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March 2022

Published on 3/15/2022

President's Letter
by Michele Besso

As we spring forward with the change of time, the days are longer and brighter!  Winter may be going out like a lion, but there is no doubt that spring is in the air. It’s a time of hope and new beginnings as winter lets go and the warmth of the new season makes way for growth.

We are each responsible for our own growth. We are also life-long learners as members of PRSA. The resources are endless when it comes to expanding our horizons. From local and regional webinars, and soon-to-be more in person gatherings, we are always eager to learn best practices. This month marks the start of the 75th Anniversary of PRSA National and we are approaching our chapter’s 70th Anniversary as well. We are proud to celebrate our organization’s longstanding commitment to this ever-changing profession! Together, let’s open our minds and our hearts as we celebrate our rich history, as well as look to the future.

During this milestone time, I ask each of you to encourage your colleagues to join PRSA and become an active member. As active members, our chapter needs your help and expertise to grow. Please get involved and pave the way for those who will follow and continue our legacy.  There is something for everyone: consider joining a committee where you can make a difference. Participate or present at events or webinars, and if you are ready to take your knowledge as a public relations practitioner to the next level, prep for the APR. There is no better time than now to take actions to meet your professional goals. In this issue, please check out all the opportunities presented. 

Some upcoming programs (scroll to PRSA Philly’s Upcoming Events section for more info):

April 12 – Advance Your Career with an APR
April 27 – First in-person networking event at Victory Brewing! (More info to come soon)
May 12 – Flip the Script with Chelsea Austin

We are continually faced with change, and it is the consistency we know these days. As we go about our business, let us not forget those who are in need, especially those who are in crisis like Ukraine and those who are coming to their aid. Please take a moment to read the article that was shared by PRSA National last week on how you can help.

In closing, March is Women’s History Month. Reach out to your fellow PRSA sisters and thank them for their commitment to our profession. 

As always, I am available to answer any questions you may have, or to connect you with our amazing members. Email me at It takes all of us to have a vibrant and successful chapter.

I’m looking forward to seeing you in person or on zoom. Bring friends -- the more the merrier! Thank you for being a member of the Philadelphia chapter!

President, PRSA Philadelphia

Exclusive Member PRofile
FeaturingAlen Beljin


Workplace and title: Public Relations Manager, Penske Transportation Solutions. We are best known for our Penske Truck Rental, Penske Truck Leasing and Penske Logistics product lines. I manage global external communications and corporate thought leadership as a company publicist and spokesperson. I have been with the company since 2006.
Why I Joined PRSA: PRSA is a great organization to be a part of. I value the information delivered through webinars, email newsletters and in-person conferences. This year, I joined the executive committee of the PRSA National Corporate Communications section. While I work in the transportation industry, I personally identify as a public relations professional, and being a part of PRSA helps me remain connected to the profession. 
Hobbies and Special Interests: I enjoy good food and drinks in the western suburbs (which doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive), live sporting events and cheering on the Penn State football team.
If I could trade my profession for any other in the world, it would be: I might have to leave public relations if my hometown New York Yankees ever recruited me to be their team president. I know this will never happen, but it would be fun. As a kid growing up in Queens, New York, I loved all things baseball, and most importantly the New York Yankees. I would read all about big-league teams and checked out every baseball book I could find in a library. These days, I enjoy watching minor league and major league games in-person across the region.

Insight from a PRSA Pepperpot Awards Winner
by Michael Wood, MBA

In the second of our series spotlighting the PRSA Philly chapter 2021 Pepperpot winners, congratulations to the team at the Gift of Life Donor Program, led by Randy Presant, vice president of Public Affairs!  Gift of Life is one of 57 organ procurement organizations, or OPOs, and one of the largest in the U.S., operating in eastern Pennsylvania, southern N.J., and Delaware.

Gift of Life won Pepperpot awards for Executive Communications, Community Relations, and a Shoestring Budget Campaign, along with a runner-up Ladle prize for Public Service for an educational program for patients on the transplant waitlist. The winning team includes Dwendy Johnson, Todd Franzen and Kelly Antczak in community relations and Karen Muldoon Geus and Kimberly Kerr for communications.

From left, Dwendy Johnson, Randy Presant and Todd Franzen pose for a photo with one of Gift of Life's several awards at the 2021 Pepperpot Awards event in December.
1. Describe the mission you are supporting with your PR efforts?
The Gift of Life Donor Program advocates on behalf of more than 5,000 children and adults in our region who are waiting for a life-saving transplant. Our team consists of communications, community relations, and family support services, and everyone works closely together.

We tell the stories of the families who make this incredible gift (organ and tissue donation), the stories of the people who get a second chance at life, and how to support those waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. We believe in the power of communication, the power of the media, and the power of stories. We know every donor can save up to eight lives, and that their stories will inspire others to register as organ donors.

