Duquesne’s Chapter Expands its Professional Network

By Duquesne PRSSA

This semester, our chapter has taken advantage of the large amount of opportunities the city of Pittsburgh offers us. Our proximity to the vast quantity of resources in the city has always been there; however, we never seemed to utilize these to the fullest potential. We pride ourselves in conducting an agency tour in the fall and hosting our own networking event on campus in the spring. While we still plan to continue with these events, we decided to switch the normal routine up.

This semester, instead of an agency tour, we hosted and attended several professional and network-building events. We first hosted on campus an alumna of our chapter – a former president in 2015 – to speak to potential members about the benefits of PRSSA. While anyone on the current executive board could provide a list of benefits of joining, we decided that if students heard how a communications professional has, and still is, benefiting from being a part of PRSSA, it might have a larger impact.

In October, several members attended PRSA Pittsburgh’s First Annual PR Summit “Disruption and the Search for Authenticity.” This was different, yet more beneficial, than a firm tour as members were offered the chance to network with many PR, advertising, communications and journalism professionals at once in their own setting. It provided members a real-world experience away from the comfortable environment of campus.

In November, members attended the discussion panel Embracing and Overcoming Difference: Diversity and Inclusion in Marketing and Advertising hosted by Gatesman on our campus. This event was small enough to allow members to interact on a personal level with many of the professionals, including the current president of Gatesman and professionals from PNC Bank.

While we still plan on continuing next semester with an agency tour and our networking event in the spring as usual, these three simple, yet advantageous, opportunities have allowed us to be more prepared and gain more experience for hosting our own chapter event. Each year we strive to make it bigger and better, and we believe this year we have all the tools to do so thanks to the public relations community in Pittsburgh.

Starting a PR Revolution: Tactics November Issue Recap

By Bre Stephens

Those of you who attended this year’s PRSA International Conference know all about the spirit of revolution. If you weren’t able to make it, you can still learn how to start a PR revolution in this month’s issue of Tactics. Here’s a peek at the highlights from some of this year’s speakers:

Morgan Spurlock on Creating World-Changing Content

  • Morgan Spurlock, award-winning filmmaker and host of CNN’s “Inside Man,” shared how to create original content that has the power to change the world. According to Morgan, PR professionals must be willing to take criticism, have people who believe in them and their vision, and have persistence of vision.

Bea Arthur on Being Resilient and Finding Success

  • It’s a known fact that success doesn’t come easy. Bea Arthur, a therapist, entrepreneur and media personality, talked about how the secret to success is resilience.

AmyK Hutchens on Performance and Productivity

  • AmyK Hutchens, business strategist and leadership development expert, spoke to leaders about how they can foster brilliance inside their organizations.

Jay Baer on the Power of Customer Experience

  • According to author and digital marketing expert Jay Baer, customers trust people more than they trust companies. He discussed how PR professionals can harness word-of-mouth communication to bring success to their clients.

Project Bread’s Fight Against Hunger in Massachusetts

  • Maureen Halley Lederhos, director of marketing communications for Project Bread, explained how the company implemented outreach programs to help raise awareness of the amount of Massachusetts residents who lack access to nutritious food.

Read the latest issue of Tactics here.


Bre is an account executive at Havas PR. Follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Learn about Cision Impact at PRSA Pittsburgh’s Holiday Party!

By Courtney Dwyer Tyson

Hi, PRSA Pittsburgh! Courtney from Cision here. Some of you may know me as your PR Newswire representative, turned Cision representative, others may not be familiar with who I am. I have been with PR Newswire and Cision for more than 8 years now, and have had the pleasure of helping organizations in the Pittsburgh market tell their stories for the past two years. I have completely fallen in love with your city, and most of all, the communicators who reside here, who I have found to be some of the most innovative and open minded individuals I’ve come across during my career.

