The Value of In-Person Meetings in the Digital Age: A PRSA-NCC Event

by Jillian Cameron

Panel (1)Whether you are a reporter, a PR professional, or anyone in the communications world, you probably rely heavily on email to connect with others throughout the day. Many prefer the comfort and the anonymity of online interactions compared to the riskiness of an in-person meeting.

On Wednesday, June 21, the Public Relations Society of America’s National Capital Chapter (PRSA-NCC) hosted a panel of experts to discuss why so many professionals are reluctant to have in-person meetings and how those meetings can be beneficial to not only yourself, but to your work.

Panel2Alex Gangitano, panelist and reporter for CQ Roll Call, discussed how in-person meetings are vital to maintaining relationships with her contacts and are “always worth the time.” Gangitano says that being able to put a face to the name not only creates relationships between reporters and their sources, but can also build trust that may prove to be invaluable in times of need.

But is the Internet to blame for the lack of in-person meetings? Panelist Dr. Mary Alvord of Alvord, Baker & Associates and former president of the American Psychological Association’s Society for Media Psychology and Technology , says that a lot of people have some degree of social anxiety that can be avoided through sticking with online interactions. Most of the anxiety related to in-person interactions is anticipatory, Alvord says, and will ease as the conversation begins.

Panel3Alvord outlined three dimensions of interactions: texting and email, phone and video chatting, and in-person. Texting and email can be useful for an initial contact, while video chatting provides the comfort of online communication with some of the benefits of in-person interactions. Yet, neither emailing nor video chatting create the same effects as in-person meetings.

While in-person meetings can create meaningful professional relationships, they’re not always necessary, according to Washington Post reporter and panelist, Michael Laris. Laris says that it’s not necessary to schedule in-person meetings with organizations that make information widely accessible and understandable on multiple platforms.

In order to prepare for those nerve-wracking in-person meetings, Seth Turner of the Congressional Management Foundation, says to remember your ABCs: acknowledge, bridge, and communicate. Practicing your talking points and doing your homework will set your in-person meeting up for success.

As moderator, Aaron Ellis, says it’s all about balancing online interactions with face-to-face communication. Finding a happy medium between sending out emails and grabbing coffee or lunch is the key to success and building strong professional relationships.

Enter Your Firm’s Best Work to Win a 2017 Thoth Award from PRSA-NCC

By: Jillian Cameron, News Generation, Inc.

The 48th Annual Thoth Awards, hosted by the Public Relations Society of America National Capital Chapter, recognizes and celebrates outstanding strategic public relations programs and components created in the Greater Washington, D.C. area.

Named for the Egyptian god of communication, the Thoth Awards (pronounced “tot”), is the National Capital Chapter of PRSA’s local version of the Silver Anvils. Previous winners include the National Education Association and Ogilvy Washington’s Bring Your Brave Campaign, among many others. The awards recognize work in public relations across 34 categories, ranging from public relations campaigns to tactics.

Entry to the 2017 Thoth Awards is open to both PRSA-NCC members and non-members, and will be open until Monday, June 24, 2017. But why should you apply to the 2017 Thoth Awards? As Raymond Crosby, President & CEO of Crosby Marketing Communications, puts it:

“The Thoth Awards are really worthwhile because the entries are judged by industry peers who know how to recognize great work that gets real results.  The greater Washington, DC region has a lot of high profile agencies and organizations that participate in this competition, so winning a Thoth says you’re the best of the best.”

This year’s Thoth Awards Gala will be held at the National Press Club on Thursday, October 12, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. Still not convinced the Thoth Awards are for you? Here are some more testimonials from leaders in the Greater Washington, D.C. area public relations community:

“The PRSA-NCC Chapter is the largest PRSA in the country. The communications work produced in the metropolitan D.C. area is national-caliber work. Therefore, to win a Thoth Award is truly a great honor.”

