Communicator Tour Recap + Upcoming Programming

Young Professionals Communicator Tour Recap

The first Communicator Tour of 2016 was a huge success! Nearly 40 students and young professionals gathered at American Eagle’s headquarters in the South Side on May 3 for an evening of engaging discussion and invaluable networking. The panel discussion included executives from both internal and external communications, across the American Eagle and Aerie brands. Attendees were treated with insight into the wild world of brand marketing and a sneak peek at American Eagle’s amazing corporate culture. It is our goal as an organization to expose young marketers to a plethora of great opportunities throughout Pittsburgh, so stay tuned for upcoming Communicator Tours at other unique locations around the city this fall!

What’s Next: June Programming

  • Women in Business Partner Event at Wigle Whiskey: Join us for our first annual women in business event to be held atWigle Whiskey on Wednesday June 15!  You’ll hear from 2016 Pittsburgh Business Times BusinessWomen First recipient andWigle Whiskey co-owner Meredith Grelli, as well as participating in breakout sessions with noted Pittsburgh influencers, and networking with other communications professionals.
  • GIFs, Memes, Hashtags and Celebrities – What content can brands create and share and what should they avoid?:  Join us at the River’s Club on Wednesday, June 29 with Registration and breakfast at 8:00 a.m. and a Q&A panel discussion from 8:30-9:30 a.m. We are excited to have Cecilia Dickson, Christian Ehret and Chris Sherwin, all IP attorneys from The Webb Law Firm, join PRSA President Steve Radick, VP/Director of PR and Content Integration at Brunner, to discuss the do’s and don’ts for creating, curating and sharing content.  This can often be a blurry topic, so we’re looking to bring some clarity to this important issue that affects so many of us! For example:
  1. We can all agree that stock photos are terrible. So what photos are safe to use? Can I use Creative Commons photos? If so, under what conditions? How do I know if I’m in the clear or not?
  2. There’s a great skit that Jimmy Fallon did the other night that would be perfect for our brand to share on social. Can I share the clip from YouTube?

This can often be a blurry topic, so we’re looking to bring some clarity to this important issue that affects so many of us!

Stay tuned for more information about our upcoming events and what’s to come this year! Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @prsapgh and like us on Facebook at PRSA Pittsburgh for more updates!

GIFs, Memes, Hashtags and Celebrities: What content can brands create and share and what should they avoid?

Using Google Images can cost you thousands of dollars. A Jewel-Osco ad about Michael Jordan results in a decade-long lawsuitand millions of dollars in legal fees and settlements. A Tweet triggers a $6M lawsuit. With every high-profile lawsuit, #socialmediafail hashtag, and cease-and-desist letter, we know our lawyers and general counsel become more and more likely to pull out the red pen and cut anything that could remotely be considered a legal gray area.

And so on we go, back to our desks to create content that will get approved. If it happens to also be funny, profound, engaging, or interesting, well, that’s just an added bonus. The most important thing is getting it past Legal, right?

PRSA Counsel made me remove this image of our lawyer writing “not approved” on a stack of papers I’d given him to approve.

How did we let things get to this point? How did we let lawyers gain so much control over what we do and the content we create? How they did go from “General Counsel” to “What I Say Goes”?

They’ve gradually taken on greater control over the content we create because they’re speaking a language that’s totally foreign to us. We accept whatever they say because we are completely and utterly unfamiliar with things like copyright laws, regulatory guidelines, and legal precedents.

You see, their job isn’t to create engaging content. It’s not to accumulate likes, shares, or follows. It’s not to make something go viral. It’s to protect the interests of their organization. That’s it. That’s what they care about. No lawyer has ever been fired for saying “no” to a Facebook post. So, put yourself in their shoes – what incentive do they have to let you take any risk?

That’s why it’s our responsibility to get more educated about what those risks actually are. I’ve worked with a lot of lawyers from a lot of highly regulated industries over the last ten years – from the federal government to healthcare to banking – and most of them have been more than willing to sit down and explain their points of view with me. But I had to be the one to ask.

That “no” we so often assume is written in stone is more than likely a “no” because they don’t have enough information or don’t understand it or don’t have the right context. That “no” can and should be looked at as a conversation starter, not a conversation-ended. But to have that conversation with the lawyer, you’ve got to be educated yourself. You’ve got to arm yourself with the knowledge about what is and isn’t allowed, what other brands have done, what the legal precedents are. You’ve got to be able to empathize with your lawyer colleagues and understand where they’re coming so they can do the same with you.

Let PRSA equip you with the knowledge and confidence to have your next conversation with your Legal team. Join us at the River’s Club on Wednesday, June 29 for our next event, “GIFs, Memes, Hashtags and Celebrities: What content can brands create and share and what should they avoid?”

Registration/breakfast will begin at 8am with a Q&A panel discussion from 8:30-9:30am. I’ll be facilitating a panel discussion featuring Cecilia Dickson, Christian Ehret and Chris Sherwin, all IP attorneys from The Webb Law Firm, to discuss the do’s and don’ts for creating, curating and sharing content. Here’s a small teaser of some of the questions we’ll be tackling, but we’ll also keep it pretty informal so please bring your own challenges and questions and we’ll address those too, either in person or via follow-up blog posts.

  1. Is it really verboten to use the #superbowl or #marchmadness or #olympics hashtags? Will I get sued if I use them? They can’t possibly be that restrictive, right?
  2. We can all agree that stock photos are terrible. So what photos are safe to use? Can I use Creative Commons photos? If so, under what conditions? How do I know if I’m in the clear or not?
  3. If someone shares a photo of my brand’s products on Instagram, do I really need to ask for permission if I just want to Tweet it out or Regram it?
  4. Do I really need to find everyone in this photo and get them to sign a photo release form?

This should be a really great event where you can ask your legal questions in a safe environment and get some talking points so you can turn that “no, you can’t use that photo” into a “sure, but make sure that you attribute it correctly” response.

Register Today!

Practitioner Profile: Jeff Donaldson

[ Practitioner Profile:  Each month, we will feature public relations and communications practitioners from the Pittsburgh area as a way to highlight their experience and share their insights and learnings gleaned during their professional careers. We also will feature local executives who may not be public relations practitioners themselves, but who believe in the power of public relations. If you’d like to hear from someone specific, please email us at ]

1.Tell us about your academic background.

I graduated magna cum laude from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism.  I minored in political science.


2. What was your first job and how did you find it?

My first job was as a part-time radio news anchor/reporter for a commercial radio station in Syracuse during my senior year in college. A friend was employed there, and the station was seeking additional newsroom staff. I had already been anchoring news on the college radio station at Syracuse University, so I had a radio news resume/demo tape and was able to secure employment as the Saturday night news anchor. Later, I became a part-time reporter and news writer for the station. The radio news resume tape I developed while working there helped me to secure my first full-time job as a radio news reporter before I graduated from college.


3. What was the most important lesson you learned from that job that you still carry with you?

Always look for options rather than obstacles. I was a very young reporter in my college town, and I carried plenty of responsibility.  I was on deadline constantly, and I had to often find new ways of attacking a challenge to make sure I got the story and got it right. It was a phenomenal learning experience.


4. Give us a snapshot of the remainder of your career path, in addition to your current job and responsibilities.

After graduating from college, I began a ten-year career as a broadcast journalist, primarily in Harrisburg, PA. I began working as an anchor/reporter at an all-news radio news in Harrisburg and then transitioned into TV news several years later – first as an assignments manager, then as a reporter for the Fox and NBC affiliates in Harrisburg. Eight years after graduating from college, I was hired as the main anchor for the Fox affiliate in Youngstown, OH, which enabled me to return to Pittsburgh.  I spent two years there. During a decade as a broadcast news professional, I was honored to win six Associated Press awards for outstanding news reporting.

My first job in my second career as a public relations/marketing practitioner was as the director of marketing and public relations for La Roche College in Pittsburgh. I spent five years there, and our team successfully implemented a comprehensive enrollment marketing strategy that netted the largest class of students in the institution’s history at the time. We also won a host of awards for the college’s website, recruitment materials, a TV commercial and the alumni magazine.

I then began a long and fulfilling eight-year run at Elias/Savion Advertising and Public Relations in Pittsburgh. I was hired as PR manager, promoted to director of public relations, and ultimately was made vice president of communications during my tenure. I served as chief communications counselor to all of the agency’s clients and oversaw the public relations and communications practices at the agency. The list of clients included everything from a national wireless communications provider to a national retail development client, a national window and door manufacturer, a regional financial institution and a regional law firm. Our team won a number of PRSA awards, and I was instrumental in building the agency’s crisis communications and media training disciplines.

