• Strategic Public Relations for Charitable Organizations –An Interview with Dick Shaner, Jr.

    In Cause, PRSA Member Feed on

    By Ariana Revelas, PRSA Boston student correspondent – Bentley University


    Dick Shaner, Jr. is senior vice president at Martin Davison Public Relations, an affiliate of The Martin Group, in Buffalo, N.Y.. Dick’s experience in public relations spans more than 35 years on both the corporate and agency side. Dick has been a member of PRSA since 1989 and is a past president of the Buffalo/Niagara Chapter.


    As a student in PR, I have a passion and keen interest in learning about nonprofit PR. In my research about this topic, I asked Dick for an interview because of his experience in this field.


    What kinds of services and expertise do you offer? 


    Founded in 2001, The Martin Group (TMG) is a leading integrated communications firm headquartered in downtown Buffalo with offices in Rochester and Albany, N.Y..


    Established in 2015, Martin Davison Public Relations is a public relations firm in Upstate New York that offers advocacy, community relations, content marketing, crisis communications, event management, internal communications, and media relations.


    The Martin Group is a recipient of the Buffalo Business First Fast Track Award multiple times and is recognized as one of WNY’s Top Private Companies.


    Do you specialize in helping nonprofits or is this one of your passions in PR, or both?


    Our agency considers nonprofits one of its eight key verticals based on our extensive experience in the area. We also invest two percent of our revenue, a significant amount of pro bono work, and countless hours of volunteer service to nonprofit organizations throughout the communities we serve.


    Working with nonprofit organizations has been a passion of mine throughout my career, including a total of 17 years working with Catholic Charities of Buffalo on its annual Appeal. The 2018 Appeal was especially challenging—and rewarding—as we were able to achieve an ambitious $11 million goal during the clergy sex abuse crisis that rocked the Diocese of Buffalo. This was executed through numerous news releases, media advisories, and crafted pitch letters. We organized several media events and scheduled editorial board meetings, while focusing attention on social media channels as well. In addition, we encouraged online donations through Catholic Charities’ website, with an emphasis on how Catholic Charities serves non-Catholics and Catholics alike. Anyone can donate and also be served by the organization.


    I also provide public relations services (both paid and pro bono) to Mental Health Advocates of Western New York (formerly the Mental Health Association of Erie County), and was recognized with their 2013 Advocacy Award. I am particularly proud of our efforts to help raise awareness for the Just Tell One Campaign, which focuses on the prevention and early intervention of mental health and substance abuse issues affecting youth and young adults in Western New York. View over here to know more about the delta 8 gummies effects and how it works in reducing stress and anxiety levels easily.


    Can you touch on some strategies that you use in particular to assist charitable organizations? 


    Since 2013, I have dedicated hundreds of hours to promote various fundraising initiatives for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Western and Central New York Chapter (LLS). LLS is the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding research, finding cures and ensuring access to treatments for blood cancer patients.


    I have served on the executive leadership committee for the local LLS Light the Night Walk since 2013 and the planning committee for the annual Diamond Ball since 2014. Our agency’s pro bono public relations support for these events during this time has resulted in hundreds of articles, interviews and other media coverage. A lot of the strategy for this event is done on a national level because the event is held in many major cities. I worked on the earned media and publicity for the Buffalo event.


    We focused heavily on ambassadors—those who survived leukemia and lymphoma and family members of survivors of blood cancer—by featuring their stories of survival. This was a very successful strategy. There has been a lot of focus on families and companies that walk on behalf of their employees as well. To try to get executives from Buffalo-based companies to participate, we recently created an executive challenge to raise significant amounts of money. These promotional and publicity efforts have helped LLS raise millions of dollars. In general, nonprofits are struggling right now with walks, runs, and similar events, and not raising as much money as prior years. The Light the Night event is showing continued growth.


    What advice do you have for PR professionals looking to use their experience to help local charities?


