Blogging in the Public Interest

May 9, 2011 by

by Christopher Budd

Are you interested in blogging and other social media? Do you like wine and cheese? Are you looking for a chance to meet and greet your Puget Sound PR colleagues?

If you said yes to any or all of these, then you should come join us on Wednesday May 25, 2011 5:30-7:30 p.m. for this month’s event sponsored by the PRSA Puget Sound Programs Committee: Blogging in the Public Interest – A wine and cheese social.

This month’s event will be hosted at Weber Shandwick’s offices in downtown Seattle at 818 Stewart St..

In addition to wine, nibbles and networking, we’ll be featuring three panelists who will be talking about their experiences in blogging and social media: Wade Rockett, digital strategist with Weber Shandwick; Matt Rosenberg, executive director of Public Eye Northwest and Katie McCarthy, senior Media Relations consultant for Group Health Cooperative.

Wade has been blogging for about ten years on a variety of topics. Some of his current blogging work includes his blog at Rockett Science Labs and Weber Shandwick’s Social Studies Blog. He’s on the US Army Social Computing team which supports the Army Strong Stories blog and develops content for the Windows Embedded News Center.

Matt is a former Seattle Times columnist and think tank senior fellow and executive director of Public Eye Northwest which “fosters lifelong digital civic literacy, voluntary government transparency and constructive engagement”. He blogs on issues advocacy and public policy in the Seattle area at Public Data Ferret which “digs up the public’s business like nobody’s business”. He also has recently posted “Transparency Is A Two-Way Street” at the Sunlight Foundation’s blog.

Katie crossed over from being a reporter to work in health care PR/marketing for more than ten years. Shes the Senior Medial Relations Consultant and Social Media lead at Group Health where she utilizes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blogs to connect with patients/members and find/share stories about how they’ve become more engaged in their health. She also shares her knowledge of social media and marketing as a member of the Girls on the Run Puget Sound Board. She’s created more visual story telling through video and enhanced their brand recognition to a point where they now have waiting lists for schools wanting to bring the program into their schools.

All three panelists bring a broad point of view on how blogging can be a powerful tool for PR professionals.

The cost is $15 members and students; $22 nonmembers if you register by 5 p.m., May 23, online or by phone (206-623-8632). Registration will be an additional $5 at the door.

You can keep up to date on all PRSA Puget Sound activities by subscribing to the monthly Newsflash, by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or joining our LinkedIn group.

Member survey results – APR issue

October 14, 2010 by

Thanks to everyone who responded to the member survey on the proposed changes in the APR requirement for membership on the PRSA national board. This information was very helpful for the chapter board and assembly delegates as we discussed the issue. Here’s the quick overview.

Of the 80 respondents, there was a good range of experience in the profession and length of membership in PRSA, with perhaps more response from those who have been in the field for quite a long time.

Length of time working in the field of public relations:
0-5 years: 11%
6-10 years: 22%
11-15 years: 11%
16-25 years: 30%
26 years plus: 25%

The response was also split between those who hold the APR credential (44%) and those who don’t (55%).

The key question: should the APR credential be required for a leadership position at the national board level? The answer was yes for 62% of members while 38% said no.

I checked to see if the answers were very different between those who hold the APR and those who don’t. APRs were much more supportive – 77% said yes. But those who don’t have the credential were pretty closely split: 49% said yes and 51% said no.

There was not so much support for requiring the APR credential for leadership positions at the chapter level. There, only 32% said yes to the idea that board members of the local chapter should hold or obtain the APR credential during the term of a board position and 68% said no. Only a few more felt that officers of the local chapter should hold the APR – 37%, with 63% saying no.

Still Thinking about APR and Leadership

August 19, 2010 by

by Rich Murphy, PhD, APR
Puget Sound Chapter Vice-President for Education and Accreditation

It is not surprising that I am still thinking about the importance of APR accreditation among the elected national leaders of PRSA.

As accreditation chair of the Puget Sound chapter this year, my job is to encourage all our colleagues to earn their APR. At chapter programs, in our monthly newsletter, Newsflash, in public information sessions, and one-on-one, I am repeatedly urging local practitioners to seek the industry’s distinguishing credential of professional expertise. For all the reasons PRSA gives for offering accreditation in the first place. Because the profession values it. Because it is a mark of the skill, knowledge, and experience clients value, and deserve. Because it enriches the practice of the PR professional.

I am thinking about the issue, too, because I recently earned my own APR, and did so at the behest of excellent local PR leaders. They recommended it highly to me. Said it was among the very best things they have done in their career, for themselves, and for their clients.

APR and leadership are on my mind again this morning as I post a website announcement of the upcoming APR preparation course for local members: . As a chapter, we are working hard to advance the profession of public relations in the Puget Sound region. The APR program is one of the most important ways we do that work.

