The Evolving PR & Marketing Partnership

Learn how PR can improve its position through tech adoption, data analysis and ROI measurement—all by working in unison with marketing teams.

Created in partnership with PRWeek, The Evolving PR and Marketing Partnership: Benefits of Self-Reflection challenged PR pros in the U.S. and Europe to compare themselves to their marketing counterparts by taking an honest look in the mirror.

In this e-book, you’ll learn: 

  • Where the PR/marketing partnership stands now
  • What PR can learn and adopt from marketing
  • Which metrics matter, including those with which PR has long struggled


The Stevens Group and TPC Growth Announce Strategic Partnership to Help Maximize Acquisition Earn Outs for Acquired PR Agencies

Acquisition Earn Outs Depend on Multiple of Revenues and EBITDA. New Partnership Intended to Help Sellers Grow Each

CommPRO Editorial Staff

The Stevens Group, a leading facilitator of mergers and acquisitions in the public relations, digital and influencer marketing, social media and experiential marketing agency categories, today announces a strategic partnership with TPC Growth to offer CEOs of agencies in these categories who have sold their firms with consulting services designed to maximize earn-out potential post-acquisition.

The goal of this joint venture is to benefit acquired agencies by helping to assure continued growth, both internal and external, to maximize the seller agency’s traditional earn out potential.

TPC Growth collaborates with agencies in the categories listed above to identify pathways to organic growth at the account and enterprise levels, increasing revenue and profitability, providing agency-business planning and positioning, plus strategic new business development to drive revenue and maximize earn out potential.

 “With the TPC Growth offering,” Art Stevens, Managing Partner, The Stevens Group said, “we believe TSG can jointly offer a service that not only assures the selection of the most compatible acquirers under the most favorable financial terms, but also help acquired agencies significantly increase their business and EBITDA during the three, four or five-year earn-out that follows.”

Too Good to Fail: How Nonprofits Can Survive These Times

Linda Descano, CFA®, Executive Vice President, Red Havas

“Stay the course.” Growing up, that’s what we were told to do when times got tough. But the COVID-19 pandemic rewrote the rules overnight, making “staying the course” during a crisis a decidedly poor choice, especially for nonprofits. 

With the potential for an extended period of “never normal” (as opposed to the “new normal” we’ve been hearing so much about), nonprofit executives face existential challenges. Fundraising events have been canceled, income streams terminated or deferred, and volunteers unable to serve in person. It’s natural for nonprofits to feel anxious about their organizations and uncertain about how to communicate with stakeholders. When the Charities Aid Foundation of America surveyed 544 global nonprofit organizations to learn how the pandemic is affecting them, almost all (94.4 percent) said they were negatively impacted. And now that the coronavirus pandemic has been so closely followed by an urgent global call to end systemic racism and social injustice, there’s concern, too, that there’s little room for competing causes right now. 

In truth, the coronavirus and the murder of George Floyd have also reminded us of the importance of helping others. The world’s needs are greater than ever, and the nonprofit sector simply cannot be allowed to fail. The stakes are too high for both nonprofits themselves and for the millions of citizens around the world who rely on their services. In the U.S., community-based charitable organizations deliver more than $200 billion in services each year, touching more than one in five Americans

My colleagues and I at Red Havas recently explored these themes in our white paper, Too Good to Fail: How Nonprofits Can Meet the Communications Challenges of a Pandemic-Altered World. Through conversations with nonprofits, among other research, we developed four key takeaways for nonprofits to inform post-COVID communications plans, strategy and planning in 2020 and beyond:

  • Throw away the blueprint. For nonprofits, 2020 has been the ultimate test of creativity and adaptability. With no playbook to follow, they have been called upon to lead by instinct as much as experience and to remember that constraints can breed innovation. And innovate they must, as they plan for a “never normal” in this fluid situation. This doesn’t mean abandoning strategy and long-term goals, but revisiting them to ensure that all messaging mirrors the current state of affairs and that nimbleness is built into any plan so that it’s easier to pivot and course-correct as the situation evolves. 
  • Plan both long-term and short-term: Nonprofits frequently operate in a reactive mode, with the energy and resources to do little more than put out fires. As a result, many were caught completely off-guard by the coronavirus pandemic. But this will not be the last crisis we face as a society. Nonprofits must do a better job of proactively preparing for all types of future emergencies. The key is to plan in sprints versus marathons. Ask “what if” along the way, and adapt the timing of the sprint based on how quickly the situation is evolving. For example, in the early days of the pandemic, things were changing daily to weekly; today, the pace has slowed marginally, but enough so that it’s sufficient to plan four to eight weeks at a time. But don’t plan in a vacuum. Evaluate the changing attitudes, behaviors and expectations of stakeholders like board members, donors, partners, beneficiaries, media and other watchdogs to guide decisions about how, when, where and what to communicate.
  • In the absence of events, don’t underestimate the power of content creation. Many nonprofits depend on events, large and small, as their content creation engines. With events deferred or cancelled outright, they struggle to drive interactions and engagement with their audiences. The same is true even for those who did have robust content libraries in place—that content likely doesn’t strike a chord in light of what’s happening now. However, going “silent” isn’t an option—especially with more people online than ever before in an effort to stay on top of news and to find help for themselves or others. This is the time to be creative across all available channels and to lean on thought leadership to contextualize existing messages in a way that highlights how the organization’s mission fits into the current environment.
  • Expect a “phyrtual” future.  The global pandemic has made people’s “virtual” lives indistinguishable from their “real” lives, making it imperative for nonprofits to consider ways to blend the two. As virtual becomes more normal than not, a digital experience will have to be part of nonprofits’ planning mix. Create hybrids, not just for remote work but for remote service delivery, incorporating a mix of experiences and engagement models. Think virtual VIP events, Instagram Live fundraisers, online auctions and more. 

Nonprofits that do not act with speed to innovate, execute and deliver what people need today risk collapse. Those left standing will use the new ideas and resources that come out of these crises to permanently improve their ways of working and communicating. Moreover, this is a chance for them to show donors, volunteers and communities served who they really are—how they’re taking care of people, changing their mission to align with the realities and constraints we now face, protecting employees and building support in new ways.

About the Author: Linda joined Red Havas in 2015 to spearhead the agency’s digital, social and measurement practice areas. With more than 15 years of experience, she specializes in providing strategic counsel and tactical implementation of integrated communications programs, incorporating PR, media relations, social media, content partnerships, influencer marketing, thought leadership and advertising. Her work includes a variety of sectors including financial services, economic development, pharma and corporate responsibility. Previously, Linda was managing director and global head of content marketing and social media at Citi, where she launched numerous digital firsts and served as president and CEO of Women & Co., the bank’s award-winning financial lifestyle community for women.

Her honors include PR News’ 2018 PR Professional of the Year, 2018 Campaign U.S. Digital 40 Over 40, 2014 Fox Information Technology Distinguished Alumni Award from the Fox School of Business at Temple University, 2014 Pinnacle in Leadership Award from the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, and 2013 Changing the Game Award from Advertising Women of New York (now known as She Runs It).  Linda also served as a judge for The Content Council Pearl Awards in 2018 and 2017. Linda serves as a capstone mentor and advisory council member for the Fox School of Business M.S. in Digital Innovation in Marketing program. She currently serves on the board of directors of New York Women in Communications (and is a past president) and Servo Annex, a digital consultancy.

Corporations Must Look to Adopt a New Paradigm


Bill Ide, III, Partner, Corporate Governance, Akerman

Richard Levick, Esq., Chairman & CEO, LEVICK

Late one night during the financial crisis of 2008–2009, when working around the clock was the order of the day in the AIG war room, a team member left the building to grab takeout for dinner. Having forgotten to remove his AIG badge, he was punched by an irate passerby, a man incensed by the unfairness of it all. That financial gulf has only gotten bigger and more lethal in the past decade.

From that day on the two of us, as longtime corporate counselors, wondered, “Did the financial crisis last long enough to teach corporations its critical lessons?” Companies no longer serve just customers and shareholders, but a much broader audience that is as much impacted by the doings of large companies as those that they serve directly. When they sneeze, we all get colds.

A forthcoming article by Harvard Law Professors Lucian Bebchuk and Roberto Tallarita, both experts in corporate governance, spotlights how this country’s contentious debate over social justice and inclusion has cascaded into C-suites and boardrooms. Their essay explores whether publicly held companies should continue basing decisions on the interests of shareholders, or whether there’s been a paradigm shift, meaning that corporate executives should take into greater account the views and aspirations of such stakeholders as customers, employees, and community leaders.

As we can attest, the shareholder vs. stakeholder dynamic is not new and long predates the AIG and Wall Street experience. What is new is the urgency of the debate and an abiding belief in many quarters that now — more than ever — corporations must practice what we call “mercantile activism” to address societal ills and enhance their brand while they do it. If all companies are doing is maximizing profits for this quarter, what are the liabilities they are creating for the next? Even if the perfect storm of the pandemic and its financial devastation could not have been precisely predicted, down markets and their associated unrest could be. Historically, when the federal government becomes inactive in addressing societal problems, Wall Street steps into the void — at least to a degree. J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie and even John D. Rockefeller eventually understood that.

After breaking down the arguments and volunteering some positive perceptions of shareholder capitalism, Professors Bebchuk and Tallarita conclude that the conventional model — shaping corporate actions around the (generally) short-term pecuniary desires of shareholders — is still the smartest path for publicly traded companies to pursue.

While they concede that a substantial number of corporate leaders support “stakeholderism” because it enables them to insulate themselves from short termist hedge fund activists and investors, they argue that stakeholderism “would impose substantial costs on stakeholders and society, as well as on shareholders.” Based on their analysis they counsel, “If stakeholder interests are to be taken seriously, stakeholderism should be rejected.” As if maximizing profits now doesn’t create liabilities later. Sometimes not much later at all.

We’d like to register a partial dissent. In our view, shareholders are stakeholders. To be sure, they’re at the top of the list, but their desires should not subsume those of other stakeholders. It’s difficult for many shareholders to see beyond the next quarter and the next stock dividend, which too often hamstrings corporations from recognizing longer-term or strategic imperatives.

Between us, we have advised hundreds of companies over the years, protecting their brand reputation through good times and bad, through tough crises and recoveries. We can distinguish between a “moment” and a “movement.” And we believe that what is happening in America today is a genuine paradigm shift, a movement toward transparency, accountability and inclusion that is not likely to abate until real change occurs. If companies do not substantially invest in diversity, equity and inclusion or sustainability today, will they soon be written off as not relevant going forward?

The world is changing — and we maintain that corporate America must adapt or be left behind.

In our estimation, the shareholder primacy paradigm for corporate governance should be redefined to include other constituencies, not only customers, shareholders and employees, but at least include a critical look at the holes in society and anticipate where investments in constituencies are sound and advisable. Companies don’t need to serve all of society, replacing the declining federal government, but they do need to at least look forward and do the math. Several states have had so-called “other constituencies” statutes on the books for many years, but Delaware (the home of most publicly traded corporations) does not, a reality that needs to change.

Not long ago, both Delaware and California enacted laws allowing for the incorporation of businesses with explicit social or public benefit purposes — an encouraging development that we hope gets emulated elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the Business Law Section of the California Lawyers Association has approved formation of a working group to study stakeholder capitalism. Bebchuk and Tallarita’s article should be required reading, but more compelling to us is the work of the Business Roundtable (BRT) in recent years listening to institutional investors and other thought leaders calling for stakeholder capitalism which the BRT then endorsed.

About the Authors:

Bill Ide, III

A veteran corporate strategist and trusted advisor to public and private companies, nonprofits, and public sector agencies, clients turn to William “Bill” Ide for counsel on crisis response, corporate stewardship, reputation and risk management strategy and corporate governance.

With an extensive history of representing boards and senior leadership in crisis and risk situations, Bill’s practice focuses on providing independent counsel to clients by investigating facts, providing critical legal guidance and, when appropriate, objective remediation recommendations. A leader in the business and legal communities, Bill previously served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Monsanto Company, counsel to the United States Olympic Committee and president of the American Bar Association. 

Within the business community, he serves on the boards of MetaJure and Rimidi Diabetes and previously served as a member of the Board of Directors of Albemarle Corporation (NYSE, ALB) where he chaired the Governance Committee and served on the Audit and Compensation Committees. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. (NASDAQ: PLKI), where he chaired the Executive and Governance Committees, while also serving on the Audit Committee.

Committed to thought leadership and education,  Bill is co-chair of the Advisory Board to the Conference Board’s Governance Center and Program Chair for the Conference Board Chief Legal Officers Council. Bill was a senior fellow and co-founder of Emory University’s Directors Institute. He currently serves on the Audit and Governance Committees of the Clark Atlanta University Board of Trustees and is General Counsel and Secretary of the EastWest Institute, where he also is chair of the Executive Committee.


Richard S. Levick

Richard Levick, Esq. is Chairman & CEO of LEVICK, representing countries and companies in the highest-stakes global communications matters – the Venezuelan crisis; Qatar; the Chinese trade war; the Gulf oil spill; Guantanamo Bay, the Catholic Church and many others. 

Mr. Levick was honored multiple times on the prestigious list of “The 100 Most Influential People in the Boardroom” and has been named to multiple professional Halls of Fame for lifetime achievement. 

He is the co-author of four books and is a regular commentator on television and in print. Mr. Levick speaks all over the world; at West Point, The Army War College and teaches at Fordham Law School.

PR Masters Series Podcast, Episode #32 – Dick Martin, Author, “Marilyn: A Woman In Charge”


The Stevens Group has been presenting the PR Masters Series Podcast for almost two years now.  This series is part of the ongoing partnership between The Stevens Group and CommPRO to bring to PR,digital/interactive and marketing communications agencies the wisdom of those who have reached the top of the PR profession.  Today’s special guest is Dick Martin, Author, “Marilyn: A Woman In Charge.”



About Our Guest

Dick Martin writes about public relations, marketing, and ethics. He has authored four books for the American Management Association and articles for such publications as the Harvard Business Review, Chief Executive, and the Journal of Business Strategy. Capping a 33-year career with AT&T, from 1997 to 2003, he was Chairman of the AT&T Foundation and executive vice president responsible for the company’s public relations, employee communications and brand management worldwide. The Holmes Report called his first book, Tough Calls, one of the 5 best PR books published in the first decade of the 21st century and “by far the best book about the realities of working in corporate communications for a large American corporation.”

He is a frequent speaker to business groups and has conducted ethics workshops for the Institute of Public Relations, the Arthur Page Society, Rutgers University, and other organizations. He co-authored Public Relations Ethics: How To Practice PR Without Losing Your Soul, with Donald K. Wright, chair of the public relations department of Boston University’s College of Communications.

Most recently he wrote a biography of Marilyn Laurie, his predecessor at AT&T and the first woman to become a policy-making officer at a Fortune 10 company. Marilyn: A Woman In Charge will be published by the PR Museum Press on September 8, 2020. Martin  was one of the first recipients of the Arthur W. Page Center’s Award for Integrity in Public Communication.





Are PR Agency Valuations Worth the Time and Money?

Art Stevens, Managing Partner, The Stevens Group

Let’s say you’re in the market for a new home. What do you do? You hire a broker to determine the current marketplace.

You give the broker information such as where you’d like to live, what type of house you want, what amenities need to be within driving distance and what price range you can afford. The broker goes through his database and identifies a house that meets your criteria. The house is listed for $300,000. That’s the value that the seller and his broker put on the house.

When you see the house, you’re excited. It’s exactly what you want. But you don’t think it’s worth $300,000. So you offer $250,000. The two brokers negotiate to see if there’s some middle ground, and when a phone call comes saying that the seller will accept $275,000, you’re elated. You have your dream house.

The same premise applies to selling a PR firm. However, our profession has a process used to help determine the appropriate value of a PR agency. It’s called “valuation.”

A process that CPAs usually carry out, valuation examines a long list of tangibles, as well as intangibles. It includes a detailed analysis of past and present financials, profitability and client stability. It also evaluates the caliber of key employees, as well as that magic ingredient known as goodwill.

Let’s say the founder of a $3 million consumer product firm finds out that his firm is worth $3.5 million through a formal process; that’s what he should get for the firm if he sells it. The PR agency owner will receive a bill from the CPA for a fee of $7,000 to $12,000 for conducting the valuation.

Are PR Agency Valuations Worth the Time and Money?So just how “valuable” is this written valuation? This same PR agency owner decides to put his firm on the market. He deliberates whether he should sell to his own employees or to an outside organization, so he decides to test the waters.

He goes to three of his key employees and tells them that his agency has been valued at $3.5 million, and that he’d like to continue the legacy of the firm by selling it to them.

They are flattered, but after talking about it among themselves, they realize that they don’t have the means to shell out that kind of money. So they offer the owner $2 million to be paid over 20 years.

The agency owner politely declines their counteroffer. After all, he’s got the official valuation document in his pocket.

Then, he turns to the marketplace. He meets several potential buyers and displays the valuation document. He determines that there shouldn’t be much in the way of negotiations because the value of his firm has been cast in stone.

One buyer offers him $2.8 million to be paid over three years.

“But you don’t understand,” the seller says to the prospective buyer. “I have a valuation and according to it, this firm is worth $3.5 million.”

The buyer responds, “No, you don’t understand. I’ve done my own evaluation of your firm, and my advisers and I don’t think it is worth anywhere near $3.5 million. We believe it’s worth $2.8 million.”

The seller declines the offer and has a conversation with another buyer who says, “I believe your firm is worth $4 million and I’m ready to do this deal.” Does the seller then say, “No, you don’t understand. This firm is valued at $3.5 million, and I simply can’t accept your offer of $4 million”?

No! The seller will simply toss the valuation into the dustbin of the restaurant where he’s celebrating the sale of his firm and forget all about.

A cost-effective valuation

My premise is simple. Don’t bother with a valuation. It’s not worth the expense. Just use the rule of thumb of how PR agency acquisitions are usually done. It’s a lot cheaper. In fact, it doesn’t cost anything at all.

If your agency has a net fee income of $3 million and a 15-to-20 percent profit after the owner pulls out all the perks, then the agency is worth about one times that net fee income — or $3 million. Or, it’s worth five times your EBITDA; the prevailing totals are usually the same.

The only “valuation” you need to have is common sense. If your agency does around  $3 million, then the base value will be around $3 million. If it has demonstrated rapid growth, and you are certain that the agency will double its size in three years, then the earn-out will take into account this rapid growth, and you will do considerably better than $3 million.

If your agency is stumbling at around $3 million, having made in excess of $4 million a year in net fee income the previous two years, then it may be valued at less than $3 million. But if the anticipated synergies take place between the seller and the buyer during the next few years and result in the seller experiencing a massive turnaround in net fee income and profits, then the seller could pocket more than $3 million after all.

You don’t need an expensive crystal ball, tealeaf reader or valuation to give you this information. It’s already there for you.

And I’ll put it to you another way. I’ve been doing mergers and acquisitions for 11 years now, and I’ve never had a buyer ask to see a valuation. The buyer will always use his own criteria to make a judgment as to what a PR agency is worth to him.

And if a seller shakes hands with a buyer to move a deal forward, then the marketplace will have done the valuation for you.

The Law of Purposeful PR

Where’s the Beef or Plant-Based Meat Substitute?



Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group

To be successful in PR, messages need to be deliciously to the point, satisfyingly substantive and most of all, PURPOSEFUL!  

I tell this to my staff all the time at TransMedia Group.   

Most get the point that without proselytizing, cloaking intent, trying to razzle dazzle or sugar coat, PR messages must be imbued with clear and obvious purpose.  Intent! 

Send opaque, poorly crafted, non-newsworthy or self-centered messages to media and you’ll come off like a proud preacher without goals or conviction . . . a soused singer performing wearing a facemask . . . a clumsy marionettist who’s all thumbs.

Motives need to be boldly transparent.  Open.  What do you want the recipient of your message to do?  Buy something?  Go somewhere?  See something?  Say it!  

Want to make someone feel good about a happening?   Tell them precisely why they should feel that way.  Why they should support a candidate, approve a platform, donate to a charity, embrace an ideology?   

And don’t take your time.  Do it right off.  Don’t beat around that proverbial bush.  News releases, media pitches, emails, tweets, posts, almost all forms of PR communications must be PURPOSEFUL right out of the gate.    

That purpose needs to pop, be stated clearly right off the bat.  Recipients of your message should see your purpose right away.    

What do you want them to do?   Buy something?   Invest?  Know more about an event?  Feel good about what’s just happened?

Time is precious.  Your purpose needs to leap out from the very beginning as the recipients of your message want to know what your espousing, selling, explaining, exhorting, clarifying.   And their time and tolerance is short.

Tell them right in the headline or first couple sentences.

Who has time to figure out what you’re driving at?   Or wait for a train load of words.

Certainly not reporters who receive tons of messages from PR people trying to be clever, witty, likeable.  

But’s where the beef?   In this case, where’s the meat, the substance or essence of your message?  Or these days, where’s the plant-based meat substitute?   

Don’t lead with a soft bun.  Lead with hard protein facts. 

That first bite of your message better be objective clear.  Sure, tasty helps.  No one wants to dip into something when the first bite is sour, silly, or abstruse.  

So, it better be beefily obvious . . . deliciously to the point!   A bullseye!



The National Press Club presents “Candid Conversations: Addressing Racism as Communicators”

Free On-Demand Video

The National Press Club’s Communicator Team held a Candid Conversation via Zoom on Aug. 4 on how communications professionals are helping organizations navigate conversations about race and racism.

Three experienced practitioners shared best practices as well as personal experiences. While this event was for National Press Club members, we felt the topic and the conversation was too important not to share out beyond the immediate audience.

Please listen in — here’s a link to the event:

ALSO: We encourage everyone to check out the National Press Club at for breaking news events that are open to the public.


  • Crystal Borde, Vice President and Diversity & Inclusion Practice Lead at Vanguard Communications who applies a diversity, equity and inclusion lens to her PR counsel for nonprofit and government agencies;
  • Priscilla Clarke, President & CEO of Clarke & Associates, who has worked with clients for the 50th Anniversary of The March on Washington and the spiritual advisor to Trayvon Martin’s family; and
  • Sean Greenwood, Grand Poobah of Public Relations at Ben & Jerry’s, who has seen the triumphs and tribulations of leading with your values during his three decades with the company.
  • Lisa Matthews, Club vice president and assignment manager, U.S. video at The Associated Press, served as moderator.

A special note of thanks to NPC Communicator Team Members Karen Addis, Maria Rodriguez and Edward Segal for making this session a reality and to Zeev Wexler who also helped with the video!


Importance of PR for Hedge Funds

Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR 

One of the biggest marketing tools that hedge funds tend to avoid is public relations, which is unfortunate because making a hedge fund available to the press and training the spokesperson for the hedge fund properly can lead to a lot of success for the business. 

There are plenty of ways that a hedge fund can start doing some of the basics of public relations for the business, without working with a public relations agency or firm from the very beginning, and some of these things are fairly simple for a hedge fund to do. 

The public, along with the media, is constantly looking for real-time opinions from marketers, traders, and hedge fund managers because they need information on the current market trends, conditions, as well as any future predictions. However, most of the hedge fund managers tend to shy away from any sort of press contributions in fear of making things worse for the business. 

Fortunately, there is an easy way to solve this issue, and all it takes is for the hedge fund manager or the spokesperson for the business to speak to a legal counsel to make sure exactly what information can be provided to the press and the public. 

After covering all of the information, the hedge fund can develop a list of a dozen publications that the manager wants to appear in and identify the editors or news sources of those publications. The next step is finding the contact information of those people and introducing the manager as a potential resource for the industry. 

Another way that managers can improve the public perception of the hedge fund is by speaking at conferences, public events, networking events, or any other places within the industry, where the spokesperson will be heard by other members of the industry, and even some members of the press. 

Instructional Marketing 

A very effective way for a manager to market their hedge fund is to be educational and easy to understand. Most hedge funds are difficult to understand, which doesn’t lead to a lot of success, especially in this industry, where most of the investors avoid investing in things that they don’t understand. 

However, being transparent and simple in explaining the investment process to others is a great way to attract even more potential investors. The trick here is in the balance – providing enough information and details that make investors interested in the hedge fund, while also not overwhelming the audience with strategies and techniques that others might find to be a bit more complicated. 

Writing a book on experiences and insights from the industry is one great way to do this. Additionally, many of the hedge fund industry professionals are then interviewed after publishing a book on a specific subject. While writing a book might seem difficult to a person that’s already working more than full-time during the week, but anyone with the skills, time, and experience should consider doing this because they can easily provide a lot of insight and value to the public.

Is the NFL Ready for Kaepernick’s Return? - Ronn TorossianAbout the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency.

Women Supporting Women: Moving Forward Together

Free Livestream: August 25th, 2 p.m. ET

It’s well documented that women have been bearing the brunt of Covid-19.

Women make up the majority of frontline healthcare workers, primary caregivers of children and the elderly, and workers in the service industry, resulting in 55% of unemployed workers vs 13% unemployment rate for men (April, 2020, Bureau of Labor Statistics). Domestic violence is at a dangerous level due to the restriction in movement.

It’s a time that women especially need support– in the form of resources, solutions and an empathetic ear – from other women who understand.  Yet research shows this may not be the case.  A 2016  study from She Speaks reported that 54% of women say women are supportive of other women sometimes, but not often.

Perhaps it’s because they are too busy, overwhelmed or simply don’t know how to support others.

CommPRO invites women leaders and their allies to learn how to put into action a simple plan for women to support women and change the narrative. We need an antidote to help women get through the next wave of this pandemic, leading into  the fall and winter until a vaccine can protect us all.

A creative, and very simple solution began five months ago when the pandemic first hit the U.S. A meetup called Women Supporting Women evolved from a virtual initiative at GWU – Center for Excellence in Public Leadership.  It brought together a geographically diverse group of women, meeting one hour each week, facilitated by Leslie Grossman, faculty director of GWU’s Executive Women’s Leadership Program. The women formed a bond supporting one another in personal, business, creative and community endeavors, and most of all, provided emotional support during a most trying time. This was not a networking group, or a business or mastermind group or even a happy hour.  It was unique.  It was focused on women supporting women at the most challenging time most of us have faced in our lifetime.

Join the founders and members of this group to discover how women throughout the world can create their own Women Supporting Women group, a safe place to share what is going on in their lives – emotionally, spiritually, business-wise, familially and more.  It’s a place to share ideas and opinions; a kind, authentic space; a place to share ideas; a place to laugh and renew; a space where we encourage others and hear their stories.

As we continue to reinvent daily life and find reassurance in connections with our friends and family during these unprecedented times, have you also explored some of the unexpected benefits of connecting outside your normal circles? Join us for a lively discussion about a geographically diverse group of women who came together virtually and have formed a bond supporting one another in personal, business, creative and community endeavors. Share your stories and explore ways to encourage others to Find Your Links. The group found that finding something more than business professional connections; that we need emotional support, too. Start enjoying the benefits of women supporting women across the globe.


Janet C. Salazar

Janet C. Salazar is a social innovator, human potential activist, serial entrepreneur, speaker, writer, humanitarian and a global leadership strategist. Her fascination and energy is focused on the intersection and convergence of leadership, innovation, investment, partnerships, inclusion and philanthropy for equitable economies and social good. 

Janet is the Executive Chairman and President, Chief and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Permanent Observer to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at Foundation for the Support of the United Nations (FSUN). Appointed in 2006, Janet has built a solid ecosystem of deep connections and influencers in the global diplomatic community, and continues to be a strong voice for public-private partnerships inside the United Nations. 

Her commitment to influencing leadership decisions to foster strong partnerships have led to many tangible collaborations globally. Janet is widely known for bringing the business perspective inside the UN by convening global fora and dialogues around global issues in partnership with UN entities, UN Missions and Fortune 500 companies.  

Janet is Chairman and CEO of Salazar Global Group (SGG), A Holding Company with subsidiaries in consulting, development, advisory, green technologies, health solutions and systems, distribution and licensing, capital fundraising, and impact investment. She is the CEO and Founder of IMPACT Leadership 21™, a global business platform providing leadership solutions and world class training on building inclusive and sustainable economies.  

As a sought-after public-private partnerships specialist, and a Certified Executive Master Coach, Janet is advisor to international entities, CEOs and influencers on inclusion, leadership, impact investment and philanthropy.

Janet is a partner at Undercurrent, a global organizational design, process and change consultancy. Undercurrent serves a new breed of leaders who feel a profound responsibility to confront global crises with their organizations and the passion of their their people — answering the call to transform their businesses into a greater force for good and disrupt the old rules of capitalism.