    Nonprofit organizations can use all the help they can get from PR and communications professionals because they typically have limited resources. They welcome PR professionals who want to assist with event management, social media, and PR. Getting involved as a volunteer, a committee or board member within a nonprofit is also a great way to:

    • Develop a strong relationship with a nonprofit you support;
    • Help the nonprofit while also connecting with business leaders and their boards of directors; and
    • Create good exposure for yourself.


    Additionally, I have always felt nonprofit organizations provide recent graduates and entry-level practitioners with a good “foot-in-the-door” to an entry-level career in public relations.


  • In Formation: The New Roxbury Cultural District

    In Cause on

    PRSA Boston’s Board Member and Diversity Liaison Kelley Chunn has been leading the efforts to have Roxbury designated as a Cultural District in Massachusetts. Take a moment and learn more about this socially vibrant and ethnically diverse neighborhood in Kelley’s new blog post below.

    If you live in the Greater Boston area, what comes to mind when you hear the name

    “Roxbury, “ a neighborhood in the city of Boston?  Is it arts, culture and history?

    In May 2017 after decades of effort, history was made when the Roxbury Cultural District (RCD) was formally designated by the Massachusetts Cultural Council as the third cultural district in the City of Boston. The newly minted district comprises

    the historic Dudley Square, a commercial and transit hub, and nearby John Eliot Square – each of which is rich in history, arts and cultural treasure. The RCD is among more than 30 such designated districts across the Commonwealth and is recognized by the Mayor of Boston, the Boston City Council and the state of Massachusetts.

    The Roxbury Cultural District represents an exciting opportunity to see this community as a socially vibrant and ethnically diverse neighborhood, “smack dab”

    in the heart of the City of Boston.  The mission of the RCD is to identify and recognize Roxbury’s cultural assets and establish the tools, strategies, resources, and spaces that elevate this community as a living repository of arts and cultural expression – past, present and future.

    Roxbury’s story is one of evolving waves of immigrants including Native Americans, early English Colonists, Irish, German, Jewish, Caribbean, African American and African residents.

    Looking through the lens of arts and culture, Roxbury is rich. Jazz artists including Roy Haynes and Makanda Ken McIntyre came from this community. Malcolm X lived on Dale Street in Roxbury with his aunt.  As a student at Boston University, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King preached at 12th Baptist Church and activist Melnea Cass was deeply involved in many community projects and volunteer groups.

    Today art lovers can catch music, plays and spoken word at Hibernian Hall in Dudley Square, enjoy delicious healthy food at Haley House, experience Nigerian dishes at the Suya Joint, listen to jazz at the Dudley Café or buy books at the Frugal Book Store.

    A short walk away from Dudley Square is John Eliot Square which is a key part of the new district. Named after a local missionary to Native Americans, the square was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. It is the center of Roxbury Heritage State Park now under revitalization. Among the landmarks in the square are the historic First Church of Roxbury and the Dillaway-Thomas House which sits on a landscaped park with views of the Boston skyline.

    As the newly elected president and chair of the Roxbury Cultural District, I am proud to say that the RCD has received an extraordinary level of support from some 40 traditional and non-traditional community partners within the district – and beyond. Our partners range from The Celebrity Series of Boston to the American City Coalition to Boston Public Schools and the bank called Boston Private.

    In May, the RCD will mark its first year anniversary with an arts festival. For more information on the Roxbury Cultural District, visit



  • Who Ignited Cause Communications? Carol Cone, That’s Who. And She’s @ PRXNE16!

    PRXNE Keynote Speaker Carol Cone does more than CSR. She holds an impressive record of show jumping accomplishments.

    If your PR efforts include getting any organization to think beyond its boundaries by bettering society, odds are you applying the tools and cause marketing ideology that were pioneered by trailblazer and serial entrepreneur, Carol Cone. Long before terms like CSR, cause branding, corporate citizenship, sustainability or social purpose were adopted as business vocabulary, Carol created and claimed a new position within the C-suites of Fortune 500 companies, awakening them to the compelling business outcomes of engaging with society to leverage their reach and resources to do something purposeful with their influence. Where that vision has taken her, and savvy business leaders and marketers of all stripes, will be the subject of her PRXNE16 keynote on Monday, June 13th when Carol Cone comes back to where it all began, Boston.

