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Philly Chapter 70th Anniversary  PRSA Philly

News / Articles

November 2022

PRSA Board | Published on 11/23/2022
Nov-Dec 2022 PRSA Philly Chapter Chat

President's Letter
by Michele Besso

“Gratitude can be powerful, meaningful and contagious for those expressing it – and for those receiving it.”

November typically kicks off the season of gratitude as we gather around the Thanksgiving table. For some, expressing gratitude – showing people around you that they are appreciated – is an effort that continues after Thanksgiving, according to a recent article in PRSA’s Strategies & Tactics newsletter.

But that doesn’t always happen, although it would be nice if it did. What if cultivating a positive environment of gratitude carried over into the workplace? It could be an extension of what you’re hopefully already doing to show your co-workers that you appreciate them.

In the spirit of November being “National Gratitude Month,” there are several ways you can show your co-workers and others you serve with that you appreciate them, the articles states, from leaving a note or token of appreciation, giving kudos for a good job and celebrating successes when they happen, offering extra time off, and incorporating gratitude exercises into meetings.

But in addition to these ideas, sometimes a simple “thank you” for a job well done can go a long way and make someone’s day.

As we approach the end of the year and the end of my term as president of PRSA Philadelphia, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who took this journey of service with me over my two-year term, from TVD Associates, our ridiculously helpful chapter administrator, to our amazing Board of Directors, whose energy and ideas never ceased to amaze me. I also want to thank YOU, our PRSA membership, for attending workshops and events this year. Hopefully, you were able to get the most out of what we had to offer you as an organization, whether it was networking or learning a new skill.

I will miss being your leader, but I plan to stay involved in PRSA and offer any input/advice I can give to the new president and board.

I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you of our capstone event of the year, our annual Pepperpot Awards celebration, being held on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at The Lucy in Philadelphia. The Awards have become a long-standing tradition for Philadelphia-area PR professionals to come together and recognize their peers for the top PR work of the year. I hope you will join me in celebrating our winners, who represent excellence in our communications and public relations community.

If you haven’t already, please register for the Pepperpots today. Sponsorship opportunities are still available! Reach out to me at for more information.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and I look forward to celebrating with you all on Dec. 6!
Michele Besso
President, PRSA Philadelphia

PRSA Philly's Upcoming Events

2022 Pepperpot Awards Celebration

Tuesday, December 06, 2022, 5:30 PM until 9:00 PM
The Lucy by Cescaphe
231 S Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA  19107

Join the long-standing tradition by registering for the Annual Pepperpot Awards Celebration, just two weeks away. We will honor excellence in our communications and public relations community. The cocktail reception begins at 5:30 PM. At 6:30 PM we will move to the plated dinner, during which the winners will be announced. Don't miss the chance to hear first hand.

Member registration $140 / Non-member registration $170
*Registration includes cocktail reception, seated dinner, and open bar.
Exclusive Member PRofile:
70th Anniversary Edition
FeaturingRick Alcantara, M.A.
by Wendy Harris, SHRM-CP
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 Rick Alcantara, Principal of Rick Alcantara Consulting, Director-at-Large and past president of PRSA, Philadelphia chapter.
“PRSA has enhanced my skills, increased my network, and given me leadership opportunities. It’s also introduced me to PR pros across the country.”

Q: Why did you choose public relations as a career?
A: While working as a radio announcer, I realized that my true passion was the marketing and promotions side of the business. When the opportunity arose to take graduate courses in public relations, I took it.

Q: Who were some of your early influences in the business?
A: I was very fortunate during the early days of my PR career to have four amazing professionals advise and inspire me. All of them were past presidents of PRSA Philadelphia.

Tony Fulginiti was my first professor in the graduate PR program at Glassboro State College (now Rowan University). His breadth of knowledge and dedication to the profession inspired me to matriculate and pursue my master’s degree. To this day, I still hear his voice when I take on planning and research projects.

Rosemary Rys, now a professor at Drexel University, was my graduate internship supervisor. She recruited me to join the boards of the Public Relations Professionals of Southern New Jersey and PRSA Philadelphia. Her advice and encouragement inspired me to continuously learn and take on new challenges. Our friendship has spanned nearly three decades.

Frank Long was an inspiration to me and many others during his long, illustrious career. Frank thought big, really big, about PR opportunities. He once turned a new car into a time capsule and buried it in the grounds of the Tulsa city courthouse.

Luis Morales was the first Latino Philly chapter president and the first Latino PRSA national president. He showed me that one’s heritage should never be a barrier to success. His advice helped me navigate some big challenges during my time as chapter president.

Q: What do/did you enjoy most about working in PR?
A: I love helping clients communicate with employees, customers, and the media. I particularly love helping student practitioners prepare for a career in PR.

Q: What are some of your most memorable moments working in PR?
A: My most memorable PR moments include planning PRSA Philly’s 50th anniversary celebration, becoming president of PRSA Philly and president-elect of IABC Philly, and working with PRSSA students from around the country.

Q: Why did you join PRSA and how did it help your career?
A: I joined PRSSA while I was in grad school. Upon graduation, a transition to PRSA membership seemed natural.

PRSA has enhanced my skills, increased my network, and given me leadership opportunities. It’s also introduced me to PR pros across the country.

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced as a board member, chapter leader or national leader?
A: When I became chapter president, we were competing with other trade associations for membership and event attendance. Several of our seasoned members were not engaged in the association. And our student chapters wanted more participation from their parent chapter.

First, I recruited several former chapter presidents to serve as my advisory council. Second, I invited the heads of seven Philly-area communication associations to form the Delaware Valley Communications Leadership Council. Third, I lobbied our board of directors to switch from a nine-month event calendar to a year-round one. Finally, I invited all our PRSSA chapter presidents and advisors to tell us what they specifically needed from us.

Q: What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing PR practitioners today?
A: Two of the biggest challenges PR professionals face today are addressing misinformation and communicating effectively around DEI and social justice. PR professionals are often caught in the middle between company practices and community expectations.

Q: What is your philosophy regarding the role PR plays in shaping a company’s brand and culture?
A: My philosophy is one that I learned in grad school – communicators should act as information conduits for their organization and as the conscience of the company. They should communicate company information in a timely, open, concise, honest, and relevant fashion. They should also listen to the voices of employees, customers, media, and others and advise senior leadership on what they are hearing.

Q: Who do you admire in the PR field?
A: I admire PR professionals like Ken Jacobs, Rob Beisenbach, J.W. Arnold, and others who struck out on their own and created very successful niche businesses.

Q: What message do you have for young people considering a career in PR?
A: When I chat with student practitioners, I advise them to take business courses, enroll in PRSA/PRSSA, expand their network, and take more than one internship.

Q: If you could have changed one thing in your career, what would it be?
A: Get paid for all my volunteer work. I’d be a very rich man today.

WOW. Everything is bigger in Texas. I recently returned from the PRSA International Conference. I started my time at the Gaylord Texan, in Grapevine, Texas, just outside of Dallas, at the Leadership Rally. This is where chapters from across the country come together to share and exchange ideas, plus learn how to lead a chapter or lead a district. Next was Assembly, where delegates from across the country came together to vote on the bylaws and the national leadership for the following year. The Public Relations Association of America is strong, with 8,500 members! Cayce Meyers, from the Blue Ridge Chapter in Virginia, was elected to serve for the Mid-Atlantic District on the national board.

The Mid-Atlantic District comprises nine chapters in the area, including Delaware, Central PA, Maryland, National/Capitol, Richmond, Chesapeake, VA, Blue Ridge, and Hampton Roads. I helped plan a Mid-Atlantic Chapter Happy Hour. Thanks to the help of the Whova app, where all things ICON were found, we could easily plan a meet-up event. We had over 30 people attend. It was great to have Philly chapter members Alen Beljin, Blair Kahora Cardinal (past president), Stacey Hajdak, APR, Mike Gross, APR (past president) Rick Buck (current board member), and others. We had a fabulous time coming together in Texas.

We look forward to replicating a meet-up in the greater Philadelphia area soon.

From left: Blair Kahora Cardinal, Mike Gross, APR, Stephanie Byrwa, and Rick Buck

The conference had several great speakers; one of my favorite sessions was about user-generated content and reminding us that social media is a place to be social and interact with your users. I learned about new apps such as Yoodli, a communication coach to help you become a better speaker; think Grammarly but for speeches.

The keynote programming was terrific to listen to, and I feel inspired. To review a recap, here are the links:
Marlee Matlin on Learning to Dream Big
Katty Kay on the Key to Confidence
NFL Great Emmitt Smith on Success on and off the Field
How DE&I Helps Optimize Talent and Build Teams for the U.S. Military

I highly recommend looking to attend in the future. ICON 2023 will be in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Gaylord. If you are interested in learning more about the programming offered by PRSA, visit:
2023 Programming Survey

Let us know what events you would like to see next year!

Our Programming Committee is planning our 2023 events schedule.
We would love your input! Where would you like to see our events take place?
What topics are of interest to you?  We appreciate your feedback.

Timely Announcements

2022 Pepperpot Awards
Invest in You

PRSA Professional Development Webinars

New Rules for Earned Media in 2023
Dec. 1, 2022, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Even in the face of shrinking newsrooms and overworked journalists, some PR pros are landing more than their share of coverage. Join this webinar to learn from the pitches that landed the top trade publications and blogs in their industries.

Categories: Media Relations


PRSA IPA Business Building Webinar: Annual "Going Indie" Panel
Dec. 7, 2022, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

This highly rated, monthly webinar series is designed specifically for independent professionals. It features a variety of topics and speakers focused on “the business of the business” to help you work ON the business not just IN it.

Categories: Leadership & Management


Diverse Dialogues: Diverse Voices in Communications
Dec. 7, 2022, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Please join for this lively discussion of panelists hosted by FINN Partners. They will share their journeys, lessons learned as well as their experiences with public relations/communications professionals and students.

Categories: Diversity & Inclusion

PRSA Storytellers: Strategic Communication Counsel During the Inaugural Year of the Biden-Harris Administration
Dec. 12, 2022, 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Join this webinar to hear Captain Patrick Evans, APR, deputy chief of information in the U.S. Navy discuss his strategic communications role at the National Security Council in the White House.

Categories: Communication Strategy, Crisis & Reputation
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For those of you who may be in the hiring position, we hope that you will 
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If you are on the job hunt yourself, check out our local chapter listings.
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