In fact, it’s this market in particular that has consistently challenged me when it comes to equating your efforts to ROI. Whether you are expected to show value to your client, leadership team or CFO, all communicators are looking for the same thing – a way to attribute value to the things you do every day. For example, what did that story in the New York Post do for the organization? The Incline mentioned us in a blog post, we’ve got the clip, great, so what? We know that earned media is more trusted than paid, but our paid media counterparts get a larger piece of the budget because they can report on how an ad affected an organization’s revenue.

Well communicators, please know that you have been heard!

Two weeks ago, Cision Impact was launched, and for the first time ever, Cision is bringing to market technology that makes it possible for brands to measure the impact of earned media and marketing communications programs accurately. Our technology allows professionals to compile information in a detailed report, ready for delivery.

Kaila Garrison, Cision’s Vice President of Marketing (Pittsburgh native and mastermind behind our Cision Impact launch!), and I will be discussing Cision Impact in more detail during PRSA Pittsburgh’s annual Holiday Happy hour on Monday, Dec. 11, at Poros.

To learn more about how Cision will be changing the way communicators attribute value to efforts, please come join our conversation!

3 Ways to Convince an Audience Outside Your Sphere of Influence

By Claire O’Neil

Networking is a key element in public relations. It’s something that can help a company grow or acquire new clients.

But how can a company network with people who are not familiar with a company or may not have any interest in what it is? And what are the best ways to convince them on what you are trying to present? The tactics every public relations company uses focuses on the development of the relationship between the company and the client. But how exactly can you influence a client that may not be interested in your type of firm?

I asked two public relation professionals one question: What tactics do your company use to convince an audience outside your sphere of influence?

Here are three tactics they use daily:

1. Good Communication.

Whether you work in public relations or any type of media, you know communication is a requirement that creates new relationships and can turn them into long-term affairs.

The main-stream media is a great way to find and attract diverse clients through advertising. Finding information and statistics on where people are spending their free time can be a way to market material. The older generation tends to read the newspaper or use Facebook while younger generations use other social networking sites.

Communication through these channels can persuade a viewer by the advertisements. By doing this, they are able to target a direct audience which can result in getting different types of clients you may not have had before.

2. Build Trustworthiness.

Your client wants to be in good hands, so by slowly building a relationship, this can snowball into trust and acceptance.

Philip Stahl, a public information officer that works for a police department said: “We work daily to build the trust of our community and showcase our work by enforcing the law.”

The fair and impartial enforcement of these can build into trust because citizens believe they are living in a safe environment.

Paul Auriga, President and CEO of WordWrite Communications. said, “We strive to establish trust with those we work with.”

By creating a sense of security and finding comparisons among you and your client can develop a relationship and can persuade new clients to be with your company. You can do this by collecting as much information as possible on a given topic and develop a logical case on why they will be in good hands.

If a company is trusted, this can draw in more clients which can ultimately change the typical pattern it may have.

3. Have a Diverse Team.

This may be one of the most important yet obvious tool to have in a company.

How are you able to reach out to different types of clients when everyone has the same opinions and perspectives? Being able to acquire people from different places and different viewpoints can evolve a company.

“One measure of our success in relationship building comes from our diverse team, who bring different experiences, backgrounds and expertise to our clients.” Furiga said.

Having a diverse team can help by focusing on their own strengths to appeal to a specific audience. This comes to show that having several different opinions whether you agree with them or not, can make a difference in building a new and different type of relationship.


Claire O’Neil is a PRSSA member at West Virginia University. Connect with Claire on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter

Education: Tactics October Issue Recap

By Bre Stephens

In each step of our career—from college to that first job to being a part of the senior team—we, as PR pros, never stop learning.

The October issue of Tactics keeps knowledge flowing by helping readers turn challenging times into teachable moments, use personal stories to make a difference in times of need, find success as a communications consultant, turn a non-PR job into a dream career, and make a name for themselves with a personal brand.

Finding Teachable Moments in Tough Times

  • David W. Brown, assistant professor of instruction for the School of Media and Communication at Temple University, outlines his recommendations for how PR professors of any color or background can stay objective and turn today’s difficult events into teachable examples.

