Discount at Philly Bash for PPRA Members



Hundreds of locals will walk the red carpet, chat with Philly Happening TV, and party the night away in honor of the amazing Philadelphia community.

Since the beginning of the year, thousands of local people, places, events, and businesses have been nominated across 11 comprehensive Happening List categories ranging from “Food & Drink” to “Home Improvement” to “Everything Philly.” And Happening list excitement will reach a fever pitch on Monday, June 8, 2015 at the debut Philly Happening List Red Carpet Bash!

Good news! If you are a PPRA member you can receive a discount for this event. Click here to read more about the details of this event and to purchase your tickets. Enter “PPRA” in the promotional code box to receive your discount today!

Careers 101: From a Young Professional’s Perspective


As a senior preparing to graduate from Temple University, a member of PRSSA’s Temple Chapter, an intern at the Philadelphia Bar Association, and a member of PPRA serving on its College Relations Committee, this year’s 10th Annual Careers 101 event will forever be memorable.

After reading my intern supervisor and PPRA’s President-Elect Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway’s pre-Careers 101 blog post, I got an idea of what Careers 101 could offer and it turned out just as great as I envisioned.

Commemorating PPRA’s 70th anniversary the 10th Annual Careers 101 event was one for the books. Students and young professionals got to hear insights from the following PPRA past presidents:

  • Moderator: David Brown, Managing Director, The Marketing Collaborative & Executive Director of the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children.
  • Bill Cowen, President, Metrospective Communications LLC & Professor/PR Program Director, Villanova University.
  • Bonnie Grant, Executive Director, Greater Philadelphia Life Sciences Congress.
  • Cathy Engel Menendez, Communications Director, PECO.
  • Lisa Simon, President, Simon Public Relations Group, Inc.
  • Mark Tarasiewicz, Executive Director, Philadelphia Bar Association.

There was definitely much to be heard from the panelists and moderator, so much so that #Careers101 was trending on Twitter from all of the attendee tweets. Attendees also had the opportunity to have their resumes critiqued, their headshots taken and 10 lucky winners won shadow days and informational interviews with local PPRA leaders. Careers101Tweet

The event was held at The Liacouras Center on Temple University’s Main Campus, but Temple certainly was not the only school represented at the event. Students from La Salle, Stockton, Penn State Abington, Drexel, Villanova, Rowan and Monmouth universities were all present. This definitely made the event that much more rewarding. It is always a pleasure to have the opportunity to network with students from other universities that share the same passion for PR as you.

The panel kicked off with a pop quiz about current events. This started the conversation on a great foot, directly relating to a major topic the panelists couldn’t stress enough. “You should know the local media and consume it every day,” said Lisa Simon. Mark Tarasiewicz said, “If you’re not well-read, Houston we have a problem!”

As a PR professional, it is our job to be “in the know” at all times, simple but vital advice. Knowing what’s going on locally and nationally is beneficial in so many ways. Not only does it give you topics to talk about while at networking events, it will also set you apart. If you can comment on important issues that are happening, professionals will recognize that. It shows that you care and it’s helping you learn and grow as a young professional.

“If you ever take your career seriously it should reflect on your social media. Add an element of advanced maturity to your social feed,” added Mark Tarasiewicz. This definitely hit home for me and probably most of the students and young professionals in the audience. Your social media can reflect your maturity level.  Being the generation that grew up with social media, it is easy to forget how much of an impact it can have. Bill Cowen also stressed the importance of maturity and emotional intelligence, which as a young adult can often be our weakness as we are taking our first steps into adulthood. “Emotional intelligence will serve you better than anything … become a storyteller!” said Bill Cowen.

The inevitable questions, “What do you want to do when you graduate? Where do you want to work?” Careers 101 helped ease those questions for me and hopefully a lot of other students. You may not know exactly what your calling is but as David Brown said, “Early in the industry, try everything.” All of the panelists expressed the importance of putting yourself out there. “Figure out what you are really good at, what gets you really excited. Credentials they matter, but performance is what will really define your career,” said Lisa Simon. Bonnie Grant added, “I want to see how you solve problems, that you can be a part of solutions.”

“If you’re resilient, you’ll be indispensable.” – Cathy Engel Menendez.


All of the panelists gave amazing advice and provided me the reassurance I needed as I am about to graduate and embark into my adult life. Joining PPRA and having the opportunity to be on the College Relations Committee and help put together Careers 101 was beyond beneficial for me. As I am approaching graduation and meeting more and more PR professionals, it seems as if the [PR] world is getting smaller, especially in the Philadelphia area. Networking is extremely important and Careers 101 was a great platform for any student or young professional interested in PR.

Your Career is no joke and it’s time to start it!

Cara McArdle is a senior at Temple University majoring in Strategic Communication, concentrating in Public Relations and International Communication. She also interns at the Philadelphia Bar Association, is a PPRA member serving on its College Relations Committee and a member of PRSSA’s Temple Chapter. Follow Cara @CARAmel_appless on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn at

The Art of Honing your Craft

primgThe new year is underway and if you’re like me, you’ve been bogged down with roadmaps, SMART goals and KPIs that are on deck for the next 300 or so days. You’ve mapped out every PR campaign or event you’re going to execute from now until the end of the year and you’re ready to strike (if you haven’t already done so). But where does professional development fit into the picture? If it doesn’t, then it’s time to refocus.

