Chapter Events

  • Fast Five: See How You Can Help and Don’t Worry About Rejection!

    In Chapter Events, Fast Five on

    Jenn Walker Wall is the founder of Work Wonders Careers where she helps people land new jobs and thrive at work. She’s also co-host of the Making Life Work Podcast. Previously, she worked at the Sloan School of Management at MIT as well as Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, and is currently an Adjunct Instructor of Sociology at Lesley University. Review Jenn’s coaching offerings on the Work Wonders site.

     

    How do you define a personal brand and why can it be hard to identify it?
    For job seekers, a personal brand reflects both experience and personal values—which have to be clearly articulated. I think it can be daunting because we look around and branding seems to be the domain of companies, and it seems different when we’re talking about ourselves. We need to give ourselves permission to articulate what we want to be known for, what we’ve done, and what we can deliver.

     

    What advice would you give to job applicants to stand out in a crowded field?
    You can stand out by quickly identifying how you can be of help – how your experience and values can help organizations and be a service to others. In looking at a job listing, try to carefully assess what the needs may be and then highlight the skills you bring that might be most relevant.

     

    How can we all enhance our personal brands?
    Whether you’re just starting out or have many years of experience, try to determine what you’re good at and where you want to go—then also try to identify any parts of your brand that need refinement. In the last year we’ve all seen a lot of crises and if part of your experience is leading people through times of crisis and helping them align with others, then certainly speak to that and articulate it as part of your personal brand. Many of us are needing to reflect and re-align as a result of these challenging times.

     

    How did you come to be a career strategist?
    When I was in graduate school for sociology, my “day job” was hiring faculty. I loved it! I loved talking with people and learning about them. After graduation, I worked at MIT for a few years and my “side hustle” was helping to coach people on job search and resume strategy. I did that part-time for about four years and then went full-time almost three years ago.

     

    What advice would you give to those interested in being an independent practitioner?
    It’s very similar to what I tell job seekers: listen and understand what people need. And for everyone—job seekers and those seeking clients—get comfortable with rejection. You have to recognize that it’s part of the process—part of business. Then try to figure out who might say “yes” and look for those ideal clients.

     

    Want to learn more? Save your seat for Communicating Your Value: Personal Branding for PR Pros – Wednesday, March 10th at 5 pm! Free for PRSA members – Register Now!

     

  • Fast Five: Having Confidence, Asking for Feedback, & Knowing “We’re Not Stuck”

    In Chapter Events, Fast Five on

    Denise Kaigler is an award-winning communications, marketing and brand strategist, and the founder and principal of MDK Brand Management, LLC. Among her many accomplishments, she is also the author of Forty Dollars and a Brand: How to Overcome Challenges, Defy the Odds, and Live Your Awesomeness. Check her website (http://mdkbrandmanagement.com) to see Denise’s coaching offerings.

     

    How do you define a personal brand?
    I like to say it’s what people say about you when you leave the room! And all of us really have the power to frame that narrative. It’s what we’re known for, the impression we give, our compelling story! It’s all that.

     

    So how can you shape your brand?
    You have to think about the career you want and then the qualities of someone who has succeeded in that career. Then, do a survey; ask people you trust what they would say about you. What are the traits that stand out? For example, if being successful in your field means being well-connected and organized, is that what people are saying about you? If not, then look at the gaps and start planning your strategy for how to get there—and then execute!

     

    What holds people back in developing their brand?
    Sometimes it starts with just not knowing where you want to go. In coaching, I have people pick a timeline, say one year, or two years, or five years and think about where they want to go – to avoid just blindly moving through time.  Also, some people really are afraid to ask others about how they come across. What’s important to remember is that once you find out, you can start taking steps to help develop that brand you’re seeking.

     

    What else can help us grow professionally?
    I really believe we have the power to change our brand – we’re not stuck! – and knowing that is very helpful. I’ve seen the results from people in many different settings. Pre-COVID-19, I worked with several Massachusetts correctional facilities and helped people there transform their lives. But first, they had to believe they were worthy, and beautiful, and smart. Once they had that belief, they could start creating a road map and begin taking steps.

