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  • Fast Five: Communicating in the Era of COVID-19 – Spotlight on MilliporeSigma

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    Kate Cingolani, Communications Business Partner, Life Science Communications, MilliporeSigma, will join our panel when PRSA Boston and Alkermes co-sponsor a webinar on “Communicating in the Era of COVID-19: Spotlight on Greater Boston’s Life Sciences Companies.” Our blog, Fast Five, serves as an event preview, introducing you to our panelists to provide a peek inside their worlds. Register for the event here and be sure to return to prsaboston.org for more stories leading up to the event.

    Panelists:

    • Eleanor Celeste, Director of Pipeline Communications, Vertex Pharmaceuticals
    • Kate Cingolani, Communications Business Partner, Life Science Communications, MilliporeSigma
    • Kate O’Malley, Senior Director of Internal Communications, Moderna
    • Eva Stroynowski Otte, Vice President of Public Affairs, Alkermes

    Moderator:
    Amy Atwood, Head of Vaccine Communications, Takeda Pharmaceuticals

    Q1: During the current COVID-19 pandemic, finding the right time to launch a product or hold an event, even if it’s virtual, has been challenging. How has the pandemic impacted your 2020 launch or big event plans?

    Creativity and flexibility—two muscles that have had to be flexed across the organization. As Communications professionals, our leaders depend on us to assure our messages are cascaded both internally and externally. During the pandemic, our conventional ways of cascading and communicating were challenged and thus creativity stepped into the driver’s seat. We utilized new technology platforms and pushed the capabilities of those platforms to deliver engaging sessions whether it be with media, employees or investors.

    Flexibility was fundamental as we needed to pivot from the traditional methods to methods and channels outside of our comfort zone. Training our leaders on how to best position their cameras from home, partnering closely with our IT colleagues to garner the best output for connectivity and learning to not only share presentations—all while ensuring a captive audience. One specific example was a major lab opening in China. This would have been one of our largest customer events and media opportunities and yet with the pandemic still looming, the decision was to move to a virtual opening. The session exceeded the expectations of the team and, with a virtual stage and engaging speeches from our leaders in front of a green screen, the team delivered a successful event to the more than 100,000 viewers.

    Q2: Some brands are pivoting from earned media to increasing the use of social media to tell their stories. If you have done so, can you give us a quick example of a smart pivot?

    Once schools shifted to remote learning, our team quickly pivoted from our typical community involvement at schools across the globe, to provide assets via social media. Our “Spark Program,” which is a scientific-based curriculum which is brought into schools, aims to spark curiosity in science. With several videos produced during the shelter-in-place, we were able to launch Curiosity Labs at Home, scientific experiment tutorials, through our social media channels. Employees were proud to share through their own personal social media channels, and feedback was overwhelming. To continue our efforts virtually, as well as to provide an opportunity for families to experience these lessons together, our corporate social media channels played a significant role during the pandemic with nearly 1.5 million views.

    Q3: During the COVID crisis, consumers want to hear from doctors and health experts, not CEOs. How has that changed your spokesperson strategy?

    As a data-driven and scientific-based life science organization, the leadership team relied heavily on our internal expertise. Fortunately, our internal expertise is comprised of epidemiologists, researchers, doctors and scientists, some of whom are currently our spokespeople for the organization.

    Q4: More than ever, brands are being judged by how well they care for their employees, particularly during this unprecedented time. How has your company shown more sensitivity to your employees

    Communication has been critical during this time, and communicating clear guidance, safety protocols and employee resources was, and still is, our priority. Providing safety kits for our employees to use at home as a way to ensure they and their family members have the supplies they need was of critical importance. With a majority of our employees working in manufacturing, it was necessary to reinforce safety at all times as we relied heavily on teams working on-site. As a company providing critical materials to companies developing vaccines and diagnostics, it was critical to keep our operations running. We have been working throughout the pandemic.

    Q5: Employees hear messages of “take care of yourself” and they expect company leadership to do the same. What’s been your strategy, if any, to guide management to model the right behavior?

    During this time of uncertainty, it is important to keep a pulse on the health and well-being of our employees. With vacations adjusted and the surmounting work our colleagues continue to face, leadership has needed to exhibit the desired behaviors for our employees. Encouraging employees to take vacation time is one way, but demonstrating that our leaders are also taking that time to rest and re-charge is incredibly important.

    About Fast Five

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go and with a story to tell. But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

  • 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.

     

     

  • 2018 NEW CHAPTER BYLAWS VOTE

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    To PRSA Boston Members,

    At our Annual Meeting in early December, these new Chapter Bylaws will be presented on the floor for ratification. Here’s why they were revamped and what will be asked of all members.

     

    Q: Why were they changed?

    A:  Our chapter bylaws now follow a sanctioned PRSA bylaws template, bringing our chapter in compliance and consistent with all PRSA chapters.

     

    Q: What content changed?

    A:  Pretty much most of it. These bylaws now reflect our chapter’s procedural and operational practices and have been pre-approved by the PRSA Governance Committee.

     

    Q: Often when bylaws are updated, the edits can be shown. Yet these are clean. Why?

    A: Yes, and we will be able to do this with future iterations, but the complete reformatting overhaul make such a comparison impractical.

     

    Q: How were these bylaws developed?

    A:  Our chapter’s board of directors convened a small bylaws committee comprised of practitioners with ethics, leadership, nominating and governance experience. This group developed the initial draft for approval by the full board which was subsequently approved by PRSA to be presented to our chapter’s members.

    To see the bylaws, click HERE.

