News

  • 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)

     

     

  • GE’s CCO DEIRDRE LATOUR TO KEYNOTE PRSA BOSTON’s ANNUAL MEETING

    First Speech in Boston Since GE Relocated

    GE's Deirdre LatourPRSA Boston chose the PRXNE16 Northeast District Conference to announce that GE’s Chief Communications Officer Deirdre Latour will be the keynote on Nov. 9, 2016 at the organization’s 66th Annual Meeting, themed ‘Communications for Innovation.’ The relocation of GE’s World Corporate Headquarters to Boston’s Seaport District is the year’s biggest business story for Massachusetts, with implications to public relations professionals from higher education, STEM and technology development, chamber and civic groups, infrastructure and commercial construction.

    “GE’s new leadership footprint is emblematic in how public relations advances the innovation economy, said PRSA Boston President Loring Barnes, APR. “To have the lead communications architect Deirdre Latour share how GE is collaborating with start-ups and stalwart brands will be both timely and insightful. This will be her first speech in Boston since GE relocated and we are thrilled.” While relocating from one place to another make sure that you are contacting experts from Big T Moving & Delivery as they can move your belongings carefully.

    Latour’s career journey from agency giant Edelman to GE underscores the range of professional opportunities that the corporate and agency duality allows. She is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society and has been recognized by PR Week and PR News.

    “GE is grateful for the enthusiastic reception we’ve received from the Massachusetts business community and legislative delegation,” said Latour, who will be returning to her home state. “As we move our headquarters, we understand how essential communications is to connecting with the Boston community.”

    GE’s decision to centralize its global headquarters in the burgeoning Seaport District has turbocharged Boston’s-related building, public works and highway construction. Latour will speak about how ‘adaptive communications’ is essential for innovation industries to accelerate business plans.

    About GE (www.ge.com. @ge)

    GE (NYSE:GE) is the world’s Digital Industrial Company, transforming industry with software-defined machines and solutions that are connected, responsive and predictive. GE is organized around a global exchange of knowledge, the “GE Store,” through which each business shares and accesses the same technology, markets, structure and intellect. Each invention further fuels innovation and application across our industrial sectors. With people, services, technology and scale, GE delivers better outcomes for customers by speaking the language of industry.

    About Deirdre Latour, CCO GE (@deirdrelatour)

    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.

    About PRSA Boston (http://www.prsaboston.org, @prsaboston #prsabos)

    The 66-year Boston Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (registered 501c6) connects members to the world’s largest association for public relations professionals. PRSA Boston offers year-round thought leadership, Accreditation certification (APR), educational content and networking programs, which this year included hosting the PRXNE16 Northeast District Conference. PRSA Boston will host the PRSA 2017 International Conference in October 2017.

  • PRXNE16 on Election 2016: Has The Media Become The Story?

    Four of the region’s leading political journalists will have an in-depth and dynamic conversation during the lunchtime keynote which will provide PRSA members with an editorial insight into the 2016 Presidential Election that will be a highlight of the PRXNE16 Conference.  Boston’s award winning journalist RD Sahl who has been covering the political scene since 1968 will moderate a terrific panel including the Boston Globe’s Political Editor Shira Center; WPRI’s Political Reporter Ted Nesi, and the Union Leader’s Executive Editor Trent Spiner.

    Is the media responsible for creating Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders?  Would the campaign be any different if there weren’t 17 Republican candidates?  From the Boston Globe’s satirical ‘President Trump’ faux front page to the Union Leader’s retraction of its Chris Christie endorsement, how has journalism changed in the face of this most unpredictable Presidential Race, and its coverage of stories it helped to generate?  What is the role of other local politicians including Elizabeth Warren?  What is it like to be the ‘First in the Nation’ primary from the editor and assignment desks? How has all of this impacted the role of PR professionals who represent organizations with legislative interests? With so much coverage being given on a daily basis to the 2016 Election, how would these busy journalists suggest how organizations participate in, or break through this noise? What will the future look like for both journalism and public relations after November? What lessons is the media learning, and teaching, as we head into the climax of this epic roller coaster headline story of 2016?

