• Fast Five: with Richard Chacón, Executive Director of News Content, WBUR, Boston

    As executive director of news content for WBUR, Richard Chacón oversees all aspects of local radio and digital news content for WBUR, Boston’s leading public radio station.

    Richard’s career includes more than 20 years of experience in print and broadcast journalism, public affairs, politics and government. As a journalist, Richard has worked at The Boston Globe, where he covered Boston City Hall and higher education and was the Latin America bureau chief, based in Mexico City. He also served as deputy foreign affairs editor and as ombudsman. In addition, he has worked at New York Newsday, WCVB-TV in Boston and KTSM in his native El Paso, Texas.

    Beyond journalism, Richard also served as director of communications for Deval Patrick’s gubernatorial campaign in Massachusetts, and later served in the governor’s office as director of policy and then as executive director of the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants. He also served as a speechwriter in the New York City mayor’s office under David Dinkins and later as deputy media director for the 1992 Democratic National Convention in New York City.

    We caught up with Richard prior to the 2017 PRSA Boston Annual Meeting where he is scheduled to give the keynote address.  We asked him about the future of news and how media platforms like WBUR are evolving.

    What led you to become a journalist and why did you decide to join WBUR?

    Endless curiosity – about how things happen, why and about the people involved. I’ve had this curiosity ever since I was a young boy growing up in the desert in El Paso, TX. My very first job was as a newspaper delivery boy. I have done delivering almost all of the major news including the News Weekly USA news.  I’ve been blessed to have had some wonderful experiences in print, broadcast and multimedia newsrooms and working with some talented colleagues along the way. I’m especially pleased and proud to help lead one of the biggest and best newsrooms in public radio. As WBUR grows and becomes more of a primary source of news and information – especially during this transformational time in Boston’s history – we have an opportunity and obligation to help lead the public dialogue on many important issues in our community.

    Will presenting news to audiences continue to evolve or change in 2018? If so, how?

    Newsrooms across Boston and the country are in the midst of rethinking and redefining how they collect and deliver the news – that includes WBUR. We know that over half of our audience experiences our multimedia content through mobile devices, so our content must be mobile friendly. Visual presentations of content – videos, photos, data visualization – are growing in importance for stories, especially those that are shared through social media channels. Although terrestrial radio continues to reach our largest audience, on-demand listening – whether through podcasts or streaming – is growing in popularity for our audience, especially younger listeners and readers. But even amid all of these changes, it is important that we always remain committed to the traditional values of fair, aggressive and transparent journalism.

    PR people continue to see the lines are blurring between advertising and editorial. Is this impacting how you and your team at WBUR report news? If so, how?

    News organizations are also constantly looking for new business and financial models to help sustain the journalism. Increasingly, we’re seeing the development of “sponsored content” which can sometimes look, walk and quack like newsroom editorial content. As a former ombudsman for the Boston Globe, I think it’s very important that news organizations are both very careful and very clear with audiences about what is advertising and what is news coverage. So far, I believe most organizations – including WBUR – has maintained that line between advertising and editorial but it’s an evolving and ongoing discussions (and debates) that we have on these issues.

    Why was it important to develop online niche sites, such as the ARTery and Edify, or podcasts such as Modern Love?

    As WBUR continues to grow as a multimedia destination for news and spoken-word content, we are constantly experimenting with new forms of presentations and platforms. We have national programs that reach millions of listeners across the United States; and we have sound-rich podcasts that share peoples’ personal stories and perspectives. In our local newsroom, we’ve developed a number of multimedia content “verticals” as a way to chronicle many of the dynamic sectors that are part of our knowledge-based economy around Boston. We’re building teams of journalists to bring WBUR’s high-quality storytelling to these sectors: “BostonomiX is how we cover tech and innovation; “CommonHealth” covers health and science; The ARTery is how we capture our increasingly diverse arts and culture scene; “Edify” is how we cover the many facets of teaching, learning and education. The great news is we are developing new ones for 2018!

     Why is hosting events important to WBUR? How will this continue to evolve in 2018?

    WBUR believes it has both an opportunity and responsibility to lead the public conversations on important topics with newsmakers, thought leaders, idea makers and diverse members of our communities. That’s already what we do every day on air and online. We do it through our selection of news stories and topics, our regular use of polling to key issues like the opioid crisis or climate change, and through our growing use of social media and crowd-sourcing. Convening more public events is a natural extension of our role as a public institution. We regularly host public events at WBUR that include many of our journalists. We also sponsor and produce dozens of other events all over the region because we believe strongly in our role of gathering communities together for thoughtful discussion. Sometimes these events can be a source of revenue for us, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity to constantly cultivate and grow our public media audience. There will be some more exciting news on this front also in 2018!


