Public Relations Society or America Northeast District

Fall-Winter 2015



PRXNE16. Destination: Boston!
Save the Date or Volunteer for 2016 PRSA NED Spring Conference

The 2016 PRSA Northeast District conference will take place on Monday, June 13, 2016 at UMASS Boston.  Come and connect with PR professionals from across the district, learn about the latest PR strategies and tactics and be inspired by leaders in the field.  Read details including how to volunteer from your home state!

ethics.gifEye-opening Thoughts on Ethics and PR

Noted practitionerJim Lukaszewski visited the PRSA Southeastern New England chapter recently and shared advice about emerging trends, pitfalls and best practices in ethics, PR, and crisis communications. Read what Jim had to say.



PRSA finger lakes.jpgConnecting Employees Through Technology: PRSA Finger Lakes Hosts Member Event

On November 13, members of the PRSA Finger Lakes chapter enjoyed a breakfast session led by David Kubissa, manager of employee communications at Corning Incorporated. Read more.....



Branding Lessons from a Dinosaur

PRSA Central New York hosted a mouth-watering “BBQ & Branding” program featuring John Stage, founder and chairman of the board of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. Read what John shared about expanding the company’s brand into new markets and channels while gaining investors and national media coverage.



social-networking.jpgDigitally Speaking in Capital Region 

Practitioners from throughout the New York State capital region gathered for an afternoon of presentations conducted at the chapter's annual Digital Media Summit




apprentice.gifRochester's PRSA ApPRentice

Junior and senior communications majors from Rochester area colleges took part in a free two-day intensive apprentice program on October 2 and 3. Participants gained real-world experience developing a plan to promote the importance of literacy to parents of children enrolled at the Ibero Early Childhood Center.


Screenshot 2015-12-21 15.25.54.pngPrimary Pride 

The PRSA Yankee Chapter hosted a panel discussion about New Hampshire's powerful role in presidential politics during the chapter's annual meeting. Check it out!  



web image.jpgThriving Online Without Being Trapped in the Web

PRSA Buffalo Niagara hosted Reverend Dr. Patrick Flanagan, assistant professor at St. John's University, for a fall session about how to not lose touch with personal connecting while navigating in the online and digital world. 




compass.gifState of the Society: PRSA National Update

This year’s annual meeting of the national PRSA organization, otherwise known as Leadership Assembly, was held on Saturday, November 7 in Atlanta, Georgia. As part of the meeting, delegates to the Assembly were briefed by the national board and PRSA’s CEO on the State of the Society. Read the details and learn about new benefits coming in 2016.



May the Force Be With You: 12 Rules From a PR Yoda

Northeastern PRSA pro, Paul J. Taylor, APR, spent over 45 years advancing from PR flunky to senior vice president. He shared his 12 rules of work and life recently with PRSA members in honor of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” 




webinar.gifUpcoming PRSA Webinars (free for all members!)


Eight PRSA Chapters. One Power Day. Collaborate, Be Inspired + Learn! 

Save the Date or Volunteer for 2016 PRSA NED Spring Conference

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 12.23.32 PM.pngOn the evening of Monday, June 13 and throughout Tuesday, June 14, PRSA Boston will host over 250 PR practitioners from the eight-state PRSA Northeast District for this must-attend conclave of inspiration, learning and networking. This conference will feature exceptional speakers and networking opportunities with peers and colleagues from every industry, discipline and management level.

On the docket: compelling programs about issues, best practices, and cutting-edge technologies to inform your professional life.

Greater Boston is known as one of the world’s centers of innovation, multiculturalism and education. Our venue, the sparkling UMass Boston’s Campus Center, is fitting for a conference where technology and thought leaders intersect to present relevant content in this renown center of learning and invention.

