Remembering A Beloved PPRA Member: Sally Berlin

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The Philadelphia Public Relations Association has lost a long-time and beloved member of its family. We are saddened to announce that Sally Berlin has passed away this past weekend on Saturday, October, 25th. Sally, a well-known PR pro in the Philadelphia area, served as PPRA’s President in 1976-77. She was one of the first women to become inducted into the PPRA Hall of Fame in 1986.

Sally stood only 4 feet, 10 inches tall but was known as a PR giant and ageless dynamo by those who knew her. She cherished the Philadelphia Public Relations Association, making it a high priority to attend PPRA programs. She eagerly volunteered her time and demonstrated her passion for the public relations industry by sharing her influential and creative ideas to help boost a city in which she loved, the city of Philadelphia.

Aside from her affiliation with PPRA, Sally worked hard to expand the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia, (PAL). Working as an adviser for PAL well into her 90s, Sally raised millions of dollars for the non-profit corporation throughout her career.

Sandy Harris, Senior Development Coordinator and Auction Manager at PAL as well as a long-time colleague and friend of Sally’s highlighted her powerful personality in a tribute post on the Philly PAL blog.“Working with Sally and getting to know her is something that I will always treasure.  I learned so much from seeing her in action.  If she called you in regard to a donation and you didn’t call her back, you can bet she would persistently call you until you told her when she could expect the check.  She never took no for an answer and knew how to make everyone she talked to feel special.”

“In all the years I had the privilege of knowing Sally, I never heard her say an unkind word about anyone. In fact, she saw the best in everyone and became their champion, spreading the word about their talents and achievements,” said Gloria Hochman.

Dan Cirucci reminisced on Sally’s unstoppable can-do attitude in a tribute post on his personal blog. “She was also a pioneer — part of a generation of women who broke through the glass ceiling before anyone even knew what the glass ceiling was. And then she went on to mentor countless others. She did it all without a second thought. In fact, it probably never occurred to her that anything could stop her — and nothing ever did.”

We have truly lost an extraordinary individual and vibrant personality. Sally will be missed by all that were lucky enough to cross path’s with such a genuine person.

 

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Member Spotlight: Meredith Avakian-Hardaway

The following is part of our Member Spotlight series. Twice a month, the PPRA blog will feature a profile on one of our members. Today’s post highlights long-time PPRA member Meredith Avakian-Hardaway.

Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway, DuPontSo, how long have you been a member of PPRA?

Since 2006.

How did you get into PR?

I got into PR while attending Temple University, where I went on to major in PR and serve as the PRSSA chapter president.

Tell us a little bit about your current position.

DuPont Regional Public Affairs Manager – I provide 24/7 issues and crisis communications support to eight manufacturing plant sites in three states – DE, NJ & RI – in addition to leading related internal/external communications and community outreach.

What is your favorite aspect of your current job?

It’s never (ever) boring! I never know what each day is going to bring and I’m always in a different location working with a remarkable cross-section of people at all different levels from a variety of backgrounds. I get to learn so much about a variety of products, industries and cultures, and every day seems to provide new challenges and opportunities.

Are there any PR trends that you’re really into right now? 

It’s amazing to see how companies are using PR campaigns to position themselves as helping to solve some of the world’s largest challenges, such as increasing food production, decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, and protecting people and the environment.

What social media platform do you use the most in your personal life? What about for business purposes?

I use Twitter for both – @MZApoetry (Personal) and @DuPont_NAOps (Work).

If you could give one piece of advice to current PR students about getting into the industry, what would it be?

Get involved….now! I always encourage students to join student and professional organizations, get internship experience, go on informational interviews, get community experience. Students need to identify, then build their brand; build their experience and, of course, network. Most don’t think to do this until they’re about to graduate. At that point, they’re already behind their competition. It’s never too early to get involved.

What is your favorite thing about Philly?

I enjoy the diversity the city brings, which is what originally attracted me to Philly (via Temple University) and has helped to keep me here. Of course diversity in people also brings diversity in food, which has helped to rebrand Philly as a “foodie” city. Since most of my meals are spent “on the road,” it’s nice to have a vast variety of options.

Anything else we should know about you?

I also serve as PPRA’s VP for External Affairs. I reside in South Kensington with my loving husband Marques and our sassy cat Anush. I’ve self-published two books of my poetry and am working on a third. Since starting my career, I have been recognized by PPRA with several awards, including the President’s Fast-Track Award (2009) and the Dr. Jean Brodey Achievement Award (2006).

Be sure to connect with Meredith on Twitter to chat more about her cat, poetry and more!

Philly’s Student-Run PR Firms

While aspiring PR pros are still in school, they are constantly reminded that internships are essential if they ever want to get a job in the industry. In recent years, some college students have found an alternative to the traditional internship — joining a student-run PR firm.

