September 23, 2022
Q: You’re a senior media relations specialist with Walker Sands. Tell us about a project or initiative that you are especially proud of.
A: Most recently, I was included on a project for a boomerang client that we were hoping to retain again. My job for the project – to secure coverage and wow them into working with us again. Within a month, I was able to secure six media opportunities – four briefings and two bylined op-eds. Our goal was achieved as the client has asked to extend their partnership with us!
Q: What made you go into communications/PR?
A: Growing up, I had a dream of writing a book. I loved to write stories and use the creative side of my brain. I think communications and PR allows you to do just that. You are writing stories and developing creative angles to share with reporters. With the goal of becoming a writer, I pursued journalism in college, where I worked at the university’s news station as a reporter and anchor. Upon graduation, I got my first job as a producer at a local TV news station. After about a year there, I realized I wanted to shift to communications/PR so I could be more creative in my writing.
Q: Tell us about your background?
A: I grew up about 45 minutes outside of Boston and attended the University of Connecticut. Go Huskies!
Q: What is on your playlist and/or the last movie you’ve binge watched?
A: I have been listening non-stop to Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs’ new song The Kind of Love We Make. It’s really good music to listen to when you are working or unpacking! The last movie I watched was the new Elvis movie. I love Elvis Presley’s music so this movie was really interesting.
August 12, 2022
Q: As Principal and CEO, tell us about Matter Communications’ approach to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, noting specifically your podcast On The Tech Trail that discusses Boston’s Brand problem.
A: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) is something we’ve taken seriously since Matter’s beginnings and have committed to maintaining as a priority while we continue to grow. Matter has always been a place where everyone’s unique contributions, viewpoints and identities are valued and respected. We formally established our Diversity Committee in 2018 as well as a host of associated initiatives and Employee Resource Groups to be more intentional and ambitious about the ways we can foster a culture of belonging for everyone, while holding ourselves accountable to increase our diversity and be a leader on this front. From more direct representation of these values across our website and internal/external assets to mandatory DEI Training Programs for all staff, we continue to pride ourselves on being results-oriented with the understanding that there is always more to do and learn.
I’m beyond proud of our collaboration with the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council in creating the On The Tech Trail podcast. Taking a step back to honestly reflect and shine light on issues of equity and access in a city we call home is a difficult, but necessary task. Our team’s thoughtfulness toward the discussion topics, local leaders whose stories and voices we amplified, and solution-oriented approach is something I’m always eager to share with friends, family and industry peers.
Q: Matter Communications has clients from multiple industries, and incorporates PR, creative and digital marketing and brand elevation. How does your team gather the broad ranging elements to produce a successful final product for clients?
A. It all starts with honest communication. That means gaining a deep understanding of our client’s needs, their story and how their brand is currently positioned. We’ve purposefully built our agency’s capabilities and structured our teams to deliver clients the right mix of paid, earned and owned media, focusing directly on driving sales. Whether it’s a major healthcare brand looking to share their important messages through focused media relations, or a growing B2B tech startup interested in launching a podcast to educate their audience on a new product category – or all of the above! – we have the talent in place to quickly collaborate and build a bespoke communications program fit to their unique goals and constraints.
Q: Boston’s theme for PRSA’s 75th anniversary is Communication Evolution. Talk about changes that you’ve seen in the communication and marketing industry that illustrate this evolution for your/your company?
A: Founding Matter in 2003 has allowed our agency to take part in every facet of PR and marketing’s technological revolution. The myriad impacts are undeniable. From how we build relationships with media and within our internal teams to the channels we leverage for brands to engage their audiences, to the growing value of video/audio and analytics and how we measure success, our offerings have evolved with the industry at every turn. As I see more agencies begin to adopt full-service marketing models, I’m proud to say that we’ve been ahead of the curve on incorporating video/creative services and establishing a dedicated, integrated arm to our business. But while the media landscape may change with new communication mediums constantly emerging, we continue to drive results for brands by being a nimble, proactive extension of their teams through an integrated approach. We know brand building isn’t a one-size-fits-all equation and we’re constantly investing in our agency’s people and services to expand our capabilities and position our clients in the right places, with the right messages, at the right time.