So I am glad that PRSA as a national organization continues to validate its professional credential by requiring elected national officers and board members to hold the APR. It is right to do so.

All the arguments I have heard against such a requirement—and I have been thinking about them a lot—are specious.

Requiring the APR is not elitist, but sensible. If the leaders of the organization do not  have the credential they are encouraging all their colleagues to earn, then accreditation is devalued for us all. It is also not un-democratic to require the top elected officers in the organization to have the industry’s only credential of professional expertise. PRSA’s democratic processes are securely in place. It has many mechanisms for hearing and responding to—i.e., “representing”—the diverse voices of its members in policy-making and governance. Further, though APR does not measure executive or organization management skills, it is not irrelevant to elected office. What we need to do is elect leaders with both professional expertise and policy/governance talent.

The most egregious of the hollow arguments against APR as an eligibility requirement for national PRSA office concerns leadership. It is simply untrue that APR has nothing to do with leadership. An organization dedicated to advancing the profession and the professional needs leaders who are committed to accreditation, and to strengthening it both for members and for clients. Anything less would not be leadership. Anything less would be foolish.

Tuesday this week, PRSA’s Nominations Committee released the list of nominees for 2011 Officer and Board positions. All are APR members, as required by the by-laws.

This is as it should be. And as I hope it will continue to be. PRSA should continue to require its elected leaders to have earned their APR. And I will continue to do my job as accreditation chair with the confidence that the industry and my profession still believe it matters.

APR: Accepted Credential or Detriment to PRSA?

July 21, 2010 by

Bob Frause, APR, Fellow PRSA

Member, PRSA National Board of Directors

APR is a bona fide professional credential, one that all PRSA members should strive for and be proud of achieving.  As currently developed, however, it only recognizes those who achieved basic public relations proficiency skills. It does nothing to recognize advanced PR skills and technical competence.  That’s where certification might play a role, but we’re not there yet.  And, even with the current APR maintenance and skills enhancement requirements, the credential fails to recognize the breath and depth of the entire communication landscape in which a majority of us work every day.

That said, I also believe that APR qualification has little to do with governance, leadership or sitting as a national board member of a multi-million dollar professional association, namely PRSA.

No portion of the APR exam prepares one for leadership; be it at the chapter level or anywhere along the spectrum to the national board and officer’s suite.  Some say that national board members and officers should fly the APR flag as a sign of leadership.  However, far more important than professional credentials, are real world board experience and an understanding of non-profit financial and business management.  Those with basic leadership principles, consensus building skills and a well-grounded representative point of view are the kind of PRSA leaders I am looking for.

National board members and officers should be dedicated to running an organization responsibly on behalf of all members.  That does not necessarily equate with showing how proficient they are in practicing the profession.  Many APR’s don’t fit this criteria; many non-APR’s do.  I believe mandating APR for national board service does not allow for the holistic representation of the diverse needs and values of the more than 18,000 PRSA members and leaders who do not have that status.  Why limit our Society’s leadership potential?

I am in favor of last year’s bylaws amendment regarding the APR requirement for national board and officer service.  It reads:

(a)     To be eligible as a director, the individual must be a member of the Society in good standing and have at least one of the following qualifications: (1) an APR; (2) held a leadership role within the Society, including, but not limited to, served as a member of a Chapter, District, or Section board of directors, chaired a national or local committee or task force, or served as an Assembly delegate; (3) served as a public relations or communications professional for 20 or more years, with increasing levels of responsibility.

Unfortunately this year’s recommended bylaws amendment has removed reference to APR in qualification #1.  I believe having an APR can be one of the requisites to national board service, but it shouldn’t be mandatory or the only track.

We have many great leaders among our 22,000-member ranks. Let’s not limit the leadership pool to the 4,000 or so APRs in the club.  That, I believe, is shortsighted and does not serve the future of the Society or its members responsibly.

I urge you to ask proponents of this bylaws amendment — Art Stevens, APR, Fellow PRSA,; Richard Edelman; William Doescher, APR, Fellow PRSA,; Deborah Radman, APR Fellow PRSA,; Sandra Fathi,; David Rickey, APR,; and Rene Henry, APR, Fellow PRSA, to add APR back into the mix so it reads like the bylaws amendment proposed last year.  And then, support their effort.  Thanks.  BOB

The views expressed in this blog are the personal views of Bob Frause, APR, Fellow PRSA and in no way represent the views of the PRSA Board of Directors or any member or officer of the National PRSA Board of Directors. Nor do they represent the views of the organizations and committees that Bob participates in including the PRSA College of Fellows, the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards or the PRSA Counselor’s Academy.