My next stop was at Burson-Marsteller in Pittsburgh, where I served as senior counselor to a leading financial services/insurance company for about a year and a half. Our team successfully developed and launched a multifaceted public relations program that included the appointment of an NFL Hall of Famer as the brand ambassador and the creation and deployment of a nationwide survey on retirement and financial planning.

I then joined Michael Baker International, a global engineering firm in Pittsburgh, as director of corporate affairs for business operations, where I oversaw communications for the company’s six regions along with its markets and practices.  During my one-year tenure at Michael Baker, our team generated enhanced visibility and greater share of voice for the company through a comprehensive, re-engineered media relations and thought leadership program. We also increased engagement levels for the company with clients, prospects and employees by creating and launching a stakeholder communications program across several owned channels.

In May 2016, I returned to Elias/Savion Advertising and Public Relations as executive vice president and director of account management.  I was fortunate to rejoin my former employer in an elevated role as a member of the agency’s senior leadership team. My charge in my new role is to serve as the lead contact for the agency on several of its key accounts while working to strengthen current client relationships and assist the team in generating new business.


5. What was the best piece of advice that you ever received?

Lead by example. Always demonstrate that you are prepared to go the extra mile, to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty regardless of your title. Never ask anyone else to do what you are not willing to do yourself.


6. Tell us about a memorable moment in your career.

Near the end of my career as a TV news reporter, my photographer and I covered an apartment fire in suburban Harrisburg that ultimately transformed into multiple deliberately set fires across the city in the span of four hours. Flames chased families in several locations into the streets. We had to chronicle the developments well into the overnight hours, following firefighters and interviewing frightened neighbors and residents who weren’t sure where the arsonist was going to strike next. It was a harrowing experience and a reminder of how one person’s actions can cause chaos and despair for many people in a short period of time.


7. In your opinion, what are the three most important attributes needed to be a successful public relations practitioner?

  • A strong writer: Someone who truly wants to be successful in public relations needs to be adept at writing well and writing on deadline. Public relations practitioners need to be able to digest and translate sometimes difficult concepts into something discernible and meaningful.  
  • A story teller:  Public relations is about telling good stories – about people, about organizations, about companies, about ideas. Do you know how to recognize the elements of a good story, to cultivate them, to piece them together into a cohesive and impactful narrative? Can you telegraph their significance to all the audiences that matter? And, do you know how to craft that narrative for all the channels – paid, owned, earned and shared – that people follow today? 
  • Fearlessness: From my experience, success in this business requires an element of fearlessness. You never know what might be around the corner – from managing demanding clients to interacting with the media, creating compelling content on deadline and constantly keeping up to date on what is happening in the world. Approach each day with confidence and a willingness to put in your all, and you’ll do well.


8. What is your advice to students who want to work in public relations or young public relations professionals just starting their careers?

I’m a news junkie, and it has always served me well.  My advice: Read and absorb every bit of news and information you can from multiple sources. Understand what is happening in the world – in business, in politics, in entertainment, in general. A well-informed public relations professional is a powerful consultative agent for his/her client or and/or employer.


9. How has the public relations field changed since you started working?

Social media has completely transformed the paradigm. In many ways, it has put technology into the hands of “citizen journalists” who do not follow the same rules of engagement as traditional journalists. At the same time, it has leveled the playing field for brands to interact directly with their constituencies. It is an entirely different world, one that is constantly evolving.


10. What’s next?  What do you see as the next big trend in public relations?

Based on my background in agency, nonprofit and corporate PR/marketing, the development and dissemination of compelling content has never been more of a priority for organizations of all sizes.  It’s about telling good stories on multiple platforms to create an impactful narrative for the brand.

Nuggets & Tots and other Board Meeting Topics

By Samantha McClintock

It wouldn’t be a PRSA Pittsburgh Board meeting without a little wine, a lot of planning and at least one board member calling in from a loud, crazy location. Some of our board members call in covered in sand and saltwater, while others call in covered in tater tot crumbs and spilled milk.

Last week, it was the latter.

We don’t really care where our board members are or what they’re doing, as long as they have great ideas to bring to the table. At the April Board of Directors meeting, held last Tuesday, April 26, we recapped an exciting month of events and planned for the month of May.

Our treasurer reported that we’re right on track with our budget, while our director of communication reported that the April newsletter was distributed (Did you get it? If not, click here.) We also have a new website in the works to make registering for events and reading our blog a much more pleasant experience. You’re welcome!

We chatted about past and upcoming presentations, including our trip to Waynesburg University’s recent regional conference, a stop at the Cal U PRSSA closing banquet and a visit to Westminster College.

We also discussed a potential discount program for members, which would allow us to partner with local businesses to offer discounts and percentages to PRSA Pittsburgh members. Is this something you’d be interested in? Let us know in the comments.

Programming reported that they are working on some upcoming summer events, including a Women in Business social Wednesday, June 15, at Wigle Whiskey on the North Shore. The event will feature a keynote presentation and four break-out sessions on topics relevant for women in business. Check back here, or on social media, for details.

Don’t worry; we’re already planning some fall and winter events, too, including our annual Professional Development Day and Renaissance Awards. We’re also looking to pull together a diversity panel for National Diversity Month in November.

We wrapped by laughing about a board member who carries her PRSA membership card in her wallet – which maybe isn’t even that funny. We thought it was.

Please continue to read our blog for event postings and updates, as well as a recap of next month’s meeting, which will be held Tuesday, May 31 at 6 p.m.

We need your help

Are you looking to get more involved with PRSA Pittsburgh? Do you like websites? Boy, do we have an opportunity for you.

I’m going to be blunt – our current website isn’t great or even what I would consider good. It serves our purposes, but we’re well aware there is room for major improvements.

That’s where you come in.

We’re planning to launch a new site in 2017, and we’re looking for someone to help lead the redesign process now through next year. This person would co-chair our website committee and eventually take over as our website coordinator on the 2017 Board of Directors.

We currently have a talented team in place to aid with the transition, but there’s always room for more. If you have web experience and are looking to take on the leadership role or just want to lend your expertise, we’d love to have you. If you don’t have the exact experience but still want to help, you’re welcome too.

Being a board member is a great way to make the most of your PRSA membership. Not only to get to work a group of really great people, you can help implement the changes you want to see in PRSA Pittsburgh and beyond. It’s a great opportunity for someone at any point in their career, from a seasoned vet to recent grad.

If you’re interested, please contact me via email at If you’re interested in helping the board but not with the website, I can help you out with that as well.

In a nutshell: We’re redesigning our website and need someone to take on a leadership role as committee co-chair that will lead to being the website coordinator for 2017. If you want to help with this or other board projects, contact me and we can work something out.

Meet a Member: Ellen Dietrick

Twitter | LinkedIn

Where do you work/what do you do?

I work at Havas PR — a PR agency that specializes in B2B. A typical day for me involves corresponding with a wide variety of clients — scheduling meetings, writing press releases, developing social content, creating reports and preparing for trade shows and conferences. If you walked into our office, I’d be the one running around in heels trying to balance a cup of coffee in one hand and a stack of papers in the other — I’ve become somewhat of a multitasking queen!


What’s your title?

I am an Account Coordinator.


How do you explain what you do to your mom?

Growing up, I always wanted to write. My mom always encouraged me to do exactly what I want to do, even though I’m sure she was worried I’d be living at home for the rest of my life if I really did follow my dreams of becoming a writer. So now I tell my mom that my job lets me do exactly what I’ve always wanted to do, but I actually get paid to do it.


Where do you live?

I grew up in Mt. Lebanon and then attended school in Cleveland, Ohio for four years (Go Blue Streaks!). I always knew that I wanted to come back to Pittsburgh, and I am lucky enough to have found a job that I love in my favorite city right after I graduated from college.


What’s your favorite bar/restaurant?

I absolutely adore the rooftop bar at Sienna Mercato – it’s a must on a summer night. But if I’m looking for something closer to home, the Hitchhiker Brewing Company is (quite literally) ten feet from my apartment. It’s the perfect place for a quick drink on a Saturday night, and it’s within walking distance of a lot of other great restaurants, too. But I must warn you, if you’re from Mt. Lebanon, you’re almost bound to see someone you know!


How long have you been a member of PRSA?

I just recently joined PRSA, so I’ve only been an official member for about a month now. However, I’ve been familiar with the organization for almost four years — I was the Vice President of PRSSA at John Carroll University! It was an incredible experience and it allowed me to grow so much as a leader and a member of the PR community. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to continue my membership with PRSA once I moved home to Pittsburgh.


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

I am about to share the most intimate detail of my life with you — I love cheese. Any kind of cheese — Gouda, American, cheddar, provolone — you name it. Any cheese, that is, except for Swiss. I won’t touch Swiss with a ten foot pole.