Storm Center: By Sharing Personal Stories, Influencers Inspire Charitable Giving

  • Scott Pansky, co-founder/partner of Allison + Partners, explains how influencers have inspired charitable giving by sharing their own personal stories in times of need, such as Hurricane Harvey.

Consulting 101: Uncommon Tips for Agency Success

  • Gary Bridgens, project consultant at APCO Worldwide, shares his tips for how a communications consultant can stand out at an agency.

Starting Out: How Bagging Groceries Can Help You Land Your First PR Job

  • Bagging groceries, mowing lawns, working in a factory—these are just a few examples of jobs some of us started out doing. David Ritchey, Ph.D., professor in the School of Communication at the University of Akron, reminds us that any type of job can help nail down that first PR job.

A Brand New You: 7 Steps to Developing Your Personal Brand

  • Your personal brand is powerful, and is just as important as a company’s brand. Jacqueline Strayer, faculty member in graduate programs at NYU and Columbia, and principal with The Sound Advisory Group, Inc, offers seven tips for honing in on your personal brand.

Read the latest issue of Tactics here.


Bre is an account executive at Havas PR. Follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

What We Learned at PRSA Pittsburgh’s PR Summit

By WordWrite Communications

[ This is a post from our 2017 PR Summit silver sponsor, WordWrite Communications, a strategic communications consulting firm based in downtown Pittsburgh. ]

This time of year is certainly full of professional development opportunities for those of us in this field. In the last 4 weeks, members of our team had an opportunity to travel to Boston to attend INBOUND as well as the PRSA 2017 International Conference.

When we found out that PRSA Pittsburgh was hosting a PR Summit here in our hometown, we were thrilled to support it as a silver sponsor!

Marketing and communications is a constantly evolving, fast-paced industry. With the changing media landscape and rise of new social media channels and digital tools at our disposal, it’s critical we stay on top of industry trends and best practices.

At WordWrite, we encourage our employees to take full advantage of these professional development opportunities. And with an office full of PR and social media pros eager to learn, grow and offer the best services to our clients, it doesn’t take much convincing. Below are key takeaways that members of the team learned this year at the PR Summit.

Paul Furiga, President & CEO

“The big takeaway for me is that even as technology changes, the core of great public relations is two-way connection and communication.

Jenn Bane from Cards for Humanity made that clear in her keynote. Cards is a smart, millennial-conceived and millennial-run company that is supremely smart about social media marketing. At the end of the day, the marketing is all about a card came, quite literally printed cards used not in a virtual reality but when people get together. At the end of the day, social media tools make it possible to connect in ways that we didn’t know about two decades ago. That connection is still between real people, with real dialogue and real interactions.”

Noah Fleming, Digital and Inbound Marketing Specialist 

“Events like the PR Summit are perfect for networking whether you are a student or working professional. It’s an opportunity to meet people in the PR field and make connections with people you wouldn’t normally talk to on a regular basis.

I learned a lot about what actually goes into planning a Super Bowl commercial. The commercial itself is only a small piece of the puzzle. Website creation, social media strategies, and PR placements are what drives the overall messaging for the campaign before, during and after the commercial actually airs.”

Louis Spanos, Account Coordinator

“As the newest member to the WordWrite team, I was excited to attend the media panel. It was great to get some face time with the reporters I pitch to, and to also hear what they look for in a story. Megan Harris from 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh’s NPR affiliate, gave great insight when she stated that she likes when reporters tell her what types of sounds she can use for a broadcast story. Whether it be interesting textures or someone with a great speaking voice, sound is paramount to an engaging radio story, so the pitches should reflect that.”

Diana Dugina, Creative Director

I thoroughly enjoyed the first PRSA Summit keynoted by Jenn Bane. The Cards Against Humanity’s community manager delivered an insightful and surprisingly undisruptive event. I kept expecting a pop-up to appear on the stage somehow. Never-the-less, Ms. Bane told a witty and compelling story. The concept and application of ‘disruptive advertising’ is a thought-provoking approach. It requires the advertiser to weigh and measure if they can sell that hat and wear it well: a much easier endeavor for a newly established company or advertiser.

