Home » Chapter Chat » May 2019

President’s Report

Martha GastonDemanding clients, long hours and constantly shifting deadlines – a career in public relations comes with seemingly never-ending stressors. In fact, a recent survey by CareerCast named “public relations executive” as one of the top 10 most-stressful jobs in America, putting us in the company of police officers, airline pilots and taxi drivers. It’s no secret that constant job stress affects mental health and can trigger or worsen anxiety and depression, among other mental health issues. May, which is Mental Health Month, is a good time to highlight these challenges.

Whether or not you or a loved one struggles with mental health issues, we all, as communicators, need to responsibly educate others about them and properly reference them in our communications to break down stigmas. In an era when most of us spend more time in our workplace than at home, we also can no longer take the attitude that depression, eating disorders, anxiety and more are things that we can “leave at the door” when we go to work.

If you have an interest in mental health or simply want to learn more, I encourage you to attend our breakfast program on May 21 to hear from journalist Denise Clay and psychologist Dr. Jessica Glass Kendorski on Moving Mental Health Forward. We hope to see you there.

May is also the unofficial start of summer with Memorial Day, and I’m pleased to say that this year PRSA Philadelphia will be offering programming throughout the summer to ensure that everyone – from college students home on break to professionals looking to take advantage of slower months – has a chance to benefit from our networking and programming events. Keep an eye out for more, and join us!

Martha A. Gaston, APR

Welcome New Members

Please join us in welcoming our newest chapter members!

Jordana Bankowski
Administrative Coordinator

Michael Jacob Brusko

Katharine Fierra
Communications Specialist
Local Wisdom, Inc.   

Jessica Jenkins
Director of Marketing and Communications
FCM Hospitality

Olga Limanska

Amanda McCullough  
Publications and Special Projects Coordinator
Stockton University

Kaitlyn Tivenan
Vice President
Tierney Communications

Meet the Board: Lori Doyle, Membership Chair

By Michele Besso, Public Relations Director at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and PRSA Philly Communications Committee member

Where do you work and what is your title? What are your job responsibilities?
I am Senior Vice President for University Communications at Drexel University. In this role, I oversee a team of 30 communications professionals responsible for media relations, executive communications, web services, search engine optimization, graphic design, internal communications, issues management/crisis communications and advertising. It’s a privilege to work at Drexel and manage such a talented team.

Give me a brief work history prior to Drexel. Prior to joining Drexel, I was Vice President for Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, Chief Public Affairs Officer for the University of Pennsylvania Health System and prior to that, was General Manager of the Philadelphia Office of Golin Harris Communications, a large strategic communications firm headquartered in Chicago.

What are your academic degrees and where from? I have a B.A. in Radio/TV/Film from Temple University and an M.A. in Communications Management from Ohio University.

How did you get into the public relations — what made you want to go into the field? During college, I worked as a news director at a local radio station and swore I’d never work in PR. But when I got my first job out of college as a communications assistant at a large company in Chicago, and then as an account executive at a PR firm in Des Moines, Iowa, I realized I was pretty good at it, and never looked back.

What made you decide to join PRSA and what benefits have you gotten from membership? I’ve belonged to PRSA for many years. I first joined the Philadelphia chapter and then once I started working in higher education, I joined the Counselors to Higher Education (CHE) section of PRSA, which I ended up chairing for a few years. It’s a great way to make contacts with other PR professionals and to keep current with new trends in our field.

What made you decide to join the board/membership committee? After being involved with CHE for so many years, I felt as though I had lost touch with my Philadelphia peers, so I decided to volunteer as membership chair for PRSA Philly. I joined the board last year.

Why should someone become a member of PRSA? It’s a great way to meet other people who work in communications and stay connected.

What are your responsibilities as membership chair? I have a small committee that works with me to increase membership and improve retention. We develop materials for new members, contests to encourage membership and we reach out to members to remind them to renew their membership, among other things.

Tell us about the contest you are running to gain free admission to the PRSA National Conference in San Diego this year? What are the criteria? It’s easy. To be considered for the scholarship, PRSA members need to answer three questions in 250 words or less. How did you get started in the profession of public relations? Why do you want to attend the International Conference? What new information can you bring back to benefit PRSA Philly?

