From the Outgoing President: A Letter to Membership

Dear PRSA-NCC Member,

It’s hard to believe a whole year has passed since I became your president. It’s just gone by so fast. It has been a good year, though.

I’m happy to report we met the objectives I set forth at the beginning of the year:

  • Thanks to the great work of our committee chairs and members, and great member engagement, we hosted 52 events, affording members great and fun-filled networking opportunities and informative professional development sessions from industry leaders covering such topics as measurement, big data, writing, international communications, accreditation and making the change from tactician to strategist, among many others
  • We advanced our thought leadership effort by completing an operational plan which will go into effect next year
  • We remain the Society’s largest chapter and improved our already sound financial position, reaching our reserve requirement

mmorovitzAnd, because we achieved our reserve requirement, we are free now to reinvigorate our pro bono committee, which has developed a process to identify worthy organizations that we can help with public relations assistance.

Our vice presidents, Jenn Schleman, Lauren Lawson Zilai and Susan Apgood were extremely busy this year. They, and the rest of the executive committee, Sultana Ali, Robert Udowitz, Lisa Kiefer, and Rebecca Andersen, spent untold hours on projects that will affect chapter operations for years to come. They were always available and their counsel was invaluable to me.

  • Jenn and her team negotiated a new contract with our chapter manager, now our Chapter Executive Director, Sherri Core, and her company, Core Association Services
  • Lauren and her team planned, coordinated, conducted and analyzed the results of this year’s biannual chapter survey. The fact that we had the highest response rate in decades is testament to the quality of their work
  • And, Susan and her team researched, drafted, coordinated and secured approval for the 2016-2018 Chapter Strategic Plan. This document is a foundational statement of purpose that will guide chapter efforts for the next three years

I also want to thank the 2015 Board of Directors. It was only through their leadership, time and talent that we were able to identify, create, plan, coordinate, promote and execute world-class programs for you, our members. This group of senior professionals worked well together and gave freely of their time to insure meaningful programs were in place for us all to enjoy, learn from and be inspired by. Thank you all!

Our committee chairs and their committee members give new meaning to the words “leadership,” “dedication” and “volunteerism.” Our 18 committees were extremely creative in implementing those programs by providing high quality services and activities for you, our members. I could write forever about the work of each committee but that would just take up way too much space; I’m happy to meet with you at any time, however, to discuss their work. In many ways, our financial position is testament to the quality of their work and the value you, our members, place on their activities.

I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

And, of course, I would be totally remiss if I didn’t thank our great and dedicated sponsors. Without their help, we would not be able to provide the number and quality of events for you. Their support, monetary and in-kind, allows us to bring events to you at a reasonable price. So, speaking on behalf of the entire chapter, thank you!

And last, but certainly not least, to our members: You are the lifeblood of our organization. Without you, we have no purpose. Thanks for letting us know how we can best serve your professional needs…and for letting us do that. I know the 2016 board is anxious to dig into the results of our membership survey to devise new programs and fine tune existing ones to meet your needs as the nature of our profession continually changes.

As you can see, I have been fortunate to work with a superb group of leaders in our industry. Their ability to work together to create and deliver meaningful programs for you is awe inspiring. I look forward to working with our 2016 President, Sultana Ali, and the 2016 Board and know you will enjoy getting to know them and work with them as well.

Thank you for the privilege of being your 2015 president.


Mitchell Marovitz, PhD, APR
PRSA-NCC President 2015

PRSA-NCC Sponsor Spotlight: News Generation by Kelsey Pospisil

Tell us more about your company and your role there?

News Generation is an issue-driven media relations agency specializing in using broadcast media to earn coverage for associations, non-profits, government agencies, and clients of PR firms. My role on the team is client & media relations associate. I love getting to experience many different aspects of the business and work closely with all of my fellow team members.

How long has News Generation been involved with PRSA-NCC?

We have been involved with PRSA-NCC in one way or another for 12 years – and counting! Susan Matthews Apgood started News Generation in 1997, and has been very involved with the PRSA-NCC by sponsoring the chapter as well as chairing committees such as Thoth, Professional Development and Sponsorship.

News Generation Sponsor Spotlight

News Generation Team

Is there anything you want to tell our members about News Generation that we may not know?

We LOVE Georgetown Cupcakes….literally…love them. Any excuse to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or Tuesday…you can expect to see us carrying a pink box into the office. Don’t believe me? Just look how happy Susan is in the picture!

What do you like best about working with PRSA-NCC so far?

PRSA-NCC offers a wonderful opportunity to grow both professionally and personally. As a sponsor, we are able to help support the great programming of PRSA-NCC. As members, myself and my co-workers are able learn and gain professional development from that programming. It’s the best of both worlds.

How can our members learn more, get more information about what News Generation has to offer?

The best place to go for more about how you can earn broadcast coverage by partnering with us is We also have a news site that reporters go to for great stories where we host all of our clients’ content. Check it out at

Seeing Is Believing: How to Create Multimedia Content That Gets Seen // Take-aways from the Sept. 17 PRSA-NCC Professional Development Workshop

(Pictured from Left to Right) Justin Bank, Stephen Menick, Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga, John Walls, Drew Blais

(Panelists pictured from Left to Right) Justin Bank, Stephen Menick, Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga, John Walls, Drew Blais

Does your multimedia content have that “gotta see this!” factor? If not, then that’s just one thing you’re doing wrong when trying to get your multimedia content seen.   PRSA-NCC’s “Seeing Is Believing: How to Create Multimedia Content That Gets Seen” event gave valuable insight to attendees that was worth more than admission.

Panelists were:

  • Justin Bank, Director of Digital Audience, Washington Post
  • Stephen Menick, a producer and editor who also teaches Digital Storytelling at WVU’s Integrated Marketing Communications program
  • Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga, Office of Marine Corps Communications Digital Engagement Branch Chief at Headquarters Marine Corps
  • John Walls, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at CTIA, the Wireless Association
  • Drew Blais, Digital Communication Specialist, Van Eperen & Company
  • Moderator:  Meredith Williams, MPH, Principal Associate at Abt Associates

While he spoke last, Van Eperen & Company’s Digital Communications Specialist Drew Blais and his “six steps towards video success” finely encompasses much of what all the panelists advised.  You have to have a strategy in place. That includes knowing your objective, knowing your audience, defining your concept, making sure you have your “gotta see this!” factor, know how you’re going to deliver your content and, last but not least, you have to track your metrics.

(Pictured from Left to Right) Justin Bank, Drew Blais, Meredith Williams, Stephen Menick, Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga

(Pictured from Left to Right) Justin Bank, Drew Blais, Meredith Williams, Stephen Menick, Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga

When it comes to knowing your concept, both filmmaker and Professor Stephen Menek and Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga, gave real-life examples of the type of content people pay attention to and share. Menek shared with the audience that video is less it’s own multimedia content than it is really emotional content. And for Menek, having that “you gotta see this!” factor is big, real big. Take for example Staff Sgt. Fayloga’s short 30-second videos of Marines blowing up targets and military jets taking off from cruise ship carriers. Queuing up videos that get to the point and capture the attention are much more likely to get seen and shared than longer videos without attention-grabbing content.

But not all multimedia content has explosions. Menek’s example of Dove’s real beauty sketches videos (64 million views as of this writing) of a sketch artist capturing how women described themselves and then how others would describe them had nothing to do with selling soap, but had everything to do with connecting with the audience. Dove’s videos was a gift to audiences, sharing a story that captured their attention and earned their loyalty because it connected with viewers at an emotional level.

It’s something that the Washington Post’s Justin Bank, another expert panelist, would likely argue helps your content fight through the noise in a 21st century media environment.  These days there are multiple channels through which you can share your content. Organizations are being equipped with the tools they need to become their own publishers. And multimedia content “breaks the line of sight” according to the Post’s Bank, in a way that most other content won’t.

In general — besides having good content and good concept, whether your multimedia content gets seen or it doesn’t, learning by analyzing your results is key to helping to have your next multimedia content get seen. Don’t ignore Google Analytics or Facebook’s metrics reporting. Use these platforms to identify what works. Use both quantitative data and qualitative reporting to improve your future content and improve your results.

