#PPRA Member Monday – Ryan Wall

#PPRAMember Monday_Wall

Ryan Wall is an Account Executive at Brian Communications. He has been a PPRA member for one and a half years.

Twitter: @ryan_wonderwall

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ryanmwall/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/RyanTheGreatWall

A friend once remarked that “Ryan thinks in action items”… which sounds about right. A creative thinker with a knack for social strategy, Ryan loves to come up with big ideas to tackle complex communications challenges. He enjoys taking a thoughtful approach to craft campaign narratives (he’s at his best in a brainstorm) and seeing projects come to fruition. Ryan is a proud alumnus of La Salle University (#NeverLost), passionate writer and noted lover of a witty pun. He’s been at Brian Communications since he graduated (and even before then, when he interned there his senior year). Call him, tweet him, if you wanna reach him.

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

RW: I’ve worked with Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), Milton Hershey School, La Salle University and the Horatio Alger Association, to name a few. I also work on the social media strategy for Brian, as well as the job shadow and internship programs. Right now, I’m very excited to be working on the re-imagining of the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (I could go on and on about how my team helped #MoveTheSphinx)

PPRA: What is the favorite part of your job?

RW: I love the people I work with– I think that sometimes in PR, we forget that “relations” is literally a part of our job description. I am lucky to work alongside a team that has given me some of the greatest (and most caring) friends, cheerleaders and mentors I could have. The pace of agency life keeps me on my toes and pushes me to challenge myself daily. I feel like I am always learning and growing personally and professionally each day in the office.

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

RW: Earlier this year, I was able to support my alma mater on several high-level announcements. I worked alongside top executives from the agency to provide strategic counsel to leaders from La Salle, while working on extensive media relations and brand positioning projects. There were quite a few times when our CEO, Brian Tierney, specifically sought out my opinion as an (outspoken) Explorer to inform our strategy—as a younger professional, that made me feel incredibly valued and gave me a unique opportunity to take an informal leadership role early on in my career. Seeing press releases and media pieces that I wrote posted on the La Salle website was honestly something I could have never imagined back when I was a student. It was also incredibly cool to see a project I shepherded get syndicated nationally and receive over 2.5 million impressions. Being able to positively impact a community I hold so near and dear to my heart was an amazing and particularly special way to start my career. 

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

RW: Something I remind myself—and my friends—over and over is that you can never compare yourself to others. Despite working with (read: obsessing over) social media daily, it’s so easy to forget that real life is not just curated, picture-perfect Instagrammable moments. It’s no use getting caught up comparing yourself to peers, colleagues and role models because everyone goes at their own pace and has their own story. As soon as you start focusing on yourself and your goals, you’ll start to notice personal growth and find joy in your daily life. 

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

RW: I’ve read “The Opposite of Loneliness” by Marina Keegan every single year since I turned 18. It’s a collection of essays that is named after a beautifully written commencement piece focusing on the excitement (and anxiety) of the unknown. I think it’s informed my writing style quite a bit, and I always find myself reflecting on it differently. 

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

RW: I could people watch for hours in Rittenhouse Square. Catch me there every Saturday all summer with a book from the Parkway Library (a truly underrated gem) and a taco bowl from some hole-in-the-wall place. 

PPRA: If you weren’t in PR, what profession do you see yourself in and why?

RW: When I was younger, I wanted to be the Editor in Chief of Reader’s Digest. I don’t particularly know why, but I know I just have always loved to write. I could also see myself as a linguist or cultural anthropologist. I’ve also been told I’d be a good high school English teacher. So I suppose being in PR kind of takes elements from all these careers and combines them. 

PPRA: Favorite Philly Food?

RW: I will *never* pass up a cheesesteak…and before you ask, I’m partial to Dalessandro’s (Please don’t @ me).

Between You and MEdia… with Alfred Lubrano

As PR professionals, we all know the importance of building meaningful relationships with members of the media – reporters, producers, assignment editors, etc. But how does that happen, and where do you start? 

In this new section of the PPRA blog, PPRA members will share insight, tips and tricks, and fun facts learned from members of the media through informal interviews. You won’t have to wait for our “Media Mingle” or “Editors Panel” to get your tough questions answered and connect with the media. Our goal with this blog section is to continue engagement with our media counterparts in an informative and fun manner. So, between you and me – enjoy!


Director of Communications at Philabundance, Stefanie Arck-Baynes, spoke with Alfred Lubrano, poverty beat writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and shared why a press release just won’t do when pitching him. The following has been edited for clarity and brevity. Photo courtesy: The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Many clients and organizations have “the one” – the one outlet, the one reporter, or the one column in which they want to be featured. Securing that often equals success. At Philabundance, where I‘m the Director of Communications, it’s often the poverty section of The Inquirer, which has been covered by Alfred Lubrano for eight years. 

