May 12, 2019
By Ariana Revelas, PRSA Boston student correspondent – Bentley University
Dick Shaner, Jr. is senior vice president at Martin Davison Public Relations, an affiliate of The Martin Group, in Buffalo, N.Y.. Dick’s experience in public relations spans more than 35 years on both the corporate and agency side. Dick has been a member of PRSA since 1989 and is a past president of the Buffalo/Niagara Chapter.
As a student in PR, I have a passion and keen interest in learning about nonprofit PR. In my research about this topic, I asked Dick for an interview because of his experience in this field.
What kinds of services and expertise do you offer?
Founded in 2001, The Martin Group (TMG) is a leading integrated communications firm headquartered in downtown Buffalo with offices in Rochester and Albany, N.Y..
Established in 2015, Martin Davison Public Relations is a public relations firm in Upstate New York that offers advocacy, community relations, content marketing, crisis communications, event management, internal communications, and media relations.
The Martin Group is a recipient of the Buffalo Business First Fast Track Award multiple times and is recognized as one of WNY’s Top Private Companies.
Do you specialize in helping nonprofits or is this one of your passions in PR, or both?
Our agency considers nonprofits one of its eight key verticals based on our extensive experience in the area. We also invest two percent of our revenue, a significant amount of pro bono work, and countless hours of volunteer service to nonprofit organizations throughout the communities we serve.
Working with nonprofit organizations has been a passion of mine throughout my career, including a total of 17 years working with Catholic Charities of Buffalo on its annual Appeal. The 2018 Appeal was especially challenging—and rewarding—as we were able to achieve an ambitious $11 million goal during the clergy sex abuse crisis that rocked the Diocese of Buffalo. This was executed through numerous news releases, media advisories, and crafted pitch letters. We organized several media events and scheduled editorial board meetings, while focusing attention on social media channels as well. In addition, we encouraged online donations through Catholic Charities’ website, with an emphasis on how Catholic Charities serves non-Catholics and Catholics alike. Anyone can donate and also be served by the organization.
I also provide public relations services (both paid and pro bono) to Mental Health Advocates of Western New York (formerly the Mental Health Association of Erie County), and was recognized with their 2013 Advocacy Award. I am particularly proud of our efforts to help raise awareness for the Just Tell One Campaign, which focuses on the prevention and early intervention of mental health and substance abuse issues affecting youth and young adults in Western New York.
Can you touch on some strategies that you use in particular to assist charitable organizations?
Since 2013, I have dedicated hundreds of hours to promote various fundraising initiatives for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Western and Central New York Chapter (LLS). LLS is the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding research, finding cures and ensuring access to treatments for blood cancer patients.
I have served on the executive leadership committee for the local LLS Light the Night Walk since 2013 and the planning committee for the annual Diamond Ball since 2014. Our agency’s pro bono public relations support for these events during this time has resulted in hundreds of articles, interviews and other media coverage. A lot of the strategy for this event is done on a national level because the event is held in many major cities. I worked on the earned media and publicity for the Buffalo event.
We focused heavily on ambassadors—those who survived leukemia and lymphoma and family members of survivors of blood cancer—by featuring their stories of survival. This was a very successful strategy. There has been a lot of focus on families and companies that walk on behalf of their employees as well. To try to get executives from Buffalo-based companies to participate, we recently created an executive challenge to raise significant amounts of money. These promotional and publicity efforts have helped LLS raise millions of dollars. In general, nonprofits are struggling right now with walks, runs, and similar events, and not raising as much money as prior years. The Light the Night event is showing continued growth.
What advice do you have for PR professionals looking to use their experience to help local charities?
Nonprofit organizations can use all the help they can get from PR and communications professionals because they typically have limited resources. They welcome PR professionals who want to assist with event management, social media, and PR. Getting involved as a volunteer, a committee or board member within a nonprofit is also a great way to:
- Develop a strong relationship with a nonprofit you support;
- Help the nonprofit while also connecting with business leaders and their boards of directors; and
- Create good exposure for yourself.
Additionally, I have always felt nonprofit organizations provide recent graduates and entry-level practitioners with a good “foot-in-the-door” to an entry-level career in public relations.
June 9, 2016
FAST 5: Q&A with Corning Place Communications Managing Director and Executive Vice President, Paul W. Larrabee, APR: Five Things to Know About Integrating Strategic Communications and Advocacy CampaignsIn Public Affairs on
There has been significant debate in New York lately about the blurred lines that exist when the power of public relations and government affairs are combined to create an integrated strategic campaign. As a result media relations specialists, political consultants and multi-tool lobbyists are all playing on the same field and intensified the spotlight on the public relations pro.
We sat down this week with Paul Larrabee, APR, Corning Place Communications Managing Director and Executive Vice President, to learn more about integrating strategic communications and advocacy campaigns.
- What is public affairs?
In state capitals from Albany to Sacramento, legislative bodies pass budgets and laws that have serious consequences for groups ranging big banks and insurance companies to not-for-profits and trade associations, and everything in between. These organizations frequently require the benefits of a campaign to elevate profile and identity, usually through the media and ultimately that touches legislators who will be ask to vote yea; or nay. The method of influencing these audiences and how it relates to government action is public affairs.
- How is public affairs different from public relations?
Public affairs and public relations are close tactical cousins – in essence two branches of the same strategic tree. Both employ similar tactics like using earned media to advance a point of view, or employing social media to rally support for a cause and engage an audience.