    This regional media delegation is sure to provoke the political news junkie in all of us with their privileged, ‘behind the curtain’ revelations that are sure to inspire ample water cooler, colleague and dinner conversation to follow. Most importantly, they will inform your daily media relations and social media activity. Bring your questions for an open conversation following this freewheeling moderated discussion during lunch.

    About Amy Riemer, Principal, Riemer Communications @riemercomm, Chair, PRXNE16 Conference Programming + Speaker Management

    From her North Shore, MA office, Amy provides media relations, trade expo and event coordination services to diverse organizations consumer, technology, nonprofit and trade show management sectors. Her experience proved invaluable to the planning of PRXNE16, for which we fielded triple the number of speaker proposals to available presentation slots. Prior to founding her consultancy, she was affiliated with Reed Exhibitions, Edelman and PAN Communications.

     

  • Mark McClennan, APR

    FAST 5: Q&A with PRSA Chair Mark McClennan, APR

    Public relations must do more than simply ‘occupy’ a seat at the C-suite table says longtime chapter member and past-president Mark McClennan, APR.

    Mark (@McClennan), who is senior vice president, social media services for MSLGroup in Waltham, recently began his term as Chair of the PRSA national Board of Directors, having been elected by chapter delegates of the 22,000 member organization. Among his priorities are ensuring that PR professionals have the resources and professional development to remain trusted advisers to the C-suite so they can hold their spot at leadership’s table.

    His term year has arrived with a bang: a recent New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) advisory opinion that will expand the definition of ‘lobbyist’ and implications that public relations practitioners would incur new regulatory compliance as a result. He is quoted in a recent PRSA release on this issue HERE.

    We caught up with Mark for a FAST 5 to ask him to reflect on the importance of PR, his priorities for PRSA in 2016, and the increasingly important role Boston is playing in the PR universe, with a visit by PRSA CEO Joe Truncale later this month and hosting the PRSA Northeast District Conference (PRXNE16, @prsane #prxne) in June.

    #1 – Where is PR today?

    PR is more important today than it has ever been. When I first joined the mantra was, “PR needs a seat at the table.” Today, for the most part we have a seat at the table. But having a seat at the table isn’t enough. We all know the dinner guest who just eats the food and is not invited back. Today the challenge is consistently reinforcing PR as a lead discipline and trusted counselor at the table. If we are not advancing sage counsel in every interaction, we are hurting ourselves, and we have enough detractors that we can’t afford to do that.

    #2 – Why PRSA?

    This is the question I get the most from non-members, and I love it. PRSA is the best and deepest resource for you to engage with to advance yourself as a professional and to help advance your career. We have 22,000 members in more than 110 chapters, and another 11,000 students and great intern candidates across 334 student chapters. This is the recruitment pipeline of our future. Within our membership we have 14 dedicated professional-interest sections that instantly connect you to professionals who are facing the same challenges you are.

    But when people ask me about the cost, I have a simple answer. The true cost of PRSA is two to four hours a month. If you are willing to invest that by getting involved and not just coming to meetings, the rewards will blow away any dues amount. And if you are not willing to invest that much time in your career, then others who are will pass you by.

    I credit PRSA with playing a huge role in advancing my career. Ann Getman taught me so much about PR research that she made a hard-charging AE seem really smart to his managers in the 1990s. Kirk Hazlett has been a mentor and friend for almost 20 years. But that is just the beginning. The more you get involved the better it gets. I have had the pleasure of being active on the local, district, section and national level. Every time I volunteer, I find the opportunities and awards more than I ever expected.

    #3 – What PRSA events are you looking forward to the most in 2016?

