January 2017 Print

Welcome New Members

PRSA Philly extends a warm welcome to the following new members who recently joined us:

Serena Boyd – Associate Member 
Ashley Moore 
– Associate Member 
Michelle Sweetman
– Associate Member
Michael Poiesz – Associate Member
Nicole Billingslea – Associate Member
Alexandria Wendrychowicz 
– Associate Member 
Shawn Jones
– Public Affairs Specialist, Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support
Betsy Lane – Director and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, ISPOR
Julie Genther – Marketing and Social Media Manager, Anthony Jannetti, Inc. 
Cheryl Kauffman – VP of Communications and Public Relations, Woods Services
Amber Leahy – VP Corporate Communications, TD Bank
Michael Petitti – Director, Radnor Township School District
Tuscaloosa Zygmunt – Director of Public Relations and Media, The Commonwealth Medical College

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Calendar of Events

Crisis Communications in the Attention-Deficit Age

February 02, 2017
7:45 AM to 9:30 AM

Maggiano's Cherry Hill
2000 Route 38, Suite 1180
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

Today's media consumers face more than an onslaught of fake news -- they face an epidemic of shrinking attention spans. Sixty percent of Facebook users confess to have shared posts without clicking through to the link they are sharing; this means three out of five social media users are endorsing content to which they are applying no critical thinking.  
This reality makes both social and traditional media hotbeds for reputational crises. And those organizations most successful in weathering these crises are those that recognize and prepare for the realities and immediacy of today's communication landscapes. 
While crises cannot always be prevented, they can be anticipated. In this session, attendees will learn concrete best practices in preparing for (and responding to) crises in today's insatiable, complex and nuanced world. 

Read More

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Call for 2017 Programming

We are planning the chapter’s 2017 professional development and networking events and we are seeking recommendations from YOU! Programs can include philanthropic initiatives, networking, professional development panels, speakers and workshops. If you have a suggestion for a program or speaker, please contact programming@philly.org.

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Survey for New PRSA Philly Directory

PRSA Philly is inviting members who operate independent practitioners and agencies to submit information about their offerings. The information will be used to create an online directory for individuals seeking PR recommendations and inquiring about service offerings. 

Please submit your information here: Survey Form for New PRSA Philly Directory

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2017 Board Introductions

Kimberly Nissen, President
Public Relations Manager, Siemens Healthineers

Kim Nissen is a Public Relations Manager at Siemens Healthineers where she plans, develops, implements and coordinates global media relations activities for the company's Laboratory Diagnostics and Point of Care Diagnostics product portfolios. Kim is excited to serve her second term as president and continue the chapter's strategic initiatives. She has held several PRSA Philly board positions, including president-elect, treasurer and secretary, in addition to serving on various chapter committees. She received the 2014 President’s Award for volunteerism, leadership and contributions to the chapter. Kim graduated from Rowan University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in public relations and a minor in journalism.



Rosie Braude, Vice President
Assistant Director, Office of Media & Public Relations, Rowan University

A graduate of Rowan University’s public relations bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, Rosie Braude has worked at Rowan for seven years. As the Office of Media & Public Relations assistant director, she organizes, plans and runs key University events including Rowan’s Commencement Week ceremonies; manages various projects, such as updating the University’s profiles and fact sheets, distributing mass emails through Constant Contact and iModules and collaborating on Rowan’s traditional and digital marketing efforts; maintains the University’s LinkedIn accounts and news Twitter handle; and serves as the adviser to Rowan’s yearbook. While a student, Rosie was heavily involved in Rowan’s PRSSA chapter. She currently is serving her third term as vice president of PRSA Philadelphia after two years on the chapter’s programming committee (serving as chair in 2014) where she planned professional development and networking events.



John Mullen, Treasurer
Manager, Communications Services, McCormick Taylor

John Mullen is manager of communications services at McCormick Taylor and is serving his second term as treasurer. At McCormick Taylor, John's work involves the planning and delivery of multifaceted communications and public relations programs for communities and public-sector clients across the U.S. John is a graduate of Iowa State University and the Wharton School of Business. John served as treasurer for PRSA Philadelphia for 2016.



Stephanie Byrwa, Secretary
Public Relations Manager, Shriners Hospitals for Children-Philadelphia

Stephanie Byrwa is skilled in non-profit healthcare communications. She joined Shriners Hospitals for Children-Philadelphia as an intern 10 years ago, grew her career with various opportunities and, today, is the public relations manager of the hospital. In her role, she manages hospital internal and external communications as well as event planning, fundraising and community-outreach projects. She completed her Bachelors of Arts in public relations from Rowan University, located in southern New Jersey.



Michael Gross, APR, Director-at-Large
Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Anne Klein Communications Group

Mike Gross is senior vice president and chief operating officer at Anne Klein Communications Group, where he manages and oversees client service. Mike supports the team by providing strategic planning, issues/crisis counseling and media relations. He has developed relationships with contacts at many well-respected regional and national media outlets. Mike has returned to AKCG, where he previously served five years as an account manager and vice president. Prior to returning to the firm, Mike was senior vice president of a suburban Philadelphia public relations firm where he led robust integrated communications programs for a variety of clients. Mike was responsible for maintaining client relationships and for developing new strategies for each of the firm’s clients. He served clients in the energy, pharmacy, hospitality, publishing and banking industries.

Mike has been instrumental in winning awards from the Philadelphia and New Jersey chapters of the Public Relations Society of America, and from the PRNews in the national NonProfit PR Awards competition. He led his team to win a Bronze Anvil, an esteemed national award from the Public Relations Society of America and serves as a judge for the organization’s Silver Anvil program. In 2015, Mike was selected by NJ BIZ as one the top “40 Under 40” business leaders in New Jersey. Mike is a past president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and is secretary of the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association. He also is the director of public affairs for the Civil Air Patrol’s New Jersey Wing, where he volunteers his time and expertise. Mike received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Rowan University.



Jawanza A. Keita, APR, Director-at-Large
Director of Corporate Communications, AmeriHealth Caritas

Strategist, athlete, and former journalist Jawanza A. Keita is a fearless wearer of statement colors and accent hats who believes in strategically aligning PR efforts with sound communications and business principles. Jawanza is an Accredited Public Relations (APR) professional with expertise in strategic communications, integrated marketing, multicultural community relations and crisis management. He currently is the director of corporate communications and media relations for AmeriHealth Caritas, a national leader in health care solutions for those in need. During his 12-year career at State Farm Insurance Cos., he led a team that won the National Roadway Safety Award from the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration, and he also received a Volunteer Service Award from the White House.

A veteran of PRSA since 2000, he has won chapter awards for excellence from the Central Illinois Chapter, been a multi-year Silver Anvil judge for PRSA National, an APR mentor, and a volunteer speaker. He also has been an advocate of the profession in university classrooms, in boardrooms, and as a presenter at business conferences. He holds an MS in communications management from the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Relations at Syracuse University. The former Division 1 sprinter now finds himself back in his hometown, eager to contribute to both a city that shaped his life and an organization that has enriched his career.



Kate Shields, Director-at-Large
President, Vault Communications

Kate Shields joined PRSA Philly as a director-at-large in 2015 and is currently serving the second year of her term. Kate is President of Vault Communications, one of the largest marketing communications firms in the Greater Philadelphia region. While at Vault, Kate has developed and led national and regional marketing and public relations campaigns for clients across a variety of sectors, but most notably in consumer package goods, nonprofit and retail.

Kate currently serves as Chairwoman of the Board of Directors for For Pete's Sake Cancer Respite Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that provides respite excursions to cancer patients and their loved ones. She also serves as an adjunct professor of communication at La Salle University, where she teaches graduate-level public relations courses in Philadelphia and Prague, Czech Republic.


Lisa Packer, Director-at-Large
Principal, Root Strategies

Lisa Packer became a director-at-large in 2015 and is currently serving the second year of her term. She is founder and principal of Root Strategies, a strategic communications company based in suburban Philadelphia. The company was established in 2001. Lisa is a former television news reporter with experience in a broad spectrum of industries, including nuclear power, pharmaceutical, chemical, institutional healthcare, academia, international commerce, and publishing. While a generalist, her experience in crisis planning and management, and issues management is unique. She has lectured at universities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey & New York, co-chaired a bio-terrorism task force post 9/11, and has served on the board of the Public Relations Society of America in various positions, including chair of ethics and diversity.


Committee Chairs

John Kouten, Membership Committee Chair
CEO, JFK Communications

Becoming a part of the membership committee is a great way to meet people within the industry while also taking part in one of the organization’s most important objectives. The membership committee is tasked with recruiting, activating and retaining the chapter's members. Get involved by becoming a mentor, welcoming new members or reaching out to recently lapsed members and help keep our chapter alive and thriving.

Contact: membership@philly.org


Amanda Hoffman, Communications Committee Chair
Director of Communications, Tabor Services, Inc.

The communications committees are tasked with informing members of chapter events, announcements and news. Using traditional media relations and a variety of social media outlets, the committees engage the Philadelphia regional community of PR professionals. A strong web presence also is an integral component of keeping chapter operations running smoothly. 

Launched in 2011, the Chapter Chat committee distributes the monthly chapter e-newsletter to members of PRSA Philadelphia. This committee interviews, writes and edits columns/articles which are distributed via email and archived on the PRSA Philadelphia website. Have news to share? We want to hear from you!