The super-close DoubleTree Bayside Hotel (a Hilton Honors property) will be our official conference hotel, offering newly-renovated rooms, affordable guest parking and short, free bus shuttle rides from an adjacent lot to UMass Boston. Mention PRSA for a preferred room rate (sorry, HH points must match the regular rate). A very close campus shuttle bus will swing you to the campus (allow 15 minutes for travel)

Come engage with communications talent from the Northeast region’s most exciting emerging companies, successful Fortune brands and innovation economy and services sectors – higher education, healthcare and life sciences, hospitality, environmental, cultural arts, technology and manufacturing among them.

We promise a conference that will be a worthwhile investment in your professional best self. Arrive for the weekend before and pack comfy walking attire to enjoy all that our coastal city offers during the temperate spring: beautiful weather, terrific restaurants, a Fenway Park tour or a Red Sox home game the next day, theater and many museums including these standouts just a stone’s through from our UMass Boston campus venue:  John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, the new Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate and Commonwealth Museum.  All are rich in exhibits and historic documents that are the fabric of our Constitution (including that very document). We encourage you to read about their hours and offerings in advance of your trip.

Early sponsor + partner inquiries may be made to:

Check back for future news about speaker submissions, travel information and sponsor guidelines. Interested in helping to deliver on this vision? We are currently looking for volunteers from all our chapters in the district (that means you qualify!) to help with logistics, programming, marketing, sponsorships and all other elements of the planning process.  If you are interested please email





State of the State: PRSA National Update

compass.gifThis year’s annual meeting of the national PRSA organization, otherwise known as the Leadership Assembly, was held on Saturday, November 7 in Atlanta, Georgia. As part of the meeting, delegates to the Assembly were briefed by the national board and PRSA’s CEO on the State of the Society.

Of interest to us all, the Treasurer’s Report indicated that the Society is in good shape financially and there will be no dues increase for 2016.

Joe Truncale, PRSA’s new CEO, let us know that membership was currently at just under 22,000. He also provided a synopsis of some new benefits we can expect this coming year as part of our membership with PRSA. 

  • First, the long-awaited PRSA website project is underway and at least the bones of a new site should be available by the end of the first quarter. 
  • One new benefit coming soon is called “Smart Brief” ( where we can receive PR-related news briefs in a newsletter form right to our email inboxes.  This partnership with SmartBrief will bring industry specific information that is targeted, segment (section) specific content for public relations professionals.
  • Another new benefit will be a print on demand service where chapters can use pre-designed, customizable materials such as postcards, brochures, etc. that retain the PRSA branding look and feel, but can be tailored for your chapter’s needs. Print orders can be small or large. Pricing for printing is not yet available

Two bylaws amendments were voted on at Leadership Assembly this year. The first authorizes the national board to set dues rates, within a narrow parameter, without having to go to the annual Leadership Assembly for approval. The board can now approve up to a 5% increase in a 5 year period. Any dues increase beyond that level would need to be approved by the Leadership Assembly.

The second bylaw change creates additional tiers within the dues structure for Associate Members. This will allow recent college graduates to have additional time to ramp up to the full PRSA dues level.

Finally, the Assembly Delegates elected the new national board and officers for 2016. The Northeast District is well represented this coming year!! Chair will be Mark McClennan from the Boston Chapter; Treasurer will be Deb Silverman of the Buffalo Niagara Chapter; Secretary will be Tony D’Angelo of the Central New York chapter; and, of course, we have our Northeast District board member, Jo Ann LeSage Nelson out of the Capital Region Chapter!

Congratulations to our Northeast District officers and board member!!  Chair-elect for 2016 will be Jane Dvorak, who was Treasurer in 2015.



ethics.gifJim Lukaszewski Offers Eye-opening Thoughts on Ethics and PR

 By Chris Watson 
PRSA Southeastern New England

“Guts are terrific indicators of problems.”

So remarked renowned PR expert Jim Lukaszewski during a recent networking and PR education event on September 21 at Tech Collective, sponsored by PRNewswire. Held in recognition of PRSA’s Ethics Awareness Month, the discussion with Jim ranged widely, touching on emerging trends, pitfalls, and best practices regarding ethics, PR, and crisis communications.