    The great thing about PRSA is there are so many outstanding events – and there is always one for your specific need. Locally, the PRSA Northeast District Conference (PRXNE16) in June is shaping up to be a dynamite event. We have Joe Truncale, CEO of PRSA (and a closet Red Sox fan), who visited us last week for our March Board Meeting and March Madness Mixer then attended our 3rd annual APR St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast the next day. He’s also going to be speaking at PRXNE16.

    The International Conference in Indianapolis in October is going to be outstanding. If you have never been, this is the year to go. Three days of information-packed professional development and more than 1,500 PR pros. Finally, I love the PRSA Counselors Academy Spring Conference in May. It is a multi-day session designed for senior agency executives and agency owners.

    #4 – What are some of your key priorities during your 2016 tenure as National Chair?

    My top priority is serving our members and working to increase the value that PRSA provides to them that is actionable in their daily career lives. That includes a number of initiatives, including growing the section communities (PRSA’s professional interest groups), working to improve the way we leverage technology to deliver programming and information, supporting the opportunities and development of new professionals, executing campaigns that have a positive impact on diversity and seeing where we can improve our governance model.

    Like any good PR pro, I realize that while I have my plans, outside circumstances may cause some re-calibration, as the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) did with its recent ruling. This could have a significant impact on many of our members and needs to be addressed.

    #5 – What is your PR pet peeve?

    Too often PR people are cutting themselves off at the knees when they are advising the C-suite by saying, “I went into PR because I hate math.”

    I think it’s more accurate that PR professionals want to make our society a better place. We arrive understanding that language and communications can advance a myriad of experiences that make our lives better, simply because we foster understanding, acceptance and consideration of innovative ideas and new perspectives. I can have a 20-minute debate with almost any PR person about the pros and cons of the Oxford comma or “over” vs. “more than.” But too many forget the language of business is numbers. If the C-suite hears you saying “I hate math,” it undermines your ability to act as a trusted, strategic adviser. This is a self-inflicted wound, and PR people need to stop saying it.

    About Mark McClennan

    Mark McClennan, APR, (@McClennan) is Chair of the PRSA National Board of Directors, the leading membership governance authority for the Association. Mark is senior vice president, social media services for MSLGROUP, based in Waltham, Mass. In his more than 18 years at MSLGROUP, Mark has led teams in a variety of industries, including consumer technology, financial services and gaming. He regularly advises clients on social media strategies and crisis management. His teams have been recognized with more than 45 awards for excellence in public relations, including five Silver Anvils. Mark has a B.A. in public relations and political science from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He is past chair of the Northeast District of PRSA and a former president of PRSA Boston.

    About FAST 5

    This is an interview 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 josh@joshuamilnepr.com 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. 

  • Breaking: PRSA Files Affidavit Opposing JCOPE Reclassifying PR as Lobbying

    New York, NY (March 8, 2016) — PRSA, along with the PR Council and the Arthur W. Page Societyfiled separate third-party affidavits with the New York State court to stay the enforcement of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) Advisory Opinion No. 16-01 that seeks to classify some public relations activities as lobbying. Four public relations agencies have filed a lawsuit regarding the same advisory. We are not a part of the lawsuit but our affidavits have been filed at the same time.

    Because this issue is so important to the communication industry, our three trade associations have joined forces to help explain to the court the broad-reaching impact and perhaps unintended consequences that may affect all of our members. Our three groups have unique perspectives to provide to the court to explain our concerns about compliance and infringement on information exchange with the press.

    PRSA Boston Press Contact: Joshua Milne, josh@joshuamilnepr.com, (617) 501-1620 for Mark McClennan, APR. Mark is the elected Chair of the 22,000 PRSA membership, is from PRSA Boston and a past president of this chapter. More on social: @prsaboston #JCOPE

    To learn more about this subject, you can read PRSA’s full statement regarding the affidavit and earlier statement on the impact of this advisory opinion. 

    Additionally, here are some recent articles related to the issue: