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'Your Communicator'- April Issue

Produced by the Blue Ridge Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

PRSA Blue Ridge has been busy since the beginning of this year with some new initiatives.

Although we are still in virtual mode, as most PRSA chapters are, we are committed to

providing you with quality programming. We kicked off this year with a great speaker, Lou

Mongello, in February. If you missed his presentation, you can watch the recording on the PRSA Blue Ridge site. We also have a great lineup of speakers for 2021 that include:

  • April 8 - Nakia Shelton, "Working Through Creative Block"

  • June 10 - Karen Freberg, Assoc. Professor of Strategic Communications, University of Louisville, "Emerging Social Media Platforms and How to Leverage Them"

  • August 12 - Joe Carpenter, Senior VP Communications, University of Texas Arlington, "Crisis Communications Best Practices"

  • October 14 - TBD

  • December 8 - Kathy Baske Young, "Leadership and Career Mapping"

Be sure to save those dates. All of those webinars are free to PRSA Blue Ridge members. Once COVID-19 is behind us, we hope to get back to our in-person meetings.



Congratulations to Linda Staley!

Congratulations to Linda Staley, APR, Fellow PRSA for joining PRSA’s Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS) in 2021. Linda is working with BEPS on issues related to ethics and the public relations profession. BEPS offers national programming during the year that can be accessed using My PRSA.

PRSA Membership Survey Results - By Lori Greiner

Thank you to those who completed our recent member survey. Below is a brief summary of the results.

  1. Nearly 80 percent of those completing the survey have attended one or more of our webinars this past year. Those who did not attend indicated that they either were not aware of the webinars or had a scheduling conflict.

  2. When asked what the most pressing professional challenge was this year, the most common responses were the lack of time and having to take on additional duties due to COVID-19. Other responses included hiring, the impact of COVID -19 on business, shrinking budgets, completing the APR, interpreting analytics, managing staff and peer relations, digital marketing, the lack of interpersonal face-to-face meetings, management, diversity and inclusion, leadership, and informational video creation.

  3. Topics that members are most interested in learning more about include how the pandemic and Zoom has changed that way we do PR and reach our audiences, new technology to increase communications efficiency, fundraising, and donor relations; bridging corporate support; avoiding burnout; digital communications strategies; the PESO model; crisis communications; evaluation and analytics; diversity and inclusion; project management tools; changing media habits; the future role of social media as a news source; new marketing platforms; improving and mastering virtual presentations; management; leadership; and video production.

  4. Several members indicated that they did not participate in the Summit Awards this year and common responses included lack of time, cost of entries, projects did not fit categories, did not know who to nominate, and low priority. Nearly 90 percent of those responding said that they would be renewing their membership this year.

The board will be taking these responses in as it plans for future programming. If you have additional feedback that you would like to share, please feel free to email Cayce Myers, president, PRSA-Blue Ridge Chapter, at Information about upcoming programming will be sent to members soon!

PRSA Blue Ridge Member Profile: Each month, learn more about one of our members. Please consider submitting your profile for an upcoming feature. Here’s how it works.

This month, we have a chance to get to know Hannah Shinault, Ph.D., Virginia Tech School of Communication.

1. What was your best day as a communicator?

My best day as a communicator was late last year when I found out the food pantry where I’m chairman of the board received nearly $20,000 in CARES Act funding through a grant process. We’re a small, wholly volunteer-run pantry so it felt good to know that I had made a compelling case for our mission on the application.

2. What was your worst day as a communicator?

My worst day came during my undergraduate internship at a small, independently operated community hospital. This hospital was governed by a board of directors and medical board of directors. In the middle of the night one night (literally), the board of directors voted to lease the hospital to a for-profit company without telling the medical board. The CEO immediately left the country to go on vacation, and my boss (communication director) called in sick the next day. When I arrived for work, the chair of the medical board yelled at me for an hour and threatened to quit. It was definitely a crisis comm trial by fire.

3. How did you find PR?

When I was in middle and high school, I did announcements at antique farm equipment shows and told the spectators more about each piece of equipment. A lot of people complimented me for having a clear speaking voice and not saying “um” all the time. I’d always had good writing grades so when it came time to choose a major, something communication-related made the most sense. I knew I didn’t want to be a journalist, which made PR the best fit.

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

I took my mom to NYC for her 50th birthday. We stood in line for nearly eight hours to get into Carlo’s Bakery (from the show Cake Boss). Going there was one thing my mom absolutely wanted to do. The fact that it made her so happy (and the sweet treats once we got in) made it worth it!

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