However one of the biggest differences is the element of time and the limitations of space. If you’re trying to help a client get a bill passed (or defeated), and the legislature is due to adjourn you must act decisively to meet your objective. Additionally, you’re competing against the merits of thousands of other bills – and the attention of a few coveted journalists dedicated to reporting state government and politics.
- What does an integrated communications and advocacy campaign look like?
An integrated campaign involves aligning a communications strategy with the government affairs staff and the legislative calendar. Corning Place Communications employs a unique branded strategy which it has dubbed: Affirmative, Layered and Sustained messaging.
- What are the components of the Affirmative, Layered and Sustained approach?
It’s something that we came up with to help our clients more easily understand our achievement-oriented method. Affirmative means, say what you’re for; rather than what you’re against. Layered: say it across various platforms including traditional channels, such as print and broadcast outlets, as well as through the geometrically expanding social media community that relies on video content. And, sustained means committing to a message and campaign duration that will put you in a position to achieve your goals.
- How is public affairs changing?
One of the main ways public affairs and public relations are changing is through the continuing downsizing of newsrooms across the country. With fewer reporters, on tighter deadlines, tasked with retaining readers and viewers, there is a trend to publish the entertaining or outrageous, rather than the meaningful. Additionally, journalists are expected to write and file stories – and post social media teasers so quickly that the ability ask the additional question, or expand the complex thought can be is limited. These changes present significant challenges for the way public affairs firms execute campaigns and only agencies that learn to adapt will be able to continue to serve their clients in the future.
Paul has led Corning Place Communications since 2011 following a 22-year career in state government. During that time, Paul served three Governors, an Attorney General and the state Assembly leadership as a senior communications strategist and spokesman. His appointments included positions such as First Deputy Commissioner for the Office of General Services (OGS) and Deputy Press Secretary to the Governor. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the State University of New York at Albany.
Corning Place Communications is an award-winning full-service strategic communications and public affairs firm based in Albany, NY specializing in developing integrated strategies incorporating media relations, public affairs, strategic planning, social media management, crisis mitigation and organizational development to provide effective, achievement-oriented client services. CPC has been recognized by its peers in the Public Relations Society of America with the Empire Award for Communications Excellence in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
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 email@example.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.
May 27, 2016In Crisis on
When a crisis hits your organization, with whom do you communicate? How? When? Being proactive with your audiences, before an issue becomes public, will help build trust, create goodwill and, most importantly, articulate clear messages about the issue of the day. In the heat of a crisis, you can leverage and build upon that goodwill by directly communicating with your stakeholders, rather than waiting for them to hear about whatever it is through other external channels.
It can be challenging to manage all the moving parts. Communications materials need to be developed and countless planning and strategy meetings are taking place. It’s critical not to overlook the importance of communicating directly with the organization’s key internal and external audiences. Direct communications allow for a measure of control—over both content and timing—and can provide a truly authentic avenue for accurate information.
Every organization has ambassadors—those that are on the front lines in terms of receiving and conveying messages, whether officially or informally. They need to be armed with the right messages and appropriate level of details. Depending on the organization, ambassadors can be employees, students, board members, customers, investors, business partners, parents, alumni and donors. They need to be considered, prioritized and communicated with, and not necessarily at the same time or through the same channels. Being proactive could bolster their support in weathering the situation at hand. They could be references for the media and advocates on social media, helping to tamp down any criticisms.
Control the Message
An organization can and should control the message to its key stakeholders and audiences, rather than have the media tell the story for them. If, for example, an employee learns about a crisis online or through the media for the first time, it’s most likely that employees will feel blindsided and have questions and a certain level of frustration around a lack of communications from the organization. Transparency and openness in communications have become the expectation, and silence from the corner office is counterproductive to those tenets.
Messages should be simple, relevant to the specific audiences and easy to remember, especially as they will undoubtedly be shared more broadly, through conversations and social media, after they’ve been distributed to stakeholders.
There are so many avenues for communicating, and it can be tough to determine which to take. A multi-pronged approach is usually the most appropriate. For instance, email may be the quickest, most effective channel, but there may be stakeholders who are not easily reached that way and might require a mailed letter. There might also be an existing newsletter, blog post or regular meeting to leverage—so that the message comes within an anticipated and “normal” vehicle. Town hall-type meetings, robo-calls, video messages, website updates and social media posts are additional options to consider depending on the severity of the situation and the organization’s structure and culture. Some stakeholders are important enough that they should receive individual phone calls alerting them to the situation.
The ultimate goals for crisis communications are protecting an organization’s reputation and managing risk. By proactively communicating with key audiences in real time, organizations can effectively reach these goals and further advance relationships with all constituents.
In addition to designing and implementing innovative PR programs for clients, The Castle Group, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, has extensive experience leading high-profile, high-stakes crises around litigation, sexual assault and misconduct/Title IX, workplace violence, data breaches, discrimination claims, financial and regulatory issues, leadership transitions and other issues that create daily PR challenges. Our crisis, PR and events management expertise is deep on both the consumer and B2B channels and our clients are local, national and international.
We can discuss your crisis communications and planning needs. Sandy Lish, principal and founder, firstname.lastname@example.org. The Castle Group is a proud sponsor of PRXNE. Castle leverages its Boston connections and global reach to create communications strategies that deliver business results, with an emphasis on PR, events management, crisis communications and digital. www.thecastlegrp.com.
May 24, 2016
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.