Across the country, students at colleges and universities have launched their own PR firms and taken on a variety of “real-world” clients. Those who take part in these student-run firms are able to put their PR skills to work and enjoy a number of unique experiences. In the Greater Philadelphia area, there are three local schools that boast successful student-run PR firms: Drexel University, Rowan University and Temple University.

33rd Street Public Relations – Drexel University

What began as the communications senior project of Drexel student and PRSSA member Sarah Mason quickly developed into a functioning PR firm. Sarah’s goal was to form a student-run public relations firm as a tool for applied learning. Upon its launch, 33rd Street Public Relations only had one client (Drexel’s student-run literary publication, Maya) but in the years since, the firm’s client list has grown immensely. Today, 33rd Street Public Relations offers a wide array of communication services to both professional clients and Drexel University student organizations.

PRaction – Rowan University

PRaction was started by members of the Anthony J. Fulginiti Chapter of PRSSA at Rowan University nearly 3 decades ago. Their firm is all about putting the PR skills students learn in the classroom into action. PRaction’s past clients include Rowan University’s Department of Theater and Dance, Bogey’s Club and Café, Two Vic’s Sports Shop and Studio 24 Scoops and More. This year they are working with a number of clients, including the Greater Pitman Chamber of Commerce, the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Camden and Labrador Hill Farm. Students are encouraged to join PRaction at the beginning of each semester, and they can reach out to Vice President Henry Grant at granth31@students.rowan.edu with any inquiries. Potential clients can contact President Stephanie Russo via email at russos17@students.rowan.edu.

PRowl Public Relations – Temple University

PRowl Public Relation is Temple University’s first and only student-run PR firm. PRowl strives to provide clients with comprehensive PR strategies and solutions, offer Temple PRSSA members the opportunity to apply their knowledge and gain experience beyond the classroom, and build credibility while forming lasting student-client relationships. In recent years, PRowl has worked with clients such as the Lemon Hill Mansion, Temple University’s Department of Strategic Communication, and the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. Interested students and potential clients can contact Firm Director Kaitlyn Sutton via email at tuc50460@temple.edu.

Have you been a part of a student-run PR firm? What did you learn from the experience? Tell us about it in the comments section below. 

Member Spotlight: Gregg Feistman

The following is part of our Member Spotlight series. Twice a month, the PPRA blog will feature a profile on one of our members. Today’s post highlights long-time member and Temple University professor, Gregg Feistman.

Temple 08How did you get into PR?

I was a PR major as an undergraduate at Rowan University and was lucky enough to work in the profession right out of college, starting as a theatrical press agent in New England. From there I went into the Philadelphia agency side, and eventually into corporate PR and later consulting. Now I’m in academia. I wanted to build a career that would allow me to write and PR definitely does that!

Tell us a little bit about your current position.

I’m currently an Associate Professor of Public Relations at Temple University. I teach both on the undergraduate level and in our MS in Communication Management program. I’m also the sequence head for the Public Relations concentration in the Department of Strategic Communication, which means I’m responsible for the scheduling of PR classes each semester, the hiring and coaching of adjunct instructors, advising undergrad and graduate students, and other administrative tasks. In addition, I’m the faculty advisor for Temple’s PRSSA chapter which has in excess of 100 members, and PRowl Public Relations, Temple’s first and only student-run PR firm which works with on-campus and off-campus clients. This fall, I’m also overseeing and coordinating the department’s and the School of Media and Communications’ joint sponsorship of the International PRSA Conference coming to Philadelphia at the end of October.

What is your favorite aspect of your current job?

My favorite aspect of my job is working with students and helping them get the experience and knowledge to succeed in their chosen career path. It’s incredibly rewarding to help make a difference in a young person’s life. I’m very pleased that many of my former students have stayed in touch and I now count them as friends and colleagues.

Are there any PR trends that you’re really into right now? 

Watching all the rapid changes in our profession has been fascinating. Everything from the rise and development of social media to the convergence of the media and the changes in the news business. Everything is impacting our profession.

What social media platform do you use the most in your personal life? What about for business purposes?

In terms of social media, I use Facebook for non-professional stuff and LinkedIn primarily for professional purposes.

If you could give one piece of advice to current PR students about getting into the industry, what would it be?

One piece of advice for students? Be passionate. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, then do something else! Also, be persistent. This isn’t an easy profession to get into and stay in, but if you really want to do it, hang in there and keep knocking on doors. One of them will eventually open. Joining PPRA and other professional associations is a great way to make contacts.

What is your favorite thing about Philly?

My favorite thing about Philly is the people. We have great people here, plus the food, art, culture and sports.

Anything else we should know about you?

I’ve always been a writer. Once upon a time, I was a NYC-produced playwright, and a freelance business journalist. I’m also a professional sports photographer. Finally, I’m a novelist. I write political thrillers. My first one, “The War Merchants” was published in 2009 and features a Philadelphia PR person as the heroine. My second one is currently under consideration with a NY literary agent.

Want to hear more about Gregg’s work at Temple University or his experiences with getting a book published? Connect with him via email (greggf@temple.edu).