For this event, unveiling some of the secrets on how to get your multimedia content seen may have been the easy part.  The hard part? Putting this panel’s great advice to work and challenging yourself to get your multimedia content seen.


-Written by David Ward, American Wind Energy Association

Event Recap: “Creating PR Magic…on a Shoestring Budget”

by Danielle Moore, News Generation, Inc.

It is all too common that public relations professionals are expected to create magic publicity on next-to-nothing budgets. With the extensive amount of non-profit organizations and small businesses in the Washington D.C. area, lots of PR pros are affected by small budgets.

On Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 8:00 a.m., the PRSA-NCC Professional Development committee hosted “Creating PR Magic…on a Shoestring Budget” at the U.S. Navy Memorial. Panelists included: Jeff Ghannam, communications director at the Wildlife Habitat Council; Dionne Clemons, division director of communications and community engagement at the United Planning Organization; Alicia Mitchell, senior vice president for communications at the American Hospital Association (AHA); and Lindsay Nichols, senior director of marketing and communications at GuideStar USA, Inc. Karen Addis, senior vice president at Van Eperen & Company introduced the panelists and moderated the conversation.

After some brief housekeeping announcements, all four panelists gave presentations on their best practices for public relations on a “shoestring” budget. Their combined experience working with small organizations and limited resources allowed them to share great insight to an audience full of non-profit, small business and private sector PR folks.

“Creating PR Magic…on a Shoestring Budget” panelists; Aug. 13, 2014, at U.S. Navy Memorial

Jeff Ghannam offered his advice with “10 Things in 10 Minutes.” He emphasized the importance of having a “roadmap” or focused communications and marketing plan as a reference point for company operations. Ghannam also encouraged building mutually beneficial partnerships with:

  • Staff who need to understand your brand and who value internal communications;
  • Stakeholders and coalitions who are always looking for companies to engage with;
  • Boards, committees, local units, and members who often need media training and can serve as a resource;
  • Customers who have the ability to spread the word about your work; and
  • Meeting attendees, sponsors and exhibitors who you should provide the tools (like social media) to talk positively about your brand.

Ghannam closed by stressing the importance of negotiation, developing meaningful networks, and the vitality of SEO.

The second panelist Dionne Clemons works to maximize her limited resources at her small grassroots organization every day. She presented on “How to De-Structure Your Department” and highlighted seven ways to save money:

  • Assess your budget – see what you have to work with
  • Conduct an audit – see what has worked and what hasn’t worked in the past
  • Use your organization’s strategic plan and fiscal year calendar to help you financially plan – create your own communications plan based on your organization’s strategic plan
  • Be selective in the big projects you want to work on – decide on 5-7 solid projects for the fiscal year that align with your strategic plan and will help you work toward organizational goals
  • Create a master organizational cycle calendar – align your organization’s normal events with “pseudo-events” on the national calendar
  • Put systems in place – set up policies that guide you on how to deal with different situations
  • Spread the love – organize more ways for team members to get involved in projects they’re interested in

Clemons continually emphasized the importance of being critical when deciding how your budget is distributed among different categories. She encouraged audience members to cut out any excess expenses and consider reallocating the distribution of their budgets.

“Creating PR Magic...on a Shoestring Budget” panelists; Aug. 13, 2014, at U.S. Navy Memorial

“Creating PR Magic…on a Shoestring Budget” panelists; Aug. 13, 2014, at U.S. Navy Memorial

Panelist Alicia Mitchell works for a much larger organization, but she shared examples of her successful PR initiatives that can easily translate to small organizations with less resources and a tighter budget. Mitchell focused on three platforms of promotion including:

  • Instagram campaigns – During National Hospital Week, the American Hospital Association encouraged Instagrammers to use the hashtag #myhospital to shoot short videos on how their local hospital helps the community. Mitchell’s team got more than 50 videos from across 34 different states and promoted them through social media.
  • Infographics – She encouraged the audience to invest in outsourcing a graphic designer or learning how to perfect their own graphic design skills because images help to tell a visual story.
  • Radio for audience targeting – Mitchell referenced the effectiveness of earning broadcast coverage. She talked about how using radio was especially useful in publicizing the accolades of the AHA’s medical centers’ palliative care. She urged PR professionals to consider radio outreach.

