as National Geographic France, Le Figaro Magazine, Michelin Guide FR, Sunday Mail, the top Italian travel magazine, DOVE, and a top UK fashion blog, She Wears Fashion. I recently assumed the role of social media specialist at the PHLCVB where my efforts are focused on spreading Philadelphia’s story across the globe through managing our domestic B2B and international leisure social media programs, as well assisting in overall content development. I also serve as social media chair for PPRA. (PSA: interact with us on Twitter- @PPRA and on Facebook. Thanks! 🙂 )

PPRA: What projects are you working on right now?

CC: Establishing the PHLCVB social media presence in other countries, primarily the countries where we have international offices. Also interacting with incoming meetings/conventions who use social media to connect with attendees. Oh, and that NFL Draft thing is coming to Philadelphia in a few months…

PPRA: What is your favorite part about your job?

CC: (Hold for corny moment…) My favorite part is that it doesn’t feel like a job. I get to use social media to talk about why Philadelphia is the best city in the world and why it needs to be top of mind for international travel and meetings/conventions. I wouldn’t be able to do this job if I didn’t believe that with my whole heart. To be somewhat less corny, I’ve always loved photography and managing our Instagram account (@discover_PHL) and interacting with influencers is definitely my favorite part of the job. Have you ever just stopped and appreciated the city’s architecture, parks, murals and public art? It’s incredible. You don’t need translation for that, the visuals speak for themselves.

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

CC: Being front and center for the Papal visit to Philadelphia and the DNC were experiences I wouldn’t trade for the world.

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

CC: Find a support system. Whether it be a mentor, a colleague, family member or significant other, have someone that is there for you to bounce ideas off of, ground you, and especially remind you that you are a rockstar, you work your a** off and you do a great job every day. We all need support and reminding from time to time.

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

CC: Love Actually. The Notebook. The Fault in Our Stars. I can watch the same sappy movie back to back and still cry my eyes out. Give me anything that will hit me right in the feels.

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

CC: Seriously? I just got done saying how I’m in love with our city, there is no way I have just ONE spot. So I’ll just say I love our mural arts. Philadelphia is the mural capital of the world and our murals tell beautiful stories. Eastern State Penitentiary is another favorite – it’s so unique. Al Capone practically used it as a safe house and fun fact, Steve Buscemi narrates the audio tours. City Hall also amazes me, it’s a gorgeous piece of architecture.

PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?

CC: Wiz wit with mushrooms, baby! And a Diet Coke, of course. I’m not an animal.