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'Your Communicator' - May Issue

Updated: May 16, 2020

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

Let’s talk about you this month. How are you doing?

For many in our community of communicators, life has been hectic. None of us are allergic to long hours and hard work, but the persistence of this pandemic, combined with social distancing, economic challenges and general instability have hit many of us harder than we might want to admit.

I’m grateful to be surrounded by a compassionate group of communicators – both at Carilion and through my professional connections with this chapter – who regularly check up on me.

In the healthcare field, we spend a lot of time helping our colleagues focus on their own wellbeing. The reminder below has been widely distributed. I first saw it taped to the back of a door in our Command Center at Carilion. Add this list to your daily routine as you’re leaving your work for the day (either physically or virtually):

  1. Ask yourself: Am I okay? If not, reach out to your leader, your colleagues or an employee assistance program for support.

  2. Acknowledge something that was difficult. Validate the reality of the situation and your feelings connected to it. Provide broader context to your workday by going to number 3.

  3. Consider three things that went well during your day. Be proud of your work because you made a difference.

  4. Check on your colleagues. Are they okay? Let them know they also made a difference. Help connect them to additional support if needed.

  5. Now switch your attention to rest, refuel and recharge.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: Communicators are needed now more than ever. You can’t help others until you’ve taken care of yourself. Make yourself a priority these days, and don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need any.

Warmest regards,



One for the money.

Don’t forget to sign-up for the June virtual luncheon on Thursday, June 11 at noon. We’ll hear from podcaster and communications consultant Vance Crowe. Sign-up for this virtual event here.

Also, next week on Thursday, May 21, join your fellow communicators for a virtual panel to discuss lessons learned in the wake of COVID-19. This webinar is free to chapter members. Guests and students are $15. Sign-up here.

Two for the show.

Take advantage of these webinars, many of which are free or low cost.

Three to get ready.

Here are some quick ideas to help you grow professionally.

  1. 6 Leadership Tips for the COVID-19 Crisis.

  2. Ragan tackled a topic we’re all interested in: How workplaces will be transformed in the wake of the pandemic.

  3. Get your tissues for this one. As many crises as I’ve worked in my life, I’ve always kept an eye out for the helpers. Here are some helpers.

Four to go.

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 had the chance to meet Sarah Wood, founder of Sarah Wood Communication.

What was your best day as a communicator?

This is a tough one. Like many others, I get a rush of excitement when a major project is completed, a writing assignment or event hits the sweet spot, or an organization adopts a community strategy I’ve recommended. But my best day as a communicator isn’t directly involved with the communication process. It’s the day I realized that, despite all my misgivings and self-doubt, I was actually running a successful small business and providing communication services to clients I wanted to work with, on my terms. Clients were finding my work and expertise valuable enough to both return for additional needs and refer me to others. The self-employed world is always precarious, but my best day as a communicator was when I realized I not only was, but should be, confident about what I have to offer.

How did you find PR?

Life will not turn out the way you plan it, and that’s for the best. I was the type of kid (and adult, who am I kidding?) that wanted life to follow the course I had created in my mind. Turns out you can’t control other people or outside events. Sorry, 10-year old me. What you can do is learn how to be resilient. You may never get that dream job, people will inevitably disappoint you, and the world will be a very different place in many ways than you imagined. But it will also be a wonderful place. You will learn things, travel and live in places, and develop personal relationships that you never imagined. Life won’t be perfect, but it will be unexpectedly awesome.

What are you looking forward to in the next 12 months?

Hopefully, having an in-person conversation with my communication colleagues. Most of the time I am perfectly content to hang out in my house; I’m no stranger to working in pajamas. But I work remotely from home for assorted clients, have a 19-month old child, and relocated to Central Virginia approximately a year ago, so I was struggling to find my new professional community prior to the coronavirus outbreak. It’s great that there are now so many virtual spaces to convene, but I’d really like to put on a real outfit, have some snacks, and connect face-to-face with my compatriots in the public relations and communication world. This, of course, assumes the most important part, which is that it’s safe to be able to do so.

What would you like to be better at?

I have wanted, for many years, to be fluent in another language – specifically, Spanish. Ironically, while English has always been one of my fortes, thus my choice of career, learning a foreign language has not come easily. I have stopped and started multiple times over the years, even though I know that ongoing practice and use is vital to actual success. Maybe this year will be the one I commit to a consistent schedule and stick to it!

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