    Loring Barnes, APR, PRSA Boston Chapter President and an early alumna of Cone, Inc., caught up with her former boss on topics ranging from authenticity to what it means to be competitive for this special expanded installment of Fast 5+5.

    Carol ConeSo Carol, you’re coming home to Boston. What are your thoughts on how Boston looks today?

    CC: When I founded Cone in 1980, Route 128 was known as “America’s Technology Highway”, with Boston home to important corporate brands –­ John Hancock, Gillette, Sheraton, Polaroid, BankBoston, Digital Equipment and Reebok – that gave this region a unique center of innovation, power and corporate leadership. Today, there is a differing type of innovation largely centered in healthcare, bio and medtech, underpinned by the regions expansive educational foundation of our universities.

    Q: You’ve been called ‘the mother of cause marketing.’ Is that a big mantel to carry?

    CC: To the extent this associates me with authentically linking the power of companies and brands with social issues, I’ve come to accept this as a succinct explanation of a complex and very exciting new business strategy. If every CEO or Executive Director understood how to harness social transparency and the interconnectedness of people and social purpose, their corporations and NGOs wouldn’t need an expert to bring big ideas and diverse partners to make this happen. It’s fulfilling professional vocation that has been exciting to nurture over time. Actually, it is my personal purpose that I was fortunate to discover very early in my career.

    Q: Are Millennials the torchbearers for advancing purposeful corporate social engagement?

    CC: Their generational imprint is an asset to a company or nonprofit that is looking to grow its visibility and impact. Millennials are teaching organizations that committed employees want to bring their ‘whole’ selves to work, contributing to missions that are compatible with their personal values and sense of purpose. They don’t want to bifurcate their convictions, rather they view their jobs as another channel through which they can achieve meaningful social impact. The challenge is for the employer to understand how to leverage that compassion as it inspires younger stewards of change to support the goals of their employers at the same time.

    Q: What is your worst PR or marketing experience and what did you learn from it?  

    CC: The phone call from my office started this way: “At least no one died!”  It was Thanksgiving weekend and that opening certainly got my attention. We were conducting a promotional tour for Smirnoff Vodka providing a real-time concert via a highly accomplished pianist, formally dressed in tails, sitting on an elegantly decorated flatbed truck, touring the city. Key to the decor was a 15’ high Smirnoff bottle illuminated with tiny glowing lights. What we didn’t know was that the display’s creator did not use inflammable plastic. The giant bottle, after an hour or so, burst into flames causing the pianist to leap off the flatbed. Thankfully no one was hurt, but the news coverage was not exactly what we planned. Lesson learned:  make sure you have lots of insurance coverage and plan, plan, plan for all eventualities.

    Q: OK, so what was your best experience and how did that inform your work going forward?

    CC: The creation of the Rockport Fitness Walking movement, that brought fitness walking to America as the next means of credible and accessible exercise. It also elevated Rockport to become a beloved national brand, growing them from an unknown $20 million company to over $150 million in 5 years. The second has been inspiring PNC Financial to embrace early childhood education as their core social purpose, committing $350 million over 20 years helping children to be socially, emotionally and intellectually ready for Kindergarten. We coaxed PNC to partner with the National Head Start Association (obvious) and Sesame Street (not so obvious). They have reached millions of children and families and have helped launch a national movement for early childhood education. Lesson learned for both: do your homework; find the next emerging social purpose and link amazing partners with a long-term commitment.

    Q: How would you describe yourself in one word?

    CC: Passionate!

    Q: You’re at a point where you can write books and relax. What is it that you still want to accomplish with Carol Cone ON PURPOSE, your next entrepreneurial venture?

    CC: When we’ve cured every social malady or inequity, I guess we can fold up our tent, but one only need to look at crushing world health and education needs, environmental abuses, and social stigmas to see the demand for change in our world society. Big ideas need expert accelerators to bring them to life, and that’s where our Purpose Collaborative steps in. I am so excited that in less than a year, we have grown to 32 members, representing more than 300 experts in purpose, from culture enhancement to comprehensive program development and execution to virtual reality for social impact. I am humbled by the community we have created, the smarts and passions of my “partners” and the challenges we are addressing.

    We find that while executives want to do more, they often concede that bandwidth limits how their organizations externalize ethics and trust. This is the new way of doing business, and its only growing. As long as there exists a need to upscale bold ideas with organizations that are willing to anchor them at the center of organizational and brand strategy our work is not done. Companies that get it – like Unilever, Microsoft, CVS, PNC and Starbucks ­– show the upside of adopting societal engagement at their core and learn that integration of their core competencies with society provides magical impacts well beyond their initial plan.

    Q: The reality of virtual communication reshapes how employees and customers learn and interact. What are your thoughts on the best of technology vs. in-person learning?

    CC: Technology allows almost unlimited access to information, from short form to long, from print to videos. The challenge is not getting overwhelmed, yet staying curious and looking for obvious — for learning — and not so obvious, such as connections for ideation. In-person learning has a wonderful aspect too, especially if teams come together with a shared purpose to solve a challenge and some ground rules as to how they interact. I really like both.

    Q: I will never forget our first phone interview: were keenly interested in how I defined being ‘competitive’ outside of the office. I later learned that you had arguably a dual career as a competitive equestrian. It’s hard to term your impressive record of show jumping accomplishment a ‘hobby,’ but how does this competitiveness indicator predict the profile of someone who will excel as a cause communications specialist?

    CC: The DNA of any innovator requires habits that hone knowledge and grow your confidence outside of business hours. Competitive horse jumping, as one example, takes inordinate discipline, off-hours commitment for work and travel, and a selfless willingness to roll up one’s sleeves for the most unceremonious tasks, such as cleaning horse stalls. The performance aspect emerges as minutes from years of training, learning and being coached. There are personality parallels of a competitive person that informs the focus of anyone who sees their PR career as one of transforming our world. Carol Cone ON PURPOSE is being built with collaborators who live this truth of social activism: you have to make it happen, with resilience, persistence, and active collaboration. Being competitive – meaning never giving up and learning, learning, learning and giving of oneself is a perceptible core belief system that is evident in how someone spends their personal time and influence others to do good works.

    Q: When you finish your presentation at PRXNE16, how do you anticipate the audience will think and feel about who they are, what they do and how they do it?

    CC: I hope they will be inspired, and have an elevated understanding of the role of social purpose in business today and how they can bring their values, passion and smarts into this new way of working for personal, business and societal impact. Doing well and doing good can be profound! You just need to be authentic, do your homework, not give up and look for the ‘gems’ to ignite for amazing outcomes.

    Carol offers this list of inspiring and must reads for CSR best practices: Download CCOP Cause Resource List  HERE.

    About Carol Cone, Founder + CEO, Carol Cone ON PURPOSE
    Twitter: @carolcone Web:

    Carol Cone is CEO of Carol Cone ON PURPOSE (CCOP), a 21st-century consultancy whose mission is to move social purpose to the center of business and brand strategy. At the core of CCOP is The Purpose Collaborative, a collective of over 30 agencies, boutiques and individuals, with deep purpose, CSR and sustainability capabilities from strategy to execution.

    For over 25 years, Carol has embraced a commitment to building lasting partnerships between companies, brands and social issues for deep business and societal impact. Her groundbreaking work includes Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, Reebok Human Rights Awards, American Heart Go Red for Women, American Lung Association Lung Force, PNC Grow Up Great, Microsoft YouthSpark and The Vaseline Healing Project.

    She is also a recognized thought leader in social purpose, having conducted the world’s first research, then dozens of studies with business executives, citizens, employees and nonprofits to gain critical insights to inspire organizations to engage with society as being a wise business strategy.  She is a sought-after speaker and media expert, sharing her insights on purpose branding, corporate citizenship, sustainability and CSR.

    Carol served as the founder, CEO and Chairman of Cone, Inc. from 1980-2010. In 2007, PR Week called her “arguably the most powerful and visible figure in the world of Cause Branding.”

    In 2009, she was one of two US judges for the first PR Lions Awards at the Cannes Festival of Creativity. Her first book, Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding was published in 2010. Overall, Cone’s signature cause programs have raised more than $2 billion for various social issues.

    About Loring Barnes, APR, Chief Communications Officer, Clarity
    President, PRSA Boston + PRXNE16 Conference Co-Chair
    Twitter: @claritynews + @loringbarnes  Web:

    Anyone who caught World Cup fever in ’94 or rode transit to Boston’s first Tall Ships knows Loring’s capacity for creating and executing big ideas, in part by uniting new partners, a core premise of cause communications. These programs earned nods by the USOOC and changed the culture of a behemoth government bureaucracy, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).

    Cone, Inc. was among Loring’s earliest and most influential agency posts that included the eventual Omnicom sibling agency Copithorne + Bellows among others in TX and PA. She founded Clarity in 2001 as a reputation and brand-building consultancy in order to be closer to the action as a C-client advisor. Clarity’s transformation of the CDC’s National HIV Testing Day campaign to become the Federal agency’s most impactful and praised at the United Nations by the White House stands out on a career highlight reel that includes: professionally recognized launches, mature brand reinvigorations, partnerships and effective crisis counsel alongside law enforcement agencies of all jurisdictions. The UMass Amherst ‘Alumna to Watch’ is passionate about dog rescue among a variety of board and volunteer commitments she keeps in play.

    PRXNE16 Speakers, Directions + Registration: HERE  Hosted by: @prsaboston with @prsane

    Follow PRXNE16 News: #PRXNE

  • Nathaniel Eberle Hubspot

    Corporate Sponsorship Best Practices with Nathaniel Eberle, Director, PR & Brand at HubSpot

    This month, PRSA Boston’s theme has been cause and marketing partnerships, and if anyone knows about the B2B sponsorship game in Boston it’s HubSpot. The company’s annual event, “INBOUND,” is one of the most anticipated motivational and educational experiences in the city, drawing over 14,000 attendees in 2015.

    We interviewed Nathaniel Eberle, (@ThanEberle) director of PR and brand at HubSpot, who for over his 18 year career, has built and executed publicity and digital media programs for emerging technology companies and global brands. Before arriving at his current position at HubSpot in early 2015, he worked for Weber Shandwick, Tufts University and Racepoint Group.

    1. How do you keep up-to-date with what’s new in the sponsorship industry?

    When we look at what’s going on in the industry, we pay close attention to the biggest events, and specifically how companies use those opportunities to really break the mold and provide a top-notch, memorable attendee experience. We love seeing brands that take chances with their sponsorships, because it provides great inspiration to us when we go to tailor experiences of our own, whether through sponsorships or through our own hosted events.

    2. Tell us about an important trend you think will impact the corporate sponsorship market this year.

    I think we will continue to see the rise of creativity. While opportunities like branded wifi, goodie bags, and logo’d banners will never disappear, attendees don’t really derive much value from these in relation to the sponsoring company. They’ve become ubiquitous among a sea of sponsors. Brands will start to see some real return on their dollars when they aim to “wow” attendees with unique experiences that add serious value to the event and add surround-sound experiences through social media. Even though it takes some extra brainpower (and maybe a little extra dough) to create a tailored sponsorship, the return will be much higher for meaningful and memorable experiences than for an otherwise standard sponsorship.

    3. What factors are most important to you when weighing decisions about who to sponsor?

    When we’re deciding whether or not to sponsor an event we take a close look at what our dollars are affecting and how big an effect they will have. Partnerships with our technology partners or agencies are often mutually beneficial because of the large area of overlap in our goals, and can be especially valuable when they’re in our hometown (or the home region of another HubSpot office). For example, we recently sponsored a Startup Pitch-off event by TechCrunch here in Boston, featuring the launch for our new program, HubSpot for Startups. Because many attendees were from startups themselves, they were able to get a ton of value from our presence, and on the flip side, HubSpot’s new program got some valuable face time in front of its target demographic.