Janet is the creator of the innovative dialogue series, Conversations With Men™, the groundbreaking executive forum created to engage men in leadership roles to accelerate women’s leadership at the top and achieving gender parity. She created Conversations With Men™ One on One: Navigating Gender Dialogue in a Woman’s World, an executive coaching program for male leaders on how to effectively navigate gender-related challenges in today’s increasingly diverse work place.

A writer by heart, Janet is currently working on her first book project, collaborating with some of the most brilliant minds and thought leaders in the world. Janet  is above all a passionate advocate and defender of the right to freedom in all forms. 


Leslie Grossman, Faculty Director, Executive Women’s Leadership Program, The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership, Executive Leadership Coach

Leslie Grossman’s personal vision is a world where there is gender equity at the highest leadership roles of all organizations. As an executive leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker and workshop leader, Leslie devotes all her work to achieving this purpose. 

Leslie created and leads the Executive Women’s Leadership Program as Faculty Director and Senior Fellow at The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership. This was preceded by five years as chair/executive coach for Vistage International, the largest global CEO peer advisory organization, where she facilitated groups of CEOs and senior leaders. Recently returning from her second speaking tour in Japan under the sponsorship of the U.S. Embassy, Leslie keynoted and lead roundtable discussions with women entrepreneurs and executives about the actions of successful leaders. Leslie emcees the annual Impact Leadership 21 Conference at the United Nations in addition to her role as Advisor on Women’s Issues.  She is an executive leadership coach, working with clients privately and facilitating Mastermind groups for women leaders. She speaks, facilitates and informs male and female leaders on becoming aware of their unique styles, how to be more effective together, and opening the lines of communication and collaboration. In 2019 she presented “Courageous Conversations between Men and Women” at SHRM, New York City. 

Prior to starting Leslie Grossman Leadership, a coaching and training company, she co-founded the Women’s Leadership Exchange (WLE). WLE provided the knowledge, tools and connections to support  women  to lead and grow multi-million dollar businesses.  WLE produced 85 conferences throughout the U.S., attended by 65,000 women from 2002- 2011. Previously Leslie was CEO of NYC-based PR/marketing firm, Communications/Marketing Action, and was active in many professional associations including as President of NAWBO-NYC. 

Leslie has written two books:  Link Out: How to Turn Your Network into a Chain of Lasting Connections (Wiley) and Sellsation! How Companies Can Capture Today’s Hottest Market: Women Business Owners and Executives (WPE Press). Based in New York City, Leslie graduated from The George Washington University, B.A. Psychology/Business; attended New York University graduate school for Counselor Education.  She is certified as an executive coach by Vistage International and certified in Emotional Intelligence (EQ-I 2.0). Leslie is a wife, mother and grandmother. Learn more about Leslie at


Deanna Brown, Founder: ShineOn Global and Senior Consultant with K2OHSolutions

In the Business World:  Transformative Leader | Builder of Dynamic Teams | Innovative Disruptor

In Life: Slightly Geeky Executive | Best Friend to Amazing Women | Lucky Mom and Wife | Faux Chef | Hiker | World Traveler & Insatiable Learner of All Things Cool

My vision is a world where business has a genuine commitment for the people served. In a society where we have unprecedented connection at the speed of light, it’s more crucial than ever to embed the traditions and values that still serve well. Honesty. Dedication. Follow-through. Doing the homework and knowing the territory. These never go out of style. Reaching for excellence through fresh ideas and organizational energy. My purpose? Inspiring others to transform and succeed. Creating innovative solutions that add value to the world around us. Lifting each other to new levels of “better”. It’s how life should be lived and business conducted.With a background in foundational business growth, leadership development, strategic consulting and team building, I’ve focused those skills within organizations that grew from the first dedicated handful of professionals to highly profitable organizations serving and supporting hundreds of team members. Combining the industries of medicine, real estate and computer software has allowed me to develop multiple lenses and insights to serve organizations at all levels. From the groundwork of needs and ideas, to the nitty-gritty of the processes to move everyone forward, I’m there creating strategies, solutions, and unifying teams with the vision that drives it all.


Kathy Opp, President,  K2OHSolutions, LLC

Kathy is a seasoned business executive providing strategic planning and process improvement services, organizational culture assessment and change management, facilitation, as well as leadership, management, and team coaching.

Kathy is the former president and executive director of the Western States Land Commissioners Association, an organization of 23 western states and industry affiliates who manage over 515 million acres of school trust lands for the benefit of funding public education in the respective states.

Over the past 30 years, she gained significant experience in state government as a commissioned bank examiner, a financial officer, a division administrator and as a Deputy Director for the Idaho Department of Lands. She also worked for five years with Boise Cascade Corporation, a Fortune 500 timber and wood products company. She held several positions in the Timber & Wood Products division, including Senior Planning Associate and Business Unit Controller, and served on several new manufacturing plant startup teams in the U.S. and abroad.

