Chapter Events

  • Fast 5: Making Social Media a Judgement Free Zone

    Jenna Reynolds, Planet Fitness

    @JennaAReynolds  @PlanetFitness


    Jenna Reynolds is a proud tiny-house owner and dog mom who spends her days as a Digital Communities Manager professional at Planet Fitness World Headquarters, the home of the Judgement Free Zone. She spearheaded the creation of Planet of Triumphs, the company’s very own social community, where elevating positivity and inspiring members is the goal.

    We caught up with Jenna to talk about how social media can help people achieve their fitness goals, what she is looking forward to at the Social Media Summit, and what life is like in a tiny house.

    Q. Just when the news feed couldn’t seem to be any more crowded, the flow of information seems to have picked up to a dizzying pace. How can brands break through that noise?

    A. Every brand’s focus should be on what works for them and their brand personality. Planet Fitness members’ feeds are filled with the latest fitness and diet trends. We aim to break through that noise by empowering our members with positive messaging about our Judgement Free Zone and by celebrating their fitness triumphs, big and small.

    Q. What was the drive behind creating Planet of Triumphs? Why was it important to create a social community for Planet Fitness?

    A. We have seen first-hand the amazing things that are possible when our members encourage and support one another in our gyms. We wanted to forge a special community where they could do so digitally as well. The platform has truly taken on a life of its own and our members have used it to detail their fitness journeys, cheer each other on and ask for support when they need it.

    We surveyed a focus group of our members, and more than 70% said that they don’t post their fitness experiences on traditional social channels as they are afraid of being judged; Planet of Triumphs provides them a place where they can feel comfortable doing so.

    The platform has become an important part of our brand, and our CEO visits the site every day to learn about our members’ stories and offer words of encouragement. As a company, we are diligent about keeping the site from becoming overly promotional and instead have let our members build their own community and celebrate their everyday wins.

    Q. What advice would you give brands that are nervous about engaging on social media?

    A. It is all about trust. Using social media helps immediately open up direct feedback and establish trust between your brand and consumers. It isn’t just about pushing out content. It should also be about how your fans respond and the learnings that you can distill from that, not just in terms of social media, but in all areas of your business.

    Additionally, my biggest piece of advice would be to closely monitor your response volume and ensure that your social media strategy is equipped to handle it.

    Overall, don’t overthink it. You’ve got this!

    Q. What are you most looking forward to about the Social Media Summit?

    Lanyards. Besides that, connecting with other social media advocates. No matter the industry, it is always a positive learning experience to hear about other brands’ successes and challenges, along with the trends that they are witnessing, when it comes to social media.

    Q. You say you are a tiny-house owner. Doesn’t it get a little cramped?

    The winter months can test my two dogs’ patience but otherwise, we utilize our yard which has a mini outdoor theater, fire pit, dining area, etc.  I am social by profession and personality, so not being able to entertain a lot of people has been the biggest challenge; however, I am also addicted to re-decorating, so living in a smaller space has helped me to successfully limit my HomeGoods visits.

    About Fast 5

    This is a 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 on the fly! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, authors’ 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!

    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 3: Q&A with Eduardo Crespo, Founder and CEO of Hispanic Market Solution

    PRSA Boston Q&A with Eduardo Crespo, CEO, Hispanic Market Solution

    Why do some communities thrive while others become ghost towns? Building an audience is already tricky, but establishing a true community in today’s global marketplace is even harder.

    PRSA Boston took some time recently to speak with Eduardo Crespo, CEO, Hispanic Market Solution to learn more about his take on diversity in the workplace. Eduardo will be one of the featured experts at the Community Building Workshop on Thursday, March 16, at The NonProfit Center of Boston. You can get your ticket here.

    The Hispanic market is growing rapidly in the next 25 years – One in four U.S. residents will be Hispanic in 2050. What are the two most critical issues facing companies planning to enter or expand in the U.S. Hispanic market?

    The two most important issues are dealing with cultural issues and linguistic considerations. Companies must be proactive in understanding, reaching and servicing the U.S. Hispanic community.

    Recently, the “white ceiling” for people of color has replaced the “glass ceiling” that limited life choices for women 20 years ago. How can companies engage and mentor a diverse workforce to achieve competitive advantage?

    Being genuinely interested in responding to the major change in demographics happening in the U.S. by hiring, retaining and promoting Hispanics at all levels of the organization is one way. It has been proven that Hispanic cultural values can become a major asset in progressive companies.

    What three strategies can small- and medium-size companies use to foster a respectful and inclusive workplace?

    1. Welcoming and recognizing Hispanics as an integral, high-value asset of a company’s workforce.
    2. Offering Diversity and Inclusion training to all employees to create a friendly, employee-centric workforce that recognize its differences and works in unison to achieve the company’s goals.
    3. Hiring and promoting Hispanics to leadership and executive positions while encouraging them to become mentors and company spokespeople.

    Crespo is a bilingual/bicultural professional with more than 20 years of regional and national U.S. Hispanic and Latin American marketing and recruitment experience. Increasing awareness about these markets and providing strategic thinking, generating new business and creating “out of the box” solutions are his core strengths.

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand. 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!

    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. 


  • Reflections from ICON 2016

    In Chapter Events, ICON 2017 on

    It waDiane Pardess an amazing feeling to enter a room filled with thousands of PR professionals from around the U.S., knowing that they share the same challenges, triumphs and have all come to call this profession their own. How many stories were in this room – of crises, strategies, innovative approaches? You name it and someone in the room likely experienced it.

    We shared a common language and understanding. It’s like going to a cousins’ convention and realizing that you’re related to people you never met before – people who “get” you and who you could call upon if you needed help.

    Meals and breaks became an opportunity to get to meet our PR kin upfront. You never knew what stories you might hear from the person next to you. During the evenings we went out to dinner – with members from the Northeast District, special sections, or people we met during the course of the day –and had the chance to get to know them better.

    The keynote speakers were nothing short of inspirational. Human Rights Advocate Derreck Kayongo, who started the Global Soap Project; NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly who spent the longest time in space; cybersecurity expert and former White House CIO Theresa Payton; and Mark Stratten, viral and social marketing expert – and all around funny guy – were the highlights. Not only did they discuss relevant topics like communication and authenticity, but they also inspired us to fulfill our passions and contribute to the greater good.

    When it came to the educational sessions, I felt like a kid in a candy store. There was so much to choose from, and because sessions were running concurrently, I couldn’t get to all of them. There was something for everyone – measurement, branded newsrooms, using a science-based approach to improve outcomes, motivating audiences to act, crisis communications, copy strategies – and so much more.

    With work and family responsibilities, it can be easy to come up with reasons not to attend conferences, but you owe it to yourself to make the time and attend ICON. It’s a way to nourish your PR soul, fill yourself with new ideas and strategies and meet your PR “cousins” — some of the most amazing PR professionals. And, with conference coming to Boston this year, it’ll be easier than ever to attend.

    Diane Pardes, Delegate and past president, PRSA Boston

  • Fast 5: Q&A with Sharon Barbano, head of Public Relations, Saucony

    In Career, Chapter Events, Fast Five on

    Sharon Barbano

    PRSA Boston was thrilled to sit down with Sharon Barbano, Saucony’s head of public relations, to discuss sports PR, marketing to women, and what were the best and worst PR/marketing experiences that she has faced during her career. Sharon will be PRSA Boston’s featured speaker in January as she talks about “Find Your Strong: The PR Athlete” on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Wolverine Worldwide headquarters in Boston.  To get your ticket, visit eventbrite HERE.

    Here are five questions that we asked Sharon during our conversation.

    Q1: What does it take to be a winning PR Athlete?

    A: Two runners stand at the starting line of the Boston Marathon. Both have similar body types, training programs, and personal bests. Who crosses the finish line first?  The one who expected to win finishes first.

    Winning is an action. But first, you need the mindset to be a winner. Just like that runner, a winning mindset is the key to becoming a successful PR pro. But you can’t develop a winning mindset until you program your mind to be a winner. That’s where the hard work comes in. Discovering your life’s purpose, exploring your possibilities, and establishing your presence in the world are part of the groundwork. Next comes goal setting, planning, and visualization.  Of course, all of this is futile without the passion to win. You’ve got to love what you do.

    Q2: You’ve always been passionate about marketing to women and even ran your own agency−the Women’s Sports Marketing Group−which tapped into the power of women’s sports to help high-growth brands gain female market share. What’s the secret to winning this majority consumer?