– Jeff Wilson, Vice President, Padilla

“At News Generation, personal interaction with our clients is a huge priority. Being a finalist for a Thoth Award is a great opportunity to invite your clients with whom you entered to spend the evening with you at the Gala. The recognition of being a finalist or a winner positions your client as a thought-leader in the industry in front of peers. It has been a great way for us to continue to grow our relationships with clients, and shows them that the value we are providing them is strong enough to be recognized on such a large scale.”

– Kelsey Pospisil O’Planick, News Generation, Inc.

“For me, as a federal government communicator, the Thoth Award was certainly about recognition, . but so much more, too. It was exhilarating and incredibly satisfying for the entire team at the US Department of Labor to not only “go up against” work done by major corporations, international PR firms and influential trade associations, but to actually win? That was amazing! I knew that our work was as good, or even better, than work done by more experienced and bigger (including budget) Washington area PR professionals. Winning a Thoth proved it. And it was an incomparable morale booster–team members walked a little straighter and held their head up a little higher for weeks after the award ceremony.

This part isn’t as glamourous or exciting, but I think it’s still very important: The application process is a very worthwhile endeavor. It is rigorous and time-consuming, there is no doubt about that. But it makes you think (and think hard); it makes you ask yourself tough questions about your program and its results; it makes you write, and rewrite and edit; and it forces you to defend your project. You can’t just say it was great, you have to prove it. Too often, we don’t have the time to “post mortem” a project (we’re on to the next crisis). Working on the Thoth application gives you an opportunity for serious reflection and professional introspection. Everybody needs to do more of that. Especially PR people!

There was an unexpected benefit of winning several Thoth Awards, as well as winning a PRSA Silver Anvil and Bronze Anvil: our shop became known as a real talent destination—and not just in the federal space, but throughout the Washington, DC public relations community. Recruiting talent became easier (and we attracted the truly best and brightest) because we were an award-winning shop, just as cool and creative and exciting as the boutique PR agency of the moment. The team was certainly proud of that, and applicants very much wanted to be a part of it.”

– Carl Fillichio, Weedmaps, formerly of U.S. Department of Labor

Thoth Award Submissions Now Available Online – D.C.’s Most Prestigious PR Awards

by Susan Matthews Apgood, News Generation

thoth3Many organizations throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area do great work in public relations, and submitting your work for a Thoth Award is an opportunity to showcase your most successful campaigns. Thoth Awards are given to all types of organizations, from independent to global PR agencies, from government agencies to advocacy and non-profit groups, and from private to publicly held companies – and across many categories.

Named for the Egyptian god of communication, the Thoth (pronounced “tot”) Awards recognize the most outstanding, strategic public relations programs and components developed and produced in the Greater Washington, D.C. area. Achievements are recognized in 34 categories, including 16 program categories that celebrate the best PR campaigns and 18 component categories that highlight top accomplishments in PR tactics.

The Public Relations Society of America’s National Capital Chapter (PRSA-NCC) hosts the local annual Thoth competition to recognize and reward outstanding achievement in public relations and to encourage continued excellence in the field. The deadline for entries for this year’s Thoth Awards early bird deadline is Friday, June 30 and the final deadline is Monday, July 24.

Here’s how to get started: Step 1: Before entering, be sure to view and print a PDF of the 2017 Thoth Awards Call for Entries; and Step 2: NEW for 2017: All entries will be submitted online.  To enter, just go to our Online Entry Portal.

To help you put together your entries, we a brief video on How to Win a Thoth Award. And, visit the PRSA-NCC website for the full details on the Thoth Awards. Follow us on Twitter at @prsa_ncc and use the hashtags #thoth2017 and #nightwithkingthoth. For more information, please contact Susan Apgood at or Danny Selnick at

The Value of APR

By Tracy Cooley

Since receiving accreditation, I have had numerous debates with co-workers about the value of APR.