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

Even though I’ve lived in Pittsburgh for most of my life, I am always looking to meet new people who enjoy the same things I do. If you don’t mind that The Bachelor is my guilty pleasure and that I can quote the entire Gilmore Girls series by heart (and I often do), then we’ll be best friends in no time. I also hope to get out of my comfort zone, whether it’s through networking events or simply getting involved in other aspects of the PRSA community.


What’s your favorite think about Pittsburgh?

I think if you asked anyone who has lived in Pittsburgh, they’d tell you it’s hard to narrow it down to just one favorite thing. But I think, in a way, that’s what I love most about Pittsburgh. We’re a city full of people who absolutely adore this city. We live and breathe sports and we proudly promote the world’s most fascinating accent (shaht aht to my fellow Yinzers who know what I’m talking abaht). You can’t get on a bus without seeing someone you know and there’s never a shortage of sandwiches and salads piled high with fries. I think this city has a unique way of bringing people together, and that’s something you don’t see every day.

Event Recap + What’s In The Works

Event Recap: Stop Pitching and Start Helping – PRSA Pittsburgh Joins Forces with ONA Pittsburgh

Public relations professionals hate pitching. Reporters, editors and writers hate being pitched. But here we are, driving each other crazy day after day anyway. How can we stop that? On Wednesday, March 30 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Sharp Edge Bistro downtown, members of PRSA Pittsburgh and Online News Association (ONA) Pittsburgh joined forces for a no-pitch, no sell night of talking and learning from each other, or having a drink and getting to know each other! 

PRSA Pittsburgh President Steve Radick and ONA’s Kim Lyons held an interactive discussion to break down the barriers that PR professionals and members of the media may encounter when working together. And so we can take some advice from each other! The topics and questions submitted upon arrival spurred a great dialogue that offered some hilarious, truthful insights from both PR professionals and members of the media. Read more in our blog post on the event here. 

Here are some other things we have in the works:

  • Women in Business Partner Event at Wigle Whiskey: PRSA Pittsburgh is thrilled to announce its  first-ever Women in Business event on Wednesday, June 15 at Wigle Whiskey in the Strip District!  Focused on elevating visibility of this critical topic, our goal is to connect emerging and established female professionals, throughout Pittsburgh, to start a dialogue.
  • GIFs, Memes, Hashtags, and Celebrities – What content can brands create and share and what should they avoid?:  We’re working on a Q&A discussion scheduled for May with an IP/copyright attorney to discuss the do’s and don’ts for creating, curating and sharing content. This can often be a blurry topic, so we’re looking to bring some clarity to this important issue.
  • PRSA Cleveland Partner Event: We’re looking forward to joining forces with our fellow PR pros at PRSA Cleveland this fall for a partner event that unites our two cities.
  •  Young Professionals Communicator Tour Series: Our Young Professionals committee will host their first tour of the year in May at American Eagle! The Communicator Tours series provides students and young professionals with a look inside a variety of PR agencies and corporate settings in the Pittsburgh area. Past tours include rue21, BRUNNERWORKS, Elias/Savion and Gatesman+Dave. Stay tuned for more details!


Stay tuned for more information about our upcoming events and what’s to come this year! Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @prsapgh and like us on Facebook at PRSA Pittsburgh for more updates!

Why I’m glad I went to a ‘grad school dark’ place 

Grad school was always on my radar, but I never thought about the exact time I’d return to school. When I was still getting my bachelor’s, I made jokes about going back to school when I hit ‘grad school dark.’ See, I made that joke fully expecting to graduate and be successful.

As we all know, life always has other plans.

After spending almost a year in retail, I hit that dark place. More than a lack of guidance for my future, I realized I was losing my passion for my selected field of public relations. The longer I was away, the less I remembered why I chose it in the first place. Then the IMC program at WVU got involved.

As an active member of PRSSA and frequent PRSA Pittsburgh event attender, I was very aware of the Integrated Marketing Communications program offered online by West Virginia University.  In fact, I always assumed I would select it because of the convenience and high honors it’s received.

I signed up for an online chat to learn more and within a week I had gathered all the materials and applied. I’ve heard nightmares about the application process for grad school, but I found the process relatively painless. WVU understands where its students are coming from and tries to make it as simple as possible and waives testing with a high enough GPA.