    A: There is an old journalism adage: “Follow the money, follow the women or follow both.”  I’m suggesting that marketers do the same. Women drive an estimated 85 percent of consumer spending with their purchasing power and influence, yet women still say that marketers don’t understand them. Here’s my Eight-C Chicklist ™; it was developed based on the principles I learned and continue to follow while working with the majority consumer:

    • Connection: A woman’s purchasing decision is based on how a certain service or product will improve her life.
    • Communication: Understanding the difference between listening and hearing are crucial in the communication process between a brand and its female customers. Once you’ve listened, respond. Only then will she know that she’s really been heard.
    • Choice: According to research, the average 30-year-old woman has nearly 24 pairs of shoes in her closet. Why so many? She wants a choice: she works at the office and works out at the gym; she runs errands on Saturday and 5K’s on Sunday; she meets her friends in the city and her kids’ teachers at PTC. Her 360-degree lifestyle demands options.
    • Customization: And while we’re on shoes, if the shoe fits, she’ll wear it; but only if it fits her really well. They need to feel and perform to her personal needs. Today’s female consumer expects products created just for her.
    • Consistency: Defection comes easy. Let her down once, and she’s off into the arms of another brand. It’s not fickleness; its unmet expectations.
    • Cause-Related: According to a recent AOL study, 54 percent of millennial women switched brands because it supported a cause they cared about. What does that mean? More cause marketing, of course.
    • Convenience: Millennials crave convenience stores with women now shopping at them as much or more than men. It demonstrates how valuable time is for today’s multi-dimensional woman. By streamlining her life with apps and ease of accessibility, a brand can become part of her solution, and she becomes part of the brand.
    • Credibility: Millennial women are digitally-savvy people. They know what’s fake and what’s not. They crave authenticity. Female shoppers respond strongly to content shared by other women, transforming everyday consumers into influential brand advocates.

    Q3: What is your worst PR/marketing experience and what did you learn from it?

    A: During the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in NYC’s Central Park, Saucony athlete and friend Ryan Shay collapsed and died at the 5-mile mark from a sudden cardiac event. Ryan’s family, the Saucony family, and the entire running community were devastated. A month later, we established a memorial bench at the site in Central Park where Ryan collapsed and held a memorial event there with Ryan’s family, the media, and the whole Saucony team attending.

    Each year since then, the day before the NYC Marathon, the whole Saucony team runs together before dawn to Ryan’s bench, leaving behind a pair of running shoes in his honor. This experience continues to underline the importance of always having a crisis communications plan ready to execute. Because of our plan, we were ready and able to do the right thing in the midst of tragedy, not only to manage the media but also to grieve with Ryan’s family and the running community as a whole.

    Q4: What was your best PR/marketing experience and what did you learn from it?

    A: I was given the opportunity to launch the PR function at Saucony 15 years ago and have continued to successfully oversee the brand’s communication strategy single-handedly. While it would have been easy to use the excuse that we didn’t have an agency to support my individual efforts and thus accept self-mediocrity, I took it as a challenge. I now know from experience that nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Wishing will not. Talent will not. Bigger teams will not. Persistence is a powerful force.

    Q5: Can you describe yourself in one word?

    A: Passionate.


    Sharon Barbano, head of Public Relations for Saucony, is an industry leader in strategic communications and sports marketing with more than 25 years of experience in entrepreneurial and corporate leadership positions. At Saucony, Sharon has applied her passion as a former world-class runner to communicate the brand’s award-winning performance running technologies while inspiring others to experience the transformational power of running.  Prior to joining Saucony 15 years ago, Sharon was Reebok’s Group Director for Women’s Global Marketing.  Sharon is the race analyst for many of the nation’s top running events; her on-air commentary has included television and radio coverage of the Boston, Chicago, LA, and New York City Marathons.  Sharon was named a 2015 Achilles Hero by the Achilles Foundation for her work in the encouragement of disabled people to participate in mainstream running events. She was presented with the Women’s Trailblazer Award by Running USA and is a recipient of the Woman of Distinction Award from the National Association of Women in Education.


    About Fast 5

    This is a 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!

    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. 

  • Meet the PRSA Board: Sofia Coon, Director at Large

    Who is Sofia Coon?
    I’m 26 years old and am originally from Syracuse, NY. I’m currently a Senior Account Executive at Scratch Marketing and Media in Cambridge, MA. I’ve been with the company for about a year and a half and love the technology startups and companies we work with. I enjoy that I can nerd out on things like data integration, mobile apps, customer experience platforms and more. Trying to find a basic way to explain complex things is a fun challenge for me. I am extremely passionate about public relations and love that I get to help shape the strategy and messaging used by a client to provide awareness for them within their industry.

