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Philly Chapter 70th Anniversary  PRSA Philly

News / Articles

July 2022

Michele Besso | Published on 7/19/2022
July 2022 PRSA Philly Chapter Chat

President's Letter
by Michele Besso

The latest issue of PRSA’s Strategies & Tactics newsletter is devoted to a topic in the workforce that is often overlooked but is as important as ever these days: mental health and well-being.

Several articles in the newsletter, which is free to PRSA members, focus on work-life balance, time management and wellness. As editor John Elsasser said, “Little did we know (in the face of the pandemic) how quickly the lines would blur between our work and home lives, leading to longer hours and difficulties establishing boundaries while trying to compartmentalize stress.”

Some tips for fighting burnout with balance include incorporating regular exercise, investing in self-care and taking a look at your career trajectory, if you feel like the demands of your current position are causing you stress. PRSA Philadelphia offers a job bank every Friday and PRSA national includes information on a wide swath of job types and career paths as well.

There are so many perks to being a PRSA member, including access to this newsletter and the website with a plethora of tips and tricks for being more productive and fulfilled at work.

It’s hard to believe summer is almost half over! Here at PRSA Philadelphia, we are committed to providing interesting and fun programming all summer long, including an upcoming August happy hour in New Jersey! New Jersey members – you asked us to have an event in your neck of the woods, and we listened and gave you what you wanted. Now, we hope you will REGISTER (please!) and come out and celebrate the summer with us!

Here’s to a wonderful rest of the month. I hope you get some rest and relaxation this summer, whether it’s a Caribbean vacation, a trip down to the local beaches or even just curling up in bed with a good book. Take care of you!

Michele Besso
President, PRSA Philadelphia

Exclusive Member PRofile:
70th Anniversary Edition
Featuring: Luis W. Morales, APR
by Rick Alcantara, M.A.
In celebration of the 70th Anniversary of PRSA Philadelphia, over the next few months the
newsletter will feature several leaders and members of the organization to share their insights about the PR field, moments from their careers, challenges they’ve faced, and advice they have for the next generation of PR professionals.
This month, we provide a Q&A with Luis W. Morales, APR, Fellow PRSA. Luis joined the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) in 1972.  He became Accredited (APR) in 1973 and a Fellow in 2001.  He has served PRSA in many capacities, including president of its Philadelphia Chapter in 1985, National Director, and National President in 1996.

What inspired you to join PRSA?

I joined PRSA in the early 70s. I worked for Robert Morris Associates then and started their public relations program. I was never formally trained in PR, so I joined PRSA because I thought it could help expand my knowledge. It was exactly what I needed.

You were in PRSA for a long time. What were the greatest benefits you received from being part of the organization?
One benefit was associating with people who knew more about public relations than I did – at the national and local level. Philadelphia was a very active chapter.  It had a thorough APR education program.  I took the course and later took the exam. The rest is history.

How did you get into chapter leadership and then national leadership?
Anne Klein.  She was Chapter president and at Girard Bank, and I was with a bank trade association. Therefore, she figured that I should know something about finance.  She called me one day and said, “Luis, we need a treasurer.”  I accepted, and that started my PRSA career!
I became chapter president in 1985, later elected to the national board, and elected national president for 1996.  I enjoyed every minute of it.  If I could do it all over, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Because of technology, social media, and the immediacy of communications, do you think PR professionals are facing bigger challenges now than they did 30 years ago?
I do.  I think one of the biggest challenges for public relations professionals today is reputation management.  You must constantly work on company/client reputations and build reservoirs of goodwill for them.  So, if something adverse happens to them, you may be able to tap the reservoirs.

One of my grad school professors said that the number one role of a public relations person is to be the conscience of the organization. Do you agree?
Absolutely.  Trying to keep leaders on the right track is not always possible. They don’t always take our advice, but at least we are there to give advice. It’s up to the public relations person to earn the respect and trust of senior management.  If you do, they will at least listen.

You served as both the Philly PRSA chapter president and the PRSA national president. What are some of your fondest memories and greatest accomplishments from those years?
I was proud that we were able to win our first Chapter Banner Award from national PRSA. The award recognized excellence at the chapter level.
At the national level, we developed programs that would earn more income.  We started the monthly newsletter which eventually became Strategies & Tactics. We reached out to minorities, especially the Latino community.  I had contacts with many PRSA members in Puerto Rico.  They were also members of a large, local PR association.  I started negotiations that later had the association become an affiliate of PRSA.

Being a chapter leader is a big commitment. Certainly, being a national leader creates a bigger drag on your time. So, why would anyone want to heed the call?
Volunteering can be extremely rewarding – making new contacts, learning new skills, and contributing to the organization.

You were the first Hispanic national president. What challenges did you face?
I really didn’t face any difficulties.  I’ve always been able to fit in and earn the respect of persons with whom I’ve associated.
Sadly, Hispanics are still underrepresented in the public relations profession and in PRSA.

What advice would you give a young person looking to break into a public relations career?
Get started early.  If there is a student PRSSA chapter on campus join it and get involved.  Also volunteer.  After you graduate, join PRSA, IABC, or PPRA and get involved.
Second, learn about business. When you are in an organization, they expect you to know how to contribute to the bottom line. You must know the business’ challenges and how you can contribute to its financial success.
Third, take an accounting course so you can read an annual report and see how the business is doing.  In many cases, you may be asked to create the annual report!
Finally, always be willing to stretch yourself and accept greater responsibilities.

Are the expectations for PR pros more today than they were in the 70s?
I think there is more appreciation for public relations today.  And the demands on PR pros are greater today because of the instantaneous nature of communications.  In a second, a statement by anyone can go around the world.  PR professionals must be prepared for that. Remember the “reservoir.”  Also, dealing with the media is different today. It’s much more impersonal but no less important.

If you could change one thing in the PR profession, what would it be?
I would love to enhance the value of the APR designation among members and the public. PRSA has wrestled with this for years. When a person achieves the APR, they have reached a milestone. It means that you have at least the basic knowledge to be a successful public relations practitioner.
The public doesn’t understand what public relations is.  I would love to see the public become more educated about what we do. That would take a national effort.

Luis W. Morales, APR, Fellow PRSA
19 West Golf Club Lane
Paoli, PA  19301
(610) 647-4870(H)
(610) 647-7198(B)

Luis started his business career in 1963 after serving for three years as a Marine Corps officer.  In 1996, he took early retirement from Robert Morris Associates (now just RMA), a Philadelphia-based trade association of banks.  Luis was with RMA for nearly 27 years where he was Director of the Marketing and Communications Unit.  He was responsible for its public relations and publishing activities and for generating half of RMA’s annual revenue budget, which in 1996 was $16 million.

Luis’ wife Maria is a noted Chester County, Pa., artist.  They are avid collectors of North and South American Indian art and crafts.   Since retirement, Luis has become a noted dealer of American Indian art and collectibles, appearing in several shows in the area each year.
How’s your 2022 going? 
Any of your work Pepperpot-worthy?

by Michael Wood, MBA

In recent issues of PRSA Philly Chapter Chat, we have put the spotlight on some of the 2021 Pepperpot winners, what made their campaigns or projects exceptional, and lessons learned relevant for any of us.

The recent Pepperpot winners also described how much the award meant to them and their teams, a validation of the quality of PR professionalism, a source of pride, and a reputation boost with their colleagues and peers. And a fun night to celebrate, too.

Plenty of companies, large and small, universities, agencies, and non-profits are making a difference with stellar PR programs. Soon, it can be your turn to display your best work for the 2022 Pepperpots!

As you enjoy a summertime break, it’s a perfect time to be thinking of award-worthy work you’ve been doing, maybe a creative campaign your team executed that achieved solid results for your organization. There are Pepperpot award categories for everyone -- specific tactics, campaigns, and individuals who help advance the profession, demonstrate a commitment to education or excellence in writing.

Winning entries are not just ordinary or typical for a particular category, but those which are original, creative, innovative, and meet a high standard. Successful entries will articulate how research informed thorough planning with clear objectives, impressive execution, as well as quantitative and/or qualitative results. Consider PR strategic elements: research, planning, execution, and evaluation.

We will share more information about preparing entries next month.

In the meantime, here’s a list of Pepperpot categories to get you thinking:

Campaigns:  Community Relations, Crisis Communications or Issues Management, Development or Fundraising; Influencer Programs, Internal/Employee Communications, Integrated Communications, Marketing Communications, Media Relations, Multicultural Communications, Public Affairs, Public Service, Reputation/Brand Management, Social Media, Special Events & Observances, and Shoestring Budget Campaigns.