Mitchell closed with an easy acronym to remember:

M – makeover an existing PR project to make it better;
A – adopt social media because it gets others involved;
G – grassroots approaches allow you to tailor your reports or projects locally;
I – infographics help you tell a story and get people interested; and
C – the company you surround yourself with matters

Measuring ROI can be a challenge. Self-proclaimed “data geek” Lindsay Nichols broke down ways PR professionals can make it much easier. Nichols spoke about how she bases her measurement practices off of the Barcelona Principles and recommended that the audience check out ROI measurement blogger Katie Paine. Before diving in to measurement, dive in to your goals, said Nichols. She emphasized developing hypotheses about what you think will result from your projects and conducting a SWOT analysis before you begin. Once you’re ready to measure, she suggested eight cost-effective “DIY ROI Measurement Methods” for PR pros on a tight budget:

  • Pattern analysis
  • Surveys
  • Online pulse polls (ex: LinkedIn)
  • Content audits
  • Interviews
  • Roundtables, lunch, focus groups
  • In-depth interviews
  • Secondary research

Nichols said qualitative, quantitative and competitive intelligence measurements should be taken consistently every month for specifics and every year for a bigger picture. She uses platforms Vocus, Simply Measured, Social Mention, Twitter Counter, Google Analytics, Excel, Igloo, LinkedIn and more to track her data on a monthly and annual basis. Nichols was sure to emphasize the two things she always measures: the share of conversation index and the brand equity index. “Metrics prove you’re making a difference,” said Nichols. “It’s what you do with it that matters.”

As Karen Addis opened up the question and answer period, audience members presented thoughtful questions asking for advice on how to stay focused, how to show the c-suite your department’s worth, how to monetize and how to adapt to diversity in the media through introducing foreign languages.

Veterans Matter: PRSA-NCC Provides Valuable Resource in Moving Veterans Forward Career Transition Workshop

It could have been any one of dozens of professional networking events happening on a weekday around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. But this particular group of 50 seasoned public affairs professionals gathered at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington, Virginia for an event the first of its kind — specifically empowering military communicators in their transition into civilian public relations careers.

The PRSA National Capital Chapter kicked off its comprehensive Moving Veterans Forward Career Transition Workshop with a networking session in the Memorial’s panoramic atrium where military communicators both active duty and veteran service members in military and business attire mingled with panelists and other attendees prior to the panel discussion.

Navy public affairs officers Elizabeth Zimmerman, a 20-year veteran and her colleague, Michael Sheehan, a 16-year veteran who flew in from Minneapolis for the program, were eager for it to begin.

“I am here to glean insight into the transition process, all the do’s and don’ts, and make new contacts,” said Zimmerman, whose transition begins in two months.

“I did really well in the military side of public affairs, so now I am exploring how to translate my skills effectively in the civilian world,” added Sheehan.

Moving Veterans Forward Career Transition Workshop, Presented by PRSA-NCC and Exelis Action Corps, July 23, 2014

Moving Veterans Forward Career Transition Workshop, Presented by PRSA-NCC and Exelis Action Corps, July 23, 2014

Against a backdrop of assorted flags representing various states, territories, and all the branches of the military, six panelists – all military veterans themselves – provided an overview of their professional backgrounds and experiences, sharing insights on successfully making the switch.

David Albritton, a Navy public affairs veteran, currently chief communications officer at Exelis, kicked off the panel discussion by championing the power of networking, having good mentors, and thinking strategically about one’s key strengths and how they fit into the big picture of target organizations.

“Every opportunity I ever had came because of someone in my network,” said Albritton.

Vox Optima owner and executive director, Merritt Hamilton Allen, humorously shared that she was initially “the public affairs officer that no one wanted” but sheer resilience and willingness to be flexible and continuously step up to new challenges despite health setbacks has been instrumental to her success. As an entrepreneur, she has also proven to be a person of her word, hiring vets who make up two-thirds of her staff, and speaking up about the challenges and opportunities disabled veterans face.