    One exception to the above is in regions where trade shows are THE place to convene and do business. A great example is the upcoming DMEXCO event in Germany — while we tend not to invest in trade shows, for our industry, this particular event is the must-attend (and expected) event in Germany. When we’re deciding whether or not to sponsor an event we take a close look at what our dollars are affecting and how big an effect they will have. Partnerships with our technology partners or agencies are often mutually beneficial because of the large area of overlap in our goals, and can be especially valuable when they’re in our hometown (or the home region of another HubSpot office).

    4. How do you know when a sponsorship has been successful (or not) and has been worth the investment? Are there certain metrics you prefer to track?

    As we all know, sponsorships can be hard to track because it’s not always about lead generation (which would be easy to measure). Instead, it’s often about building brand awareness or supporting a cause. While we have tools to measure brand awareness overall, drilling down to the marginal return for a specific sponsorship can be difficult or impossible. That’s why we usually look for sponsorship opportunities that are tied to thought leadership (speaking), as it ensures we can get up on the stage, where the impact is one-to-many and much greater than from a booth or table (which is very much one-to-one). It’s much the same when we’re sponsoring an event that supports a cause — we always try to get up onstage and talk about why that cause is important to HubSpot, and really get that messaging across in a meaningful, one-to-many way.

    5. What is your “must-attend” conference, trade show, expo, event or meeting of the year?

    Naturally, our “must-attend” event is INBOUND, HubSpot’s annual event here in Boston where the inbound movement meets up to learn and grow every year. In 2015, we saw over 14,000 registered attendees, and hosted content ranging from heartfelt with The Malala Fund to hilarious with Amy Schumer. With over 250 sessions and hundreds of hours of content for attendees, it’s our chance to provide a really great opportunity for like-minded brands to showcase their messages – in innovative ways – as sponsors of the event.

    Join us on Tuesday, March 15th, as PRSA Boston hosts a webinar training session for corporate brand, marketing and PR managers on how to negotiate and design a corporate sponsorship. It’s free, so register today!

    About FAST 5

    This is a new feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at and pitch your subject expert!

  • Building and Maintaining an Effective Social Impact Program

    In Cause on

    By Rich Maiore, Cone Communications

    Social impact programs are strategic investments that can successfully communicate what a brand stands for, help drive positive societal impact and achieve a range of business objectives. These objectives include building and improving brand reputation, retaining and recruiting employees and increasing preference and purchase among consumers.

    There are numerous factors critical to maintaining the success of your program. When it comes to consumers, it is important to ensure transparency of your mission and goals, demonstrate authentic alignment with the right social issue and consistently communicate the impact your efforts in compelling ways.

    Equally important to a program’s long-term effectiveness is to ensure that internal stakeholders are engaged and ready to support your plans. Here are four critical factors you should consider to align your internal stakeholders with your social impact program:

    Consensus. Confirm alignment and agreement among internal stakeholders on the business objectives of the program and clarity the department and individual roles. Unfortunately, many programs fail due to lack of agreement and accountability among key leaders.

    Capacity. Ensure that you have enough talent and time allocated to the program to effectively execute. A truly successful program is embedded into the culture of an organization, with nearly all departments playing important roles. This cannot be a one-person operation.

    Commitment. Take a long-term approach and make the necessary investments to achieve your program goals. Success around social impact programs does not happen overnight; it can’t be simply be a Q4 cause promotion. Programs can take up to three years to achieve strong momentum and maturity.

    Champion. Recruit internal leaders to be strong advocates for the program. The best programs are built from the inside out, relying on senior leadership, as well as front-line employees, to participate, promote and advocate on behalf of the program.

    Once an organization has these four critical elements in place, it can better measure social impact programs for impact and sustain them over time.

    Post Author

    As senior vice president of CSR Strategy at Cone Communications, Rich Maiore helps clients turn their philanthropic and sponsorship commitments into powerful brand-building opportunities that deliver social impact and business return.