Jenn Bane’s address led us to the evening’s second keyword ‘authentic.’ As advertisers, we can portray anything with authenticity, but the market is increasingly savvy, and they check to see just how that hat is worn. The unexpected and beautiful 84 Lumber Super Bowl spot was indeed a successful example of the disruption and authentic approach. From the perspective of a wistful girl on her difficult journey with her mother, the advertisement certainly stood out from the KFC Colonel, Mr. Clean and Go Daddy. I don’t know how many refugees or immigrants they have since employed, but I hope they’ve donned their hat and sweater and are wearing them well.

Robin Rectenwald, Senior Account Executive

“This year’s PR Summit theme was all about disruption and how to communicate authentic messages that resonate with your audience. For me, the biggest takeaway from this year’s conference was “just do it.” Many of the speakers admitted they don’t necessarily know what they are doing – they just try things out and go for it. For example, Jenn Bane from Cards Against Humanity said, “You don’t need to have all of the answers to get started, you just need to start.”

I also enjoyed the inside peak into Pittsburgh’s top newsrooms – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, TribLIVE and 90.5 WESA. Jeremy Boren, the Digital Managing Editor at TribLIVE said he gets at least 12 pitches every hour! Here are some of my favorite quotes from the media panel:

  • “Sell it to me in six words.” – Megan Harris, 90.5 WESA
  • “Make your name known to reporters. Ask for coffee or lunch to get to know them.” – Jeremy Boren, TribLIVE
  • “When pitching, know what the reporter covers.” – Joyce Gannon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • “Lead your pitch with an action. Act like you’re telling a friend what you did at work over a beer.” – Megan Harris, 90.5 WESA
  • “We’re curious people and we want to hear something new and interesting just like our readers do.” – Jeremy Boren, TribLIVE

Thank you to PRSA Pittsburgh for planning and hosting an inspiring evening for our PR community! We were happy to be a part of it!

Young Professionals Will Host Next Communicator Tour at Philips!

Our Communicator Tour Series is on its way to Philips!

Please join us on Tuesday, November 7, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., for a tour of Philips Sleep and Respiratory Care’s brand new office dedicated to advancing innovation. Students will be able to learn from multiple PR professionals, who will speak about their role at Philips. One of the speakers will include PRSA Pittsburgh committee member and past president, Meredith Amoroso, the senior manager of Philips’ global public relations. Following the presentation, there will be a tour of their new office, now located in Oakland!

“Philips is a global leader in health technology with a core focus on improving lives through meaningful innovation and strong marketing and innovation capabilities to support that focus,” said Amoroso. “I’m excited to finally be on the other side of a PRSA event and have the opportunity to share insights about what PR is like within a global health-tech organization and give a glimpse in to our great culture here at our Pittsburgh location.”

Students and young professionals will have an opportunity to learn more about the global health technology company and network with leading professionals in the industry.

“It’s important for students to see what kind of opportunities they have before, and even after, graduating,” Kariann Mano, PRSA Pittsburgh’s Young Professionals co-chair. “Students might think they would love to work at one place, but being able to open their eyes into our diverse field is what we strive to do, and I’m glad we’ll be able to do that with such an innovative company like Philips.”

To RSVP for the event, please send a note to youngprofessionals@prsa-pgh.org by Friday, October 27, 2017.

About Philips:

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people’s health and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Philips’ health technology portfolio generated 2016 sales of EUR 17.4 billion and employs approximately 70,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. News about Philips can be found at www.philips.com/newscenter.

Philips Sleep & Respiratory Care is a global leader with a more than 40-year leading legacy in the sleep and respiratory care markets, offering solutions in sleep apnea management, oxygen therapy, noninvasive ventilation and respiratory drug delivery. With more than 2.5 billion nights of cloud-based sleep therapy data collected over 10 years from more than 5 million connected sleep therapy and ventilation devices, Philips is continuously leveraging its growing connected sleep landscape to innovate new and impactful services to help people sleep and breathe better all over the world.

For more information about Philips, visit their website at https://www.philips.com/sleepandrespiratorycare.

An Insider View of Cards Against Humanity’s Infamous PR Strategy

The PR Summit is just around the corner, and PRSA Pittsburgh is proud to bring Cards Against Humanity’s Jenn Bane to our first annual event. As we discussed in our blog post last week, the summit is designed to challenge how you think about the risk of disruption and how to build authentic relationships with your audience.

In advance of the summit, we asked Jenn for a short preview of her insider’s look behind the bestselling game:

You’ve helped Cards Against Humanity pull off some incredible stunts. Were there any that you thought were going to be impossible to achieve?

A few years ago, we went to Australia for a gaming conference. It was our first time in Australia and we made a huge booth on the show floor that was completely USA-themed. We had an Uncle Sam on stilts, flags waving, huge posters of former Presidents and American junk food. I wore a fake raccoon hat the whole time. We even had a loud marching band come through and cause a scene (that was hard to find because there aren’t really marching bands in Australia, it’s not a thing there). The execution was incredible — our events team did an absolutely amazing job making this booth — but I wasn’t sure if people at this conference would find the booth funny.

I was completely wrong. The booth was adored and we sold out of games in six minutes. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Despite Cards Against Humanity’s incredible financial success, you’ve always offered the game for free, allowing people to download and print their own versions. Why?

We’ve always offered Cards Against Humanity as a PDF you can download and print. If people play it with their friends once, they might want their own version. In the beginning when we were unknown it was important to simply get the game in front of people, and the PDF was an easy way to do that. We’ll always offer the main game for free.

You’ve been the brains behind Cards Against Humanity’s notoriously hilarious customer service strategy. What’s your most memorable customer interaction?

I have a soft spot for the emails we received during Black Friday 2015. We sold nothing — literally nothing. You could give us money, but we made it clear you would receive nothing in return. We got hundreds of emails from “customers” (some angry, most of them delighted) demanding to know when they would receive nothing in the mail.

Don’t miss Jenn at the Summit! Register now!

Why We’re Bringing Cards Against Humanity to Pittsburgh

Use a euphemism whenever possible. Take a neutral position on anything controversial. When in doubt, say “no comment.”

Most public relations professionals are well-trained in defensive PR tactics that keep our organizations on the safe side of the public. Just as all doctors learn that the cardinal rule of medicine is to “first, do no harm,” PR practitioners typically believe that it is better to say nothing at all than to risk offending someone.

With these principles in mind, it may seem like an odd choice for PRSA Pittsburgh to invite Jenn Bane, the community manager from the popular game Cards Against Humanity, to speak at our inaugural PR Summit. Branded as the “Game for Horrible People,” the company was founded entirely on the idea that it can be fun to say things that are inappropriate, controversial, absurd and downright shocking.*

The game goes against every PR principle in the book. So what can Cards Against Humanity teach us about public relations?

Above all, the success of the game is based on trust and authenticity. As my colleague Nick Paradise noted in his recent blog post for ethics month, the world is currently experiencing a crisis of trust. Many people have lost trust in the media. They’ve lost trust in corporations. And they’ve lost trust in our institutions. In the age of information, there’s a deep fear that the public isn’t being told the entire story.

As people crave more authenticity, PR messages that paint a rosy, picture-perfect view can fall flat, leaving people wondering if there’s something to hide behind the scenes. Cards Against Humanity takes the opposite approach. They lay out the worst and darkest sentiments from the beginning, with nothing left to hide. But behind the scenes, they give vast amounts of money to charity.

The game’s audience is delighted by this subversive approach that makes light of words but delivers above and beyond what it promises. As a result, the audience has become incredibly loyal, trusting the company to make them laugh no matter the cost. As a result, Cards Against Humanity has been able to pull off incredible stunts. They charged an extra $5 for their game for a Black Friday Sale, and made tens of thousands of extra dollars. They raised more than $100,000 to dig a giant, pointless hole. They even sold more than 30,000 boxes of actual bullsh*t. Each time, they were clear and direct about what they were doing and why. And their audience appreciated it so much they paid for it.

The brand is, as promised, incredibly controversial. But whether you love the game or absolutely hate it, our point in bringing them to the PR Summit is to challenge how you think about risk in PR. Like every other industry, the public relations field is now under constant threat of disruption. To innovate and adapt to change, we have to be willing to consider that our tried-and-true techniques might no longer be effective, and that previously unheard-of tactics may work in a new context.

PRSA Pittsburgh is taking this theory to heart with the launch of the PR Summit this year. The Summit replaces our annual Professional Development Day, which has typically been geared toward helping younger professionals network with others in the PR community. While the PR Summit will still accomplish this, we wanted to broaden our approach and provide more valuable insight that will spark big ideas for experienced practitioners, young professionals and students alike.

In addition to featuring Cards Against Humanity, we’ll also hear from Steve Radick, VP & Director of Public Relations at BRUNNER, on how creating a bold and controversial Super Bowl ad put a southwestern Pennsylvania company on the map and earned the spot as AdWeek’s #1 Super Bowl ad. Carnegie Mellon professor Ari Lightman will also speak on how artificial intelligence is disrupting social media. And for practical tips on getting media attention, we’ll hold a panel discussion with several journalists who will talk about what it takes to grab their attention.

No matter what industry you work in or the stage of your career, you will leave the PR Summit energized to try something new. You might walk away ready to revolutionize your PR strategy from top to bottom. Or you might gain the courage to execute a bold new PR tactic that you’d been afraid might fail. You might even leave the event outraged and ready to prove that your existing PR strategy is the best in the business. But you won’t leave without feeling a renewed passion for your career.

Join us for the PR Summit on October 19 from 6-9 p.m. at the Carnegie Science Center. Register here.

*If you aren’t familiar with the game, it’s played by one player reading aloud a black card that asks players to fill in the blank. Each player then submits a response from their hand of white cards. The reader shuffles all the response cards, then reads them aloud, choosing the one that he or she likes best as the winner.

Ethics Month Special: Tactics September Issue Recap

By Bre Stephens

As PR professionals, we’re often faced with situations that force us to use our moral and ethical compass to guide clients or own organizations. Since September is Ethics Month, it’s only fitting that this month’s issue of Tactics touches upon how to deal with crises, navigate ethics as young professionals and ground ourselves in our own principles — while aligning with the PRSA Code of Ethics.

3 Tips for Navigating Ethics as a New Professional

  • It can be challenging to navigate the murky waters of ethics, especially as a young professional. Lindsay Moeller, PR executive at Two Rivers Marketing, outlines her top three tips on ethics for new pros.

A Matter of Principle: How to Be a Truly Trusted Strategic Ethics Adviser

  • James E. Lukaszewski, APR, Fellow PRSA, discusses how to define your personal core values and principles to best resolve ethical dilemmas.

Recovery Mode: Bouncing Back From a Crisis, Stronger Than Ever

  • When a crisis strikes, it’s vital to properly execute your organization’s crisis plan, with keen attention on the crisis recovery phase. Bob McNaney, senior vice president of crisis and critical issues for Padilla, offers insight into how to come out stronger than ever after a crisis.

Can Ethics Exist Without Principles?

  • Jonathan R. Slater, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Ethics in Public Life at SUNY Plattsburgh, explains how the PRSA Code of Ethics — coupled with your own instinct — can guide you in ethically challenging situations.

When Crisis Strikes: A Guide for Small Businesses

  • V.K. Fields, founder of V.K. Fields & Co. PR PROS, understands that a crisis can happen to any company — no matter the size. She shares how small businesses without a crisis management/communication plan can prepare themselves following a few basic steps.

Read the latest issue of Tactics here.


Bre is an account executive at Havas PR. Follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.