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March 2021

Published on 3/26/2021

Happy (almost) spring everyone! As the temperature starts to heat up, we’re ramping up our terrific programming! Our next event will be held tomorrow night, March 9 -- The First Amendment and its Role in Journalism: A Deep Dive with The New York Times Leading Newsroom Attorney David McCraw.

In partnership with Temple University’s PRSSA, the event is FREE for PRSA and PRSSA members and only $15 for non-members. During his conversation, David will speak about the role of the First Amendment in journalism and what is and is not protected under this amendment. We really hope to see you there! Spread the word to your friends and colleagues!

There are many exciting programs and networking events planned through the summer. Now is the time to get together with like-minded public relations professionals to learn as well as exchange ideas. Whether virtually or (hopefully) in person in the future, we encourage you to participate in all that PRSA has to offer (which is a lot!). You can find information about all of our events here.

Membership has its perks – not only do you receive access to great programming, including many free events, but you also have access to PRSA’s job bank, live and on-demand webinars, and insightful industry publications. Of course, there’s also the Philadelphia chapter’s annual Pepperpot Awards, a long-
standing tradition for Philadelphia-area PR professionals to join in recognizing the top PR campaigns,
tactics and professionals.

If you haven’t been to an event yet, I strongly encourage you to join us! Feel free to reach out to me
with any questions at or I’d love to hear from you!

Michele Besso
President, PRSA Philadelphia

Upcoming Philly PRSA Events

March 9, 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
The First Amendment and Its Role in Journalism with the NYT Newsroom Attorney David McCraw 

A fireside chat with David McCraw, lead attorney for The New York Times newsroom, and author of Truth in Our Times: Inside the Fight for Press Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts.
FREE for PRSA / PRSSA Members | $15 non-member

April 13, 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Diversity in the Newsroom with The Philadelphia Tribune’s Interim City Editor Sharyn Flanagan
Sharyn Flanagan, Interim City Editor at The Philadelphia Tribune, will delve into best practices for creating a diverse and inclusive newsroom and share her experiences from her time at The Associated Press and USA Today.
FREE for Members | $10 non-member

April 29, 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Join Philly PRSA for a virtual beer tasting with Yards Brewing Company. Attendees will have the opportunity to taste four different beers and hear from the founder of Yards about the company’s product development processes, how marketing/communications decisions are made, and learn more about the founding of the company and the beer. Tickets are limited and available to Members only. Tasting kits are included and will be available for pick up at the Yards Brewery (500 Spring Garden St. Philadelphia).
$5 Members Only

May 10, 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. 
Building Resilience in the Workplace and During the Job Hunt
In this challenging environment, it’s difficult to feel motivated and connected; however, there are techniques that can help you build resilience in the workplace, whether remote or in person, and during the job hunt. Learn more about building resiliency with Dr. Michael Gotlib, Psy. D., Clinical Psychologist and Organizational Wellness Facilitator. 
FREE for Members | $5 non-member
Is Healthcare PR for You?
by John F. Kouten, CEO | JFK Communications, Inc.

Interested in pursuing a career in healthcare PR?
As a 30+ year healthcare PR veteran, I have never regretted my decision to work in this field. Below, I share several key considerations for anyone interested in this exciting and dynamic PR discipline. I've also outlined the major healthcare segments where you may choose to work.

Hospital/Healthcare systems
Healthcare systems, community hospitals, and academic hospitals all require public relations support. These organizations are generally considered to be non-profit organizations and include extensive employee communication requirements.
Pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostics, and medical technology companies offer a plethora of opportunities for PR professionals. The biggest areas of opportunity inside these organizations include corporate and product public relations.
There are numerous organizations that provide education, advocacy and support to patients. Similarly, there are many non-profit associations that provide support to a myriad of healthcare professionals, such as surgeons, neurologists, psychiatrists and oncologists, among others.
For the PR professional interested in helping change healthcare policy, the opportunities are countless.  There are numerous possible jobs in Washington, DC, at the state level and in global healthcare non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
If you know healthcare PR is for you, but you are not sure what area to pursue, then, perhaps an agency job is your best choice. Most of the large, global PR firms have various PR teams that approach healthcare PR from various disciplines. Once you have paid your dues on the agency side then you seek opportunities in the areas that interest you most.
Based on my experience, it is easier to start in healthcare than it is transition into healthcare mid-career.
Anyone interested in a career in healthcare PR can be confident that they will never be bored, and professionals are always in demand. The global population is not getting any younger. And, as populations age, the demand for better healthcare services become more important. These increasing needs position healthcare PR as a discipline with stability and comparatively higher compensation.
To learn more about Healthcare PR, a wealth of information can be obtained by joining PRSA and the PRSA Health Academy.
John F. Kouten is the founder of JFK Communications, Inc., a life science-focused PR agency.  Mr. Kouten has been an active PRSA members since 1990 and is a Philly PRSA board member and past chapter president.  John’s career also included stints at large and small NYC healthcare PR agencies, as well as PR positions of increasing responsibility at Sanofi, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson.