    Do you have a candidate for a FAST FIVE interview? Email Joshua Milne at and pitch your expert! 

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 



  • PRSA wrapped up its annual International Conference, which was hosted by the Northeast District’s own Boston chapter!

    In Career, Chapter Events, ICON 2017 on

    Here is how your district was represented and recognized:

    The Boston Chapter Leadership, including president Dan Dent and president-elect Erin Callanan (who is also our 2018 District Chair-Elect!), put on an amazing show! There were nearly 1,000 professionals in attendance for the Leadership Rally, PRSA’s National Assembly, and the 100+ sessions offered throughout the International Conference.

    Tony D’Angleo, APR, Fellow PRSA, from the Central New York Chapter, will be the 2018 Chair of PRSA’s National Board of Directors! (Talk about representation for the Northeast within PRSA!)  As Chair-Elect this year, Tony planned and ran the 2-day Leadership Rally on Friday and Saturday, which is a free chapter leader training program PRSA offers in conjunction with the International Conference every year.

    Crystal DeStefano, APR, past Northeast District Chair, attended the Leadership Rally, PRSA’s National Assembly, and served throughout the International Conference in her new role as PRSA’s Northeast Regional Representative.

    Every chapter in the district was represented at the Leadership Rally and at the National Assembly, where we were able to voice opinions, share ideas and vote on proposed changes to PRSA’s national bylaws. Each of your chapters were represented by your delegate(s), and our district vote was carried by our current District Chair Scott Fraser.

    Past Northeast District Chair and past Yankee Chapter President Jane Law presented, explained and discussed all of the proposed bylaws changes to the National Assembly in her role as Co-Chair of PRSA’s Governance Committee.

     Maria Russell, APR, Fellow PRSA, from the Central New York Chapter, received the annual Patrick Jackson Award for Distinguished Service to PRSA!

    Three members from our district were inducted into the PRSA College of Fellows during this year’s conference: Loring Barnes, APR, Boston Chapter past president; Nancy Sterling, APR, from the Boston chapter; and Joseph A. Brennan, Ph.D., APR, from the Capital Region Chapter. A great honor!

    Dan Dent, Boston Chapter president, added a public relations textbook and some swag from our PRXNE17 District Conference this year into a time capsule that PRSA National will open in 30 years – on PRSA’s 100th anniversary.

    Almost 100 members from our district attended these events! And dozens of students from PRSSA chapters across the district attended the PRSSA National Conference in Boston,  held simultaneously with PRSA’s International Conference.

  • Fast 5 Questions with Alexander V. Laskin, Ph.D., Professor of Strategic Communication, Quinnipiac University

    In Career, ICON 2017 on


    Alexander V. Laskin is a professor of strategic communication at Quinnipiac University. He is an author of over 50 publications, focused primarily on investor relations, international communications, and measurement and evaluation. His most recent book, Handbook of Financial Communication and Investor Relations, offers state-of-the-art thinking and practice in investor relations and financial communication. Dr. Laskin previously worked in investor relations, international mergers and acquisitions, and market research. Today, he offers consulting services in investor relations, research and evaluation, and international communications.


    Join us for an opportunity to meet Dr. Laskin, and other world-class speakers, at the 2017 PRSA International Conference in Boston October 8-10.



    1) What, in your view, is the biggest challenge facing the PR industry today? Why?
    Well, I do not think it is a brand-new challenge, but it is more exaggerated now – the focus on tactics. Whatever the big next shiny sexy thing is – Facebook, Snapchat, OTT, 3D, virtual reality – PR people seem to be eager to jump on it and start selling it to their clients. What often gets left behind is the strategy – what objectives are being accomplished and how it helps the client achieve the organizational goals, enhance the bottom line. And without strategy even the best, most sophisticated tool can become absolutely useless – it is like hammering a nail with a microscope.

    2) What industry trend is hot now? Do you think the trend is here to stay?
    As I said above, the current toys are social and mobile media. They won’t go away, but they will stop being the new sexy things eventually – same way as newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV – they did not go away, but they stopped being new shiny things. Social media will be just one of the items on the long list of tactics available.

    3) If you could go back in time and meet yourself 10 years ago, what advice would you offer him?
    Ignore what you have to do and do what you want to do!