2. With multiple awards, what do you feel is the value of participating in the Pepperpot Awards?
It is incredible recognition for our strong and dedicated team that lives our mission every day, who put their heart and soul, creativity and talent into their work. Despite all the challenges, their focus and commitment made 2021 a great year.

And we believe in the power of PRSA. More than winning awards, the Pepperpots are a venue for us to share our mission and moving stories with an audience of influencers. We are always looking to raise awareness, to educate, build trust, and to address any misconceptions about organ donation. Twenty people die every day waiting for an organ transplant. Every year, we’re always looking to do better, to challenge ourselves to continuously improve with more media hits, increasing our media impressions, getting more people registered as donors, and enabling more organ transplants.

3. Tell us about your Executive Communications award-winning effort. It was titled, “A Valedictory Speech for a Genuinely Wonderful Life” about our CEO Howard Nathan’s commencement speeches to the 2021 and 2020 graduates of Juniata College, where he is an active alum. Juniata planned to honor Howard, and we immediately recognized the opportunity it presented. With graduation season around the country, we set a goal to amplify his remarks to position Howard as a key thought leader and international ambassador for organ donation. Before retiring earlier this year, Howard served as our CEO for 38 years and was a leader in building the national system for organ donation and transplantation. He truly was visionary and changed the world, saving tens of thousands of lives here in our region alone. Under his leadership, Gift of Life led the nation for 14 consecutive years by having the most organ donors of any other OPO.

This was a unique opportunity to share Howard’s amazing story with a complete public relations strategy to reach a large audience via local and prominent national media, as well as our peer organizations.

We wanted to inspire the college students with a story about how individuals can change the world and make a difference. We also wanted to make organ donation relatable to the students, so to introduce Howard’s speech, we identified a young woman who received a liver transplant as an infant, a recipient who he has known her whole life. With a dedicated web site, recordings of the speech, social media, and media outreach, the success exceeded our own ambitious goals. Howard’s speech was even featured alongside President Biden in USA Today and reached an audience of more than eight million.

4. Tell us about your Shoestring Budget campaign.
Briefly, we constantly look for ways to educate people and encourage them to say YES to organ donation. One of our most important target audiences is young adults as they come of age. Our community relations team strategized a way to reach people aged 18 to 24 by partnering with college campus organizations and sponsored a College Challenge/Students Save Lives competition. The participants created grassroots campaigns to engage their peers and register as many students, faculty, and community members as they could as organ and tissue donors. Participating groups included PRSSA chapters, nursing clubs, marketing clubs and others. We provided campaign resources and cash prizes for the most creative campaign and most registered donors.

We felt it was a great hands-on experience, and it was exciting to see what the schools could do, despite the challenges of COVID. Susquehanna University won first prize. Susquehanna and Drexel University went on to win national PRSSA awards, too. Arcadia University followed in second and DeSales University in third. The College Challenge was a strong success, and our involvement with area schools has only grown this year.

5. What are the lessons for your team and for your PRSA peers from your winning initiatives?
First, the importance of working together in an integrated way. We really believe in integrated marketing communications – whether it is writing and prepping for a speech, producing and promoting an event, or developing resources for the community - with everyone working hand in hand.

Second, you don’t want to be the only ones telling the story. We recognize the power of other voices carrying our message, especially those whose lives have been changed by donation and transplantation. In our College Challenge and the commencement speech with our CEO Howard Nathan, we wanted to inspire young people with stories about how they could make a difference and turn them into influencers.

With our College Challenge, constant communication was key to building relationships with our college partners throughout the competition. Even better, we established relationships that will yield positive results for years.

Most importantly, each program we do is about our mission and our goals, and we never lose sight of that. It is critical for us to be good stewards of the gifts people make. We must be smart and strategic with how we use our resources, so we’re moving the needle and getting results.
PRSA Philly's Upcoming Events


Advance Your Career with an APR!
Tuesday, April 12, 2022, at 12:30 p.m. EDT
Looking to advance your career or position yourself as a leader? The Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential might be the lift you need! Dr. Jacob Farbman, APR, PRSA Philadelphia’s APR Chair, will share the ins and outs of what is involved and how earning this accreditation can help you!
About our Speaker
Jacob C. Farbman, Ed.D., APR, serves as the executive director of the New Jersey Center for Student Success, which supports the state’s 18 community colleges in strengthening their roles to provide economic mobility for students. The New Jersey Center for Student Success is part of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, the statewide nonprofit enshrined in state law that strengthens and supports New Jersey’s 18 community colleges.
In addition, Jacob has taught as an adjunct professor of communication studies at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in Ewing since January 2001, teaching Introduction to Communication Theory and Strategies of Public Relations. He is the recipient of the Sigma Pi fraternity Outstanding Faculty Award and the Public Relations Society of America Philadelphia Chapter’s Outstanding Public Relations Educator Award.
Jacob serves as the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) Chair for the PRSA Philadelphia Chapter, and is responsible for supporting Chapter members in their pursuits of the APR credential.