Meet the Board: Director-At-Large: Rick Buck
by Brittany Eifert


What is your job title and what are your responsibilities?
I am the Senior Director of Communications and Public Relations for the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). The AACR is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure all cancers, with more than 48,000 researchers, scientists, health care professionals, and patient advocates residing in 127 countries.  At the AACR, I manage a great team of 19 communications and PR professionals, including a staff that produces a quarterly magazine, Cancer Today, for cancer patients and advocates and our awareness and donor publication, Leading Discoveries. Our department is responsible for public relations, social media, website development and content creation, branding, and communications and PR support for our meetings, journals, government relations, the AACR Foundation, and executive communications. 

How has the current pandemic affected the way you perform your day-to-day work tasks? 
Besides the obvious that has impacted all PR and communications professionals, such as being on Zoom, Teams and/or Skype most of the day, the pandemic has greatly impacted day-to day tasks, including media relations and management of staff. 

Each year, the AACR holds its Annual Meeting in April in a different city. I call it our “Super Bowl” for the organization and the Communications and PR Department.  The meeting, when in person, brings together more than 23,000 of the greatest minds in cancer research and the cancer community, and sets the stage for the cancer research agenda for the coming year with presentations and posters of the latest breakthroughs and lifesaving discoveries in research. My team and I are responsible for  managing all press operations for the meeting, including running a press room of more than 120 consumer and trade journalists from around the world and three days of press conferences on the hottest cancer research from the meeting. A year ago in March, we were in initial plans for our Annual Meeting planned for San Diego in April but we had to quickly pivot to a virtual press conference when our meeting was terminated due to the pandemic, and became an all virtual meeting. With much planning and preparation among our stellar PR team and working very closely with our online platform vendor, the virtual press event was a great success with more than 80 reporters that generated more than 3,000 media clips from the meeting. It was gratifying to receive positive feedback from the journalists about the virtual press conference and press program. We held a few other virtual press events and media interviews throughout 2020. As “seasoned veterans” of virtual press events, we are getting ready for our next Annual Meeting virtual press conference on April 9th. 

How did you first become involved in PRSA?
When I began my PR career many years ago, I was looking for ways to grow, learn and make great connections so I signed up to become a PRSA and Philly PRSA Chapter member. I made many good contacts and friends within the chapter who I still keep in touch with today.  I also joined the PRSA Health Academy where I also served as the Section Chair.

What influenced you to become director-at-large for PRSA Philly?
The Chapter plays an important role in providing professional development, networking, and learning opportunities for communications and PR professionals. With being part of PRSA Philadelphia since first starting my career and utilizing the many benefits from membership, I wanted to give back to the Chapter and the PR profession. I hope by using my years of experience that I can help make a difference in some small way, such as mentoring young PR professionals or contributing to the Chapter’s growth through sponsorships and recruiting new members.

What advice do you have for potential members interested in joining PRSA?
Just join! My motto is “relationships are key to success”. This is so very true in the PR profession, especially with your colleague and journalist networks. PRSA connects you to more than 21,000 professionals and 400 PRSA Philly contacts locally here in the region. Once you join, get involved! Your membership is only as good as you make it. Join a Professional Interest Section, attend an online workshop or conference, ask questions in the online forum or submit your work for the Pepperpot Awards! These are just a few ways to engage. I also encourage all PR department and PR agency heads to sign up your teams to join PRSA Philadelphia. As part of my budget, I have been doing this for years with my PR team members as part of providing professional growth opportunities for them and showcasing their work with earning Pepperpot awards. 

Love your PRSA Membership? Encourage a friend or colleague to join today!
Learn more here
Resources and Events Available to Members
Visit the PRSA National Professional Development page to see the latest webinars and workshops available to members. Coming up soon:

So You Want to Go Independent? COVID Edition
Live March 12, 2021 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Have you ever dreamed of owning your own business?  Or perhaps COVID has unexpectedly  forced you down the road to self-employment.  Whether by choice or force, the journey to becoming an “indie” can be very rewarding.  Join us in this interactive webinar to hear from an expanded panel of IPA members who have navigated this uncharted territory and overcome obstacles to build successful businesses.

How It Started and How It’s Going. We Made It Through 2020... Now What’s Next in 2021?!
Live March 17, 2021 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The COVID-19 pandemic, social justice issues and a new presidential administration continues to change the communications forefront and how we connect with internal and external audiences. Our panel of experts will discuss what we have learned from 2020, the communications issues and themes we can expect to see trending throughout 2021, and how communicators can continue to provide value and sound counsel to their organizations.
PRSA Job Board
For those of you who may be in the hiring position, we hope that you will 
submit your openings as they become available so we can share them with our
community of PR and communications professionals.
If you are on the job hunt yourself, check out our local chapter listings.
We also encourage you to visit the PRSA National job board.