     

    What has helped you in your own business?
    I’ve spent 25 years in corporate settings in senior executive roles. I’ve had many successes and, of course, some failures. I’m very direct, and I like to tell stories about all those situations because they have helped shape who I am today–and people can relate to the situations. I think having that depth of experience and really showcasing it has helped me a lot in connecting with clients. So, for someone interested in really serving clients, I say you need to be who you are and share your stories with others.

     

    Want to learn more? Save your seat for Communicating Your Value: Personal Branding for PR Pros – Wednesday, March 10th at 5 pm! Free for PRSA members – Register Now!

     

  • Fast Five with Mike Morrison: A Media Deluge, New Ways of Working, and “Amazing Gestures of Support”

    Mike Morrison of Massachusetts General Hospital

    Mike Morrison, Director of Media Relations for Massachusetts General Hospital, looks back on 2020 and managing through a pandemic.

    When did you know that MGH was facing a public health crisis?

    As of late December 2019, leaders from our Center for Disaster Medicine had been closely monitoring news from abroad, as well as updates from domestic and international agencies.  The hospital officially launched its Incident Command System at the end of January and ramped up the frequency of its meetings as the pandemic progressed.

    How has this crisis changed the way you work?

    Within the management structure, the Office of News and Public Affairs plays a key role in communicating crucial information. The big challenge for our department has been moving from working very much “in person” to working remotely. We have a team of 13 – 14 people who are very much used to working closely and collaboratively, so working remotely created some challenges at first.

    Also, with the volume of media requests, we’ve had to make sure that the same experts are not being approached by different staff from the same media outlet through different folks on our team. To that end, our department designated a kind of “air traffic controller” who is copied on relevant media requests, so she can provide a bird’s-eye-view of the situation.

    Our day-to-day staffing plan includes two members of our team in the office on a rotating basis to cover the phones and escort media, as needed, on campus. And as another change, since most media don’t want to come on campus, we had to quickly shift to Zoom interviews, which have to be coordinated.

    Have you had any special challenges?

    Especially during the height of the surge, we’ve been deluged with incoming media requests. We’ve needed to balance these with proactive communications around critical public health messages. We had nearly 1100 media placements between early March until the end of May.

    Our entire team has been just incredible. During the height of the initial spring surge, our colleagues went above and beyond to keep up with the hospital’s incredible communications needs. Every media request represented a huge opportunity to get important information to the public.

    We’ve also wanted to share stories about the amazing gestures of support from the Boston community. We’ve had offers of free parking for our staff and some very smart people with 3-D printers offering to create PPE. Also, people would just come by the hospital with donations of food, hand lotion, PPE, and other items.  We’ve responded on social media and on our website, and we continue to work hard to acknowledge and help coordinate all that support and goodwill.

    Were there any resources that particularly helped?

    While we always have worked closely with other departments, the hospital community has really pulled together. Our colleagues in Marketing have played a key role in helping to generate social media content, as well as a consistent look and feel for Covid-19 communications. Communicators in other departments, such as the Mass General Research Institute, have also volunteered to take on various writing and other projects to help in the effort. It’s really been “all-hands-on-deck,” and we’re fortunate to work in a place with that kind of culture.

    Has your focus changed over the year?

    At this point, as we gear up for what may be a second surge, we’re really keeping with the practices we began in the spring—but are getting better at it. Now, though, people want to talk about the vaccine, and we’re getting experts and materials ready to provide information.

    Also, we are working hard to get images and video to show staff in action and help with communication—and we’ve already captured thousands of images. And for this phase, we’re focusing even more on those photos and videos, both for public communication and also as a chronicle for MGH history.

  • PASSING THE BATON: ANNOUNCING THE 2021 CHAPTER LEADERSHIP NOMINEES

    In Chapter Events, News on

    PRSA Boston’s 2020 Nominating Committee is pleased to put forth this talented Board of Directors and Leadership Team for the membership’s vote at the Annual Meeting on December 8, 2020:

    2021 OFFICERS

    President (previously voted)
    Kristin Foley
    Account Manager at fama PR

    President-Elect
    Doug Haslam
    Account Director at KNB Communications

    Immediate Past President
    Eric Berman
    Communications Professional

    Treasurer
    Michele Snyder
    Director of Communications at Maimonides School

    Secretary
    Kelly McFalls
    Public Information Officer at City of Framingham

    Programming Co-Chair
    Karyn Martin
    Founder & Chief Strategy Officer at Golden Thread Agency

    Programming Co-Chair
    Jill Goddard, APR
    Director of Public Relations and Communications at Boston Ballet

    Membership Co-Chair
    Brianna Quinn
    Public Relations Professional at PerkinElmer, Inc.

