Event Recap: Communicating Controversy

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On October 10th, we hosted our Communicating Controversy event at Save The Bay in Providence. The night welcomed four panelists who shared their experiences in dealing with crisis in their everyday professions. Dan McGowan, the Digital Reporter for WPRI 12, was a fantastic moderator who posed engaging questions to panelist.

The night welcomed four presenters:

Key takeaways:

  • You have to monitor social media – explained Chris Hunter, who also talked about how our society is always online. Social media is the best way to listen and find out what’s going on. Keeping this in mind, he also referenced how you need to be careful with your words and use language that resonates with all especially when controversy is involved.
  • Always have a plan and follow it – the speakers told stories about how in their work experiences your first instinct is not always the best one. Before a crisis occurs, its best practice is to create a plan, communicate it with colleagues, and practice it.
  • Try to provide as much information as possible Kristine Hendrickson mentioned that we need to be credible and authentic while balancing privacy and legal guidelines.
  • Let’s work together to do the best job possible – shared Cindy Sabato. Reporters as well as communications professionals have jobs to do. In collaborating with one another, the correct information can be shared with the public each step of the way.
  • Break down the information so it isn’t jargon – all four panelists referenced how they simplify their messages so the information is clearly understood by all. Specifically, John King deals with this every day in explaining complex concepts as a scientist in dealing with climate and oceanography.

Special thanks to our attendees, panelists, moderator, and Save The Bay for hosting us!

Event Recap: Pitch Perfect

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On August 7th, we hosted our “Pitch Perfect” event at AQUA at the Providence Marriott Hotel. Kimberly Fraser, our fearless Chapter President, led an informal Q&A session with local media professionals sharing their backgrounds and advice on the “do’s” and “don’ts” of pitching.

The night welcomed five presenters:

Key takeaways:

  • It’s all about relationships – strongly emphasized by Scott MacKay, all presenters agreed that building relationships with reporters is key to knowing how each of them likes to be pitched and what their core interested are.
  • There are no “golden rules” of pitching – all five of the speakers preferred to receive their pitches in different ways. The better you know individual preferences, the better your chances of success (see above “relationships”).
  • Photos or no photos?Elyse Major shared that she is a visual thinker and likes to write stories when she can picture it told through a photograph. While Whitman Littlefield relayed that the Providence Journal endeavors to take its own photos whenever possible. Overall, it was agreed that photos can help sell your pitch, even if they are not used in the end.
  • And what about attachments? – no surprise here with some yes, some no. Kate Nagle suggested the most popular compromise, which was to provide your press release in the body of your email and also as an attachment. This way, the reporter can opt for whichever approach is best for them.
  • Phone or email? – in an increasingly digital world and extremely tight deadlines, all reporters except for Scott MacKay preferred emails. (Note: you can still email your pitch to Scott, just expect he will likely be calling, not emailing, you back!)
  • Know your audience – as Tracy Slater and Brooke Rainville reminded us, always know the target audience of the reporter/media professional you are pitching; and make sure your topic fits with the reporter’s area of expertise and the nature of the publication as a whole.

Special thanks to our attendees, presenters, and AQUA for hosting us!

Event Recap: Lightning Round Session

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On April 10th, we welcomed our PRSA community to a second of our “Lightning Round” sessions.

Our seasoned professionals spoke about what they’ve learned along the way in their careers and offered a few pieces of advice for our audience. Each 10-minute presentation covered content in internal communications, media relations, and programmatic display.

PRSA/SENE President, Kim Fraser welcomed the group to the beautiful Red DWG Library, and we were inspired as their team discussed the passion and guidance behind all of their efforts. Our speakers then took the stage – Paul Grimaldi, Melanie Coon, and Jess Bachman – and left us wanting more until the very end!

Here’s a look at what folks were talking about:

  • @gailcarvelli – “Discretion is your brand” .. words of wisdom for communications professionals from @mcoonri at the @prsasene Lightning Round Event held @reddwglibrary @BCBSRI
  • @prsasene – .@mcoonri “The basics are critical. We shouldn’t make mistakes with the basics. [ex.] Proofread everything you write.”
  • @prsasene – .@mcoonri “Public trust is probably the most important prize we can win. It takes years to build up, but it can disappear in a minute.”
  • @prsasene – .@PaulEGrimaldi‘s social media principles: – it’s not the end all, be all – have a protocol – choose channel to fit your audience – be consistent with messages, topics and tone – engage your communities

Special Thanks to our attendees, Red DWG, and our Lightning Round Speakers!

  • Melanie Coon – Managing Director, Internal Communications, Corporate Affairs Division, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (internal communications)
  • Paul Grimaldi – Chief of Information and Public Relations, Rhode Island Department of Revenue (media relations)
  • Jess Bachman – Strategist, NAIL Communications, LLC (programmatic display)