Q: What’s on your playlist?
A: Grateful Dead
June 24, 2022
On June 8th, PRSA Boston convened at Walker Sands with local journalists and PR professionals for a panel called Sign of the Times, to discuss the intersection of socio- political unrest and activism and news coverage, yesterday and today.
Sign of the Times was organized by Regan Schiappa, PRSA Boston Membership and Young Professionals Network Chair, and PRSA Boston Content & Diversity Chair, Jamie McIver, who also served as moderator. The session included panelists Katrina Kincade, Reporter at WBZ-TV, Greg Lee, Senior Assistant Managing Editor for Talent and Community at The Boston Globe and Jessicah Pierre, Chief of Communications for Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. The group outlined parallels between the 1960s/1970s socio-political unrest and activism and the summer of 2020.
Both periods gave rise to many new voices, including celebrities and sports figures. The movements of the 1960s/1970s were magnified by television news coverage now delivered in 30-minute segments to living rooms across the United States, with much coverage devoted to the Vietnam War and police violence on Black citizens in the deep south.
While what is old is new in terms of the issues, PR reps and journalists did not drive the story during the summer of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic and citizen journalism created the perfect storm, enabling nationwide unrest and activism about police violence against Blacks across the country. Advances in technology allowed citizen journalists to cover the stories live, and transmit them globally through computer screens, cell phones, social media and the internet during what is now a 24-hour news cycle. View this presentation that tells the story of the times over the past 50 years.
Historically, music has also echoed the times in which we live, helping to articulate and underscore the issues and feelings of the masses then and now. To experience the cultural reverberations, check out our Sign of the Times Playlist on Spotify.
June 24, 2022
Q: PAN has a well-documented Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) journey. Please tell us about PAN’s business imperative for DE&I – from both the employer and agency perspective.
A: Our goal is to support our clients as needed throughout their DE&I journey. Whether they’re in the very early stages, or have sophisticated approaches already in place, we want to be a strategic partner for them as they elevate and amplify their DEI efforts.
From a culture perspective, we believe there’s real value in working with clients that are aligned with the passion and interests of our staff, which is why we’re identifying more purpose-driven work within DEI that inspires, motivates, and engages PAN’s staff; aligning more employees to work and opportunities that brings them even greater professional fulfillment.
Q: Technology is one of PAN’s business service areas. Communication Evolution is Boston’s theme for PRSA’s 75thanniversary in 2022. Tell us how you’ve seen the use of technology for marketing and PR change over your past 25 years in business?
A: To begin – the use of data and analytics have enabled agencies to really showcase their value and move more aggressively into the c-suite and Board of Directors sight. In addition, technology has empowered marketers and PR professionals to showcase their strength (strategic storytelling) across so many channels that might have been a challenge 10 years ago.
Think about it – take data, analyze it, build a story, activate that story across earned, owned, shared and paid channels, optimize in real time and show impact to the customer and now (more than ever) employee journey. The next 10 years will see similar disruption as web3 becomes more a reality for b2b tech and digital healthcare brands – fueling marketers and PR pros to push the technology further while guide brands through these exciting opportunities.
Q: What song is currently on repeat on your music playlist?
A: “Star of the Show” by Thomas Rhett. I enjoy listening to this song after working out driving home or ending my work day.
May 13, 2022
Q: Tell us about Archipelago Strategies Group’s (ASG) unique and intentional approach toward multicultural marketing?
A: ASG creates multicultural campaigns that are as diverse – in both audience and purpose – as our global staff members. Three-quarters of ASG is fully bilingual in English/Spanish and English/Portuguese, and we employ specialists in the most-spoken languages of our communities. Instead of translating marketing materials from English, ASG “trans-creates” unique assets in each key language. This helps ensure that messaging culturally resonates with the target audience, including shared imagery and references.