    Membership Co-Chair
    Lynnea Olivarez
    Director of External Affairs & Communications at Intellia

    Director-at-Large/Diversity (previously voted) (thru 2021)
    Kelley Chunn
    President at Kelley Chunn & Associates

    Director-at-Large (previously voted) (thru 2021)
    Nancy Sterling, APR, Fellow
    Senior VP Strategic Communications at ML Strategies, LLC

    Director-at-Large (thru 2023)
    Dan Dent, APR
    Media Relations Manager at Draper

    2021 LEADERSHIP TEAM

    Faculty Forum Chair
    Jon Boroshok
    College Instructor, Marketing Communications/PR Practitioner, Journalist

    Yong Professional Network Co-Chair
    Mackenzie Linn
    Account Executive at PAN Communications

    Yong Professional Network Co-Chair
    Samantha Stone
    Account Executive at SHIFT Communications

    PRSSA Liaison
    Rebecca Owen
    Intern at Metter Media | Director of Internal Operations at empath worldwide | VP at PRLab at Boston University

    Content + Social Media Chair
    Shayne Brown
    eCommerce Retention Specialist at Wolverine Worldwide

    Accreditation + Diane Davis Beacon Award
    Josh Gitelson, APR
    Executive Managing Director at RF|Binder

    We wish to congratulate our colleagues and thank their 2020 predecessors for going above and beyond for their service to our 225+ strong members. This talent pool points to a tremendous year of networking and programming ahead.

  • Social Media Strategy for Small and Emerging Businesses An interview with Jim Panagas

    In Chapter Events, Social Media on

    By Ariana Revelas, PRSA Boston Faculty Forum Student Correspondent – Bentley University


    Jim Panagas is a Boston-based marketing and communications professional with deep experience managing major brands, hiring and managing agencies, and running his own business. He believes companies should take full advantage of the full marketing communications mix — from video content to webcasting, social media, PR, and analyst relations — to connect with key audiences, communicate better than their competitors, and achieve market leadership.

     

    I asked Jim to discuss his experience in counseling small business owners, in particular about their PR and marketing initiatives.  He shares how small businesses face a different kind of challenge when it comes to PR and Marketing:

     

     

    Please share some insights on counseling small business owners.

    Often times, small and emerging businesses simply don’t have a marketing or communications professional on board yet. So, you’re often dealing with a point of contact who doesn’t have a lot of experience in this area. He or she may not know the right questions to ask and what is appropriate to spend at this point in time, and may unrealistically expect immediate results (as in closed sales opportunities).  

     

    What is your approach for counseling small business owners in the technology industry in the strategic use of social media and PR?

    My clients reside in the technology space. I tend to point them toward LinkedIn and Twitter. It is important that a company builds and maintains a company page, sends out announcements on a regular basis, and engages in online discussions. The richer your content (such as including a photo, video, survey, study, etc.), the more likely people will read what you have to say, comment, and perhaps forward that information to their friends and colleagues. When you’re sharing information on LinkedIn, there is an option to simultaneously share that same information with your Twitter audience, which I strongly recommend.

     

    That doesn’t mean that you can’t put some exclusive content on LinkedIn and/or some exclusive content on Twitter. It just means that, in general, you want to ensure that comparable information is being shared on both platforms. Social media is key to getting people to know about and talk about your company in the short term.

     

    What should businesses look for when hiring a digital marketing expert?

    It makes the most sense for a small business to engage a marketing consultant or agency rather than hiring marketing staff right out of the gate. This is particularly important because the marketing industry is in a period of extreme change at the moment and marketers tend to fall into one of two camps:  “classical marketers” i.e. people who can write, design, strategize and come up with innovative ways to generate visibility versus “digital marketers” who are primarily trained to run a marketing or sales automation platform.