The value of APR is based on the individual as there are many benefits. For me personally, the greatest benefit is reinforcing the principles of public relations that produce strong results. The APR process gave me an opportunity to commit to approaching communication using the RPIE method (Research, Planning, Implementation, Evaluation) and following PRSA’s code of ethics.

Accreditation can provide a strong foundation for future career growth. While not everyone recognizes the value of the APR designation, it is recognized throughout the profession. There are many professionals, including me, who gravitate to public relations pros who have their APR as it gives me confidence that they have a firm understanding of the RPIE approach.

Pursuing accreditation is a personal decision. It takes time and patience, but most importantly, it requires a commitment to increase your knowledge and broaden your perspective in order to elevate your career.

The good news is that you do not have to do it alone – there are many accredited professionals who will mentor you throughout the process. A strong mentor can make a difference and give you the guidance and tools to ease the way forward.

Personally, I found the accreditation process to be enjoyable. I met numerous people who provided inspiration and motivation. Although I have two degrees in public communication, I still gained valuable knowledge that helped to compliment my formal education. Since it had been many years since I took a test, I enjoyed the challenge of test-taking (surprisingly!).

I would encourage anyone to pursue their accreditation as I believe it expands and enhances the experience of being a public relations professional. The APR process is valuable for professional and personal growth and will provide immense long-term benefits.

Learn more about APR

Surround Yourself with a Like-Minded Team

Surround Yourself with a Like-Minded Team, Who Complement Your Weaknesses:
A Recap of News Generation’s Panel

by Kelsey O’Planick


Panelists from Left to Right: Kate Perrin, Regina Lewis, Paul Quirk, Samantha Villegas

Putting the right team together is critical to the outcome and success of your project. Whether you’re in-house looking to bring on some additional help, you’re a PR firm who has won a new client, or a small business or independent looking to offer more value to your clients outside of your core expertise.

It can be much more cost-effective to structure your team in such a way that you’re having people do what they’re great at. Everyone has a stake in the game. Everyone brings something special and unique to the table, and it allows you to capitalize on talent and provide the greatest outcome.

But how do you choose the right people for your team? How do you decide what to outsource help for? A panel of experts recently shared their thoughts and experiences at News Generation’s panel event on Thursday, May 18 at the City Club of Washington, “Developing Your Team & Executing Together: How Organizations, Firms & Independents Can Work Together Effectively.”

The panelists included Samantha Villegas, President of SaVi PR, LLC; Paul Quirk, Director of Communications at Digital Impact Alliance at the United Nations Foundation; Kate Perrin, CEO of PRofessional Solutions, LLC; and Regina Lewis, CEO of Regina Lewis, LCC and Media Contributor & Consultant.

Some of the panelists’ key points were about building your networks, surrounding yourself with other like-minded professionals, and bringing in help when you need it to fill gaps as a cohesive team. It was suggested to find a team that complements your weaknesses for the best results. Also, attend networking events hosted by groups like PRSA and WWPR, and do pro bono work to help secure referrals for clients.

Leverage people you trust and have self-confidence so you don’t have to say ‘no’ to projects when you may have in the past. Think creatively when your team is at a point of change. And on a more pragmatic note, some panelists suggested having a contract and non-compete clause when hiring subs for a project you lead.

For more information on News Generation, a boutique media relations firm in Bethesda, please contact Susan Apgood at

Ready for Strategic Management of Public Relations?

By Suzanne Ross, Chair, Accreditation Committee

Last Friday, at the PRSA NCC Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) seminar to “Jump-start” candidates’ year-long study for their independent assessment, it struck me, that everyone is looking inward to align their moral compass, discover their unique professional advantage while developing a career roadmap to navigate a transforming industry.

Unlike career paths of a Chief Financial Officer and a Chief Executive Officer that have well-known professional skill requirements, the PR career path is less understood. PR practitioners seek the APR in order to acquire third-party validation and formal recognition of their professional competencies to advance a desired career in public relations.

