September President’s Message


Dear PPRA Members,

After a decade of involvement with PPRA, I am humbled and appreciative to now have the opportunity to serve as your president. I’ve ghost written and contributed to many leadership letters and columns throughout my career, but it’s always a little different when your name is at the bottom. As I noted in my inaugural address at our Annual Meeting in June, I take this new post seriously and therefore vow to work hard and strive to make you all proud with a capital “PR.”

In case you were not able to attend our Annual Meeting, here is a brief recap of the three initiatives I outlined for the 2015-2016 programming year:

  • Firm Founders Series – This brand-new program series will feature notable professionals who have started their own PR (or marketing) firms. This panel discussion series will cover the ins and outs of what it takes to make the leap and start your own firm.
  • Diversity & Collaboration – I’ve encouraged our Board to keep diversity at the forefront while planning all PPRA programs and events this year. Additionally, we will strategically partner and collaborate with numerous associations, businesses and organizations.
  • A Mighty Partnership – Pro bono starts with PR. As part of our Philly PRoactive efforts, this year we are providing meaningful opportunities for PPRA members to donate their time, talent and/or treasures in support of Mighty Writers, a local non-profit organization that helps Philadelphia kids (ages 7-17) learn how to think and write clearly.

Additionally, we are always looking for new, unique and affordable venues to host our programs and events. Do you or your clients have some space worth showing off? Please let us know!

In the meantime, I hope to see you at one of our many fall programs, as we wrap up the second half of our 70th anniversary year.

Best regards,

Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway
2015-2016 President
Philadelphia Public Relations Association


“A Smile, A Handshake and a Strategy” Event Recap


From left to right: The Franklin Institute’s Director of Institutional and Government Relations, Rachel M. Fournier, Wayne Rosenberger, Vice Chair of Marketing at SCORE and moderator Lucy MacNichol posing before the panel discussion begins. Lucy is the Senior Content Development Manager and Editor at the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Last Thursday, PPRA held its’ “A Smile, A Handshake and a Strategy” event. Over thirty PR pros came together, enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Sonesta Hotel in Philadelphia and learned some key strategies about becoming effective networkers. Networking is a long-term effort that requires both parties within the connection to continue to keep building and maintaining the existing relationship, on both a personal and professional level. The Franklin Institute’s Director of Institutional and Government Relations, Rachel M. Fournier, advised attendees to always remain energetic, empathetic and enthusiastic about the positions in which they hold. No one wants to meet someone who appears uninterested in their professional role. We must be mindful that we are brand ambassadors for our company wherever we go and always remain in a networking mindset. Keep these 7 tips in mind when networking.

1. Network with a purpose
Wayne Rosenberger, Vice Chair of Marketing for Score, told attendees to think about the prospective contacts they are interested in meeting and how this connection will benefit their professional goals. For example, if you are in charge of fundraising for a non-profit organization you may benefit most from seeking out prospective donors at industry events. Also, learn how to accept rejection because not everyone is a perfect fit for you and your company.

2. Target your prospective contacts
Consider what kind of events you can attend and where you can go locally in order to run into your desired connections. For example, if you are responsible for growing the business development division for your company perhaps happy hours near specific company locations and attending industry related conferences could direct you to a new group of helpful connections.

3. Plan ahead before a networking event
In some cases, lists are available to event attendees. These lists display the guests that are attending the event, the company in which they work for and their title within the company. Be strategic and make your own list of the top attendees you think you want to meet. Think about sending an email to some attendees prior to the event and introducing yourself.

4. Arrive early and be the go-to person
Arrive early and scope out the premises. Learn where the registration table, restrooms, food set-up and coat-check are located. Being knowledgeable about little details of the event is a good icebreaker for initiating start-up conversation. You may even run into some key connections such as the event coordinator or key-note speakers of the event.

5. Maintain a two-way street connection
Whether the relationship is personal or professional all people deserve respect. No one enjoys being in a relationship in which only one party is benefiting from the connection. Don’t just keep your goals in mind when networking; be helpful and valuable to your new connections.

6. Be visible
Nurture your new and existing relationships by following up frequently. If you haven’t spoke with someone in a while, shoot them a casual email explaining that you came across something during your day that reminded you of them and rekindle the relationship from there.

7. Evaluate your results
After taking these tips into consideration keep track of your new connections and how they fit into the overall improvements of your work-related efforts. Switch up your strategies based on what kind of events you are attending and your intended results. And remember, networking is a long-lasting effort.

This post was written by PPRA member Renee’ Velez. Velez currently serves on PPRA’s Communications Committee. She is also the Public Outreach Coordinator at Stokes Creative Group, Inc. Follow Renee’ on Twitter @rvelez88.

September President’s Message


Welcome to the fall season for PPRA! We have lots of interesting and exciting things in store between now and the new year.

First, on September 18, you can improve your networking skills at our workshop on “A Smile, A Handshake and A Strategy.” All of us can use a brush up on how to meet new people, expand our contacts, and how to go into a large function with a plan.

Next month, you can look forward to our first media panel, followed in November by a fantastic tribute to WMMR’s Preston & Steve show as they receive our Gold Medal on November 12. Look for some national names on the speakers’ list and an afternoon filled with a whole lot of fun.

We welcome input from all members for any of our programs, suggestions for new places for social events, panels you’d like to see, or just comments about PPRA. Send them to  This is your organization and your opinions and suggestions are important to me and to the board.

Down the road, we have plans for a wide variety of other programs, large and small. PPRA will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2015 so we are planning now for an exciting year of events. Watch your email for invitations to all of these meetings and more!

Lisette Bralow

Share Your Member Experience


Can you think back to the time when you attended your first PPRA event? What was it like? How did you feel? What were you hoping to gain from the organization?

Whether PPRA has helped build your confidence, lead you to exciting networking opportunities or simply helped you break out of your shell; we are interested in hearing about your unique experiences with the organization!

If you had 30 seconds to pitch to a non-member about PPRA and the many opportunities available to members, what would you say? We’d love to hear your testimonials! We may even feature them on our website, membership sell sheet or social media. If you are interested please send your brief testimonial to

Thanks in advance!

It’s PPRA Awards Season

Although PR practitioners spend most of their time behind the scenes, there are still ways for the best professionals in our industry to stand out from the crowd. Each year, the Philadelphia Public Relations Association recognizes our region’s most talented, passionate and promising PR professionals — honoring one standout student and one exceptional young professional.

The Dr. Jean Brodey Student Achievement Award is awarded annually to a college junior or senior who has exhibited outstanding professional promise in the field of public relations, has an excellent academic track record and contributes to his or her community.

The PPRA Fast-Track Award honors a member of PPRA who has made great contributions to the organization, profession, the community and who exemplifies PPRA’s vision for the future.

Nominations for both the Dr. Jean Brodey Student Achievement Award and the PPRA Fast-Track Award are due May 2, 2014. You can find more information on the awards and the nomination forms here.