Jacob holds a doctorate in educational leadership, a master’s degree in corporate public relations and a bachelor’s degree in communication, all from Rowan University. He also holds an associate degree in communications/journalism from Salem Community College.

Victory Brewing In-Person Networking Event
Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
*More info to come soon on this event!


Flip the Script with Chelsea Austin
May 12, 2022, 12 p.m. EDT
Being a communicator can be very rewarding but, like all professions, it also comes with unique challenges.  You’re charged with delivering the right message in the right way to the right audience(s) at the right time.  As a communicator, you play a very important role; one that is not for the faint of heart. 

You’ve spent years honing your skills and abilities, so it can be frustrating when your communication counsel is questioned – or worse, ignored!  At times, it can have you second guessing your abilities and questioning your true value.  Even the most successful communication professionals occasionally hear that little inner voice wreaking havoc with their confidence and self-worth as it plays those self-doubt scripts over and over in their head. 

In this engaging and inspirational session, Chelsea will reveal her story of labels, worthiness and refusing to be boxed in, and teach us how to Flip the Script to finally realize the success we are meant to achieve!  During this program, we’ll also explore:
  • Self-doubt – it’s root causes and how to keep it from holding you back
  • The warning signs your body gives you when you’re on the verge of burnout and how to recognize them, before it’s too late
  • The true definition of success and how you can achieve it
About Our Speaker
Chelsea Austin is a writer, speaker and advocate from Malibu, California raised by two of the most incredible parents, her dads. Chelsea has taken her story of being raised by two gay men, and used it as a platform to spread love and acceptance. She has advocated for the LGBTQ+ community since she was in high school. In 2010, she was voted one of the Top Fifteen LGBT Activists in the Los Angeles area. Her upcoming book Inexplicably Me: A Story of Labels, Worthiness, and Refusing to Be Boxed In will be released April 26, 2022.
Graduating Magna Cum Laude from Muhlenberg College in 2015 with a degree in theatre and dance, Chelsea has taken her theatrical background and created a career out of sharing her experiences as the daughter of two gay men and a young woman navigating the world on her blog, “The Girl With Five Names,” her podcast, “Worthiness Warriors,” and through speaking engagements, as she prepares to release her first book about her life, her beliefs and her wish to bring peace, self-love and joy to as many individuals as possible. Home for Chelsea is in Los Angeles with her incredible husband, Dominic and sweet puppy, Moe.
Timely Announcements
 *PRSA Philly Monthly Chapter Chat Update: The monthly PRSA Philadelphia Chapter newsletter will now distribute mid-month on Tuesday around Noon starting this month. Please be sure to check your inbox for the new distribution! 
PRSA Philadelphia Celebrates 70 Years of Service!

PRSA National Celebrates 75 Years of Advancing the Profession and the Professional!
PRSA National News

Professional Development opportunities from PRSA National, including webinars, workshops, on demand training sessions, case study presentations on various industry topics, and a range of certificate programs can be found HERE.
Important Updates:
  • PRSA is hosting a timely webinar today, Tuesday, March 15 at 1 p.m. EDT on brand response and the global economic impact of the Ukraine crisis. Register here.
  • PRSA stands with the people of Ukraine and prays for a peaceful end to the conflict. Read the full statement. Explore ways to support Ukraine.
  • Be wary of disinformation and misinformation. Explore informative resources available on PRSA's Voices4Everyone website.
  • PRSA has partnered with the American Management Association (AMA) to enable PRSA members to sign up for AMA courses at the discounted AMA member rate. Learn more.
  • ICON 2022 is going to take place Nov. 13-15 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at the one-of-a-kind Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas — register now!
  • Good News: The ICON 2022 Call for Presentations has been extended until Wednesday, March 23. Raise your industry profile by sharing your insights! This year, the Conference will feature nine different Learning Tracks, including one for Health Care for the Health Academy Conference, which is being co-located with ICON 2022. Explore the CFP.
  • Affinity Groups have launched at PRSA. They are available at no charge to all members and offer you opportunities to virtually engage with fellow members to discuss mutual interests, share common goals, and build supportive networks and relationships. Learn more and sign up.
  • Find highly qualified entry-level candidates at the cost-effective PRSSA Virtual Career & Internship Fair, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, 2-5 p.m. EDT.
  • PRSA has begun commemorating its 75th Anniversary, which will culminate in PRSA Day on Jan. 17, 2023. Visit the anniversary website to learn more.

New & Noteworthy Programs:
Love your PRSA Membership? Encourage a friend or colleague to join today!
Learn more here
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.