As much as traditional PR tactics are still in play (press releases, media pitching, brand building), PR isn’t exempt from the rapidly changing world around us. This year, make time to nurture your craft, further develop and broaden your industry knowledge.

Brandi Smith-Gordon, Senior Manager of Integrated Marketing Communications, Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and PPRA member, says to stay relevant, she turns to influencers on social media and PR events. “I follow influencers on Twitter, attend as many industry events as possible and research best practices shared from my colleagues throughout the country,” she says.

Twitter is a great tool for tracking PR news and trends. Check out PR-focused accounts such as @PRNews, @PRDaily, @PRWeekUS and @RaganComms. Also, you can follow key influencers and PR pros right here in the Philly area. For a quick list of names and PR accounts to get you started, browse through my PR Pros list on Twitter (and feel free to subscribe!). I also find the list helpful for scouting industry events and conferences around the country that’ll help me enhance my knowledge base.

Are you already up-to-speed on PR news and trends? Don’t let your professional development stop there! As the lines between PR and marketing become more and more blurred, some PR pros are taking it as an opportunity to learn more about marketing.

Brandyn Bissinger, an Emmy award-winning journalist turned PR pro, is doing just that. The PR Manager at AWeber says, “Working on AWeber’s marketing team of 16–the majority of whom are marketers and digital marketing experts–has been extremely eye opening for me. This year, I joined the Philadelphia chapter of the American Marketing Association (PAMA) to continue to educate myself on new marketing strategies and tactics that will strengthen the PR team’s collaboration with content marketers, performance marketers, etc.”

Kent Holland, a Managing Director at ASGK Public Strategies in Washington, DC has a similar outlook. “The visual aspect of communications has gotten increasingly more important in the past two years. At ASGK Public Strategies, we hired an in-house designer to help us with infographics, listicles, proposals, creating brand logos and taglines, and online videos. Advertising and marketing firms have had this capacity for a while, but mid-sized and smaller firms may not. Being able to learn from our designer how to think visually has been incredibly important to my professional development — people don’t read as much as they used to, and an interesting visual display of information is now mission critical.”

By nature of our profession, it’s an unwritten part of our job descriptions that we stay up to speed on…well, everything! From current events and hashtags, to trending news and hot topics, we must multitask and have our finger on the pulse of our client’s or company’s industry. In this new year, don’t let PR industry trends and your professional growth fall by the wayside. Take advantage of professional development opportunities that’ll make you even more knowledgeable and marketable in your craft.

Andrea Carter is a Public Relations Specialist at AWeber, a certified news junkie and an aspiring world traveler. Check out Andrea’s back story here then follow her on Twitter @SheLuvsPR and connect on LinkedIn at

“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.

The Top 5 Twitter Chats for PR Pros

By now, we all know that Twitter is a fantastic place to network, share resources and ideas and learn from other professionals across a variety of industries. But did you know that there are weekly and monthly chats on Twitter to bring together communities around a specific topic?

With more than 100 chats taking place on Twitter at any given time, we’ve narrowed down the list to the top 5 Twitter chats you should be paying attention to and participating in if you work in the PR industry.

1. #Journchat (Mondays from 8-9 p.m. EST): Long before many PR professionals adopted Twitter, #Journchat launched in 2008 and stakes the claim of being the first-ever Twitter chat. This hour-long chat is designed to keep the lines of communication open between PR pros, journalists and bloggers.

2. #PRStudChat (Held monthly- check Twitter for details): While this chat may have the word “stud” in it for “student,” everyone can be a lifelong learner in this awesome chat. Started by Deirdre Breakenridge and Valerie Simon in 2009, the goal of the chat is to connect PR students, professionals and educators to discuss industry trends, PR education, networking, careers and more.

3. #SoloPR (Wednesdays from 1-2 p.m. EST): This chat (and full-on online community) was started by Kellye Crane, an independent PR consultant in 2008 to bring together fellow freelance PR practitioners to network and learn from one another. Whether you actually are a solo PR professional or not, this chat is great to follow for inspiration, ideas and education from a group of smart and savvy pros.

4. #CmgrChat (Wednesdays from 2-3 p.m. EST): Many PR professionals are also tasked with the responsibility of serving as their organization’s community manager online. This weekly Twitter chat is designed to provide a community for those who spend their days at work managing communities on social media.

5. #MeasurePR (First Tuesday of every month from 1-2 p.m. EST): Interested in learning more about how to measure your public relations efforts? This monthly chat founded by Shonali Burke is for you! Though the chat is once a month, stay tuned to the hashtag frequently for more conversation and resources.

Honorable Mentions:

Looking for more useful chats to check out? Here’s some of our other favorite Twitter chats for PR pros:

Need help getting started with participating in your first Twitter chat? It’s easy! Simply head to, login with your Twitter credentials, enter the hashtag of the chat and follow the conversation.

Do you have a favorite Twitter chat? Share in the comments below!

This post was written by PPRA Vice President of Communications Jessica Lawlor. Jessica is the marketing and communications coordinator for Visit Bucks County, the official tourism promotion agency for Bucks County, PA. In her role at the tourism office, she is responsible for content creation. e-communications, B2B public relations efforts and assisting with social media, advertising and marketing initiatives. In her free time, Jessica is a freelance writer and blogs at about getting gutsy-stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals.