Home » Chapter Chat » September 2019

President’s Report


Martha Gaston

Dear Members,

“A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.” — Nelson Mandela

Did you know that September is Ethics Month at PRSA? As communications professionals who are members of PRSA, we each agree to uphold and abide by PRSA’s Code of Ethics, which stresses six core values: Advocacy, Honesty, Expertise, Independence, Loyalty and Fairness. As professionals who use our “literate tongue or pen” daily, integrity is not something we can afford to compromise.

I take this call to be fair and honest seriously, but unfortunately there are people who call themselves “public relations professionals” who embody the opposite traits (and are the ones grabbing headlines) that “represent” our profession. It is up to each of us to distance ourselves from these bad actors and correct anyone who uses that most dreaded of words when describing our job: spin (shudder).

Maintaining transparent communications and gaining public trust can be difficult in this era of “fake news” and social media, which enables anyone to be a “spokesperson.” If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to participate in PRSA’s Twitter chat on Sept. 24 at 7 p.m.: Fighting for Ethical Integrity in a Time of Fake News, Misinformation & Disinformation. Participants can join the discussion at #EthicsMonth.

Speaking of media, PRSA Philadelphia is pleased to host well-known media relations expert Michael Smart on Oct. 7 for a half-day workshop on “Crafting Your Perfect Pitch” – his first program in Philly. Michael will take participants through pitches that failed and those that succeeded with discussions and real-life examples while giving tips on how to grab attention with a smart subject line to customizing content in today’s always-on media cycle. Spots are going quickly, so be sure to register soon!


Martha A. Gaston, APR
PRSA Philadelphia President

Welcome New Members

Please join us in welcoming our newest chapter members!

Jessica Andrews
Public Relations Assistant
Right Coast Music

Scott Pryce Armstrong
Advocacy Inc.

Kaela Gundy
PR Associate
Allen & Gerritsen

Patty Pologruto
Director, Public Relations & Communications
Altitude Marketing

Eva Wasko
Director, Public Relations
Allen & Gerritsen

The New Rules Required to Double Your Media Placements

PRSA Philadelphia is honored to welcome renowned media relations expert, Michael Smart to the region in October! Michael’s newly overhauled version of his most popular workshop offers hundreds of intensely practical tips that will instantly boost your media and blog coverage. Join the people Michael has trained who, just in the last 12 months, have landed coverage in the NYT, WSJ, Fast Company, USA Today, and the top trade outlets and blogs in their markets.

You’ll break down pitches that failed, and why, and then compare those with dozens of winners. Be prepared to get hands-on in this workshop. You’ll be actively engaged with Michael’s examples and applying what you’re learning to your own ideas.

Michael will share:

  • The (sometimes) shocking new ways to tap online metrics to grab journalists’ attention
  • A strategy to bend time – how to meet journalists’ demands for customization within your own time constraints
  • How to nail your customized pitches without sucking up or veering into stalker-land
  • Trimming the fat – how to achieve more by writing less
  • Conquering the inbox – secrets of winning subject lines
  • Follow-up that works: the triggers you can pull to jar otherwise disengaged journalists to action
  • The stuff that used to annoy or even offend media that’s now welcomed by them

About Michael Smart:

Michael Smart is the trainer and coach that PR teams large and small turn to when they need to earn more media placements and level up their writing. He is regularly among the highest-rated speakers at the industry’s largest conferences.

Michael has placed positive stories in the Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TIME magazine, and NBC’s Todayshow. He has trained more than 9,000 PR professionals how to boost their communications results. People who have participated in his workshops have subsequently placed their own stories in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, People, CNN, and Today and national distribution on the Associated Press.

He has conducted on-site media relations training for clients from Geneva to Tokyo and ongoing personal coaching and services to many more, from Fortune 200 companies to mid-sized and smaller firms.

A former newspaper journalist, Michael has won national and regional awards for news release and feature writing. He has also taught public relations courses for five years at Brigham Young University, where he earlier earned bachelors and master’s degrees in communications with an emphasis in public relations. He enjoys adding to his list of the nation’s most underrated restaurants and exploring the mountains and national parks near his Utah home with his family.

Meet the Media: Ukee Washington, News Anchor for CBS Philly

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

Our Communications Committee sat down with Ukee Washington, News Anchor for CBS Philly. Read on to learn why he got into broadcasting and the several films he’s had the opportunity to act in.

Why did you get into broadcasting?
I got into broadcasting in 1978 during my sophomore year at the University of Richmond. My major was journalism. They didn’t have a broadcast communications major at the time, so I was allowed to work at the local television station to earn credit toward graduation. As a result of that I hosted a basketball highlight show (I played on the team) while also ending up getting the job my senior year as the weekend sports anchor for the CBS station in Richmond, WTVR! I was part-time for 10 months after I graduated while splitting time with graduate assistant coaching duties with the University of Richmond Basketball program. Then in April of 1981 got my first full-time job as sports anchor in Ft. Myers, FL at WBBH TV the NBC affiliate. I was hired in Philly in 1986!

What do you like most about anchoring the news in your hometown?
This is where I grew up and I know it like the back of my hand! And now I get to tell stories and inform people about the place that raised me. From seventh to twelfth grade, I commuted from West Philly to Dover, DE to go to middle and high school. My father taught at Delaware State University, so I was a commuter kid! Doing news, sports, weather, and entertainment in my home area is an incredible dream come true.

In the cell phone and digital age, how is TV remaining relevant?
People can get their news and entertainment from anywhere these days. The cell phone and digital age has made sure of that. But one thing phones and social media cannot deliver is emotion! Television allows the human feeling to shine through, especially when it’s needed the most. It’s more than reading information on a screen or tablet—its feeling the love, sadness, happiness, shock, surprise, etc. in a broadcasters presentation. If you want news quickly, social media can do that. But if you want it from the heart. from the human perspective, you know where to go!

You’ve had a long career and have seen many changes in the TV industry – what is your secret to longevity?
My secrets are enjoying what I do, having faith in God, and knowing I can possibly influence other lives. The saying goes, if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life! When I look at it that way, I have been on vacation for almost 40 years now!

If you weren’t a TV anchor, what would you be?
If I wasn’t in TV, I’d maybe be an actor? I love that medium as well, but bit parts are my thing. I’ve been blessed to be in several films where I play a newscaster! A stretch, I know, but somebody has to do it!

You were a member of the famous Philadelphia Boys Choir. Do you sing at home? What’s your favorite type of music?
I helped start the original choir in 1968 when I was 10 years old with 59 of my closest friends. The choir has had a 51-year history of goodwill now and I’m so honored to still be part of it. I still sing with them on special occasions. I’ll sing just about anywhere, anytime—even on air! I love all music.

You’re a second cousin of actor Denzel Washington, and you’ve been in at least four movies and some TV shows. Any appearances coming up?
I’ve been blessed to have been in 7 or 8 films thus far, one of which was with Denzel in his remake of The Manchurian Candidate (once again, I played a newscaster). I have another M. Night Shyamalan project coming up and I believe its planned for September on the Apple TV network. I’m honored to have my co-anchor Jessica working alongside me in this one as well!

What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
I enjoy doing absolutely nothing! Beyond that, I love to go to movies with my wife and play golf with anyone who will play with me.

What advice do you have for public relations folks? How can they better help reporters?
I would hope that PR folks and reporters are able to establish a strong bond of communication and trust. Oftentimes signals get crossed and opportunities are missed, but when everyone makes a conscious effort to be on the same page, both sides seem to benefit.

PRSA Ethics Month Activities

Sept. 18 (1:00PM, EDT), Twitter chat: Legal and Ethical Dimensions: Using online data for Public Relations Strategies: Join the discussion at #PREthics

Sept. 19 (9:00PM, EDT), Twitter chat: PR Licensing—-“Enhancing the Profession”: Join the discussion at #PREthics

Sept. 24 (7:00PM, EDT), Twitter chat: Fighting for ethical integrity in time of fake news, misinformation & disinformation: Join the discussion at #PREthics

Sept. 26 (12:00 Noon, EDT), Webinar: Social Media, The Law and Public Relations Practice: Cayce Myers, Ph.D., LL.M., J.D., APR examines the major legal trends affecting the practice of public relations and digital communication, including social media policy making, regulations of social media promotions and ownership of social media content. Myers is an Associate Professor in Virginia Tech’s Department of Communication where he teaches public relations and currently serves as the Legal Research Editor for the Institute for Public Relations.