    4) Please tell us a little about your session.
    The session “Telling the Financial Story: Basic Financial Knowledge for Communicators” runs on Sunday, Oct. 8, 4:45-5:45 p.m. The idea of this session is to introduce PR pros to the world of financial statements – I will talk about what kind of financial reporting corporations provide and how to understand it, while my colleague, Stacy Schubert from Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, will talk about financial statements provided by non-profits. In public relations we do not have to be financial analysts, but having basic ability to speak the financial language can help PR pros elevate their status in the organization.

    5) What are you reading?
    I just finished writing my edited book, Handbook of Financial Communication and Investor Relations – so, I was reading, re-reading, and then reading it again for more than a year. But now as it went to print, I am starting to read “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque. I do not know much about World War I – so, this book is a good starting point on the subject.

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 
  • Fast 5 Questions with Alicia Thompson, Managing Director, Porter Novelli

    In Career, Fast Five, ICON 2017 on

    Alicia Thompson, APR, serves as managing director of Porter Novelli and has over two decades of experience in public relations and communications.

    Alicia’s expertise falls squarely in consumer products and services. Throughout her career, she has worked with such brands as Arby’s Restaurant Group, Interface, Teavana, Nestle/Gerber, Popeyes® Louisiana Kitchen, Coca-Cola, BellSouth, Fletcher Martin Ewing and Cohn & Wolfe. She has deep experience in food and beverage, QSR, casual dining, franchising and crisis/issues management in this category.

    Join us for an opportunity to meet Alicia, and other world-class speakers, at the 2017 PRSA International Conference in Boston October 8-10.

    1) What, in your view, is the biggest challenge facing the PR industry today and why? 

    The consolidation of communications marketing disciplines. As the lines between PR/Advertising/Digital/Social continue to blur, the “traditional” tenets of PR and the work product of PR agencies blurs as well. And as other marketing discipline agencies add PR offerings, PR agencies have had to offer other services. One has to ask if any of them are doing a phenomenal job with offerings outside their core competency.

    2) What industry trend is hot now? Do you think the trend is here to stay? 

    The continued role of influencers as key content contributors. Yes, it is here to stay. The research is clear – people trust their peers and people with whom they have things in common. With this data point in mind, agencies and companies are going to leverage influencers more in the future as ongoing contributors. The key will be finding authentic advocates who truly connect with the target audience.

    3) If you could go back in time and meet yourself 10 years ago, what advice would you offer her? 

    Begin with good leaders! The best job experience can be completely unraveled by a poor leader. Ten years ago, I was fortunate to work for a great leader, but it certainly was not on my list of criteria. My best advice to myself 10 years ago, or anyone today, is to put good leadership at the top of your criteria list.

    4) Please tell us a little about your ICON session. 

    Our session – Becoming a PR Leader: The Art and Science of Mentorship – draws upon research from the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and personal experiences to discuss the importance and impact of mentorship on leadership and long-term professional success. The content is intended for young professionals embarking on their career journey.

    5) What are you reading? 

    I’ve got several books that I’m reading right now. At the top of the stack is Patrick Lencioni’s “Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable.” Oddly enough, my favorite book is Spencer Johnson’s “Who Moved My Cheese.” It is a simple tale about dealing with change.

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 
  • Successful Selling and True Brilliance with Kate Beeders

    In Career on

    Even talented entrepreneurs, including independent PR practitioners, need consistent income that grows annually. Stable income allows independents to hire, travel, acquire resources, and plan financially. Since more entrepreneurs are failing than ever, how can we ensure we have great clients signing up for our services? How do we make sure we ask for money – the right amount for what we are offering?

    When IPN guest speaker Kate Beeders started doing business development for a Fortune 500 company years ago, it was presumed that employees did not have to land their own clients, just service the business. Today, practitioners have to be comfortable having the money conversation as well as doing a great job on the account management side.

    First, Kate discussed how to develop a mindset before you start selling your services. (It’s a lot easier to sell someone else’s widgets than your own, by the way.) Develop a mindset to combat giving discounts, trading services and overcome fear of having sales conversations. A mindset is how you see yourself in relation to the outside world (marketing), as well as how you view yourself in relation to the outside world, and the limiting beliefs you have about yourself. Mindset is at least 99% of your success and failure – overriding the subconscious mind’s “recording” that keeps you stuck. Kate helps clients overcome these limitations and change your mindset to a positive story.