     

    If a business is looking for someone to run a particular platform such as Marketo, Pardot, or even Salesforce.com, it probably needs a person or agency with more “digital” expertise. However, a business needs to crawl before it can walk, and that early formative communication is much more likely to be developed by a classical marketer. I don’t mean to overstate this schism, but it exists and the delta between them is getting wider. I cannot overemphasize the importance of these small and emerging business to engage a high quality writer. That way, they are building on a solid foundation.

     

    What are the current social media strategies that businesses should take advantage of?

    To win in today’s marketplace, it’s about quality of communication – not quantity. It’s more important to have senior, influential people within the organization communicating about your brand through social media channels rather than having a small army of people across your company – people who are not trained writers – sending out content. Again, it’s about quality of content, not quantity.

     

    Increase use of video content. 

    If you’re having a 5-minute discussion with a member of your management team…or a subject matter expert…or a partner, you should capture that conversation on video and share it through social media channels. People are used to watching video.  They are more likely to remember something that they heard or saw in a video clip than something that they read. 

     

    Update your website with compelling content.

    Your company website should contain significant content that your audience will find both useful and interesting. Here is a short list of must-haves in order to be effective on the web:

    1. List your address, phone number, email address, etc., so that people can easily contact your organization. Make it EASY for people to contact your company.
    2. Your leadership team should be clearly identified on the site with photos and bios.
    3. Feature downloadable assets such as data sheets and success stories.
    4. Webinars are a great low cost and broad vehicle for attracting qualified prospects.
    5. In addition to being shared via social media, video content can also find a home on a company’s website. If the videos are short – less than 1-2 minutes in duration – website visitors are very likely to click on them.
    6. Make sure you have a mailing list that website visitors can join, so that you can stay engaged with them over time and they can keep track of what’s happening at your business.

    The bottom line: find the right professionals. Find marketers and communicators who think like you do, who understand exactly what your business does and recognize why it’s important. If you’re in the technology space, look for marketing, communications, and PR professionals who have done a lot of work for technology companies over time. Ask about their background and credentials. Read their referencesTake the time to look at samples of their work. Hire the right person or agency, and great things can happen. 

     

    To find out more about social media strategies, attend our 7th Annual Social Media Summit, May 3, at Bentley University.  You’ll hear from some of the region’s most forward-thinking agencies, organizations and content creators!

     

  • April 4th Preview: Launching the Cannabis Industry with Francy Wade, Chatter Boss Communications

    Francy Wade owns Chatter Boss Communications, a boutique communications consultancy with clients in both the private, public and non-profit sectors. Some of her recent work been has been on behalf of new cannabis companies, including one of the state’s licensed dispensary pioneers, Cultivate. Her career is a convergence of public relations, research, politics and news experience. She recently sat down with Loring Barnes to chat about the unique experiences of launching Massachusetts into the new world of legalized marijuana.

    Has serving clients in the marijuana sector in any way inhibited your PR consulting practice?

    When I started Chatter Boss a little over a year ago, I had no idea how large the market was for what I was selling: High-touch, high-energy, low-process PR. I love to tell great stories to the right journalists and audiences and not get bogged down in process. I am so blessed that I’ve had an over abundance of clients retain me over over the past 15 months. Usually, my clients and prospects love to see the crazy mix of subject areas I work in. From higher education and education equity to healthcare, fashion technology and marijuana, it has been a wild ride.

    I did, however, lose one piece of new business because of my work in the marijuana space. It was a controversial development project and the company CEO was staunchly against legal cannabis. I am absolutely respectful of people’s opinions and understood his perspective. But, before I walked away, I did want to make sure this individual knew I am the ultimate professional and one client’s point of view never impacts another’s.

    Marijuana isn’t legal nationwide, which has resulted in a prohibition or high restriction of social media usage by dispensaries and cultivation facilities. It’s almost a throwback to our pre-social communications era. How have you helped your cannabis clients to maintain a brand voice as more of these licensed companies have had to launch while being handcuffed in their use of social media?

    I like to use social media as a storyline with media pitching for my marijuana clients. In the days after legalization  in Massachusetts, all of my clients’ social accounts were shut down. On the surface, it might seem debilitating, but not for me. Facebook, which owns Instagram, never gave an exact reason for the move and I thought that was a GREAT storyline for TV and digital media. Interestingly enough, just last week, Facebook announced it was easing its ban on marijuana content, which provided a great pitch point for some stories you’ll see appear very soon. I’m such a tease!