Al L v2 PPRA

Between you and me, what has been your favorite piece“I wrote about a former pharmacist who began living in her Mercedes. She was not drug addicted and didn’t have any mental health issues; it’s a story of what could happen to anybody and it showed that poverty isn’t just a them condition”.

The piece not only got 147,000 clicks, but lead to donations and a gofundme site which helped the woman get back on her feet.

Al’s advice to PR professionals for pitching: Don’t forget about your industry outlets and newsletters. About one third of the stories he writes come from pitches, but mostly he generates ideas through reading other outlets covering his beat and newsletters, such as Food Research and Action Center and the People’s Emergency Center.

And don’t forget that you need to offer a person impacted by the story and someone who understands what they’re agreeing to – “That’s the hardest part; you’re asking them extraordinarily personal questions. then you have to ask to use their name — we can’t say a woman in Philadelphia, we need their name, neighborhood, age and photograph,” said Al. 

What about press releases? He’s generally not interested in grant/donation press releases from companies that pat themselves on the back for a donation. Lead with the good the donation is doing and focus on the outcome. And don’t forget someone who has been or will be helped by this.

Fun Fact: He recently learned about K-pop from his 15-year-old daughter. “I get more of a kick out of her than anything.” 

How to contact Al: Email at alubrano@inquirer.com

#PPRAMemberMonday: Michelle Sonsino

#PPRAMember Monday_Sonsino

Michelle Sonsino is the Director of Communications and Marketing for Germantown Friends School. She has been a PPRA member for 7 years and currently serves as our Vice President for Membership.

Twitter:
Personal @pumpoclock
Professional @GFSchool

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelle-sonsino-5659379

Facebook:
Personal @michelle.sonsinolewis
Professional @GermantownFriendsSchool

Michelle has over 15 years of diverse communications experience that spans public relations, internal communications, community relations, B2B and B2C marketing, grant writing, and crisis communications. 

Michelle currently serves as the Director of Communications and Marketing at Germantown Friends School, a role she loves because of the creative and thoughtful faculty and students, and the programmatic focus on social justice and equity. Prior to her work at GFS, Michelle served as the Director of Development at Career Wardrobe, where she currently serves on the organization’s Advisory Board. She has also held roles at the City of Philadelphia, Chubb Insurance, Aramark, and Women’s Way. Michelle interned for Philly.com when the site was in its infancy, and continued on as a part-time employee for two years.

Michelle volunteers with Saved Me animal rescue and has two sweet dogs, Crouton and Gretel. Michelle lives in Bella Vista with her husband and son, Max.

I appreciate being a part of the PPRA community for a few reasons. First, every event has directly advanced my work. From media panels to Pitch Perfect events, I have found direct success from building new relationships, gaining feedback from peers, and opening my eyes to new marketing concepts. I have also found the mentorship opportunities to be greatly beneficial, both learning from experts and advising those new to the field. Throughout my entire career, mentorship has been very important to me, from my first boss out of college to my current supervisor to the many people I have met at PPRA, I am grateful for their professional guidance and support, as well as meaningful friendships.”

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

MS: I support many teams at GFS, including the leadership, admissions, fundraising, academics, athletics, auxiliary programming, community relations, and more! We also work with neighbors and non-profit partners.

PPRA: What is the favorite part of your job?

MS: Every day is different and there is always a new story to tell. The relationship between the school and the community is also heartwarming to me, particularly as someone who worked in nonprofits for many years. We partner with the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia, John B. Kelly School, and many more! Students are able to learn from many different perspectives. I have the privilege of learning something new every day as well!

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

MS: I worked with a group of students to publicize their walkout efforts and we made it into the Wall Street Journal’s online site (well, for half a day), and many other outlets. I was beyond proud of their work to encourage, and demand, gun reform. They recognize their power to change the future, and I was thrilled to help get their message out.

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

MS: Be kind and honest, and enjoy your amazing job! It can be stressful, but how lucky are we to be able to share stories near and far?!

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

MS: All the President’s Men. I watched it in high school and I think it sparked my interest in journalism.

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

MS: Dilworth Park, particularly when the fountain is on. This joyful site brings together people from all over Philadelphia and the world.

PPRA: If you weren’t in PR, what profession do you see yourself in and why?

MS: An adoption or foster care social worker. Adoption has played such an important part in my life and I would love to learn how to support others who are interested in building a family in different ways.

PPRA: Favorite Philly Food?

MS: John’s Water Ice

Guest Post: 5 Spring Cleaning Tips for PR Pros

This post was originally posted on the Devine+Partners blog. Click here to view the original post. 

