March 2017 Print

Welcome New Members

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

Carlyle Bauer – Associate Member – Director of Marketing, ANRO Inc.Barbara Sheehan
Chip Koziara – Associate Member – Director of Business Development, Compass
Coleen Lamphere – General Member
Pilar Padilla – Social Media Specialist, American Board of Internal Medicine
Emma Swanson – General Member

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Calendar of Events

PR Institute Registration

April 04, 2017
6:00 PM to 2:00 PM

PR Institute

Register for the 2017 Season Today! Registration deadline is April 1, 2017.

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PRSA Mid-Atlantic District APR Boot Camp

April 05, 2017
9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Jefferson Lakeside Country Club
1700 Lakeside Ave.
Richmond, VA 23228

Ready to take the next step in your public relations career? The PRSA Mid-Atlantic District is hosting an APR Boot Camp April 5-8 at the Jefferson Lakeside Country Club in Richmond, Va.!

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PRSA & PPRA Spring Happy Hour

April 06, 2017
5:30 PM to 7:30 PM

Pennsylvania 6
114 South 12th Street
Philadellphia, PA 19107

PPRA and PRSA team up to bring you a Happy Hour for cross-collaboration and networking!

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Last call to share our Spring Break Promotion! If you know someone who is looking to meet up with local colleagues and build long-term career success, now is the best time to share how to become a member of PRSA Philly!

Join PRSA by 3/31 for $255 and you will also receive a PRSA Philly Chapter membership for free — just use the promo code SPRING17 and join here!

*Offer is not valid for current members, renewing members or associate members. Refer to for details.

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2017 PR Institute

 PR Institute - Advance Your Career and Help A Deserving Nonprofit

It's not too late! You can still register for the PR Institute! The registration deadline is April 1, 2017.

Young professional? Recent grad? Looking to transition to PR? Or just in a rut at work? The PR Institute is an opportunity for you to strengthen your portfolio and build your network.

The PR Institute is an eight-week advanced training program to keep up-and-coming professionals in tune with industry tools and trends. The program is ideal for professionals working at an agency, corporation or nonprofit, as well as transitioning professionals looking to break into the public relations field.

You’ll work on a team with some of the best and brightest up-and-coming PR pros and complete the course having completed a comprehensive strategic PR plan for a deserving Philadelphia nonprofit; all while having fun and building relationships.

How the PR Institute Can Help You Invest in Your Professional Future:

Create and Execute a PR campaign - Gain experience in writing a comprehensive public relations plan, from start to finish for a “real” client. 

ROI/Budgeting Panel -  Learn how to create a budget to maximize ROI. Listen to PR professionals discuss budget planning methods for non-profit and for-profit organizations.

Social Media Strategy – Learn tips for creating a results-driven social media strategy. Understand the importance of content, social listening, influencers and communities.

Media Panel Q&A – Listen to media professionals discuss the latest trends in broadcast, print and digital news.   Visit a broadcast studio and learn about behind-the scenes decisions that go into news coverage.

Client Relations – Learn new ways to foster a positive, productive and trusting relationship with clients. Learn how to establish goals and manage client expectations.

Presentation Skills & Public Speaking – Learn to become more confident giving conducting presentations. You will be able to practice newly-acquired techniques in a supportive environment and receive professional coaching and constructive feedback.

PR With a Purpose - This is a chance to give back to the community while developing your PR skills. You will enjoy meeting new people and working as part of a team, to make a difference for a worthy cause.

2017 PR Institute Spring Session - (April 4 – June 6)
For a 2017 interest package or questions, please email:
To register, visit PRSA Philly’s website:

PRSA Members: $250
Non-members: $350
Registration closes April 1, 2017
(or when the program is full)

Contact Committee Chair Melanie Wright with questions at


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APR Month

April is APR Month

April is APR Month — but APR Month has nothing to do with Annual Percentage Rates. A second definition for APR is Accreditation in Public Relations.

In the world of communication professionals, Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) is a credential earned by public relations practitioners who commit to the profession through ethical practices and sound judgment, strategic perspectives, knowledge of best practices and the use of the accredited research-planning-implementation-evaluation process.

Unlike other professions (e.g., physicians and attorneys), the field of public relations does not require licensure or certification to practice the craft. But it does require expertise, knowledge and training to be a successful and strategic public relations professional and counselor. The decision to pursue the APR is both personal and professional.

What’s the Benefit of APR?

As evidenced in a recent study completed by faculty at Baylor University*, Accredited public relations practitioners possess more confidence in providing ethical counsel to senior leadership than their non- Accredited peers. In today’s business climate, a solid understanding of ethics is critical to an organization’s success.

The public relations field has moved far beyond the stereotype of spin doctors and press agents of the 20th century. Today’s PR practitioners play a vital role in reputation management, crisis communications and issues management. A seasoned public relations pro operates at the strategic level, focusing on target audiences and measurable results, not just flashy media coverage and publicity tactics.

But how do companies and organizations know they are hiring the right person? The APR credential signifies that a professional possesses the competence necessary to operate at a strategic and ethical level in an increasingly complex communications world. Hiring managers and clients who choose Accredited public relations professionals know that they have chosen competent individuals committed to providing strategic and insightful advice and counsel.

How Will an APR Help Advance Your Career?

Hear from a few of our APRs:

“The APR designation has helped me in three specific ways.  First, obtaining the accreditation provided a sense of personal accomplishment -- proof to myself that I've "made it."  Second, the APR has, on several occasions, shown credibility with my clients; often I'm asked about the APR on my business card, which opens the door for me to explain the designation.  And third, accreditation has helped me with new business development. For instance, two client prospects in the last year also happened to be accredited. There seems to be an instant connection between APRs.”  - Mike Gross, APR, COO & Senior Vice President, Anne Klein Communications Group, Director at Large, PRSA Philadelphia

"The APR is a mark of distinction in the competitive PR field, much like a CPA is to an accountant. I decided to pursue my APR for personal and professional fulfillment, and also because the competitor in me wanted to be part of this elite group. As a growing professional, I found the emphasis in the APR readiness review and test on strategy, counsel and planning structure to be invaluable. Now when I work with business partners I can offer better counsel and set (and measure!) meaningful strategies behind our communications instead of falling into the trap of fulfilling tactics off of the 'communications menu.' I also value the emphasis on continued learning and service to the profession as part of my APR maintenance. I encourage anyone who is passionate about public relations to seek their APR." - Martha A. Gaston, APR, VP, Corporate Communications Manager II, TD Bank, Programing Committee Chair, PRSA Philly

What does it take to earn an APR?

Accreditation in public relations is a mark of distinction. The APR is earned through a rigorous process and takes time and patience.

1. First, practitioners are required to present their knowledge to accredited peers in a Panel Review by answering questions about a public relations campaign in which they have been involved.

2. Once candidates successfully pass this review, they must pass a comprehensive computer exam that tests candidates’ knowledge of the field.

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) provides candidates with many tools and study guides including online study groups and an online study course. In fact, PRSA’s Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) recently posted its “April Tips and Tools.”

Start today!

There’s no better time than April to start the conversation. Does your organization have any APRs? Maybe it’s about time you either encourage them — or hire them. Learn more about the APR at or contact your local PRSA Philadelphia APR Chair at

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Submit Your Agency or Independent Consultancy

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:  PRSA Philly Form

*We do not have a save and return feature for submissions. Updated or modified information will have to be submitted as a new entry.

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Faces of PRSA Philly

By Caitlan McCafferty, Public Relations Account Manager at Furia Rubel Communications and PRSA Philly Communications Committee member

At the 2016 Philadelphia Pepperpots, Anne Klein Communications Group took home the coveted “best-in-show” award for its “Age-Friendly West Philadelphia Initiative” for the Ralston Center. I recently had a chance to talk to Mike Gross, COO & Senior Vice President at Anne Klein Communications Group about the firm’s big win.

Tell me more about the campaign for the Ralston Center.

Ralston Center partnered with AKCG to launch a robust public service program – the “Age-Friendly West Philadelphia Initiative” – that helps enable older West Philadelphians to live independently and have a quality life in their communities. The initiative kicked off with a press conference and community event that engaged dozens of community-partner organizations, elected officials, other supporters and many of the seniors the initiative aims to help. The launch event took place on May 31, 2016.

What was your role on the campaign for the Ralston Center?

Ralston Center had worked diligently over several months to organize and vet the Initiative though countless community partners. They also conducted listening sessions with older adults in West Philadelphia to thoroughly tailor the program to best meet the needs of the community. AKCG’s role was to help design and execute a launch “moment” for the Initiative. Our outreach efforts intentionally were aimed at engaging target audiences, which included community partners, older adults who would benefit from the initiative and regional broadcast media to help carry the message more broadly.

What was your favorite part of the campaign?

We love working with good people doing good work. We were particularly thrilled to learn that several prospective community partners inquired about how they could participate in the various components of the Initiative following the launch event. While we don’t believe in publicity for publicity’s sake, it has its role in the PR toolbox when we aim to motivate an audience to act.

How did you feel winning “Best in Show” at the Pepperpots?

It was truly thrilling and quite a surprise. This program’s budget was tiny compared to some of the flashier programs executed by many great organizations and businesses showcased during the award ceremony. The win was a nice reminder that effective programs, with measurable objectives (regardless of their budgets), can bring home the big pot.

Was there an especially innovative tactic used that you think contributed to the campaign’s success?

I’ve learned over the years that it’s not the tactics that matter as much as the strategy. For example, for the launch moment itself, we could have had an eye-catching PR stunt or other attention-grabbing antic. Instead, we focused on the right audience and messages. We built the press briefing around these 100-or-so folks who attended and aimed to emotionally connect those community leaders, senior advocates and industry officials to Ralston Center. Sure, we included a culmination, “unveiling” moment of the Initiative’s three pillars for media in attendance, but our goal was deeper than coverage alone.

Did you learn anything from this project that you will bring to future campaigns?

Each program comes with its own set of successes and lessons learned. This program – and our close work with the great people at Ralston Center – reminded us that promoting a worthwhile program makes for a rewarding day.


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Events in Review

By Michele Cohen, associate director of media relations at The Wharton School and PRSA Philly Communications Committee member

For Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway, 2016 was a year of facing and overcoming adversity. She dealt with a serious injury, heartbreak, robbery, car accidents and a couple significant family emergencies, among other things.

In a moving talk at the Philadelphia Ad Club’s event, Evening Seminar: Six Successful Women in Advertising, Avakian-Hardaway, PRSA Philadelphia’s new diversity and inclusion chair, served as one of the panelists and shared words of wisdom and tips for how to be “PResilient,” as she called it, to get through tough times as and be successful in both your professional and personal lives.

The seminar, which was held February 7, 2017 at the Courtyard Philadelphia Downtown and attended by more than 150 professionals, was hosted by the Philly Ad Club in collaboration with PRSA Philly, the Philadelphia Public Relations Association, Philadelphia American Marketing Association and PRSA Philly Direct Marketing Association. The event was moderated by Lyn Kremer, past publisher of the Philadelphia Business Journal, and featured panelists who had made successful careers in advertising, marketing and communications.

Other panelists at the Feb. 7 event included: PRSA Philadelphia member Anne A. Buchanan, APR, president and founder, Buchanan Public Relations LLC; Annie Heckenberger, vice president, group director, brand communications strategy, Digitas Health; Caroline Kennedy, president, Karma Agency; Renee Mezzanotte, executive vice president, client services, DMW Direct and Lisa M. Miree-Luke, head of corporate affairs/communications for Axalta.

Each of the women shared tips and insight on their secrets to success, as well as a personal story or two. Avakian-Hardaway, director of communications and marketing for the Philadelphia Bar Association, spoke about how she faced hardship head-on by participating in a “leap year of firsts,” inspired by veteran journalist and cancer survivor Lu Ann Cahn’s book, I Dare Me: How I Rebooted and Recharged My Life by Doing Something New Every Day. “It was a rough year and [doing this] helped me stay alive,” she said. “I tried to do at least something new every single day.”

She began her “leap year of firsts” by doing the Polar Bear Plunge, or taking an icy dip in the Atlantic to benefit the Strides for Breast Cancer and the MS Society. Other “firsts” over the year included touring a concentration camp, castle and bone chapel in the Czech Republic, trying acupuncture, a sensory deprivation float and more than 40 “new” restaurants. She also seemed to meet and make friends with a lot of strangers.

“I still try to do one new thing a day,” Avakian-Hardaway said. “It has become a way of life. It makes me feel fearless and stretches me outside of my comfort zone. It has made me appreciate things more and look at life differently, in a more mindful and humble manner.”

She also shared with the audience another book that inspired her, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by the author Don Miguel Ruiz, who reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that “rob us of joy and create needless suffering.”

“It is something that one of my mentors got for me,” Avakian-Hardaway said. “It’s about always being impeccable with your word, doing your best and not taking everything personally. These are common mistakes people make, but if you change them, life can be a lot better.”

While she was PPRA president last year and experiencing all of her challenges, Avakian-Hardaway coined the word “PResilience,” a combination of the words “president” and “resilient,” with a capital PR, of course. “I had to be resilient while I was PPRA president,” as she explained the inspiration behind the word. “Other than seeing me in a boot or on crutches, most people would not have known anything was wrong. I didn’t want this set back to take over my life, so I didn’t let it.”

Avakian-Hardaway challenged participants to take on their own year, week or even day of “firsts.” She also suggested that they each try to have a meaningful conversation with “someone who looks nothing like them.”

“From a PRSA Diversity & Inclusion perspective, this is part of our overall objective for the year and our new committee,” she said. “Our world is getting more xenophobic, seemingly by the day. I feel like barriers are broken down when you have meaningful conversations with people who are different than you, and that very much makes for a more well-rounded and culturally aware PR pro.”

In the coming months, Avakian-Hardaway looks forward to expanding on this concept through PRSA Philly’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Anyone interested in serving as a volunteer on the committee is encouraged to email her at and/or

Full event panel discussion is available here:

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Don't Miss These On-Demand Webinars From PRSA

FREE PRSA Webinars

The Evolving Skill-Set Of A Modern PR Professional to Remain Career-Relevant

Categories: Measurement & ROI, Social Media, Techniques & Tactics

On Demand, available April 4

Register here

Public relations has moved beyond issuing a timely press release and making a follow-up phone call. With increased competition and the rise of terms like fake news, PR Pros need a new set of skills to deal with the growing challenges of their profession.

By the end of this course participants will be able to:

  • Seek and find vetted sources
  • Monitor and manage reputations
  • Analyze data relevant to your brand objectives
  • Utilize influencers and multimedia to boost SEO


The Value of Accreditation: What APR Can Do for You and Your Career

Cateogory: Accreditation Preparation & Maintenance

On Demand, available April 11

Register here

Join us for this webinar lead by several Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) members who will be discussing the value of accreditation from personal experience as well as discussing how pursuing accreditation can help you advance your career.

By the end of this course participants will be able to:

  • Understand the value of the accreditation process
  • Understand why pursuing accreditation can benefit the public relations practitioner
  • Understand how to pursue accreditation
  • Understand how achieving the accreditation designation can help advance a career in public relations


Top 4 Ways to Communicate Clearly and with Impact

Categories: Communications Strategy, Writing

On-Demand, available April 19

Register here

We all connect with the world around us through our own filters, our own perceptions and misperceptions, our own assumptions. Occasionally those filters act as lenses to help us see more clearly. Most of the time, however, they cloud our view. How can you communicate more clearly?

By the end of this course participants will be able to:

  • Learn to focus on the other person to make a more solid impression.
  • Craft a clear message about yourself and your abilities without bragging.
  • Deliver that message with confidence and credibility.
  • Avoid “up-speak” and the use of qualifying language.


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We know that our members are a talented bunch, and we want to share that news far and wide! If you or your team have an accolade, award or achievement you would like to share, please email, and your story could be shared in the Noteworthy section of our website, in an upcoming issue of the newsletter and on our social media channels!

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