    You’re a parent and travel in other business and community circles. And you aren’t a pot user. Do you find that when people know that as a PR professional, you are a communications counselor to cannabis companies like Cultivate and Sira, that conversations abruptly shift from scouts and soccer to the curiosities of marijuana, and how do you navigate this?

    I do a lot of work in my children’s schools and I am even a catechist for the kindergarten students at my church. So when it comes up that I also happen to work in the marijuana space, people’s jaws hit the floor. I’ve been a goody-goody my whole life, so having a shock factor in my mid-thirties is kind of fun!

    I started out my career as a journalist, so I pride myself on always seeing things from all sides. Before talking about any of my clients, I tend to allow people to tell me how they feel about the industry instead of voicing any opinions. It makes people feel at ease with the subject. If people do have a differing opinion, I tend to share some stories that opened my eyes to the benefits of cannabis as a medicine for veterans. Then let the conversation transfer to the trouble with the illicit market and how many jobs and how much revenue we will get from the legal industry.

    What do you read to keep on top of cannabis business trends, innovators and subject experts? How would you advise someone to steer clear of disinformation?

    I have to say, my clients are the best source of information for me. They have a way of explaining nuanced regulations and trends better than anyone. I feel lucky to work with such smart innovators like Sam Barber of Cultivate and Mike Dundas of Sira. I tend to use them to help journalists understand the stories they are writing, even if they aren’t going to be quoted. The way I see it, we are all building this industry together. Storytelling and the reporting being done will help us document this for the history books in the future, so it is critical we get this right.

    I really like the reporting the Boston Globe has done and the way they have dedicated reporters to this beat exclusively. I had a meeting with some of their staff, including Linda Henry, last year and encouraged them to create and entire Cannabis section of the paper. Similar to the Travel or Arts. It is complex, not only as a political and social issue, but the industry involves banking, scientific and marketing aspects too. It needs to be treated as the unique behemoth subject that it is.

    You’ve had your consultancy, Chatter Boss Communications, for just over a year, after working in respected PR agencies, political campaigns and television news. Did opportunity create the impetus to strike out on your own, or did you decide to take the plunge and hope that the clients would follow? How has life as a solo practitioner surprised or rewarded you, and how would you counsel others who are considering to follow suit to think through this decision?

    I have three children, a 13-year-old stepdaughter, a 5-year-old son and 4-year-old son. When I started taking care of my daughter when she was a toddler, I realized how fast time flies. After having my oldest son, I made a very easy decision to not go back to an agency. Instead, I networked my way into having a few clients and projects that kept me in the game. After my second son, I was approached to more formally work with a political polling firm and got involved with the campaign to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana. When the campaign came to a close, I had a series of fun lunch meetings with former colleagues and friends who kept asking me if they could get me to tell their stories and I gave birth to my fourth child which is Chatter Boss.

    I was meant to be an entrepreneur. It’s in my DNA. My dad owns his own business and he, like me, does some of his best work from places other than a desk and office. My mom, a teacher, stayed home with me until I was in high school, before going back to work and getting her masters. I am trying to take a page from both of my amazing parents and be the best mother and businesswoman I can be. None of this would be possible without my husband’s support. He is, by far, the most talented storyteller I’ve ever met. We don’t have a nanny or full-time help. We work as a team to make sure we are at the top of our parenting and professional games at all times.

    I don’t think agency life is for everyone and I certainly don’t think the solo practitioner road is one that most people find attractive. It is uncertain, exhausting but ultimately exhilarating. I’ve been called naturally caffeinated, which is the highest compliment, and what I think has been the secret to my success in this most recent chapter of my communications career.

    Meet Francy Wade on Thursday, April 4th (@chatterbosscomm) and hear about the landmines and victories on the cannabis industry’s journey in Massachusetts.  She joins an A-lister panel of marijuana business experts and policy influencers. The lively discussion will be lead by Jess Bartlett (@BOSBIZJess), veteran cannabis and craft beer beat journalist for the Boston Business Journal. Click on this LINK to get your ticket.  Special rates for students, young professionals and members. 

    **With special thanks to our generous hosts, Zazil Media Group (@zazilmediagroup). A donation from the event will be made to the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance.