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President’s Message

Creating connections. Networking. Storytelling. It’s what we do each day. And in Roanoke, it’s even more important.

When I moved back to Roanoke from the Philadelphia area a few years ago, I called on my network of connections to get me back into the public relations community. I’d lived and worked in Roanoke prior to my move to Philly and the connections I made then were OH SO IMPORTANT on my return.

Join us on Oct. 13 at the Higher Education Center as JJ White of Dale Carnegie brings us back to the importance of connecting and sharing with others. You’ll take away a practical set of tools to help improve your storytelling and strengthen relationships.

Speaking of relationships, serving on a Blue Ridge Public Relations Chapter committee is a great way to make new ones and enhance the ones you already have. A few hours each month goes a long way to building your public relations network! Jen Ward and Chuck Lionberger are ready to set you on the course to networking excellence! Take a minute to talk with them about the volunteer possibilities.

I hope you’ve had a great summer and look forward to a fall full of connections!

Betsy Parkins
PRSA Blue Ridge President

Telling Our Story… Living the Principles: Make “YOUR” Impact

Do you have a story to tell? Are you looking to make an impact? Could your relationships and connections with others be stronger? Maybe your memory just needs a reboot… or two.

On Oct. 13 at noon, PRSA Blue Ridge brings JJ White of Dale Carnegie to the Roanoke Higher Education Center to ignite our passion to connect with others and ourselves. While we constantly may tell others’ stories, we sometimes forget we have our own story to tell and the powerful impact it can have on someone else. We strive each day to be successful and to do what is expected of us, but we sometimes lose sight of connecting and sharing with others and the value those interactions bring to our daily lives. Join us for a time of fellowship, reflection, and “connection”… and not the kind on Facebook!

  • Connect with others on common ground
  • Identify and share how others have impacted us and how we can impact others
  • Practice our story telling abilities
  • Learn a memory tool to remember just about anything
  • Explore and commit to applying principles to strengthen relationships

 Guest speaker JJ White, Executive Leadership Coach & Master Trainer, Dale Carnegie Training, joined the Dale Carnegie organization, the world's largest adult training and coaching organization, as a franchise owner in 2000. He is a Certified Master Trainer and holds every International Dale Carnegie Certification. He personally trains and coaches over 300 professionals a year and delivers keynote presentations to thousands. Industries represented include technology, engineering, finance, healthcare, manufacturing, government and professional services.

White’s recent accomplishments include receiving the Dale Carnegie Silver Award in 2015 and being inducted into the Dale Carnegie Millennium Group, a collection of the top 20 franchises in the world. In 2007, he received the Dale Carnegie Superior Trainer Award. He serves on the Board of Advisors for the Virginia Council for CEOs and serves as Past-President of the International Dale Carnegie Franchisee Association. White obtained his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting from Roanoke College and resides in Goochland, Virginia with his wife Samantha and children Ike and Millie.

Dale Carnegie has boosted employee engagement by impacting the behaviors of leaders and team members at every level for over 103 years. Dale Carnegie is in over 90 countries and has 2500 trainers delivering in more than 30 languages.

The October luncheon will also serve as the chapter’s ANNUAL MEETING! Next year's board slate will be announced, and scholarships will be given to PRSSA chapters. Register for the luncheon here.

PRSA Marks Ethics Month with Online Resources

While the ethical practice of public relations is always the most important obligation of PRSA membership, the topic gets special attention during September.

September is PRSA Ethics Month. The theme for 2016 is “Ethics, the Heart of Leadership.”

The PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards has provided various online resources during September to promote ethical public relations, including webinars and Twitter chats.

One Twitter chat remaining this month is:

  • Sept. 22 at 8 p.m.: “Let’s Talk Ethics! Best Practices for Ethics Curriculum in Public Relations,” hosted by the Public Relations Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and the PRSA Educators Academy.

Additional Ethics Month resources include the PRSA Ethics Quotient Quiz to test your PR ethics knowledge; the PRSA Code of Ethics app (developed in partnership with MSLGROUP; available for free download in Google Android Market and Apple’s App Store) to help guide public relations professionals in making ethical decisions; and the Ethics Every Day print/cut/fold poster (pictured) to remind practitioners to focus on ethics in the face of ever-changing public relations environments.

In addition, PRSA’s blog, PRSAY, features weekly posts throughout September about ethical issues and professional best practices. Authors include 2016 BEPS Chair Nance Larsen, APR, Fellow PRSA; Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA; Marlene Neill, Ph.D.; and Johnathan Slater, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA.

PRSA is also surveying new professionals and associate PRSA members during September to determine “How Millennials View Ethics in Public Relations.” The Arthur W. Page Center is funding the research. Survey results are to be presented at the October PRSA International Conference in Indianapolis.

Ethics Month information on these resources and more is available at

Get Off That Bench! Get in the Game! Get Engaged with PRSA in 2017!

It’s half-time in the locker room. This is that coach speech we all hear about and some of you may have heard before: what are you going to do on the field in the second half? Are you here to play? Are you ready to show the world what you are made of and make it count?

Well… it’s the PRSA locker room and the clock is ticking… are YOU ready to play in PRSA? What are you going to do this year to getusdown the field? Do you want to engage with others and build your networking “team”? Would you like to lead this incredible organization into the future one day and throw that final game ball into the end zone with seconds to spare? Or maybe for you it’s just about being a part of something bigger than yourself and being a key player on one amazing team. Now is the time to consider how you want to explore your talents, share your skills, and get involved on our team in 2017. There are so many opportunities to get involved and… WE WANT YOU!

Our team needs committee “quarterbacks” and “linebackers” for…

  • 25th Anniversary Spirit Squad (Celebrating our 25th Anniversary Year requires some special players on the team this year – are you game?)
  • Awards
  • Chapter Newsletter
  • Ethics
  • Social Media
  • Membership
  • Website
  • Hospitality
  • Professional Development
  • Public Service
  • New River Valley Engagement Chair
  • Past Presidents Engagement Chair
  • PRSSA Academic Advisors

So here comes the ball… It’s going deep! It’s at the 40… the 30… the 20… the 10… heading for the END ZONE!!! It’s a….

Be a part of the TOUCHDOWNS this coming year!

Contact Jen Ward, President Elect, at or 540-797-6836 to let us know how you’d like to get in the game and become more involved! Don’t wait – don’t hesitate – accelerate YOUR career’s agenda and hop on our 25th Anniversary team NOW!

Submit Your Nomination Now!
For the Adam & Alison Award for Media Excellence

PRSA Blue Ridge members may nominate an individual member of the media that exemplifies excellence in fair and accurate journalism to be honored at the annual Summit Awards Gala. Nominations are due Oct. 13. There is no fee to submit a nomination. Submit your nomination here.

This award is given in memory of Adam Ward and Alison Parker, two Roanoke reporters who were lost in a tragic attack on Aug. 26, 2015.

Reserve Your Spot at the Biggest Event of the Year

Thank you to everyone who submitted entries for this year’s Summit Awards! As entries have now been sent to the Hoosier (Indiana) Chapter for judging, it’s time to register to attend the annual Summit Awards Gala to celebrate the winners, as well another successful year of public relations in Southwest Virginia. New this year, we're taking the gala to the Sheraton Roanoke Hotel and Conference Center on Thursday, Nov. 3. Registration is now available online. Cocktails and dinner will begin at 6 p.m. and awards will be presented at 7 p.m.

Pictured: 2015 Summit Awards Winners

New Members Spotlight

Name: Carrie Cousins

Title & Company: Director of Communications, Roanoke Regional Partnership

Joined PRSA: June 2016

College/University Attended: Virginia Tech (class of 2001), currently working toward MBA at Virginia Tech (class of 2017)

Why did you choose PR as a career? I actually started in journalism and worked in the news industry for 10 years before making the switch. It was a pretty natural fit because so many of the skills cross over. I get to use my writing, design and communication skills every day while working to promote something I love – the Roanoke Region!

What have been the highlights of your career, or what are some goals of your career? Any time you hear someone spreading the love for Roanoke – talking about how great our region’s outdoor assets are to the excitement surrounding the Deschutes announcement – I just beam a little. The idea of what the Roanoke Region is and what we want it to be is a narrative that people believe in… that’s amazing.

Are you married; single? Married

Do you have children? No

Do you have pets? 2 Australian shepherds and a pair of cats

What are your hobbies & interests? I’m a runner and avid reader

What is the strangest situation you have found yourself in, or what has been your biggest adventure? Every day is an adventure, right? That’s what is so great about this business. You never really know what the day will bring.

Name: Anita Tomaziefski

Title & Company: Strategy and Communication Specialist - Corvesta, Inc.

Joined PRSA: Winter 2015

College/University Attended: Radford University

Why did you choose PR as a career? Basic human interaction has always been an interest of mine, and my energy stems from connecting and communicating with others. So, it made perfect sense to choose a field that allows me to interact with others, expand on my social skills, and further pursue those interests at a professional level.

What have been the highlights of your career, or what are some goals of your career? My current career goals are to connect with other public relations professionals in the Roanoke Valley and receive my Accreditation in Public Relations this year.


Upcoming events at a glance: 

  • Thursday, Oct. 13— “Telling Our Story” chapter luncheon; noon; Roanoke Higher Education Center

    Online nominations for Adam & Alison Award for Media Excellence due

  • Thursday, Nov. 3 – 2016 Summit Awards Gala; 6 p.m.; Sheraton Roanoke Hotel & Conference Center


Tell Us What's Going On!

Help keep PRSA Blue Ridge members informed by submitting items for the chapter newsletter. Please send your industry-related story ideas and articles to newsletter coordinator Allison Lindy.

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