Twenty-year Air Force vet, Jon Anderson, who is now deputy director of public affairs for the National Guard Bureau, emphasized honest self and skills assessment.

“When I applied for jobs, everyone knew what I was capable of,” he said. Anderson also quelled any apprehension about the transition process, “Things weren’t so different when I left the Air Force. I still had to work long hours and continually challenge myself to learn new skills,” he said. This commitment to improvement led him to join PRSA where he also received his Accreditation in Public Relations.

A love of everything about media led Vic Beck, a retired Navy Reserve flag officer, and now managing director at Burson-Marsteller, to a long, impressive career in public affairs. He encouraged veterans to be tenacious during this phase of their careers.

“Do informational interviews, find people who are leaving military service now and talk to them,” he said. “Keep your contacts warm, take a no ‘shrinking violet’ approach – ask for advice, tips, help.”

Hiram Bell, strategic planning and communication chief at U.S. Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate and a 31-year Army veteran said he actively sought out mentors “who gave me advice about jobs I was suitable and unsuitable for – armed with such invaluable feedback one can dig a little deeper, better,” said Bell.

Moving Veterans Forward Career Transition Workshop, Presented by PRSA-NCC and Exelis Action Corps, July 23, 2014

Moving Veterans Forward Career Transition Workshop, Presented by PRSA-NCC and Exelis Action Corps, July 23, 2014

As chief executive officer and founder of ScoutComms, Fred Wellman was not shy about working online connections via LinkedIn and setting up coffee meetings to grow his professional contacts.

“Experiences unique to their service is what vets bring wherever they go – they know firsthand how to solve problems. This is a skill needed everywhere.” Wellman said. “Go beyond the job sites, invite people to coffee, and ask them to introduce you to more people.”

The panel discussion closed with Q & A followed by one-on-one mentoring, career counseling and resume review sessions for which participants signed up at arrival.

A culmination of weeks of planning, the event was part of a broader PRSA Moving Veterans Forward initiative launched in the fall of 2013. By spring of 2014, the PRSA-NCC, the organization’s largest chapter, started enrolling participants in the D.C. area. Benefits of the program include a one-year free PRSA and PRSA-NCC membership, resume writing, networking, and job interview advice from PRSA-NCC mentors.

“The main thing is we wanted vets and service men and women within the communications niche to know they matter,” said Richard Spector who came in from New York to represent PRSA and participate as one of 16 mentors.

“It’s not always a matter of life and death in the corporate world but vets have lived in that space – they helped protect our future, now PRSA wants to help protect theirs.”

The following individuals were panelists and mentors for the workshop participants:

Panel members and mentors:

  1. David Albritton, Chief Communications Officer, Exelis;
  2. Merritt Allen, Owner and Executive Director, Vox Optima;
  3. Jon Anderson, Deputy Director, Public Affairs, National Guard Bureau;
  4. Vic Beck, Managing Director, Burson-Marsteller;
  5. Hiram Bell, Chief, Strategic Planning and Communication for the U.S. Coast Guard, Acquisition Directorate
  6. Fred Wellman, CEO and Founder, ScoutComms


  1. Mitch Marovitz, USA retired, PR consultant and instructor
  2. Cyndi Scott-Johnson, CEO & Executive Producer, 3Roads Communications
  3. Russ Hodges, President & Executive Producer, 3Roads Communications
  4. Karen Jeffries, President, CEO, Veterans Moving Forward, Inc.
  5. Ginny Bueno, Communications Director, US Department of Agriculture
  6. Jill Wolf, Senior Communications Manager, Exelis Inc.
  7. Leah Lackey, Director of Commuications, Exelis Information Systems
  8. Janie Lee Mabe, Career coach, TechStarz, LLC
  9. Richard Spector, PRSA Moving Veterans Forward Initiative

A former co-chair of the PRSA-NCC membership committee, the author, Ufuoma Otu, is the founder of TakeCulture LLC which provides marketing communications solutions for international organizations. Visit:, for more information.

First PRSA-NCC Sponsor Spotlight Shines in Crystal Penn from the U.S. Navy Memorial

Every month or so, we are going to highlight a chapter sponsor so you can learn more about them, and possibly connect with them as they have done so much to support our chapter. We want to thank Crystal R. Penn, Director of Events, US Navy Memorial, for being the first to be spotlighted. Here is the skinny:

Q: Tell us more about the US Navy Memorial and your role there:
Answer: The US Navy Memorial has been open for over 25 years in the Penn Quarter section of downtown D.C. The Memorial is a museum dedicated to people in the Military. This year we are celebrating “Year of the Coast Guard.” Each year the exhibit changes to honor a different part of our military branches. The Memorial also host over 600 events yearly including retirements, cocktail receptions, luncheons, conferences and movie screenings to name a few.

Q: How long has US Navy Memorial been involved with PRSA-NCC?
Answer: The US Navy Memorial has partnered with PRSA-NCC for several years now. We host many of their meetings on site at our location in our movie theater that seats 242 people. We have also hosted some workshops and smaller meetings in our conference room that seats about 30 people.

Q: Is there anything you want to tell our members about the US Navy Memorial that we may not know?
Answer: Every summer the Memorial holds free concerts on the plaza every Tuesday after Memorial Day till Labor Day at 7:30 p.m. Different sections of the Navy Band come out and perform.

Q: What do you like best about working with PRSA-NCC so far?
Answer: I like the networking opportunity and getting a chance to meet new people and see what other companies in the area have to offer.

Q: How can our members learn more, get more information about what US Navy Memorial has to offer?
Answer: Members can learn more about the Navy Memorial by checking out our website at If anyone is interested in hosting an event they can contact me directly at (202) 380-0716 or

Writing a Winning Proposal

When I’m asked to respond to a request for a proposal (RFP), I have mixed feelings. On the plus side, there’s a chance to win new business. On the negative side, I’m going to spend at least 20 hours meeting the potential client, conducting research, brainstorming, writing a proposal that essentially gives away my intellectual property when I have little information whether I can win the business–or even if there is business to win.

According to Richard Belle, president of Belle Communications, there’s good news and bad news in today’s competitive proposal world. The good news is that your firm probably has the qualifications to perform the work; and the bad news is so do most of your competitors.  Belle talked about how to write a winning proposal to 25 IPRA professional development lunch attendees at the May 1 event.

“Clients know this,” continued Belle. And in fact, he added, when judges first evaluate proposals, they typically put them into three piles: no, yes and maybe. Most proposals end up in the maybe pile. Why? Because most PR professionals write a “good” proposal that only demonstrate their competence.

“Good proposals,” said Belle, “show that you can perform the work; great proposals win the business.”

So how do you go from good to great? Here’s Belle’s advice:

  • Follow the RFP format. Most RFPs ask for specific elements. Belle suggests making absolutely sure that you respond to each RFP section.
  • Distinguish yourself from your competitors. Belle suggested taking your elevator speech and weaving it into your proposal. This might include information about cost, past accomplishments–basically why they should hire you over your competitors.
  • Know yourself, the client and your competitors. Belle said know yourself and your strengths, the client and what they are looking for, and your competitors and their strengths. Ask the client who you are competing against or conduct your own research and then write your proposal illustrating how you differ from your competitors.
  • Write an original proposal. Ok I’ll admit it–I cut and paste some sections of my proposals. Belle says this is obvious to those evaluating the submission. He suggests writing an original proposal each time that addresses exactly what the client is seeking.
  • Back up claims with facts. As PR professionals, we steer clear of making “claims.” This is critical in a proposal. If you say you will complete the work 2 weeks ahead of deadline according to Belle, you need to make sure you meet that deadline. In other words, don’t make unrealistic promises or ones you can’t keep.
  • Win or lose, request a debrief. While most of us request a debrief only when we lose a bid, Belle says you should request a debrief win or lose. He says it’s important to know why you won so you can be sure to focus on those points that helped you win the business.

Following these suggestions can help your firm go from writing good proposals to writing great proposals–and increases your odds of winning business.

Submitted by NCC board member Sheri L. Singer, president of Singer Communications a PR firm designed to save clients time and money while delivering stellar services. She is a charter member of IPRA, has served on the IPRA board for 10 years (chair in 2009). She also is the Education Chair of ASAE’s Communications Section Council.