Entries can be sent to conference@philly.org by June 14, 2019. The winner will be selected by July 1.

What do you like to do in your free time? My husband and I enjoy buying and renovating row homes in Philadelphia and are now renovating a log cabin in Medford Lakes, where we live. I enjoy singing in my church choir, walking our collie around Medford Lakes and being a wife and mom of three amazing sons.

Attend the PRSA International Conference for Free

Want to attend the PRSA International Conference for FREE? Your chance for a complimentary registration is only three answers away!

PRSA Philly is offering members a scholarship worth $1,395 to this year’s conference focusing on the convergence of media and technology in San Diego, CA on October 20-22.

To be considered for the scholarship, you need to answer three questions. In 250 words or fewer per answer, please tell us:

  1. How did you get started in the profession of public relations?
  2. Why do you want to attend the International Conference?
  3. What new information can you bring back to benefit PRSA Philly?

Submit your entry to conference@philly.org  by June 14, 2019. Each entry will be reviewed by the Membership Committee and the PRSA Philly Board. One winning entry will be selected by July 1, 2019. The winner will be asked to develop a brief article for the PRSA Philly newsletter about their conference experience and will be expected to serve on one PRSA Philly committee for at least one year beginning in January 2020.

The International Conference is the premier event to expand your network and improve your PR capabilities. Attending is among the most inspirational activities for any member of PRSA and there is great value in learning what peers around the globe are doing in the PR profession. So tell us a little about what you do, why you want to go, and how attending can benefit the Philly chapter!

Questions can be sent to conference@philly.org for a personal reply.

Meet the Media: John George, Senior Reporter for Philadelphia Business Journal

By Mellany Armstrong, Associate Director of Communications, Moore College of Art & Design and PRSA Philly Communications Committee member

The PRSA Communications Committee talked with John George, senior reporter for the Philadelphia Business Journal. He’s been covering the health care industry and the business of sports for nearly 25 years.

What are the differences in reporting for a niche newspaper as compared to reporting for a general audience newspaper? You always have to keep your audience in mind. Our target audience is business decision-makers, so they are interested in what is going on in the business community and what they need to know to do their job better. Nobody picks ups the Philadelphia Business Journal or visits pbj.com to find out how the Phillies did, to see what is on television or to find a used car to buy.

You’ve been at the PBJ a long time, joining at a time when business reporting was really getting hot. How has your role changed over the years? The biggest change has been no longer being 100 percent focused on reporting stories for a weekly print product. I now function more like a radio reporter, filing stories constantly for our website. The good news is the website allows us to reach readers nationally and internationally. (I once got a call from an investor in Belgium). I also don’t simply write stories anymore. I take many of the photographs that run with my stories (thanks to the iPhone). I also use Twitter and LinkedIn to interact with readers. Another part of our business is events, where we bring members of the business community together. For me, that means helping to plan and moderate panels on events related to health care or sports business.

How did you build relationships over the years with the public relations professionals you deal with? I try to make myself available for a telephone conversation or an email exchange with PR people who want to know what I am looking for in a story. With the constant demand of the web I find it difficult to carve out time to meet with somebody in person, but I am happy to have a discussion with PR people I meet at our events or in the course of reporting a story. My first piece of advice is always the same: get familiar with the media outlet you are pitching by spending time reading it, watching it or listening to it. It’s the best way to learn what type of stories we are interested in.

How has your relationship with those professionals changed over all this time? I am more demanding in terms of getting information quickly since I am no longer only dealing with weekly deadlines. I also find I am being approached way too often by PR professionals with clients from outside the market we cover, which is a constant source of frustration. I am not going to write about a biotech company in San Diego, or Ohio or Canada or Sweden—but that doesn’t stop PR people from including me in their mass emails. Just the vast number of pitches I receive on a daily basis makes it impossible for me to respond to everyone, local or not.

