September 2017 Print

Welcome New Members

PRSA Philly extends a warm welcome to the following new members who joined us in August:


David Sell – Managing Editor, Daily for University of Delaware / Office of Communications and Marketing
Ryan Hunt
Elizabeth Ingraham – Assistant VP, Communications & Outreach for ECFMG
Amanda McCullough – Social Media Specialist for Atlantic Cape Community College
Jos Truittm – Media Relations Director for American Friends Service Committee
Alyson Bartolomei – Social Media Strategist at Bravo Group, Inc.
Andrew Post – Senior Marketing Communications Professional for AWPost Marketing Communications LLC  
Jena Dower Bernstein 
Nadine Bonner – Communications Media Director at Xander Media 
Victoria Rose Layer

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Calendar of Events

Making Pitching Count

September 26, 2017
8:00 AM to 10:00 AM
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Maggiano's Philadelphia
1201 Filbert Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

It's estimated that public relations practitioners provide 50 percent of all content to media outlets throughout the world. However, journalists report that they only open and use about 7 percent of the hundreds of pieces of information they receive every day. How do you effectively and consistently break through the clutter?


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2017 Pepperpot Awards

2017 Pepperpot Awards

November 14, 2017
5:30 PM to 9:30 PM
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Down Town Club
600 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Join us as we celebrate 49 years of PR excellence and recognize the top Philadelphia-area PR professionals, campaigns and tactics at the 2017 Pepperpot Awards. Enjoy networking with peers, heavy hors d'oeuvre and a champagne toast and dessert to celebrate! Cocktail/business attire recommended.

The PRSA Pepperpot Awards are a staple in the Philadelphia region, recognizing best- in-class PR campaigns, tactics and professionals. The “Pepperpots” were named in 1968 by Bill Parker, APR, then-chapter president and head of the Campbell Soup’s communications department, as a play on the famous “catch-all” Philadelphia soup to represent the effort and variety PR professionals put into their campaigns.

The event honors public relations campaigns and tactics submitted by chapter members across the Greater Philadelphia region. More than 90 entries are judged in 27 categories ranging from feature stories to social media campaigns and brochures to community relations.

Thank you to Vault Communications, Inc. for creating our Pepperpot Awards brand!

Sponsorship Opportunities

Please contact if you're interested in sponsoring our 2017 event. You can view our sponsorship opportunities here.
Advertisements for our program will be due October 20, 2017. 

To place an advertisement in the program or serve as one of our event sponsors, please contact or view our sponsorship opportunity information here.


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2017 Fall Membership Deal


Receive Philly Chapter Membership – FREE

Is your PR career stagnating? Are you seeking more professional development opportunities? Is your network of PR professionals, peers and mentors weak? Are you investing in your PR career?

Register here and remember to use promo code: FALL17: 

Member benefits:

Continuing Education

o   PRSA offers more than 50 FREE webinars that you can participate in live or on demand. Learn more now


o   Lower your professional and personal expenses with preferred rates on local AND national PRSA events, insurance, technology, relocation services, shipping, car rental, financial planning and more. Learn more now

Publications and Research

o   Find public relations news, research and case studies for the insight you need now. Start your morning with our daily Issues & Trends. Later, read the latest in Public Relations Tactics, The Public Relations Strategist or Silver Anvil Award-winning case studies. Learn more now

PRSA Job Center

o   As a Pittsburgh chapter member, you have access to FREE postings to the PRSA Pittsburgh job bank, a great tool to find the best and most qualified talent in the area for your company or firm.

The RFP Exchange

o   Seek new business leads or post your own call out with the RFP Exchange, a great starting point for developing new opportunities. Learn more now.


o   Meet new business partners by using the Find-A-Firm tool to search by geography or specialization. Learn more now.

Any restrictions?

If joining Counselors Academy, dues are $100 ($95 discount).  Chapter dues are covered up to $100. N/A for Associate member types ($200 or less annual dues) and current or renewing members. Refer to for details.

If you have additional questions or wish to discuss local chapter benefits personally with a membership coordinator, contact John Kouten at or 908-227-4714.

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APR Boot Camp

Your Time Is Now: Register for the APR Boot Camp and enhance your skills

It takes a professional—someone with exceptional experience, broad expertise, and strong dedication and values—to thrive at what you do. Profess what you know. Learn more and earn your APR today!

Register for the APR Boot Camp: Saturday, November 4, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ.

Register for only $95 for an all-day training that will take your professional skills to the next level and prepare you for the APR Examination.

To register, click here

To learn more about the APR click here.

Internationally recognized, the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) integrates timeless communication principles with contemporary strategies and tactics. The process of earning your APR takes your skills to the next level by exposing you to today’s cutting-edge strategies and practices, assessing your skills to identify strengths and opportunities for growth, and demonstrating your personal and professional commitment to excellence. Moreover, pursuing the APR gives you direct access to top public relations leaders—APR holders who will guide you through the process of achieving Accreditation—and provides the tools you need to distinguish yourself as a luminary in the public relations field.  This is the perfect opportunity to enhance your skills and set yourself apart with distinction, as the APR signifies a high professional level of competence and validates a professional’s commitment to the field.

We hope to see you there. Feel free to contact me at

Yours truly,

Asadeh Nia-Schoenstein, M.S., APR

Public Relations Society of America is a proud supporter of the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). To learn more about the APR click here

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Event Recap: Crisis Communication Panel

PRSA Philly Hosts Crisis Communication Panel:Protecting your Brand’s Reputation against Cyber Warfare

PRSA Philadelphia recently convened a blue-ribbon panel to discuss the role of public relations in a global economy under ever-increasing threat of cyberattacks. The panelists offered insights and lessons learned from their personal experiences, and offered best practices to the group. 

The panelists included:


Moderator, Greg Matusky, President and founder of Gregory FCA


Samantha Kruse - Senior Account Supervisor, Edelman’s Crisis & Risk practice


John Ciesla - Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer at Mutual of America


Odia Kagan, Attorney at Ballard Spah

First and foremost, public relations professionals should be familiar with common types of cyberattacks. Close collaboration with corporate IT, legal and security teams is recommended for communications professionals who need to be prepared for and potentially respond to cyberattacks.

According to the panelists, common methods of cyberattack include:

  •  Data breaches
  •  Malware and ransomware
  •  Financial fraud
  •  Phishing
  •  Session hijacking
  •  Hackers targeting personal records
  • Threats against senior management that could also manifest physically


Some of the biggest mistakes observed by the panel include:

  • Lack of internal communication on cyber security and potential breaches
  • Lack of internal crisis simulation and strategy
  • No cyber security crisis communication plan established


Plan, plan, plan

Public relations best practices require the establishment of a crisis protocol, including:

  • Convening a multifunctional cyber security team that includes legal, technology, company management and PR
  • Developing a cyberattack crisis plan and chain of command
  • Preparing for cyberattacks through planned drills; fine tuning plans based on weak points exposed during the drills
  • Creating core messaging communications document(s) to respond to different types of crises before they occur
  • Developing good relationships with law enforcement outside of a security event so that they know how your business operates
  • Building relationships with key media beforehand – good will to build up; so that there is an ally when situations may occur
  • Training employees on internal communications practices


Work the plan

Following are key steps to take if an attack occurs:

  •   Bring on forensics team to investigate and gather information
  •   Involve law enforcement at an early stage
  •   Time your messaging– needs to be communicated sooner rather than later
  •   Monitor social media
  •   Ensure accuracy of all information on incident
  •   Check facts and obtain legal permissions/consulting before sharing information
  •   Be sure not to put out a story that provides hackers with too much information
  •   Calibrate responses with necessary information that you do have - constantly be prepared to     rework messaging as more information is received
  •   Maintain corporate ethics


Communicate early and often

Vital information to share with internal and external stakeholders: What happened?

  •  What are we going to do as a company to resolve this?
  •  How do we prevent this from happening again?
  •  Internal communications team should develop timely response with information obtained from forensics investigation.


Employees come first

Communicate first with your employees about any incident as they play dual roles as the front line of defense and company advocate. Ensure rapid and ongoing employee updates from senior leadership; provide a channel for two-way communication from rank-and-file employees up the chain of command. Provide updated and ongoing messages targeted to customers.

Additional key audiences

  • Law enforcement
  • Legal counsel
  • Consumers/customers (without unreasonable delay)
  • Regulators
  • Third parties (Important to have knowledge regarding who you are required to notify beforehand)
  • Media -- Can be used as a conduit to get information out to key audiences


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Diversity and Inclusion Month

By Michele Cohen, associate director of media relations at The Wharton School and PRSA Philly Communications Committee member.

PRSA National celebrated August as Diversity & Inclusion Month, featuring a Twitter Chat (#PRDiversity) and special blog posts.

In support of a request from PRSA’s Diversity & Inclusion Initiative and focus, PRSA National asked all chapters to consider creating a committee or board position to support Chapter and national efforts to diversify membership, programming and overall multicultural understanding and expertise so that PRSA members can more skillfully address diverse stakeholder populations. Last year, PRSA Philly announced its Diversity & Inclusion Committee Chair, Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway.

However, before launching a full-scale Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Avakian-Hardaway said she felt strongly that the board lead by example and embed diversity and inclusion into everything PRSA does and creates.

“Diversity is not a check in the box,” she said. “We need to take a holistic approach to D&I, as it should be the fabric that weaves this chapter together.”

“What this entails is taking a closer look at our venues, menus, speakers.  For example, what do all of them say about us as a chapter?  Are the venues welcoming?  Are the meals inclusive?  Are the speakers diverse and balanced?” she said.

Avakian-Hardaway said she plans to formally launch the committee in 2018.

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Submit Your Agency or Independent Consultancy

PRSA Philly is inviting members who operate independent practices and agencies to submit information about their offerings. The information will be used to create an online directory for individuals seeking PR recommendations and inquiring about service offerings. 

Please submit your information here:  PRSA Philly Form

*We do not have a save and return feature for submissions. Updated or modified information will have to be submitted as a new entry.

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We know that our members are a talented bunch, and we want to share that news far and wide! If you or your team have an accolade, award or achievement you would like to share, please email, and your story could be shared in the Noteworthy section of our website, in an upcoming issue of the newsletter and on our social media channels.

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