    You’ve been a board member for a few years. What is your focus for 2017? 
    I was a PRSSA member at both Curry College in Milton, MA where I earned my Bachelor’s and Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY where I earned my Master’s. When I moved back to Boston, I immediately got involved with the Boston chapter as I knew it would give me the networking contacts and friends that I would need throughout my career. I started on the junior leadership team, working to reinvigorate the young professionals network (YPN) with a colleague. The two of us recreated the program structure for professionals with 5 or less years’ experience, hosting networking sessions and events that catered to what the new PR professional needs to know. In 2016, I was asked to become a Director at Large on the board. I am now in my second term, continuing work with YPN as well as being a part of the committee for the 2017 PRSA International Conference, which will be held in Boston this fall.  I am also working with our campus connection program – providing Boston area schools with information on the tools and resources PRSA can provide rising juniors and seniors. I look forward to seeing what all three opportunities bring in 2017 and continuing to be a part of the board for years to come.

    Why are you involved with PRSA and what has it meant for your career?
    PRSA has always been a rock for me. The seasoned professionals I’ve met have been through a number of the same obstacles and challenges that I have. I know I can count on them to respond to an email, help me with a recommendation or provide me the advice and guidance that will continue to send me down a successful career path in the future. All I can do is to continue to have the same “pay it forward” mentality and do what I can for the generations of PR professionals behind me. I also know that I can reach out to a PRSA member internationally and more likely than not they are happy to answer any questions I may have. I was recently doing some industry research in Canada and had multiple members that were willing to have phone and video conversations to tell me about their experiences.

    What is your recommendations for individuals thinking about joining PRSA?

    I always offer them a chance to be a guest at an event or to look at what the national website has to offer in terms of webinars and mentorships. I have a number of examples of how PRSA has helped me navigate my career and I can share how it will help them if they become a part of the network.

    When you’re not involved with PRSA Boston or doing your full time PR gig, what do you do?
    I love reading and reviewing books. I have so many daily adventures in my job, but I love reading about other worlds and time periods. I’m also a big musical theater and drama nerd. I used to be on the board of a theater company in Wayland, MA and now volunteer for box office or front of house management when I have the opportunity. My boyfriend and I also love going on road trips. Vermont is one of our favorite places to go when we have a long weekend.

    Tell us something not many people know about you (Don’t worry….we’ll keep it a secret!).  

    I have a bookstagram! I’m getting it back up and running in 2017 as I had to take a small hiatus, but follow me on @BookishBlueFox for some book recommendations and to follow my personal reading challenge of 60 books in 12 months (I read 55 in 2016).

  • The Interview: GE’s CCO Deirdre Latour Chats About GE’s Corporate Culture, the Presidential Campaign Aftermath for Journalism and Why She’s a Closet Bruins Fan

    For seventeen months, Deirdre Latour (@deirdrelatour) has been the lead communications strategist rolling out one of the biggest US business stories of 2016: the corporate headquarters move of Fortune Global 25 company GE (NYSE:GE) to Boston’s burgeoning Seaport District. On Wednesday, November 9th, she will, for the first time, share that story directly, as keynote of PRSA Boston’s C-Suite Conversation with Deirdre Latour at The NonProfit Center of Boston, just one block from South Station.

    In anticipation of her presentation, we wanted to know why she thinks GE’s move to Boston will be good for the company as well as our region. PRSA Boston President Loring Barnes catches up with GE’s busy global communications leader:

    LB: You’re a College of the Holy Cross alumna, so welcome ‘back’ to Boston. I’m going to jump right in: What are GE’s goals for being a leader in the Greater Boston community?

    DL: We really want to become integrated within all facets of the community and before too long, be known as an important value-add neighbor. The fact that the GE Foundation is headquartered in Boston gives us a solid anchor from which to build out our philanthropic investments in STEM education for local public schools and to support innovative responses to urgent public health challenges. We just announced our latest foundation grant to fund opioid addiction response resources at Boston Medical Center within a $15 million dollar healthcare pledge overall (Boston Globe, Metro, Oct. 10, 2016). Through our actions, we want to convey that GE is here to make positive contributions to Greater Boston, in part through investments in innovation to drive solutions.

    LB: GE’s corporate communications is located in NYC, Boston and Washington, DC. You’ll be speaking to an audience of public relations professionals. Are you hiring?

    DL: We really are in good shape. We run lean and mean and of course with the use of technology where we located is less important than the capabilities and connectivity that we provide. GE is in 180 countries, and this is the communications team that got us here so we really didn’t have a need to rebuild it. Of course, I always love to meet new talent!

    LB: You will be speaking the night following what feels like an interminable and bruising presidential election. What will US journalism look like as we head into 2017, and in your view how will this be reshaped by this electoral process?

    DL: It’s really a shame, but journalists have been denigrated and even traumatized throughout this campaign. In too many cases, reporters have become the story. While video, audio and digital content will continue to be king for PR and media alike, I think the journalism landscape will look very different coming out of this election. It will be interesting to see how some of the big networks are reshaped.

    LB: What is the biggest misconception of GE in your view?

    DL: I think any organization of our size – we employ 330,000 employees across 180 countries – gets saddled with the label ‘big business’ meaning large, inefficient or monolithic. But what is big business really? It’s the people who believe in innovation to make our world a better place. 125,000 of our employees are here in the US. This workforce brings diverse perspectives, education and ideas to a singular mission of driving change. GE offers an environment of urgency for bright minds; these are people who are drawn by the energy of innovation and who are determined to make a difference.

    LB: Do you think GE’s personality will change with its move to Boston, and if so, how?

    DL: It already has, and definitely for the better. Whenever you change your physical surroundings, the process of relocating requires that you shed excess material things and you think fresh about what you want to do differently. For GE, I think we consciously didn’t transport any sediment of bureaucracy that likely built up over time simply from years of being in one place with a consistent operational routine. Any move is disruptive, but that’s proven to be good for us. It’s exciting to be reinventing what a corporate headquarters looks and feels like. Our CEO (Jeffrey Immelt) is working in a very visible, centrally located office. He likes it as do our employees. For anyone with the ability to compare, they would have to say that the GE in Boston feels faster, leaner and more engaging. Our new Fort Point neighborhood, with so much building going on around us, truly fits the sense of transformation that is happening within our company.

    LB: Let’s talk about your career journey a bit. PRSA Boston will be your first speaking opportunity in the city, and to other public relations practitioners since this big news and GE’s subsequent arrival. You’ve had a meteoric rise from your early days on the agency side (Porter Novelli, then Edelman). How would you appraise your career path?

    DL: Yes, I never thought I would be as senior in my professional role as I am. I came into GE not knowing how little I knew, but I was fortunate that this company incubates learning and gives every employee the opportunity to reach and grow. While I benefited from that, I really never had a master plan to advance my career. I just worked hard in the moment and the rest happened as a result.

    LB: What would you tell your 21-year old self about how to shape a successful and fulfilling public relations career? Is there an insight or lesson you wish you knew then that you want to share now?

    DL: I would say, be kinder to people. Assume that people are coming from the best place and that they have their own context for how they approach problem-solving or work in general. Things don’t have to be done your way to get accomplished.

    LB: By virtue of directing a global communications function, you have a 24/7 job. What do you enjoy outside of work to recharge or take a break?

    DL: I think everyone needs boundaries to protect personal time. I have a great team that helps me to accomplish this so that I can be present with my family. When I’m not traveling, reading for work or otherwise busy with my kids, I’ll turn on HGTV. I love interior design, home décor, photos of architecture and fashion and anything having to do with the arts. Where I’m in New York, I love Broadway! I’m a huge ‘Hamilton’ fan.

    LB: Important questions to wrap this up. Yankees or Red Sox? Has the GE move influenced your pro sports allegiances?

    DL: Oh I’m definitely loyal to Red Sox from my days back at Holy Cross. I watched David Ortiz’s last game and I was sad. He’s really been such a beacon, not only for baseball but also as a humanitarian. We’re going to miss him. I probably shouldn’t mention this but by marriage, we watch a lot of the Ottawa Senators because my husband is originally from Canada.

    LB: We won’t tell the Bruins. One more chance: Starbucks or Dunkin?

    DL: Starbucks. Remember, I’ve been in New York for twenty years.

    LB: Thank you for your time, Deirdre. We’re looking forward to hearing more about your vision for GE, some of the insights you’ve gained as a communications professional that inform your work today, and to offering this opportunity for more people to meet you and your PR team.

    DL: We’re looking forward to it.

    Early Bird Registration to the November 9th Program can be found HERE (payment via Eventbrite).


     – About Deirdre Latour, Chief Communications Officer, GE

    GE's Deirdre Latour

    Ms. Latour leads the company’s global communications functions, shaping the company’s culture and supports its business growth worldwide. She has worked for GE for over twelve years, having made the shift from respected PR firm Edelman. She is an alumna of College of the Holy Cross and member of the Arthur W. Page Society, a community of senior and chief communications officers, PR agency CEOs and academics. (@deirdrelatour)