Write for Chapter Chat: 

Submit Chapter News: press@philly.org

Suggest Social Media Content: socialmedia@philly.org

Website Questions: website@philly.org


Martha Gaston, Programming Committee Chair
VP, Corporate Communications Manager II, TD Bank

The programming committee is responsible for planning the chapter’s monthly professional development and networking events. Programs include philanthropic initiatives, networking, professional development panels, speakers and workshops. If you want to volunteer or have a suggestion for a program, speaker or event venue, please send us a note! December 2017 will mark the 49th PRSA Philly Pepperpot and Achievement Awards and we’re looking for volunteers. If you or your company or agency is interested in planning one of the industry’s premiere awards events and getting recognition and exposure in return, contact us today!

Contact: programming@philly.org

Asadeh (Asi) Nia-Schoenstein, APR Accreditation Committee
Instructor, Public Relations and Advertising, Rowan University

Asadeh Nia-Schoenstein, M.S., APR (aka Asi) is an instructor in the Public Relations and Advertising Department at Rowan University and serves as PRSA Philadelphia’s APR Committee Chair. For 12 years, she has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in public relations and advertising. She also participates in diversity, curriculum development and student career advisement. An APR since 2008, Asi brings 27 years of practical public relations and advertising expertise – including strategic communication, international public relations and advertising and global marketing communication, to the classroom. In her rare spare time, she loves to travel the world and speak in her native German. In 2014 and 2015, she volunteered on PRSA Philadelphia’s PRSSA Liaison Committee.

The APR Accreditation committee promotes professionalism and advancement within the profession, and manages our accreditation activities, including providing pre-exam prep classes and proctoring the written exam for APR, the highest professional designation in public relations.

Contact: accredation@philly.org


Daniel Weckerly, Emerging PR Pros Committee (and PRSSA Liaison)
Communications Manager, Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board

The Emerging PR Pros Committee facilitates professional development programming and opportunities for PRSA Philly's associate members and helps transition college students from a number of student chapters in Pennsylvania and New Jersey into the profession. 

Are you an established PR professional who can help a student, recent college graduate or a professional relocating become more familiar with the Philadelphia based PR opportunities? Here is your chance. We're always looking for professional practitioners to work with mentees to strengthen their resume, answer questions about the industry and help set and achieve career related goals.

Contact: emergingPRpros@philly.org


Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway, Diversity & Inclusion Committee
Director of Communications and Marketing, Philadelphia Bar Association

The diversity and inclusion committee supports chapter and national efforts to diversify our membership, programming, overall multicultural understanding and expertise so that PRSA members can more skillfully address diverse stakeholder populations. 

Contact: diversity@philly.org


Sponsorship Committee 
The sponsorship committee's goal is to develop and source funding opportunities for the chapter. Committee members help execute the chapter's strategic sponsorship plan to offset the cost of chapter events for members. 

Looking to grow your professional network? This position is seeking an enthusiastic committee chair or co-chair willing to assist. Contact president@philly.org if interested.

Nancy Bacher Long PR Institute Program
The Nancy Bacher Long PR Institute is an annual educational program in which teams of mid-level public relations professionals form mini PR agencies. Over a six-week period, they participate in weekly educational courses on different aspects of PR plan development and presentation and develop an integrated communications plan for a client. Past clients have included Girls on the Run Philadelphia, Support Center for Child Advocates, Toll Brothers, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America and PricewaterhouseCooper. Committee members help with logistics, promotion and execution of the Institute. In 2013, the program was renamed and dedicated to PRSA member Nancy Bacher Long. Get involved on the committee, contact: prinstitute@philly.org.

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2016 Pepperpot Awards

2016 Pepperpot Awards

Media Relations Contact
Amanda Hoffman

PRSA Philadelphia Recognizes Best-in-Class Public Relations Programs
at 48th Annual Pepperpot Awards

PRSA Philadelphia Chapter Honors Lieutenant John Stanford Jr., Philadelphia Police  Department

PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Philadelphia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) held its 48th annual Pepperpot and Achievement Awards gala on December 6 at Water Works in Philadelphia.

The PRSA Pepperpot Awards are a staple in the Philadelphia region, recognizing best- in-class PR campaigns, tactics and professionals. The “Pepperpots” were named by Bill Parker, APR, then-chapter president and head of the Campbell Soup’s communications department, as a play on the famous “catch-all” Philadelphia soup to represent the effort and variety PR professionals put into their campaigns.

The event honors public relations campaigns and tactics submitted by chapter members across the Greater Philadelphia region. A total of 114 entries were judged independently by PRSA Oklahoma City across more than 30 public relations categories—from campaigns such as public service, special events and social media to tactics such as feature stories, op-eds and annual reports. The awards were presented by comedian and Off-Broadway star of “One Funny Mother” Dena Blizzard who served as the event emcee. The “Best in Show” award, given to the highest scoring entry overall, was presented to Anne Klein Communications Group for its work with Ralston Center on a robust public service initiative to enable older adults to thrive in their communities. For a complete list of award winners, visit philly.org/Pepperpots_Winners.

In addition to the campaign and tactic categories, PRSA Philadelphia also presented individual awards. The annual PRSA Integrity Award recognizes an individual or team whose efforts in their professional practice mirror the core values of PRSA's Code of Ethics and Professional Standards, including advocacy, honesty, loyalty and transparency. The 2016 Integrity Award was presented to Lieutenant John Stanford Jr., public information officer for the Philadelphia Police Department for efforts over the past year to improve transparency, to advocate for his profession and to work with the community to overcome negative public perception. The Philadelphia Police Department was in the national spotlight most notably during the Democratic National Convention in July.

Achievement awards also were presented to the following outstanding PRSA members:

• The Anthony Fulginiti Award for Commitment to Education was awarded to Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway, Philadelphia Bar Association.
• The Maxine Elkin Award for Distinguished Service was awarded to Ashley Moore, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
• The DeAnn White Award for Excellence in Community Service was awarded to Dr. Bill Cowen, Metrospective Communications LLC.
• The Anne Sceia Klein Professional Promise Award was awarded to Kristen Pietryka, a student at Marywood University.
• The President’s Award was given to Rosie Braude, Rowan University.

“The Pepperpot Awards have been a staple for public relations professionals and organizations across the Philadelphia region for 48 years,” said Kimberly Nissen, PRSA Philadelphia president and public relations manager at Siemens Healthineers. “It is one of the longest standing public relations awards programs in the country and it provides PR professionals the opportunity to network and to showcase their successes—it's a great way to end the year and to honor the best of the best."

Sponsors included Vault Communications, PR Newswire and Scott Spitzer Photography.

Event images are available here: 2016 PRSA Philly Pepperpot Awards.


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Faces of PRSA Philly

By Brian Price, senior associate at Anne Klein Communications Group and PRSA Philly Communications Committee member.

The Communications Committee met with Peggy Leone, director of media relations at Virtua and recipient of the 2015 Maxine Elkin Award for Distinguished Service.

Tell me about your background.

As a Public Relations professional, I’ve always worked in healthcare. I previously worked at another healthcare organization and March will be my tenth year at Virtua. I received my master’s degree in Public Relations with a concentration in Corporate Communications from Rowan University. I also earned my APR. I am really proud of the APR because it adds credibility to the role we have in the industry. I encourage people to go for it and achieve it. It brings tremendous personal and professional satisfaction.

What is the favorite part of your job?

The challenges that the job brings. I’ve been doing this for a long time and every day brings a challenge. It’s the nature of the business. My adrenaline still pumps and I always look forward to what’s next!

What are your responsibilities in your current role?

My main duties include handling reactive and proactive media relations, responding in crisis communications situations, counseling leadership on media activity, supporting various departments with promotional projects, providing media support for government relations, serving as a public relations liaison for the New Jersey Hospital Association and many other duties.

What’s the best Media Relations advice you have for people new to the field?

My answer is two-fold---

First--Sharpen your writing skills, and keep them sharp. Never stop learning and growing with your writing. It is an essential component of everything that you will do.

And--Never keep the media waiting.

It’s necessary to establish relationships with media. If they come to you with something negative, treat them with respect and give as much information as possible without compromising your organization. Hopefully when you reach out for proactive media relations they are more likely to respond to your pitch.

When working with the media remain in contact and provide updates to the journalists. There’s not a lot of turnaround time for them, so you must be willing to go the extra mile. It builds trust and mutual respect.

If you weren’t in PR, what would you be doing?

Forensic science. I find it incredibly fascinating. It’s a big leap from what I do now but I would love it! I think that a few of the investigative and crime scene TV shows have really brought that field to light.

Tell me something that most people would be surprised to learn about you.

My youngest daughter, Abigail Littleton, followed my footsteps and went into the PR profession. I find that most people still don’t really understand what we do as public relations professionals. It’s been a true pleasure to talk about something that I’m doing with work and have someone completely understand it. It’s so rewarding to look at her and “see me” at that stage in my life and career, and I’m really proud of her and the work she does. 

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Rock Your Career Video Series

In 2016, PRSA Philly launched a three-part social media video campaign, Rock Your Career with PRSA Philly, to introduce PRSA Philly to non-members and teach them about the resources available to members at every stage of their careers. Visit How to Join for more information. 


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