     

     

  • Fast Five Q&A: Jill Goddard, APR, Director of Public Relations and Social Media at Boston Ballet

    Jill Goddard serves as the Director of Public Relations and Social Media at Boston Ballet. With over ten years of experience in public relations, communications and non-profit development, her work has centered on mission-based organizations primarily in the non-profit sector including Covenant House International, Oxfam America, and the Unitarian Universalist Association. She holds a M.A. in Global Marketing Communications and Advertising from Emerson College and a B.A. in Political Science and Journalism from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

    PRSA Boston recently sat down with Jill to learn more about her career and why she decided to join the Boston Ballet.

    Q: How did you get involved with Boston Ballet?

    A: I have always been a fan and admirer of the talent and artistry of Boston Ballet and an arts enthusiast in general. My former colleague and friend, who serves as the director of individual giving for Boston Ballet, told me about the open position and asked if I was interested in being considered. It was helpful to have someone who I knew and trusted at the organization speak so highly of the vision and people behind Boston Ballet—I couldn’t wait to join the team!

    Q: Do you have a favorite campaign/program you’ve run for Boston Ballet (or a previous company), and what were the results?

    A: I’ve been fortunate to work for organizations close to my heart and campaigns that make a difference in peoples’ lives so it is hard to choose a favorite. Most recently, we finished 44 performances of The Nutcracker, a New England treasure and tradition. We did a lot of advanced press and promotions including having the Nutcracker Bear zipline on the Rose Kennedy Greenway to promote tickets going on sale. The video generated great engagement on our social media channels, was covered by The Boston Globe, Patriot Ledger, NBC Boston, NECN, and Dance Magazine, and helped generate awareness and sales. Later, we did a social media campaign where the mice from The Nutcracker escaped the Boston Opera House and went sightseeing around Boston. It was wonderful to collaborate with other iconic Boston attractions like the Museum of Fine Arts and the Boston Tea Party Ships—and see people’s reactions to these mice walking down the streets of Boston.

    At Boston Ballet, I really enjoy that all of its programs have so many fascinating angles and stories to tell. I love to deep dive into the research, find creative ways to engage with audiences of all ages, and help people enrich their own understanding and experience of ballet, its history, and the people behind it.

    Q: It looks like you have worked with other non-profits and associations, how important is PR to their overall strategies?

    A: Whether a non-profit organization recognizes it or not, public relations is essential to their success. To  inspire generosity, mobilize people and make positive change, you must have public awareness, support and engagement. Fortunately, I think more and more organizations are recognizing this and making the necessary investments in bandwidth and budget to incorporate public relations as an intentional management function which will support strategic goals.

    Q: What advice do you have for others who are interested in a PR career in the arts?

    A: Artist, dancer and choreographer Martha Graham said, “Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.” The same is true for public relation professionals and that is so important to remember if you want a career in the arts. In addition to best practices and the fundamentals of public relations, bring your passion, creativity, and imagination to the work and you will have great success.

    Q: How has being a PRSA member impacted your career?

    A: There are many ways that being a PRSA member has enriched my career. Often times in a non-profit environment, you are part of a small team or might be the only public relations professional in the entire organization. Being a PRSA member expanded my network of brilliant brains to pick when I have a PR-related issue at work. It also helps me keep up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies in public relations and social media through on-demand webinars, in-person workshops, and articles which I am able to immediately apply to my work.

    I recently finished the APR accreditation process which allowed me to take a step back from the day to day of public relations and look at the broader systems, theories, and techniques behind the craft. As a life-long learner, I’m grateful that PRSA offers these unique and invaluable opportunities. I look forward to all that PRSA continues to offer and all I can offer PRSA in return.

    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 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. 
  • 2018 Proud Member of PRSA

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  • Remaining Ethical in the Era of “Fake News” and “Alternative Facts”

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    “Fake News.” “Alternative Facts.” Until recently, these topics were never a part of the PR conversation. Now, not only is everyone in PR, journalism and beyond talking about them, colleges and universities which specialize in communications studies are trying to figure out how to appropriately address these topics with their students.

    There are primers on how to recognize fake websites. Articles are written on how to ferret out fake news from the real thing. How did we get here? One answer, of course, is the rise and explosion of the Internet. There are no longer just journalists trained by the bellwether of CBS Standards and Practices. Now there are citizen journalists and bloggers. Who sets the standards for them? There are literally millions of sites to explore and it is up to the reader to decide which ones are credible.

    As PR practitioners, we not only have a responsibility to our clients to ensure that we are promoting their causes and their products to responsible news outlets, but we also have ethical obligations ourselves. Where do we turn for guidance? A good place to start is with our own professional organization, PRSA. Earlier this year, Jane Dvorak, APR Fellow, PRSA Chair of the Society for 2017, issued a statement on Alternative Facts. It began, “Truth is the foundation of all effective communications.” She refers to PRSA’s Code of Ethics as the guidelines in this arena for all PRSA members.  Our chapter president, Dan Dent, weighed in as well in the Boston Business Journal.

    For those of us who practice public relations, and particularly crisis communications, we know that we are not providing court testimony with a requirement to give “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Our obligation, after all, is to represent our clients’ or organization’s best interests. However, we cannot lie. To knowingly present a falsehood to a journalist or to the public at large ruins our own credibility, as well as that of our clients or the organization that we represent.

    If in doubt, print out a copy of the PRSA Guide to Ethics or keep it in an electronic file on your phone or laptop. Refer to it if you have a question. It can become your shield in the war against “Fake News” and “Alternative Facts”.

    By: Nancy J. Sterling, APR, Ethics Officer, PRSA Boston