Jim drew on actual issues that he has helped companies address, repeatedly stressing how critical it is to “find the truth and get it out there as soon as possible” as well as the value of close interaction and trust among PR practitioners and legal counsel. And of course, there was the first piece of advice he gives to executives facing ethics and legal challenges: “Call your mother.”





dinosaur.gifBranding Lessons from a Dinosaur

By Crystal DeStefano, APR
President and Director of Public Relations
Strategic Communications, LLC

From Central New York to the Windy City, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is more than just a restaurant— it’s a brand. This fall,  the Central New York Chapter of PRSA hosted a dinner event during which attendees learned how the Dinosaur grew from a small, local business to one that is a well-known name spanning nine localities and four states—New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois.

The “BBQ & Branding” program featured John Stage, founder and chairman of the board of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, discussing how Dinosaur Bar-B-Que’s brand has helped the company expand into new markets and channels while gaining investors and national media coverage.

John shared his journey from the time when “cooking for bikers” was just an idea, all the way through his plans to open yet another location in Baltimore, Maryland. He talked specifically about how Dinosaur differentiates itself, promotes itself, find unique opportunities where no one else is looking, and responds to issues. The company has grown so much that John’s team has now enlisted the professional support of a public relations agency - but he is still very much involved in all decisions about the brand.



apprentice.gifRochester PRSA’s PR Apprentice

This fall, the Rochester Chapter of PRSA hosted its second-ever “PR Apprentice” program in partnership with the IBERO American Action League. Their collective efforts brought together diverse students from several of the Rochester area’s colleges and universities, including Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY Brockport, SUNY Fredonia, Nazareth College and St. John Fisher College. Students’ ethnic backgrounds spanned African American, Asian American and Hispanic American.

Together, three student teams crafted proposals intended to help IBERO raise donations of books as well as public awareness around the issue of dual-language literacy in the Rochester area. The winning team’s pitch will be enacted by IBERO in 2016. Each team conducted research, established goals and objectives, developed strategies and tactical programs that employed both traditional and digital media. The results exceeded expectations.

Social Waves Communications, comprised of four students – three of whom are bilingual – focused on deepening parental engagement. Their recommendation included family nights, recurring recognition programs, and interactive events designed to help parents and children foster a culture of reading would translate into the home. The group even secured a pre-approved donation of 500 books from thrift store chain Savers.

Fred, Fields & Ferren, a marketing communications consultancy of three students, proposed a comprehensive community-wide campaign focused on the plight of illiteracy that affects large numbers of families – especially among minorities. The group anchored their pitch within nostalgia asking “What is your favorite childhood book?” This question also served as a way to tap into Rochester’s diverse network of social media influencers such as reporters, elected officials and lifestyle personalities. The group also proposed partnerships with businesses that would agree to house a drop box for donations of used and new books.

4Good, Inc. included three students and innately rooted their efforts in community engagement. Their campaign, ”Resolution Read/Resolutión Leer,” included a robust analysis of IBERO’s objectives, which enabled the team to reframe the challenge with an aggressive goal of more than 500 books. Centralized around National Reading Day in January 2016, the group’s proposal made use of the Rochester Amerks, the area’s minor league hockey team.

Inspired by a previous event hosted by the sports team, 4Good, Inc. proposed a one-night book drive at Blue Cross Arena with appearances by characters from favorite children’s books such as Dora the Explorer and Curious George. Like Fred, Fields & Ferren, 4Good, Inc. also suggested the use of book drop boxes, however, they alternatively proposed area high schools as the program’s partner and sought to use the boxes as makeshift billboards to educate the public about IBERO’s mission and cause.

Each student-led “agency” brought a unique approach to the challenge. Social Waves embraced the existing strength of IBERO’s relationships with parents – more than 95 percent of parents already participate in the IBERO programs. Fred, Fields & Ferren put forth an ambitious yet inspired plan to promote a broader agenda for literacy amplified through social media by community leaders and influencers. Lastly, 4Good, Inc. delivered an authentic and realistic plan grounded in strong objectives, a focused timeline, and grassroots partnerships.

