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First Issue of 'Your Communicator'

Updated: Jan 7, 2020

A new publication of the Blue Ridge Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

Happy New Year, communicators!

Many of us have put together our New Year’s resolutions in the last few weeks. I have a few myself – eat healthier, exercise more, and, oh yeah, publish the VBR Communicator once a month to help us all connect a little bit more.

Our chapter has had newsletters over the years, and I’ve always enjoyed reading about what my colleagues were up to. We’re going to try a few new things here, and I welcome your feedback. Our goal is to make this newsletter – and more importantly, this chapter – more valuable to you and your career. PRSA’s goal is to advance the profession of Public Relations, as well as the professional – that’s you!

To kick off our programming year in style, members of the Blue Ridge Chapter can join their peers for a free event on January 30, from 4 – 6 p.m. at Three Notch’d (24 Campbell Avenue, SE, Roanoke). We’ll have drink tickets available and some finger foods to enjoy. Did I mention it was free for members of PRSA (guests are $25)?! Register online here! Hope to see you there.

Best regards,

Chris Turnbull

PRSA-Blue Ridge President


One for the money.

Our first luncheon of 2020 features veteran PR consultant Samantha Villegas, APR, who among other distinctions is currently a director on the national PRSA board. She’s going to give us an update on PRSA on Feb. 13, 2020. Reserve your spot by registering online today!

Two for the show.

With your national chapter dues, you have access to free webinars every month. Here are the two for January. If anyone is interested in watching, send me a note and perhaps we can organize a watch party.

  • Rev Up Readability (Jan. 7 at 3 p.m. EST): It’s never been harder, yet more critical, to get and keep the attention of your workforce. In this webinar, we’ll explore why making great content matters, changes you can make tomorrow and how you can ultimately compete with cat videos!

  • Work Smarter, Not Harder in 2020 (Jan. 9 at 3 p.m. EST): Get Beyond the Daily PR Grind to Get Better Results WITHOUT Being Tethered to Your Phone 24/7.

Three to get ready.

Here are some quick ideas to help you grow professionally:

  • Global Communications Capability Framework: Click the link to take the assessment. It will look at your current expertise and give you an idea of where to focus your professional development for the coming year. And, it’s free to PRSA members.

  • 5 tactics to sidestep common storytelling pitfalls: If you don’t know about Ragan’s Daily Headlines, you need to. Given Joe Williams’ presentation at our December luncheon, here’s a nice follow-up on story-telling challenges (and solutions).

  • Bone up on crisis management: If one of your professional resolutions this year is to be a better crisis manager, here are two fundamental courses you need to take: IS 100 and IS 200. Even if you’re a seasoned pro, these short, 20-minute courses offer a great reminder about the Incident Command System (ICS). Good news, they’re both online and free thanks to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Four to go.

Each month, learn more about one of our members. This month’s featured member is Callie VanNatten, Communications Manager for Delta Dental of Virginia.

What was your best day as a communicator?

Wow, that’s a tough question. Corporate communication comes with LOTS of ups and downs, and my former boss and I always joked we’d one day write a book about all the things we’ve seen. If I had to narrow it down to one day, it would actually be my first day as an intern in the Communications department at Advance Auto Parts. Not because the day itself was particularly momentous – in fact, the building was under construction and I was given a student desk in a corner of the office atrium for the first couple of weeks. But that was the beginning of me finding my path. I was a graduate student in Corporate and Professional Communication at Radford University with no real plan other than finding a career where I could write every day. That internship led to a full-time position, an 11-year career with Advance and the discovery of my passion for internal communications. I’m not sure where I would be now if I hadn’t taken that internship, and I’m very grateful for the opportunities I was given, which all stemmed from that first day.

If you could go back in time right now and give some advice to your 10-year-old self, what would it be?

Well, 10-year-old me probably wouldn’t listen because she was super stubborn, but I’d tell her to remember that nothing stays the same. If you’re in a moment that makes you happy, enjoy it and revel in it because it will change. If you’re in a moment that is sad, be patient because it will change. And you have the power to bring about the changes you seek. Oh, and believe it or not, those awful scrunchies you’re wearing will eventually come back in style. Don’t fall for it again.

If you could have 1 million of anything except money, what would you choose?

Moments with my children. My sons are 11 and 7, and my oldest just completed a school assignment where he had to write about what he would do in the next decade. He’ll drive, he’ll graduate high school, he’ll go to college. Time is moving too quickly, so I would definitely take more of it if I could.

What’s the longest line you’ve ever stood in, and what was it for?

I slept in line at the Roanoke Civic Center all night for Reba McEntire tickets when I was about 12 or 13. You know, back in the stone ages before StubHub and online ordering.

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