APR and National Leadership Policy at PRSA

July 9, 2010 by

by Rich Murphy, PhD, APR
Puget Sound Chapter Vice-President for Education and Accreditation

A serious question of institutional policy is being put before PRSA. I am writing to invite you to share your opinions about it here.

The issue is this. As one of its long-established policies governing association elections, PRSA requires candidates for national office and national board service to have earned APR accreditation. Some members believe that this requirement should be abolished.

In a public statement issued on May 10, 2010, the Committee for a Democratic PRSA claims that such a limitation does not serve democracy in PRSA and deprives “many worthy members . . . of the opportunity to support the organization.” The committee has also posted on line a petition seeking member signatures to end the accreditation requirement.

This challenge to settled eligibility criteria raises a question of real substance for the organization: that is, whether it believes in its own standard of professional competence and quality.

APR is the official certification of professional excellence in public relations. Since 1964, when it was established, it has remained the single post-graduate credential of specialized expertise available in the profession. PRSA invests considerable resources in encouraging its members to earn accreditation, and it takes every opportunity to communicate to the public the value of this mark of professional distinction. One way it does so is by requiring its national office holders to be accredited.

My view is that it is correct to do so.

I am writing here as an individual member of PRSA, and my view does not necessarily represent the position of the board of the Puget Sound Chapter. But the logic of institutional credibility and integrity seems to me to be inescapable.

If an organization professes to value its single credential of expertise—and expects its members and the public to value it as well—it ought to require its elected leaders to have earned that credential.

2010 Professional Development Seminar

June 30, 2010 by

Peter Shankman’s four rules – not just for social media

By Kathryn Reith, APR

Despite the draw – or distraction? – of the USA/Algeria World Cup soccer match, the recent PRSA professional development seminar on social media dispersed a rapid flow of ideas, experiences and even the latest in tech toys. If you could not be there, here are my personal takeaways from the four rules proffered by keynote speaker Peter Shankman. While aimed at social media, they apply to any public relations program.

Rule 1: Transparency. Honesty and transparency shuts down your critics and builds trust with your customers. With social media and cell phone cameras, whatever you want to hide will be uncovered. If you lose trust, you lose customers.

Rule 2: Relevance. With so many sources of information and entertainment, audiences are fragmented. You must be relevant to your audience or they will disappear, going to one of the many other sources they can choose. Your audience in social media is a gift: it is up to you to say interesting or relevant things to keep them.

Rule 3: Brevity. Shankman cited research showing the average attention span is now 2.7 seconds – or the equivalent of a text message. (Side note: it’s also the length of a tweet. Shankman cautioned us to embrace the concept of mobile messaging, not committing to a specific brand or forum.) Good writing is brevity. Learn to write!

Rule 4: Top of mind presence. If they have heard from you recently, you are more likely to be top of mind. People act on recommendations or even simple awareness of a product/person/business from networks of friends, whether it is a personal purchase or a professional opportunity. Shankman believes we are moving to one personal/professional network. If anyone has made a business out of a personal/professional network, it’s Peter Shankman. The new tech toy comes in here: the poken – carry one with you to sync your business card information and your Facebook/Twitter/Linked In accounts with anyone you meet who also has a poken.

Welcome to PRSA Puget Sound!

May 19, 2010 by

Welcome to the new PRSA Puget Sound Web site! Take a look around for news about valuable programs, professional development seminars and networking opportunities with other public relations professionals throughout the region. Our local chapter is one of the largest, most active and diverse in the country. We’re also strongly represented with accredited members who’ve earned their APR as a distinction of their knowledge and expertise in the field.

People often ask me, what’s your job about? What is it that PR people do exactly? If you take the time to get to know our membership you’ll find we have our hands and heads in lots of places. We’re helping launch new technologies – from the latest PDA to groundbreaking cancer treatments to underwater tidal energy turbines. We’re working alongside elected officials to share public policy proposals. We’re sharing information to improve transportation systems, education, public safety, economic development, human services and the environment. We’re building airplanes, designing gaming software, expanding e-commerce. We’re celebrating our region’s vibrant arts scene, whether it’s the ballet’s new production, a Fremont gallery walk, local theater or the next big Seattle band to make its mark. As communicators, we’re in the thick of it.

We help set the agenda. We help break the news – both the good and the bad – in an attempt to educate, enlighten and provide context. We’re in the business of sharing stories to bring greater understanding about our often complicated and frenetic world.

If you’re stopping by our site, take the next step and stop by one of our upcoming programs. If you’re already a member, I encourage you to engage as much as you can in the chapter – by attending our programs and events, serving in one of our committees, mentoring a student, earning your APR or simply by networking with other PR practitioners.

We hope to see you soon!

Neil Neroutsos, APR
Chapter President
PRSA Puget Sound