July 2017 Print

Welcome New Members

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

Daniel Lockwood - Manager of Communications, Aqua America
Krista Egan - Marketing Director, Flaster Greenberg
Jaime McClennen - Associate Member
Allison Naumann - Associate Member
Michael Jaron Rubinson - Associate Member
Amy Elizabeth Leach
Rachel Walsh - Associate Member 
Laura Edling 



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Meet the PRSA Philly president-elect

By Mellany Armstrong, Associate Director of Communications at Moore College of Art & Design and PRSA Philly Communications Committee member.

John Kouten, president-elect of PRSA Philly, has an unusual answer ready when people ask what he does.

“I make jobs,” he said. “My son was asking me, what do I do? He sees me working at home late. What I’m doing is making work for other people. I love to do that.”

Kouten is CEO of JFK Communications, a company he formed in 2004. The company provides strategic communications solutions for the life science, pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. After receiving his BA from Rowan University, Kouten immediately accepted a positon with Hill & Knowlton, a large multi-national WPP PR agency. After this Kouten joined Makovsky & Company, a boutique PR firm. Both positions were focused in life-science PR.

After five years of agency experience, Kouten accepted corporate public relations positions of increasing responsibility at Sanofi, Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb, Inc., and Johnson & Johnson.

“I love that the global center of the pharmaceutical industry is here in New Jersey. This is the medicine chest of the world,” he said. “It’s humbling to be a part of it.”

Kouten, who calls himself “a Jersey boy, born and raised,” has been a member of PRSA for more than 25 years, belonging to the Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey chapters at various times.

“I’ve re-engaged with the Philadelphia chapter in the last five years,” said the Rowan University grad. “I really love this chapter. It’s where I started.”

Kouten begins his new position with PRSA Philly in January, but he already knows what he’d like to accomplish.

“Improving public relations for the Philadelphia PRSA chapter is my priority as president-elect and president.,” Kouten said. “If Philly PR pros are not aware of the value of PRSA, we are not doing our job.”

Key to that is getting the word out about the services PRSA provides, he said.

“I would not be sitting in this chair if not for PRSA,” he said. “I keep up to date on the cutting edge of the industry by being a member.” Kouten points to specialty webcasts and workshops provided by PRSA, as well as access to mentors for help in solving problems.

“How lucky are we? We belong to an organization exclusively designed to handle those challenges,” he said.

Increasing membership and membership retention are also goals he’d like to achieve. Kouten thinks one answer is to actively engage larger organizations that have many PRSA members, such as agency, academic and nonprofit groups.

Kouten has been in the public relations business for 25 years, and he says one of the toughest hurdles for young professionals is trying to figure out what they want to do.

“I would love for young professionals to be more focused,” he said. “They will go farther faster if they are focused on a specialty. Generalists are rare these days.”

Kouten serves on many boards and committees for other organizations, including BioNJ, a biotechnology association dedicated to enhancing the climate for biotechnology in New Jersey. He also serves on the board of managers for CancerCare, which provides counseling, support, education and financial assistance to families affected by cancer.  Kouten has also been actively involved the Central & South Jersey Chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation for more than 20 years.

He spends most of his free time with his wife of 23 years and his three children. One of his passions is surfing – in the winter..

“Jersey waves are better and more consistent in the winter,” he said. “The technology (of the cold-water gear) would really blow your mind. There is a Zen and spirituality to being in the ocean in February when it’s 30 degrees and the water is 38.”


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2017 Pepperpot Awards

Submit Your Entries!

Thank you for your interest in the 2017 Pepperpot Awards! If you have submitted your entries already and are looking to submit payment, you've reached the right page.

If not, please submit your entries via our online platform here. The 2017 Pepperpot Awards event is Tuesday, Nov. 14. Finalists will be notified the week of Oct. 9 (unless judges indicate they need more time).

Submission Deadlines

Early Bird Deadline - Friday, Aug. 18 by 5:01 p.m. (save $25 per entry!)
Regular Deadline - Wednesday, Sept. 6 by 5:01 p.m.
Individual Achievement Award Deadline - Friday, Sept. 8 by 5:01 p.m.

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APR Boot Camp

Planning to take the APR readiness review and exam to become accredited by one of the world's largest and most influential professional societies? Need a refresher on communication planning, media relations, crisis management or public relations law?

Join us Saturday, Nov. 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Rowan University in South Jersey to receive a robust foundation in communication principles that will enhance your day-to-day work, with a depth and rigor that you can draw upon at any time to pursue Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), the national professional credential offered through PRSA. Respected PR practitioners John Moscatelli, APR, Fellow PRSA; Jake Farbman, APR; and Catherine Dunning Catanach, APR, will lead the Boot Camp.

November 04, 2017
8:30 AM to 3:30 PM
 Add to Calendar

Rowan University
301 High Street, Room TBD
Glassboro, NJ 08028

Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. Can’t make the event? Don’t forget you can also purchase a DVD for a complete training with Moscatelli himself.

RSVP by Monday, Sept. 25.

For more information on this year’s APR speakers, visit the PRSA Philadelphia Accreditation website.

Want to learn more about the PRSA Philadelphia Accreditation committee? Visit the PRSA Philadelphia committee website.


$95.00 Registration Only

$199.00 Registration and DVD Set

$100.00 PRSA "Sister Chapter" Member Registration only

$205.00 PRSA "Sister Chapter" Member Registration and DVD Set

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Event Recap: PR Institute Awards Ceremony

By Mellany Armstrong, associate director of communications at Moore College of Art & Design and PRSA Philly Communications Committee Member.

The newest graduates of the PR Institute were feted at a gathering at City Coho in Center City June 15.

 left to right: Teresa Tellekamp, Connie Lunanuova, Annmarie Ely, Benjamin Guell, Christine Connelly, PR Institute Chair Melanie Wright, PR Institute judge Christopher Hatch, James Aumack, Lauren Grabowski and mentor Michael Gross.

The two teams of nine professionals enjoyed margaritas and appetizers in the eclectic space to celebrate the end of eight weeks of PR boot camp. The teams created a plan for the nonprofit Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, which works to challenge and support the business community to build profitable enterprises that serve community needs, share wealth and protect the environment.

“The great thing is they get experience doing a whole PR plan from beginning to end and presenting it, and they also help a nonprofit organization, so it’s a win-win,” said Melanie Wright, PR Institute chair and strategic communications director at Ainsworth Communications.

The team members met once a week for eight weeks to come up with a strategic plan. The members did research, budgeting, social media strategy and presentation training under the guidance of seasoned professionals who acted as mentors.

SBN Executive Director Anna Shipp and Bradford Bucknam, member relations associate at SBN, said they were pleased with what the teams came up with.

“Every day, I am thinking about the Sustainable Business Network’s mission, sharing it with members, and brainstorming with staff about how we can make it a reality in our local economy,” said Bradford Bucknam, member relations associate at the Sustainable Business Network. “It was an instructive and beneficial experience to hear about our organization from the talented teams who delved deep into their research of our organization to present us with creative PR plans.”

“I learned a lot more about strategy and I thought it was useful to be able to actually work with a real client and develop a plan for them and present it,” said Team 2 member Annemarie Ely, media relations coordinator at Delaware Valley University. “I think the hands-on aspect of it, that you’re actually doing what you’re learning about as you’re doing it for a real client, that’s probably the most valuable part.”

Team 1 member Lauren Grabowski, senior SEO associate at Seer Interactive, said attending the PR Institute helped her get back to her roots.

“I come from a PR background originally, but I have since found myself in the digital world, so I wanted to refresh my traditional PR skills through PRI,” she said. “It was a really great experience to get back into that traditional skillset. I don’t always get to flex those muscles in the role that I’m in now.”

Wright said all the participants enjoyed the field trips.

“The sessions aren’t held in classrooms,” she said. “They are held at PR agencies all over the city. We had one session at WHYY, one at NBC10.”

Many of the team members said visiting the NBC10 studios in Bala Cynwyd was a highlight.

“Going into the control room was really fun,” said Team 2 member James Aumack, an account coordinator at Vault Communications.

Aumack said he enjoyed working with teammates involved in various aspects of public relations.

“I would say networking was the best value, meeting so many different people,” he said. “You learned to work with people in nonprofit, people that are in corporate, people that do marketing for law firms.”

In the end, SBN selected the Team 1 plan, and Bucknum said it was a difficult choice.

“The plans were well thought-out and the presentations were engaging,” he said. “I learned so much about how we can grow our PR strategy both from the teams and also from the fabulous judges and their many years of experience. I wish every organization could have the experience we had from this program.”

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Faces of PRSA Philly

By Michele Cohen, Associate Director of Media Relations at The Wharton School and PRSA Philly Communications Committee member

After ten years of working at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)Ashley Moore continues to feel like “the luckiest PR professional in the world.” As Senior Public Relations Specialist supporting CHOP’s Department of Surgery, Ashley’s role is to share the stories of some of the most amazing medical breakthroughs, dedicated doctors, nurses and researchers, and most of all the inspiring stories of young patients.

Ashley’s achievement in telling one of those exceptional stories led to her being recognized with The Maxine Elkin Award for Distinguished Service at PRSA Philadelphia’s 48th annual Pepperpot and Achievement awards gala last December. She was nominated by a colleague in CHOP’s marketing department, who admired her efforts in chronicling the journey of a little boy named Zion Harvey.

In 2008, at age 2, Zion Harvey developed a life-threatening infection that required amputation of both of his hands and his legs below the knee. In 2012, his mother brought Zion, then 6, from their home in Baltimore to Philadelphia to speak with doctors about fitting Zion with prosthetic hands. But instead the doctors suggested a rare and extremely complex procedure: a bilateral hand transplant, or a double hand transplant. In 2015, Zion became the first child in the world to undergo the surgery and his team of surgeons successfully transplanted donor hands and forearms onto Zion.

Ashley was tasked with telling his story – with the help of her colleagues, she developed a plan to capture footage of Zion a year before his transplant, during his pre-surgical testing, at his house and his school, and more. They filmed for 24 hours straight the day of his transplant surgery and followed him for another year post-op.

Their efforts led to unprecedented national and international news coverage – more than 5,000 placements - including NBC Nightly News, an appearance on The Today Show and an article in People magazine, among others. 

“Since Zion was only a 9-year-old boy, we had a strategic PR plan to limit the amount of interviews with him but maximize the amount of exposure,” Ashley said. “The photos and video footage we captured let us tell the story without having media overwhelm Zion or disrupt his medical care. News outlets were happy use our materials in their coverage.” 

Because the surgery was the first of its kind in a child, Ashley received press attention from around the world. With the help of her colleagues, CHOP hosted two large press conferences, the first in August of 2015, following Zion’s surgery, and an even larger one in 2016 for the one-year anniversary. “Zion’s story really captured the hearts and attention of people around the world, media outlets were eager to provide an update on how he was doing with his new hands”

Ashley was honored to quarterback telling Zion’s story, but it would not have been possible without her incredible public relations and marketing colleagues at CHOP, important collaboration with the PR teams at Penn Medicine and Gift of Life, as well as the trust of the surgical team.

Ashley said she was honored to be part of this once in a lifetime opportunity. One of her favorite things about her job is that she’s constantly learning and no day is ever the same, whether she’s filming a surgery, meeting with researchers in their laboratory, working with patients or speaking with journalists. She loves the fact that there are so many stories to tell every day.

“It was my dream job to work at CHOP” she said. “My colleagues and I often connect with parents and children during some of the toughest times of their lives – a cancer diagnosis, a tragic accident, finding out their unbornbaby has a life threatening birth defect…life altering events that many of us cannot even imagine. Yet, these patients and their families want to share their story with others – to educate, to inspire, and to provide hope.Everyday I’m in awe of their courage!”

Watch a story about Zion on NBC here

Read a chronicle of Zion’s journey at CHOP here

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Meet the Media Q&A

Meet the Media Q&A – Kevin Cooney, Calkins Media

By Joshua Brett, Manager, Regional Media Relations at AmeriHealth Caritas and PRSA Philly Communications Committe members

Kevin Cooney is a sports reporter and columnist for Calkins Media, which owns three daily newspapers in the Philadelphia area – The (Doylestown) Intelligencer, the Bucks County Courier Times, and the Burlington County Times. A Philadelphia native, Cooney has covered high school sports, the Phillies, the Eagles, and other local teams. A year ago, he covered the Villanova University men’s basketball team’s run to the NCAA championship.

Cooney can be followed on Twitter at @kevincooney


Why did you become a reporter?

I got in basically at the time that I realized I couldn’t hit a curveball. Sports writing kept me close to the games that I loved when I was a kid. It’s been one of my main interests in life since I was 4 or 5 years old. Growing up in Philadelphia, you read Bill Lyon, Stan Hochman, Paul Hagen and Jim Salisbury. Phil Jasner was another one. It just felt like an appealing and logical profession to get into.

What is the best story that you have gotten to be part of in your career as a journalist?

That’s tough. Being able to cover the Phillies’ run (to five division titles and the 2008 World Series title) in the late portion of the last decade and the early portion of this decade was really cool. I’m fortunate that I got to cover Allen Iverson and the Sixers in a complementary role. Covering that 2001 team and the drama that went after ‘01 with Iverson and (then head coach Larry) Brown, that was pretty cool. And this time last year, in my hybrid role as a columnist, I got to cover Villanova and them winning the national championship. That was special for me too because, in my high school reporting days at the Courier Times, I covered Ryan Arcidiacono. It was a local kid and a local coach, so that was a great story in and of itself. And then you get to watch the game against North Carolina, one of the greatest games of all time. I can’t complain too much. The hours are long. Sometimes you go away from the family longer than you would like. But I’m certainly not digging ditches.

When you work with public relations professionals, what do you need from them?

Access to me is the main thing for a sports writer, especially in a sport like baseball when you are dealing with pregame notes and pregame things. You need to find a way of getting stuff in because you don’t know what time games are going to end, especially with the grind of a season. The Phillies, the whole crew over there is pretty good. When you have a request, they try to fill it. Not every request gets filled, but they’re pretty cooperative.

When it comes to PR people, it’s access and honesty. We’d like it if they told every state secret, but it’s about honesty. At least in sports, when teams get in trouble, it’s when they’re being dishonest. It’s almost better sometimes (for public relations professionals) to bite the lip than to paint a picture and then have the words come back and bite you. The good PR professionals know how to protect some things that are the state secrets of the organization without being obstructionist or flat out lying.

What is your pet peeve as a reporter?

Pet peeves are playing favorites. We know that it happens. I hate when coaches, PR professionals or management play favorites. Athletes go to certain reporters because they feel they have a soft landing spot. I understand why it happens.

It can be annoying, but you try to move on and don’t have it affect your relationships. You have to do your job and be a professional and try to get the next (story).

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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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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 chapterchat@philly.org, 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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