What advice do you have for PR professionals when dealing with the media? I’ll give you six off the top of my head:

  • Do your homework. The best way to find out the type of stories I write about is to read the newspaper/web site I write for.
  • Tell clients the role of the reporter. I will probably ask questions they don’t want to answer. I will ask money questions. I will seek proof of any claims they make. And no, they will not get to read the story before it is published.
  • Learn to take no for an answer.
  • Understand the value of offering me an exclusive. If I know nobody else has the story, it will get more prominence and more space in the publication. And if I say I am interested, please don’t pitch the story elsewhere. Nothing frustrates me more than spending time on a story, only to see it run elsewhere before my story is published.
  • Make sure clients are accessible. I have had people pitch an idea I found interesting only to find out the company’s CEO is not available for weeks. I want to talk with the top people. A spokesman is the last resort.
  • Please don’t ask questions during my interview. I have no problem with a PR person sitting in on an interview, but don’t attempt to steer the conversation by interjecting a question.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working? I am a sports guy. I’ve had to give up my touch football game because it was too tough on my aging knees, but I still play a little softball and tennis. A few years ago I discovered pickleball and I absolutely love it. I play with a great group of new friends I met through the sport. It keeps me active and satisfies my competitive gene. If you’ve never heard of pickleball, look it up. It’s a combination of tennis and pingpong and badminton—and it’s not just for old people!

The Doyenne of ‘Courage’ in Crisis
Davia Temin has shaped, and continues to define, contemporary crisis communication.

Contributed by Bridget Paverd, Partner, GillespieHall

(Bridget Paverd (left) and Davia Temin, at the New York offices of Temin and Company) 

I spent a morning in New York City with Davia Temin last week.

While respectful of the knowledge of others, and always open to learning, there are just so many accomplished professionals that I am seldom blown away meeting a specialized superstar.

Davia is an exception. I admit, I was a little star-struck.

Her splendid office in the clouds of Manhattan is elegant and welcoming. Wall-to-wall books and gorgeous art are interrupted by a Davia Temin lookalike Barbie still in the box. That is an entirely different story.

Davia and I discussed crisis as we see it now, in 2019…. A world of ‘alternative facts’ and the MeToo movement. We shared war stories. I wanted to write down every word she said – she was so generous with advice. We talked about the value of the truth. And of listening. Of “hearing” both clients and audiences and moving our clients into recovery as quickly as possible.

Davia Temin has shaped, and continues to define, contemporary crisis communication. All of us who work in reputation management have been influenced by her leadership. Even those who don’t know her name follow her best practices. Barely a month goes by that she is not quoted in major media.

Through her boutique management consultancy, Temin and Company, and her thought leadership (such as her Reputation Matters column for Forbes), Davia has been at the forefront of seismic shifts in crisis response and recovery: the public’s loss of trust in conventional institutions and their leaders; the impact of digital and social media and the emergence of instantaneous, always-on news.

Davia has been so influential in large part because of what she is not; she is not the usual kind of “fixer.” “Delay, deny, deflect” are rarely in her tool box. Instead, she speaks of responsibility, leadership and courage. From that perspective, she, like me, sees crisis as opportunity.

Those of us who have worked in reputation management know a crisis can define an organization’s soul and test its mettle. Writing in Forbes in 2013, Davia points out:

Organizations can use crisis to reaffirm who they are, and what they stand for…in deed and word. They can embody the solution, and become a beacon for others. They can become stronger, finer, more tested, and more positively well known. But it is real commitment, engagement, and courageous action that are needed to attain such a best result. It does not, usually, handle itself.

Facebook’s ongoing stumbles gave Davia the opportunity to remind us that “crisis demands the ability to see clearly, the humility to admit mistakes readily, and the courage to do whatever it takes to fix those mistakes immediately.”

Recently, she has written on a reputation risk unique to our time: the bully. Sadly, it’s become an expected part of politics, and is spreading. Whatever one calls it – counter-punching, telling it like it is – it is verbal violence used not to forward discourse but to inflict damage. The weapon can be an individual social media account or a national media forum. Writing in Leadership Strategy (How to Bring Down A Bully or Extortionist – Lesson from Jeff Bezos, Nancy Pelosi and More), Davia reminds us that protecting reputation requires courage:

“Care about your legacy more than your short-term reputation.
“Have principles you are simply no longer willing to breach.”
“Be prepared to be unstoppable; indefatigable.”

Thank you for your influence and thought leadership Davia and reminding us that It takes courage to face a crisis head on and rise above it.

And that courage can prevent a crisis from occurring in the first place.