The value proposition of an Accredited Public Relations professional is broad and deep expertise that supports operations, social effectiveness and measurement toward organizational performance goals.

Although they are not legal experts, they provide a similar staff counsel function as they are knowledgeable about legal principles and statutes important to the PR practice and advise management on stakeholder and ethical issues that could impact public opinion and an organization’s operation and success.

During the APR Jump-start, presenter Patrick Evans shared his expertise as a trusted advisor providing his network – both internal and external publics – with information and recommendations to anticipate or respond to issues and crisis.

Like other APR experts leading difficult conversations about what to do and what not to do when an organization faces a crisis, his advice is to tell it straight, consistently:

  • It’s a unique situation where a person banks a career on personal reputation: telling the facts, and explaining what his organization can and can’t do and why, with integrity and discretion. He said, “Every communication is a credibility transaction.”
  • “I’ve invested in building relationships before crisis or career-defining moments occur. Through strong relationships built on a sound reputation, I’m given latitude to resolve issues, because people know I’ll discover and share the facts.”
  • Whether communicating with senior management, the reporter down the hall, the blogger or diverse people on social media, he said, “I deliver on the promise of accuracy and truthfulness in communication.”

With insight from APR presenters Joyce Brayboy, Karin Drinkhall at the Jump-start and hundreds of APRs, I’m inspired to learn that when the issues are challenging, the speed of communication quick, and competition gets tough, APRs and APR candidates adhere to core professional practices and values that shore up the APR advantage.

Back to Basics: Sticking to Change Management Fundamentals in Navigating Trump Administration

By Robert Krueger

Political polls and pundits led the public to believe that President Donald Trump had an unlikely chance of winning the General Election.  Not only were American citizens surprised by the news on the morning of Nov. 9, 2016, but so were many leaders in the association, corporate, and nonprofit sectors. After spending months preparing and building relationships with potential appointees in a Hillary Clinton cabinet, these leaders were caught off guard and without plans for how to navigate an unpredicted set of policy and budget priorities in the Trump Administration.

170323-bIn a recent event hosted by the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA-NCC) entitled The Trump Era: How DC Communicators are Capitalizing on Change, panelists addressed how their communications teams are responding to unforeseen changes and how the current Administration’s new focus impacts their organization’s reputation, advocacy efforts, and communication goal strategies.

Greg Staley, senior vice president of communications for the U.S. Travel Association, noted that despite the quick shift in planned messaging, his organization approaches the Trump Administration the same as they would approach any change in Administration. His association is focusing on educating the new Adminstration on the importance of travel industry to the overall U.S. economy.

This same point was echoed by panelist Jamie Hennigan. As Vice President of Strategic Communications for the National Association of Manufacturers, Hennigan said that a big focus of their messaging strategy is to educate Trump officials about the makeup of today’s manufacturing workforce. Contrary to the type of manufacturing job that the Administration has been speaking about in the first 100 days, the traditional manual factory floor laborer, characteristic of Rust Belt cities in the mid-1900s, has not been growing over the past three decades. Instead, the manufacturing sector is now extremely diverse and its workforce skews young.

“It is also important to remember that we also elected new members of Congress, so it involves educating them as well and getting them up to speed. As with every new President, we look to build new bridges and we expect everything to be just fine,” Staley added.

When asked about what have been the biggest changes to their communications role since Trump’s inauguration, panelists reported expanded roles and involvement with overall strategy.  According to Hennigan, his communications team is focused more on recruiting digital-first talent due to their increased importance within the organization.  Members of his team are now regularly at the table for any policy decision since any external communication, including a simple email to members, can potentially turn into a bad situation if not careful with messaging.

“I am now part of meetings that I have never been part of before,” said Michael McManus, vice president of corporate communications and government affairs for Asia Pulp and Paper. “I am now part of expansion and investment meetings, among others. If you are in the market, organizations are looking for people with expertise in government relations and communications to provide them with information and sound advice.”