#PRin2016: PR Is More Than Just A Workstream

By Steve Radick
[ This post was originally published on PRSAY: http://bit.ly/1lUnR2V ]

We, PR professionals, have to stop thinking of ourselves as the “earned” bubble of the PESO model. If and when we do, we’ll realize that while we’ve been focused on writing press releases, pitching the media, and planning events, marketers from other disciplines are not only playing in the earned bubble too, they’re increasingly doing it better than we are.

We live in a world of integrated marketing whether we like it or not. Ad agencies are winning Cannes Lions for “PR campaigns” and PR agencies are winning for “ad campaigns.” We may be the only ones still drawing a line between PR and marketing and between paid and earned media.

This “us vs. them” attitude is the same argument we were having 20 years ago. Today’s consumer doesn’t care. And increasingly, clients don’t care either. As Kieran Donahue, VP of Marketing Americas at Hilton Worldwide said,

“The whole idea of PR versus marketing is crap. You are all connected.”

The things that make great brand marketing are the things that PR should have always been about – authenticity, newsworthiness, shareability, transparency, creativity. Think about the best marketing campaigns. They are filled with content that you seek out, that you watch willingly, and that you share with your friends. That’s the type of content that PR has always talked about. And as more and more people use ad blockers, DVRs and subscriptions to avoid interruptive advertising, PR thinking is finally showing real business dividends.

So while PR pros are sitting around arguing about how we should have a seat at the table, other disciplines have started doing PR work better than our own industry. That invitation to the table that we’re always waiting for? It’s not coming. Seats at the table go to the people with the best ideas, not the people in a particular box on the org chart. If we want a seat at the table, we have to earn it, and once we’re there, we have to be better guests.

We have to compete on the strength of our ideas, and that means changing how we think, how we talk, and how we present ourselves. We have to think of PR less as a workstream, as a functional specialty and start thinking of it as a mindset, as a unique perspective you can bring to marketing. I spoke about this topic at the PRSA International Conference in November. In my presentation, I shared five things PR pros have to start doing to improve the quality of those ideas.

Get inspired. Stop reading PR-only articles and blog posts. Stop going to PR-only events. top talking to PR-only people. You’re not only allowed to get out of the PR bubble, it is necessary for your survival. Broaden your horizons and start checking out what other marketing disciplines are doing. Understand how they talk about themselves. How they present their ideas.

Learn their language. Saying “I went into PR because I hate math” may be said jokingly, but every time it’s said, it sets our industry back. We may have different functional specialties, but we’re all business people with the same business goals. Learn about aided and unaided awareness, share points, RTBs, CTAs, CPMs, CTRs, and USPs.

Think critically. Rarely is a business problem solved solely with PR. We have to stop and think with our business hat on more often. Let’s ask “is that really the problem we should be solving? Is that the real problem?”

Own the big idea. We’re all tired of being asked to “PR this” or to “get coverage” for something. Why are we sitting and waiting for “the big idea?” What would happen if we were the ones coming up with the big idea? What would happen if we were driving this bus from the beginning instead of jumping on at the end? Do we even know what a “big idea” is? Instead of training our people to come up with big ideas, we train them to be smart and detail-oriented. We have to work harder to come up with our own “big ideas” – ideas that work across paid, earned, owned, and social. They have to impact the business in a profound way.

Sell in the big idea. Coming up with ideas is easy. Getting them sold in to your boss, to your client, to the finance department – that’s the hard part. And unfortunately, that’s the part we don’t do well. Here’s one example of how PR is losing that battle. Leo Burnett and MSLGroup’s Always’ #LikeaGirl campaign was one of the most iconic campaigns of the past year. Not surprisingly, it was awarded the Cannes Grand Prix in PR this year. Here’s the submission video they created for Cannes, the “Oscars” of advertising and creativity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdMLD7Cd3Ec

Pretty inspiring, huh? I’ve got three daughters and that video got me thinking they’re going to change the world. What a great way to showcase that campaign. Note how it uses video and striking imagery to tell a story and inspire people. That’s what sells in big ideas, not complex slides and detailed bullets.

If you’re interested in checking my whole presentation, it’s available here: http://bit.ly/1npeNUz.  PR is what makes great brand marketing today, so shouldn’t we be the one leading the charge?

To Grad School or Not to Grad School??

By Bob O’Gara, Professor PR, Advertising and IMC, Point Park University  rogara@pointpark.edu 

First the obvious disclaimer:  I teach at the grad level and undergrad level at Point Park University. That said, after 25 years I am generally on top of trends in higher education and career development. For what it’s worth, here are my principles for graduate study beyond the Bachelor’s level.

1) Have a clear career goal or personal reason for reentering the academic path.  It could be gaining new skills, getting more current in the professions or even re-charging your personal and professional “system”.  In some cases you may want/need an advanced degree in communications or a business, management, leadership , law etc. degree.

2) Be sure you have the time.   Sounds obvious, but from an educator’s perspective lack of time results in poor grades and limited learning.

3) Select the format most applicable to your lifestyle.  The offerings now include online only, regular classroom attendance and a hybrid combining both.  Online is deceptively easy to accept nut it requires enormous self-discipline and classroom offers a comfortable personal environment that you may be very used to.

4) Pick a major, degree or set of courses that best suit your needs.  Consider skill based courses to enhance your technology, more theoretical or strategic courses or even intellectual courses in the liberal arts to heighten critical thought.

5) Some general principles:  Study course construction (syllabi, etc.)  carefully.  Research your teachers for the right combinations of professional and academic experiences.  Review the required readings for relevance.  Sit in on classes BEFORE you commit to a program.  Ask to meet recent graduates and current students.

Grad school is a serious commitment and often a long time period.  Today’s times mean we must commit to lifelong learning, but how we do it may be grad school or another avenue to professional development such as PRSA professional meetings and workshops.

*This is a sponsored post. Learn more about sponsoring PRSA Pittsburgh here:

PRSA Pittsburgh announces 2016 Board of Directors

The Pittsburgh Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is pleased to announce its 2016 Board of Directors. The new team is comprised of board veterans, new members and everyone in between. Together they will continue to advance the field of public relations in the Pittsburgh area through professional development, member events and more.

“As one of the larger chapters within PRSA, the Pittsburgh chapter is an influential voice in the public relations industry on both a local and national level, and I’m flattered and honored to be named 2016 President,” said Steve Radick, 2016 PRSA Pittsburgh President. “We’ve got a great Board in place for 2016, and I can’t wait to work with them to create a diverse and engaged PR community here in Pittsburgh.”

The 2016 Board includes:

  • President: Steve Radick, BRUNNERWORKS

  • Vice President: Meredith Klein, Gatesman+Dave

  • Immediate Past President: Meredith Amoroso, Mullen

  • Secretary: Darcey Garda, National Alliance on Mental Illness

  • Treasurer: Caitlin Driscoll, Better Business Bureau of Western PA

Committee Leads and Chairs:

  • Programming Director: Elizabeth Bacheson, Westinghouse Electric Company

  • Renaissance Awards Co-Chair: Amanda Hardt, Schneider Downs

  • Renaissance Awards Co-Chair: Noah Fleming, Steel City Media

  • Speaker Series Lead: Mendy Nestor, Infinity Concepts

  • Professional Development Chair: Robin Rectenwald, Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania

  • Young Professionals Co-Chair: Jamie Kurke, Gatesman+Dave

  • Young Professionals Co-Chair: Livia Vissat, Management Science Associates, Inc.

  • Communications Director: Chelsea Cummins, Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C.

  • Social Media Chair: Samantha McClintock, Dollar Energy Fund

  • Blog Coordinator: Valerie Bennett, BRUNNERWORKS

  • Website Lead: JoAnn Jenny, University of Pittsburgh

  • Multimedia Lead: Tim Long, Em-Media, Inc.

  • Member Services: Jessica Franklin, United States Steel Corporation

  • Student Liaison: Bob O’Gara, Point Park University

  • Diversity/Ethics & Student Liaison: Eric Winkfield, West Virginia University

  • Directory/Job Bank: Dr. Andrew Lingwall, Clarion University
  • Accreditation: Jeff Worden, Worden Public Relations

  • Senior Practitioners Liaison: Allison Peiritsch, Slippery Rock University

To learn more about PRSA Pittsburgh and open positions on the board, please contact Chelsea Cummins at info@prsa-pgh.org.

About PRSA Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America represents more than 200 of the region’s top public relations professionals. The organization offers professional development, social, education and networking activities, including seminars with top PR leaders, award programs, dynamic speakers and communicator tours. PRSA Pittsburgh members are part of the nation’s largest organization of communications professionals, representing  a piece of nearly 20,000 members nationwide. Visitprsa-pgh.org for more details.

The Renaissance Awards are Pittsburgh’s Golden Globes

Just casually hanging out with our social media coordinator and president at last year’s Renaissance Awards.


The Renaissance Awards are basically the Golden Globes of Pittsburgh-based social gatherings for communicators. Sure, that may be a very narrow category, but we take pride in the distinction nonetheless.

Once a year, the stars of our industry gather to celebrate the accomplishments of our peers. Imagine the PR-equivalent of Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence and Will Smith networking together before the show begins. We eat, drink and generally be pretty merry as we accept our awards and applaud those who beat us. There’s even a lifetime achievement award equivalent (but sadly no Denzel).

Because all Pittsburghers can play three degrees of separation and know the entire city, the ambience is truly special. We gather for drinks before dinner and everyone is mingling and catching up with past coworkers and old friends. The lines between the agencies seem blurred.

As a recent college grad, I attended my first Renaissance Awards in 2013 and instantly fell in love with the event. There are so many things going on, so many people working together to make the evening spectacular. It served as my first taste of being involved with PRSA Pittsburgh and I never looked back.

Every year, I look forward to seeing Pittsburgh’s best — both the campaigns and those who created them. It’s incredibly cool to see my fellow board members win for their work because when you only see them help with PRSA, you forget they actually have a career.

The Renaissance Awards aren’t just for those nominated or those who work for a company nominated. It’s a time for everyone to come together. If your sole goal is networking and meeting people, this event is for you. If you like to have a good time, this event is for you. If you’re looking to make a splash in Pittsburgh, this event is for you. If you’ve watched too much Netflix and need a break, this event is for you.

See? This event is for everyone, so what are you waiting for? RSVP today and attend our best party of the year. If you can’t make it, but want to follow the fun, check out @PRSAPgh on Twitter and #PRSArenaissance for all the winners as they happen.

The Renaissance Awards are scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 28, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Hotel Monaco in downtown Pittsburgh.


Chelsea N. Cummins is the marketing coordinator at Goldberg, Persky & White and Director of Communications for PRSA Pittsburgh. Her passions in life include Jesus, her nieces, Twitter rants and blogging about all her ill-advised decisions. And obviously the field of public relations. Please be her friend: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

Member Spotlight: Julie Leslie

Meet Julie Leslie, a Designer at Gatesman+Dave, a fully integrated, independent marketing communications agency located in the South Side of Pittsburgh.

Member Spotlight: Colin Haas

@colinmhaas | Colin Haas


Where do you work/what do you do?

Love this question considering all the recent things I have been doing! To give a little back story, I had been working full-time for CONSOL Energy, for the last 7 years as an analyst II and freelancing in marketing and PR (since 2010). Then in April of 2015, CONSOL was going through a downturn and I was laid off. My freelancing turned full-time and so did the job searching! The same week I was laid off, my wife went with her Mom to her eyelash appointment, at Lash Spa Studio in McMurray. My wife was already an aesthetician and was offered a job the following week, which brings me to myself. Through her job I have had several run-ins with the CEO of the Lash Spa and as of last week, they have transitioned into a franchise, under the brand name Deka Lash. I am currently running all marketing, PR, social media, and content by myself and that has been quite a process. I have been treating it like a startup and building everything from scratch, so for me, it has been just creating the framework and filling it up with content as we move forward. While I have different applications out, around the city, Deka Lash is planning to make a formal offer and have me head up and run all marketing and PR. Until then, I continue freelancing for them.


What’s your title?

With my freelancing, I just went with integrated marketing strategist, but with Deka Lash I don’t have an “official” working title yet.


Where do you live?

Waynesburg, PA


What’s your favorite bar/restaurant?

Cheesecake Factory, on the Southside. Although I have a growing list of places I want to try, thanks to Instagram.


How long have you been a member of PRSA?

I was a student member of the PRSA since May 2013 and now a regular member, but joined the Pittsburgh chapter in December 2015.


What’s one thing other PRSA members should know about you?

I love podcasts! Especially the marketing, PR, and social media podcasts. We can be at the gym, sitting in the car or doing any other activity and still learning. As a result, I plan on launching my own podcast in the coming months and interviewing some of the industry leaders that I have became friends with, as well as other industry professionals.


What do you hope to get out of PRSA this year?

I am really excited about making new connections with my fellow chapter members and being able to learn from them. Please feel free to reach out to me anytime or connect with me.


What’s your favorite thing about Pittsburgh?

The Pittsburgh skyline! Does that ever get old?


Won’t you be a blogger?

Because you know you love a Mr. Rogers reference

Even if you say you don’t make resolutions, you probably think about things you want to change. The New Year has that effect on people. It’s easier to start your diet on a Monday than the weekend and it’s better to enjoy Christmas before you resolve to be better.

Personally, I love resolutions. They’re like a year long to do list that keep you in line and help you better yourself. Sure, my ‘year-long list’ often is more like a few weeks or months, but it provides the framework for how I want to live. Typically I include the given resolutions, like eat less and work out more, but as I get older I find myself focusing on professional goals and values.

When I joined the PRSA Pittsburgh board in 2014, I had a set of goals in mind based on research I’d done. As social media coordinator, I knew I wanted to increase our followings and establish more of a unique voice and style for who we are. My biggest priority was creating the blog. How hard could it be?

Turns out really hard.

The first step was figuring out a platform. The next was content. The third was writers. Once we had all of this locked down, the rest was smooth sailing, right? Wrong. Almost three years later and the blog proves as much of a challenge as ever. Fortunately, the blog has grown and now we have a whole position on the board dedicated to it.

For two years I was hands on in the blog, writing, editing, emailing and posting to keep the content fresh. As I move to the Director of Communications for PRSA Pittsburgh, it’s time to pass the reins and make a request of our membership: contribute!

Writing is the first activity of public relations and one most of us do every day, whether it’s for social, a news release or web content. Because of this, we have the prime group of people available to help us continue to improve the blog with quality content. Starting in 2016, we’re looking to get more Pittsburgh practitioners involved with the blog.

Whether it’s a member spotlight, company highlight or employee profile, we need you! We also want original articles commenting on current events, industry trends and responses to monthly themes. Essentially, we have the writing opportunity for you.

Throughout the year, we’ll send out emails requesting articles and reach out to you directly for input. When you’re inspired, send your work to us as well! You can reach out to our Blog Coordinator Valerie Bennett at valerie.k.bennett@gmail.com with ideas and posts. She’s available to help you whenever you need her.

So this year, better your professional life and resolve to write more. Maybe you don’t need to make it an official resolution, but definitely add it to your to do list! Here’s to having a productive (but not overly busy) 2016!


Chelsea N. Cummins is the marketing coordinator at Goldberg, Persky & White and Director of Communications for PRSA Pittsburgh. Her passions in life include Jesus, her nieces, Twitter rants and blogging about all her ill-advised decisions. And obviously the field of public relations. Please be her friend: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

New Year, New Board, New Opportunity

Happy New Year PRSA Pittsburgh members! After serving as your Vice President for the last year, I’m excited (and a bit overwhelmed) to take over as President in 2016. Last year, we did some networking, learned a ton, and had a lot of fun. Through it all, I had the opportunity to get to know many of you, but unfortunately, there are still dozens of our members I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet. I hope that changes in 2016.

One of the reasons I moved back home to Pittsburgh last year was to be a part of the revitalization of this city. From academia to healthcare to tech, it seems like everywhere you look, someone is doing something that’s never been done here before. I was incredibly lucky to see firsthand that this same energy and passion exists within our PR and marketing communities. In 2016, I hope to amplify this across all of our 200+ members.

And this all starts with our fantastic Board of Directors. I’m thrilled that many of our Board members have chosen to stay involved this year, and I can’t wait to work with them again. Below you’ll find our 2016 Board of Directors.

Position: Name:
President Steve_Radick
Immediate Past President Meredith_Blake_Amoroso
Vice President Meredith_Klein
Treasurer Caitlin_Driscoll
Secretary Darcey Garda
Programming Director Elizabeth_Bacheson
Renaissance Awards Co-Chair Amanda_Hardt
Renaissance Awards Co-Chair Noah_Fleming
Speaker Series Lead Mendy_Nestor
Professional Development Co-Chair Robin_Rectenwald
Professional Development Co-Chair  
Young Professionals Co-Chair Jamie_Kurke
Young Professionals Co-Chair Livia_Vissat
Communications Director Chelsea_Cummins
Social Media/Publicity Samantha_McClintock
Blog Coordinator  Valerie_Bennett
Website Lead JoAnn_Jenny
Multimedia Lead Tim_Long
Member Services Jessica_Franklin
Diversity/Ethics Eric_Winkfield
Student Liaison Bob O’Gara
Student Liaison Eric_Winkfield
Directory/Job Bank Dr.Andrew_Lingwall
Public Service  
Accreditation Jeff_Worden
Senior Practitioners Liaison Allison_Peiritsch

If you are interested in submitting your name for a role not currently filled, please let me know ASAP. Email me at sradick@brunnerworks.com.

In 2016, I’m looking forward to working with them and you to make PRSA Pittsburgh more valuable, collaborative, and fun than ever before. Several of us are meeting in early January to work through the 2016 Strategic Plan, but I do know that we’ll be focused on three things in the New Year:

  1. Activating a greater % of our 200+ members.
  2. Enhancing our communications and engagement with our membership.
  3. Increasing the value proposition that PRSA Pittsburgh offers you, your organization, and the community.

Check back often as we’ll be using our blog and our social channels Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube to involve you as much as possible as we work toward these goals.