With the PR and communications industry acknowledging the need for greater diversity among its talent pool, the PR Apprentice program represents another small step toward progress.

While only one student-led agency could be declared the winner of PR Apprentice, all teams exhibited strengths and attributes required of contemporary communications professionals—intent to source research and data, an understanding that both digital and traditional media must work together in concert, and the desire to use public relations and media to advance positive change on behalf of an organization and the people it serves.

Through the volunteer efforts of students, coaches, mentors, committee members and judges, IBERO American Action League, Rochester area colleges and the Rochester chapter of PRSA achieved a collective win for diversity in public relations and communications.




PRSA finger lakes.jpgUsing Technology to Connect Employees: Corning Offers Tips to PRSA Finger Lakes Members

On November 13, members of the PRSA Finger Lakes chapter enjoyed a breakfast session led by David Kubissa, manager of employee communications at Corning Incorporated. 

Kubissa discussed how some organizations overlook the power of internal communications to engage employees. He focused on how to deliver and sustain effective internal communications in a social media age. Part of his presentation included how to repurpose content for employees, as well as how to assess where your employees get their information. By knowing this, we can take advantage of those opportunities and also monitor for possible misinformation signals along the way.

Kubissa joined Corning in 2010 after a 30-year career in print and online journalism with the Gannett Co. Inc.





social-networking.jpgCapital Region Hosts Annual Digital Media Summit

Our PRSA Capital Region chapter hosted a successful Digital Media Summit on October 23, 2015. Practitioners from throughout the area gathered for an afternoon of informative and interactive presentations conducted by industry-recognized digital experts.

This year's sessions included topics such as Understanding Google Analytics, Hackable Humans and Evolving New York State’s Digital Presence.

Guest speakers talked about gathering online intelligence to ensure your Web efforts are on track to drive outcomes. The risks posed by employee social media use and online habits to an organization's security also was discussed.



Screenshot 2015-12-21 15.25.54.pngPRSA Yankee Chapter Celebrates Presidential Primary Legacy  

At the PRSA Yankee Chapter's 2015 Annual Meeting held on November 5, members enjoyed a dynamic panel discussion about New Hampshire's powerful role in presidential politics.

The panel featured Neil Levesque, NH Institute of Politics; Andy Smith, UNH Survey Center; Scott Tranchemontagne, Montagne Communications; and was moderated by Amy Coveno, WMUR reporter.

In 2016, it will be 100 years since New Hampshire held its first presidential primary. Panelists talked about this year’s primary candidates, and how historically the primary outcomes have reflected on the results of the national general election. A networking opportunity rounded out the event.





web image.jpgThriving Online Without Being Trapped in the Web

PRSA Buffalo Niagara hosted Reverend Dr. Patrick Flanagan, assistant professor at St. John's University, for a fall session about how to not lose touch with personal connecting while navigating in the online and digital world.

"There were a few things that really stuck with me after the presentation," said chapter president Jennifer Gallardo. "As much as we rely on communication vehicles like social media in our personal and professional lives, nothing can beat the connections and memories that are made interacting face-to-face," she shared. "I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say, 'Remember that one time on Twitter when we…'." 



Screenshot 2015-12-18 17.11.45.pngMay the Force Be With You: 12 Rules From a PR Yoda

By Paul J. Taylor, APR

December 2, 2015

Secret, shall I tell you? Grand Master of Jedi Order am I. Won this job in a raffle, I did, think you? How did you know, how did you know, Master Yoda? Master Yoda knows these things. His job it is. 

— Yoda to Luke Skywalker

My PR light saber retired with me two years ago. Successful I was; Yoda I was not.

But over 45 years, I advanced from PR flunky to senior vice president, prospering in our profession (he said, modestly), thanks to 12 rules of work and life, which I will share with you in honor of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” opening in theaters on Dec. 18. Others who follow them will be more likely to have The Force with them. The truth, I speak.