Our approach to developing creative assets for multicultural communities also begins with a deep understanding of the audiences we want to reach, and their systemic and perceived barriers to engagement. ASG thus frequently conducts primary research, and analyzes secondary research, to inform communications strategies and test creative concepts. To align with our vision of “marketing with purpose,” ASG specializes in social marketing to influence human behavior. Our team applies marketing principles and techniques to create, communicate and share content to achieve a more equitable common good.
Q: Last year, you were one of the Boston Business Journal’s LGBTQ Business of Pride Trailblazer Award recipients. As a well achieved Latina who identifies as LGBTQ, what is your recipe for success? How have both identities impacted your career?
A: This is something I’m very proud of. It wasn’t too long ago that a LGBTQ woman with an accent wasn’t winning awards, or getting asked to bid on a big contract, or even part of the conversation. I think we have shown our value, our work ethic and our results speak for themselves. As the make-up of our great country continues to evolve, there will need to be a greater focus on including a wide range of perspectives at all decision tables. Those who choose not to adapt in that way will most certainly be left behind.
Q: Boston’s theme for PRSA’s 75th anniversary is Communication Evolution. Talk about some ways that you’ve seen the communication and marketing industry morph since you’ve been in business?
A: I created ASG to help our clients reach and engage with important constituencies and populations that too often are overlooked, not seen or heard, and forgotten about. For too long, non-English speaking communities and immigrant populations were always thought of last when a PR plan or a marketing plan was being created. We set out to change that so that these important communities were integrated into every aspect of a client’s strategy. The way media is consumed is changing and we saw an opportunity. Not everyone is reading The Boston Globe or watching a local newscast, so we had to create a new game plan to meet people where they are.
We have prioritized hiring people who reflect the rich diversity of our city and our region; people who speak the languages, and understand the cultural gifts that make our communities so vibrant. With that type of competency, we are no longer talking TO certain populations, but we are engaged in dialog about what they want and need and how our clients can best serve them. It is a win-win situation for all involved.
Q: What was the last thing you binge watched?
A: My wife and I are raising a 4-year-old, so we binge watch Encanto.
May 13, 2022
APR – Accreditation in Public Relations – is a mark of distinction in PR; a credential defined by PRSA as certifying your drive, professionalism, and principles, setting you apart from your peers and positioning you as a leader and mentor in the competitive public relations field.
At the April 26th program An Introduction to APR, Josh Gitelson, PRSA Boston APR Chair, walked attendees through the preparation and steps to achieve APR. He also gave a personal perspective on how APR helps you learn about industry practices and high standards and become a leader in the profession.
Josh, came to PR after being a journalism major and, after several years working as a PR professional, found the APR process “incredibly rewarding.” He felt the best part was studying for the exam. “I felt like I was earning a mini-MBA, and after practicing PR for a number of years, I could step back and get new perspectives and understandings.”
He explained that the APR preparation and exam focus on six major areas of PR. They include Research & Planning; Leading the PR Function; Managing Relationships; Ethics and Law; Managing Issues and Crisis Communication; and Understanding Communication Models, Theories and PR History.
He added that while you have an entire year to complete the APR process, preparation can typically take three or four months—and some people move through the study period even more quickly. “However, you can really do the preparation at your own pace.”
Five Steps to APR Success
- Any member in good standing of PRSA or its partner organizations may take on the challenge of earning accreditation. At least five years of professional experience in PR is recommended, but not required.
- Submit a one-page application found at the PRSA national website. Once the application is approved, candidates have one year to take the online Certification Exam.
- Even before applying, you can download a free, 160+ page APR study guide from the PRSA national website. It contains information, exercises, case studies, and more. It also lists recommended texts, such as Effective Public Relations by Cutlip & Center. PRSA national also offers an online study course for a fee.
- When you feel ready, contact Josh, and apply to participate in a Panel Presentation with three APRs. At the session, you will be invited to talk about your professional experience and background and present a PR program/case study from your work.
- If the panel agrees that you’re ready to take the Accreditation Exam, you can then make arrangements to take the multiple-choice exam shortly thereafter. Upon completion, the results are available in minutes.
Josh is available at JOSHG1068@gmail.com. He is happy to discuss the APR program in more detail, connect candidates with local PRSA accreditation study groups and answer any questions.