Tactics:  Annual Reports, Audio-Visual Programs, Brochures, Content Marketing, Editorial/Op-Ed, Executive Communications, Feature Stories, Magazines, Mobile App, Newsletters, Research, Social Media Platform, and Website.

Coming together as PRSA Philly is a chance to highlight and celebrate outstanding work being done in our region. Take time in the weeks ahead and consider how you can participate.

(We look forward to continuing the 2021 Pepperpot winner spotlight series in the coming months, too.)
PRSA Philly's Upcoming Events


Eat, Drink & Mingle: July Happy Hour - CANCELED
Thursday, July 21, 6:30 PM

Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar (King of Prussia, PA)
250 Main Street
King of Prussia, PA  19046

Eat, drink and mingle with other PR and MarComm professionals from the Philadelphia area. Join us at Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar in King of Prussia for our first Summer Happy Hour, where you can make new connections. Everyone attending will have a chance to win a free year membership to PRSA Philadelphia, along with other raffle items!

Price includes food and one drink. Additional drinks may be purchased during the event.


Eat, Drink & Mingle: August Happy Hour
Wednesday, August 27, 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Bonesaw Brewing Company (Glassboro, NJ)
570 Mullica Hill Road
Glassboro, NJ

Eat, drink and mingle with other PR and MarComm professionals from the Philadelphia area. Join us at Bonesaw Brewing Co. in Glassboro, NJ for our second Summer Happy Hour, where you can make new connections. Everyone attending will have a chance to win a free year membership to PRSA Philadelphia, along with other raffle items!

Price includes food and one drink. Additional drinks may purchase during the event.


Save the Date: 70th Anniversary of PRSA Philadelphia with Felicia Blow, PhD, APR
Tuesday, September 20, 2022, 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Rodeph Shalom
615 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA  19123


Join the PRSA Philadelphia Chapter as we kick-off our 70th anniversary with a luncheon with our speaker and national president, Felicia Blow, PhD, APR.

*More information and registration coming soon.

About our Speaker
Dr. Felicia Blow, APR, is an award-winning leader with extensive organizational, fundraising, strategic planning, leadership and management experience. With a 30-year career spanning work in manufacturing (Caterpillar, Inc.); waste management and environmental services (Southeastern Public Service Authority); telecommunications (Cox Communications); and higher education (Paul D. Camp and Tidewater Community Colleges), Dr. Blow currently serves as Associate Vice President for Development at the renowned historically black institution Hampton University.

At Hampton, Dr. Blow led the university’s $150 Million Dream No Small Dreams II Campaign as its campaign director. That campaign concluded in December 2019 and ultimately exceeded its goal, raising more than $166 million in support of university priorities. Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Blow has been featured in the book “Diverse Voices,” published by the PRSA Foundation in 2018. She has also been featured in “PR Women with Influence: Breaking through the Ethical and Leadership Challenges” by authors Juan Meng and Marlene S. Neill, published in late 2020.

Dr. Blow has taken on several leadership roles within PRSA over the years. Prior to serving as chair, she served as chair-elect in 2021 and senior counsel to the 2018 and 2019 PRSA Board of Directors. From 2013-2014, Dr. Blow served as a PRSA Board of Directors member representing the Mid-Atlantic District.

Beginning in 2019, Dr. Blow led a nearly year-long strategic planning effort that concluded in the establishment of PRSA’s first three-year strategic plan for Diversity & Inclusion, serving as co-chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee in 2020. Dr. Blow formerly served as chair of the Universal Accreditation Board, during which she worked to approve and initiate the APR+M credential, which positions PRSA with military organizations. In 2000, she was president of the PRSA Hampton Roads Virginia Chapter, the first African American female to be elected to that role.

Dr. Blow is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and numerous other business, economic development, and community service organizations. She earned her bachelor’s degree in mass media arts from Hampton University; her master’s in business administration from Strayer University; and her doctorate in higher education administration from Old Dominion University. In 2012, Strayer University named Dr. Blow its Outstanding Alumna of the Year.


Timely Announcements

Coupon codes:

  • Use code PHILLY30 for $30 off chapter dues for returning PRSA Philly members who also need to register for a PRSA National membership
  • Use code PHILLY20 for $20 off chapter dues for new PRSA Philly members who also need to register for a PRSA National membership
  • Use code PHILLY2022 for $30 off chapter dues for those with an existing National membership
* You must be a PRSA National member to join the chapter.
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.
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.
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