•  Show integrity. Your most important choice is to be trustworthy. Call it what you want — honor, honesty, truthfulness, reliability or consistency of character — but living it means that you will be respected and esteemed. Integrity will define your high value to others, your happiness and your peace of mind.

•  Swim against the tide. Contra-trend personally and professionally. If everyone uses social media thank yous, do yours face-to-face. Surprise by differentiating. The method of communication is less important than if it works and how you stand out.

•  Be an owner. Someone who rents anything is less committed than an owner. Become a job owner — not a job renter. Don’t be satisfied with “average” or “above average.” Success means doing more. If you set your goals higher than what’s asked of you, then you will be counted on day-in and day-out as the go-to pro on any team.

•  Choose the harder right. On day one of my first PR job, my boss and eventual mentor said, “Never frost a rotten cookie. No one will be fooled after the first bite.” Whether you’re facing a seminal crisis or sticky internal politics, events never improve by diffusing the facts. The West Point Cadet Prayer is correct: “Choose the harder right over the easier wrong, and never be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won.”

Be thorough. No matter how top-notch you consider yourself, you will be even more so by honing every opportunity to shine. A close friend of Winston Churchill, one of the world’s most persuasive communicators, said, “Winston has spent the best years of his life writing impromptu speeches.” Meticulously prepare for every meeting, think ahead and rehearse every remark and painstakingly review every communication.

See the big picture. “Force multiplier” is a military term for adding an element that dramatically improves the chances of success: The effectiveness of a fighter with just a sword can be multiplied with a modern weapon. The equivalent for us? Thinking creatively and big. Can you multiply a winning idea by tweaking it or exposing it to various and unexpected audiences or stakeholders? It’s the difference between a strategist and a tactician.

Be nice. Ever wake up and say, “I think I’ll ruin someone’s day today?” Yet, that’s exactly what many do, even if inadvertently. Public relations is a relationship-building and sustaining profession. Your behaviors form your personal reputation. Create a “do unto others” plan and back it up with daily discipline.

Know when to hold ’em. Creative forces of persuasion and presentation are at the core of our profession. When you find what works, don’t get bored with a winner; stick with it until it starts to fail. If you need a creative outlet, then find one that doesn’t damage what is producing results. Base decisions on both qualitative and quantitative evidence.

Remain loyal. Disloyalty means detachment and the pathway to failure. Remember the old truism: Respect is earned, honesty is appreciated, trust is gained and loyalty is returned. Do more than your part to uphold your half. Employment is a two-way covenant. If the other side fails, then move on, but be a consummate professional in how you do this.

Stick together. Don’t dislike people who are smarter, more creative and more imaginative than you are. Hire them. If you’re looking for work, then the same applies: Associate with contagious qualities and achievements. Eagles don’t flock with turkeys.

Demand high standards. Be your own toughest critic. Never give in to being “good enough” in any matter — big or small. Set an example for everyone around you. Be accountable for your work and, at least weekly, take a few moments to soul-search about what’s going right, what isn’t and how it could all be better.

See opportunity everywhere. With every positive or negative event — from news tidbits to big trends — ask yourself, “What about this could be an advantage to my work, goals or organization/client?” Discipline yourself to study the ideas, products and messaging of others. If something strikes a chord, even without an obvious immediate application, then save it for when it can help.

Before dismissing these notions as the vainglorious ramblings of a has-been, remember that Yoda was no spring chicken. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” when Yoda challenges him to use the Force to lift his X-Wing from the swamp, Luke unenthusiastically replies, “All right. I’ll give it a try.”

Yoda’s classic response is also mine: “Do, or do not. There is no try."


Thank you for reading this edition. Have a wonderful New Year's and stay tuned for news about our Northeast District Conference and much more in 2016! As always, if you have great content to share with our PRSA professionals, please email ideas to