Soon enough, we’ll be in the full swing of Spring 2019 and what better way to welcome Spring than to declutter, reduce, recycle and get some spring cleaning done in the office. Since less clutter equals less chaos, a tidy workspace can help improve your focus and provide you with all-around better work habits, increase team productivity and help you to create a fresh new start.

Let’s take a look at five ways to adopt some spring cleaning into your upcoming agenda:

Declutter your desk space

Depending on how messy your desk can get, start with a can of compressed air, boxes to organize your belongings, and a large trash bag. Prepare yourself emotionally to purge, and toss the items that you no longer need or use. Trying to get away from printing and killing trees? Focus on digital copies and fewer hard copies. Cleaning your desk will not only clear your work station, but will more importantly clear your mind.

Use your email functions wisely

Is it just me or does seeing 2,399 unread messages in our Inbox make you cringe? I shoot to make that number zero, but it’s sometimes not always possible. I’m sure we can probably all agree that the email search tool is a commonly used function, but instead of relying on this, it is important to take some time to organize your email files. Create folders and subfolders, flag or label items in your inbox, and use the task feature to prioritize assignments. (Or be like me and add it there AND write it down in an agenda book #OldSchool) By organizing your important emails now, you’ll be able to cut down lengthy searches in the future. Be sure to also delete space-consuming junk mail whenever possible.

Freshen’ Up Your Social Media

Often times we forget about the importance of social media decluttering. Whether this is persona or on social media accounts you manage at work, spend a few minutes each day to review your accounts and update your connections. Remove pages that are no longer active, and look for new brands, reporters and influencers to follow that are relevant to your accounts. It’s also a good idea to freshen up your pages every now and then with new cover photos, but continue to keep your logo and profile photo consistent across all channels.

Reconnect with old contacts

When I think of spring I think of the work fresh, as in fresh start. Do you feel like some of your accounts are stale and you’re looking for some new energy or potential new business? I have a box of business cards in my desk and two times a year I will go through to see which old contacts I haven’t connected with in a while. Schedule coffee, shoot them an email or send a LinkedIn message checking in on them personally and professionally. This may bring in some new business in 2019 or at least help you reconnect with an old colleague.

Review current PR strategies

It’s easy to settle into a routine when a strategy works, but there’s always room for improvement! Meet with your clients and your teams to revisit those initial strategies and tactics. Are the strategies still working? What can we do to grow our efforts? Even if your PR efforts are succeeding, check in with the team and think about what other tactics you could be using. Taking the time to brainstorm new ideas will show the client your passion for their brand and help the account grow.

Take these five cleaning tips and spread them out over the next three weeks. I hope they help give you a fresh and re-energized start.

Temple’s Public Relations Student Society of America Celebrates 50 Years

prssa 50

Temple’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) is celebrating 50 years of dedication to mentorship, leadership and networking. To commemorate this occasion, the members of PRSSA implemented several projects throughout the semester, the largest and most extensive being the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference, “Being A Full Service PRo.”

On March 22 and 23, students and communications professionals from up and down the East Coast came to network, listen to industry experts and celebrate Temple PRSSA’s 50th. Jim Kenney, Mayor of Philadelphia, opened the conference and spoke on the importance of public relations. The lunchtime keynote panel, PR the Age of the #MeToo Movement, was a powerful discussion about public relations practioners’ role in the #MeToo Movement. During the conference, attendees donated more than 150 children’s books to Mighty Writers, a local Philadelphia non-profit supporting children’s literacy. The conference received media coverage from 6ABC, PR trade publication Bulldog Reporter and other notable outlets.

Outside of the regional conference, Temple PRSSA celebrated the 50th anniversary through mentorship and networking events aligning with PRSSA’s mission. Temple PRSSA’s mentorship program pairs mentors and mentees together to help students learn from each other. This semester, mentorship pairs took parts in several events such as a game night where mentorship pairs were able to learn more about each other.

Throughout the semester, students have networked with Temple PRSSA and PRowl PR alums by reaching out to them and writing a spotlight blog on their career path. Alumni have also participated in alumni takeovers on PRSSA’s Instagram account.

The organization also hosted several social events such as a behind-the-scenes session with the Philadelphia Union’s communications team followed by the game at Talen Energy Stadium; agency tours at SEER Interactive, Maven Communications, Tierney, Sage Communications and Garfield Group; and a speed networking event.

All Temple PRSSA members have the opportunity to join committees as part of their experience with Temple PRSSA and supporting the overall mission and efforts of the chapter. The fundraising committee planned several successful campaigns including a chocolate covered strawberry sale for Valentine’s Day and a t-shirt sale. The community service committee volunteered with the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission and partnered with Cradles to Crayons, a local non-profit, while the digital and public relations committees helped support the chapter’s efforts in celebrating the 50th anniversary. Each committee enhances member’s skills and develop their leadership knowledge.