When I found out I was accepted, I was beyond excited for the next step in my life. But also incredibly terrified.

Yes, it was quite the adjustment learning to do school online, but the community created was amazing. More than just the conversations you have within the class discussion board, most of the students rally together on Facebook and form the relationships necessary to succeed.

I was sure online school would mean two years of working alone, but it was meeting other professionals and learning from them as well. It was incredible.

Over 20 months, I took 11 different classes, ranging from social media to analytics to crisis communication. And that is just the tip of the iceberg with the class offerings. You can select classes that support your current career path or try to learn something completely different and expand your knowledge.

My time at WVU also presented the biggest academic challenge I’ve faced. The final course is a capstone designed to test everything you’ve learned in the previous 10 courses. For nine weeks, you have to essentially function as an agency and create a complete campaign with real executions for a client. To say it’s demanding is an understatement.

It’s also incredibly rewarding.

As much as I was pushed, I realized I was equipped with everything I needed to succeed in my campaign. Yes, the work was hard, but I knew what I was doing. And sure, there was a little bit of ‘fake it till you make it,’ but there was very little to fake.

Whether you know you want to grad school or you’re on the fence, make the right choice and consider WVU. The schedule is tailored for you. If you want to take summers off, great. If you want to take one class a term, excellent. If you want to speed through and get everything done in just more than a year and a half, do it. The IMC Program at WVU wants you to succeed in whatever way works for you.

What are you waiting for? If you want more information, visit, and definitely check out the open house at BRUNNER Thursday, April 28, from 6 to 8 p.m. I mean really, what have you got to lose?


Chelsea N. Cummins is the fixed operations marketing coordinator for Hunter Truck Sales 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

Welcome, Soon-to-Be Graduates, to PRSA Pittsburgh

By Meredith Klein

As we prepare to welcome the newest class of PRSSA graduates to the ranks of PRSA Pittsburgh, I wanted to get a better understanding of what the transition from PRSSA to PRSA is like.  As vice president of the chapter, and after serving as young professionals co-chair for two consecutive terms, I’m passionate about helping emerging professionals to identify and assume their niche in the marketing communications world.

So, as college graduations swiftly approach and we look forward to welcoming new members to our chapter, I connected with PRSA Pittsburgh blog coordinator and Social B community manager, Valerie Bennett, to learn more.  Val recently eclipsed her first anniversary of college graduation as well as her first anniversary with PRSA Pittsburgh and provided some great feedback on easing the transition. Check out my Q&A with her below!

PRSA Pittsburgh: Where did you go to school and what year did you graduate?
VB: I attended West Virginia University and graduated in May 2015.  I bleed blue and gold for life!  I actually started at Social B a week before I graduated college and recently celebrated my one-year anniversary.

PRSA Pittsburgh: Why did you become involved with PRSA Pittsburgh?
VB: I was part of PRSSA at West Virginia University for close to two years, serving as our president during my senior year.  I got involved because there were so many opportunities to learn, grow and develop as a professional.

I was an advertising major but also interested in public relations and felt PRSSA was a great opportunity to challenge myself to learn more.  I attended a regional PRSSA conference, on behalf of our chapter, and fell in love with the event and the people I met.  I even keep in touch with some of those people to this day!  After my great experience with PRSSA, the natural next step was to get involved with PRSA to maintain the connection.

PRSA Pittsburgh: What are some of the similarities between PRSA and PRSSA?
VB: PRSA and PRSSA both provide opportunities to network and learn from skilled professionals in your region.  One of my favorite things about PRSA Pittsburgh is that it’s a close-knit circle of people who are committed to helping you learn new skills and elevate your career.  The growth opportunities with PRSA Pittsburgh may be at a different magnitude but at their cores, PRSA and PRSSA share the same goal: to build the next generation of PR pros through education and networking.

PRSA Pittsburgh: What has been your favorite part of being a member of PRSA Pittsburgh in the past year?
VB: When I first joined PRSA Pittsburgh in 2015, I had just moved to a city where I didn’t know anyone and was starting my first job.  But by joining PRSA Pittsburgh I was able to quickly meet new people and connect with them on similar passions.  The chapter has created great opportunities to find mentors and people to whom I can look up to and learn from.

PRSA Pittsburgh: From your vantage point, what are the greatest benefits of membership?
VB: I think the access to knowledge is what sets PRSA apart.  The organization provides a variety of resources including newsletters, educational events and access to industry leaders in the region to help you develop.  Personally, I love the daily and weekly newsletters – I’ve even printed some of them out and hung them around the office so others can learn and absorb the information as well!

PRSA Pittsburgh: What keeps you excited about being part of PRSA Pittsburgh?
VB: Definitely the growth of the organization – I love to start somewhere and see where it goes.  PRSA Pittsburgh, and PRSA overall, has endless opportunities to study and evolve.  It’s a great community and everyone is willing to help you on your journey.

PRSA Pittsburgh: What’s your biggest takeaway for students looking to transition from PRSSA to PRSA Pittsburgh?
VB: The truth is, it can be scary to be fresh out of school.  You’re looking for ways to build relationships and extend your network while also looking for a job.  PRSA Pittsburgh was a tight-knit group that helped to make the post-college transition much easier and more enjoyable for me.

I was able to meet new people and being to develop relationships soon after my move to Pittsburgh.  It was comforting to know you had a great network that was invested in you and wanted to help you succeed.  It also helped me to learn the city better as I settled in to my new routine.

PRSA Pittsburgh: What has been your favorite PRSA Pittsburgh event to attend in the last year?
VB: The first PRSA Pittsburgh event I attended was the 2016 Renaissance Awards.  I was there on behalf of PRSA Pittsburgh to report on the event and the honors delivered that evening.   It was incredible to see all of the great work produced in Pittsburgh as well as the behind-the-scenes effort it takes to create award-winning campaigns.  It’s awesome to meet PR pros that you’ve heard about and become part of the conversation.

PRSA Pittsburgh: Three words to describe PRSA Pittsburgh.
VB: Exciting, educational, and innovative.

PRSA Pittsburgh: What would PRSA Pittsburgh’s theme song?
VB: I think it would be a mean combination of “Don’t Stop Me Now” by    Queen, “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees, and of course Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.”

We’re excited to meet those of you who are recent graduates and looking to get involved with PRSA Pittsburgh! Contact us hereand let us know who you are and what you’re looking for – we’re here to be a resource as you begin the next chapter in your careers.


Meredith Klein is vice president of PRSA Pittsburgh and public relations account supervisor at BRUNNER.

Stop Pitching and Start Helping: PR and Media Can and Should Be Working Together

By Elizabeth Bacheson

Public relations professionals hate pitching. Reporters, editors and writers hate being pitched. But here we are, driving each other crazy day after day anyway. How can we stop that?

On Wednesday, March 30 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Sharp Edge Bistro downtown, members of PRSA Pittsburgh and Online News Association (ONA) Pittsburgh joined forces for a no-pitch, no sell night of talking and learning from each other, or having a drink and getting to know each other!

Upon arriving, attendees were encouraged to share their questions or suggestions on slips of paper (or via the #PRSAONA hashtag) on what can be improved or should be avoided when working with either PR professionals or members of the media. This would serve as the basis of a moderated discussion later in the evening.

After mingling with fellow attendees over drinks and appetizers, PRSA Pittsburgh President Steve Radick who serves as VP, director of public relations and content integration at Brunner; and ONA’s Kim Lyons, news editor at NEXT Pittsburgh; held an interactive discussion to break down the barriers that PR professionals and members of the media may encounter when working together. And so we can take some advice from each other!

The topics and questions submitted spurred a great dialogue that offered some hilarious, truthful insights from both PR professionals and members of the media. Some included:

  • What’s your favorite and least favorite parts of working with PR professionals?
  • The fine line between persistence and badgering when it comes to pitching a reporter.
  • Get the reporter’s name right when pitching.
  • Should a PR professional formally thank the reporter after running a positive story about their client?
  • Crisis scenarios: If a PR person’s client isn’t available during a crisis, make sure you give the media the right point person.
  • What’s newsworthy? It’s the reporter’s job to judge that. PR professionals should have honest conversations with their client about what is a story and what isn’t. Taking it to a reporter will just burn bridges.
  •  You’re not doing a client any favors by shopping around a story that no one will be interested in.


The evening ended with a discussion on empathy. PR professionals have a job to do and so to members of the media, but we need to help each other out in order to do that. Enough said!


Elizabeth Bacheson currently serves as PRSA Pittsburgh’s Programming Director and social media communicator at Westinghouse Electric Company in Cranberry Twp., PA where she oversees corporate social media activities, including strategy and content creation to ensure alignment across social media accounts globally.