    Kate challenged the IPN meeting attendees to think about these critical questions: ask yourself how your life would change if you could sell with ease. What do you do to “sabotage” your deals? What are you doing to attract what you need? What are you doing to break negative patterns of behavior in your life, brought about by years of conditioning.

    Tip: Build your business around your lifestyle, not the reverse. What do you want to do? Where do you want to go? Be specific.

    Think about the history of sales: Ford Motor Company encouraged salespeople to sell based on the shape of people’s heads (open minded, etc.). Dale Carnegie talked more about relationship selling – know, like and trust. Then “barrier selling” became popular: asking qualifying questions. In the 1960s, a dramatic “creating a desire” style emerged, “red is romance” selling. In the 1980s, “spin selling” is about creating a need so people will buy – physical need, emotional need, etc. – and getting people to talk about their dreams (Tony Robbins style). In the 1990s, solution selling became in style, getting in with prospects before the deal goes out to RFP and long-term selling is in favor. Now: commodity selling is in favor: pricing yourself cheap, you can get it anywhere and it doesn’t really matter where you buy it and just is a price comparison.

    Jack Canfield once said: “When someone says no, you say next.” and Tony Robbins taught his followers, “People will buy from people that they know, people that they like and people that they trust.”

    Sales conversations: are you doing them to get the client, or get the money? People can pick up which one you have chosen.

    Three general issues we encounter when it comes to selling

    1. Money issues
    2. Time issues
    3. They’d rather do it themselves

    Three reasons why we struggle with sales:

    • Believing good products and services sell themselves without actually selling. It just doesn’t happen. Entrepreneurs are good at planning, but don’t spend time getting out and actually selling to people who might want the product someday. Advertising doesn’t build up the “know, like and trust” factor; you still have to have sales conversations.
    • Thinking it’s a numbers game – the more prospecting, the better. You are most likely going to do the wrong thing more often. You need to know what to do correctly, and how to connect with people correctly vs. more frequently.
    • Focusing on what to say and the client’s objectives solely, and not selling your own services in as well. Pay attention to what is popping into your head for objections while you are listening to the prospect, and know when you can stand on your own two feet to overcome their objections. Don’t get caught up in your own negative story (no time, not good enough, pricing). Be confident or they won’t believe you.

    In short, sell from a place of power instead of a place of fear.

    Want to learn more about developing your own mindset? Learn more about having sales conversations with coach Kate Beeders and let your true brilliance shine in a two-day workshop from June 22-23 at the Wellesley College Club. If you sign up using the code YES17, you will save money and get a super special seat next to yours truly. Website:

    By Julie Dennehy, APR and President, Dennehy PR

  • Remaining Ethical in the Era of “Fake News” and “Alternative Facts”

    In Career, Ethics, Uncategorized on

    “Fake News.” “Alternative Facts.” Until recently, these topics were never a part of the PR conversation. Now, not only is everyone in PR, journalism and beyond talking about them, colleges and universities which specialize in communications studies are trying to figure out how to appropriately address these topics with their students.

    There are primers on how to recognize fake websites. Articles are written on how to ferret out fake news from the real thing. How did we get here? One answer, of course, is the rise and explosion of the Internet. There are no longer just journalists trained by the bellwether of CBS Standards and Practices. Now there are citizen journalists and bloggers. Who sets the standards for them? There are literally millions of sites to explore and it is up to the reader to decide which ones are credible.

    As PR practitioners, we not only have a responsibility to our clients to ensure that we are promoting their causes and their products to responsible news outlets, but we also have ethical obligations ourselves. Where do we turn for guidance? A good place to start is with our own professional organization, PRSA. Earlier this year, Jane Dvorak, APR Fellow, PRSA Chair of the Society for 2017, issued a statement on Alternative Facts. It began, “Truth is the foundation of all effective communications.” She refers to PRSA’s Code of Ethics as the guidelines in this arena for all PRSA members.  Our chapter president, Dan Dent, weighed in as well in the Boston Business Journal.

    For those of us who practice public relations, and particularly crisis communications, we know that we are not providing court testimony with a requirement to give “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Our obligation, after all, is to represent our clients’ or organization’s best interests. However, we cannot lie. To knowingly present a falsehood to a journalist or to the public at large ruins our own credibility, as well as that of our clients or the organization that we represent.

    If in doubt, print out a copy of the PRSA Guide to Ethics or keep it in an electronic file on your phone or laptop. Refer to it if you have a question. It can become your shield in the war against “Fake News” and “Alternative Facts”.

    By: Nancy J. Sterling, APR, Ethics Officer, PRSA Boston