Kathy holds the following professional credentials:

  • Accredited by Human Synergistics in the administration and interpretation of the Organizational Culture Inventory® (OCI®), the Organizational Effectiveness Inventory®(OEI®), Leadership Impact® (L/I) and Management Impact® (M/I).
  • Certified Strategic Doing™ practitioner
  • Certified team coach using Team Alchemy©
  • Certified administrator of the EQ-i 2.0 and EQ 360 products.
  • Trained practitioner of the Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas by Strategyzer

Kathy was born and raised in the San Francisco bay area and relocated to Boise, Idaho in 1984. When not serving clients, she likes to travel the globe, cook, ride bicycles and spend time with family. She is a RYT 500-hour certified yoga instructor and continues to teach her yin yoga practice on Monday nights when in Boise.


Charlotte Hyams Porter, Senior Liaison for Regional Engagement and Field Operations at FEMA Headquarters, Washington, DC

In this role, she is responsible for internal and external communications, serving as the principal advisor on national preparedness to FEMA’s regional partners, and developing a prepared workforce for the National Preparedness Directorate (NPD). Building on a successful history of stakeholder engagement and disaster response, Ms. Porter is creating a streamlined and coordinated engagement strategy across multiple FEMA components to achieve improved alignment, efficiency, and transparency among FEMA’s internal and external partners, before, during, and after disasters.

In September 2018, Ms. Porter was deployed as the Director of FEMA’s Hub of Philanthropic Engagement – Puerto Rico for eight months. This innovative initiative was part of FEMA’s overall
recovery support to the government and people of Puerto Rico, following the catastrophic hurricane season of 2017. The Hub served as a bridge between philanthropy and Puerto Rico’s
recovery needs and fomented a more robust nonprofit sector through resource identification, facilitation, and training. While in this role, Ms. Porter built a first-of-its kind functional
organization and program, including the development of processes and procedures in accordance with Agency regulations, identification of and engagement with new FEMA partners and
stakeholders, and the establishment of a team of experienced project specialists to map recovery needs and research funding resources and opportunities.

From November 2015 to May 2019, Ms. Porter served as the Deputy Director of FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division (ICPD) where she led a team that developed
research-based tools and programs to build and maintain individual and community preparedness capabilities resulting in a more prepared and resilient Nation. Under Ms. Porter’s direction, ICPD implemented numerous strategies to help foster local, state, regional and national preparedness by cultivating partnerships and networks, and supporting local initiatives related to disaster

Prior to this position, Ms. Porter was the Director of the Office of the National Advisory Council (NAC) at FEMA headquarters where she provided strategic direction and guidance to the NAC on
emergency management policies and programs. Ms. Porter started her career at FEMA in 2010 as the Senior Advisor to the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, where she coordinated Agency
engagement with state, local, tribal, and territorial stakeholders and the nonprofit organizations that represent them. In this role, Ms. Porter established relationships with elected and appointed
officials and constituency groups, facilitating dialogue on emerging issues, providing technical assistance, and communicating critical information.


Joan Wangler, ICF Master Certified Coach , President, EDIN (Each Day Is New) Associates, Senior Leadership Coach and Faculty Member at The George Washington Center for Excellence in Public Leadership  

I’m a senior leadership coach known for holistic leadership coaching, a process of working with people that leaves them feeling more competent and fulfilled so that they can make a better contribution to their organization and find meaning in what they are doing. Some clients call me a “dream catcher.”

My passion is launching and facilitating leadership communities of practice such as the Creative Learning Group (CLG) initiative with leaders at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the Goddard Civility Collaborative. The primary focus of these communities is on building and sustaining emotionally intelligent, innovative coaching and mentoring organizational cultures to deliver outstanding results.

I coach senior leaders facing complex personal and organizational transition challenges with great heart, wisdom and innovative thinking.I was one of the original designers of NASA’s award-winning Leadership Alchemy program and co-created theEnvironmental Protection Agency’s Transformational Leadership Conversations, an organization-wide community of practice promoting leadership conversations that inspire hope, possibilities, and action at all levels.

My education includes:

Masters in Education, University of Massachusetts; Masters of Science, State University of New York at Albany

Master Certified Coach, International Coach Federation; Certified Professional Effectiveness Coach by New Ventures West

Certifications in The Leadership Circle 360, Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Conversational Intelligence and William Bridges Transition Management


Bryn Biren

Bryn Biren was born and raised in Staten Island, NY.   She graduated from the George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and earned a Master’s degree at Richmond College. She was an elementary school teacher for 34 years, serving as the Project Arts coordinator for her school.

Bryn and her husband, Richard ( a retired administrative law judge) are the parents of two children and have five grandchildren.

She has spent her life involved in community activities. Bryn has served as the past President of Temple Israel and has been on its Board of Trustees since 1989. She has been on the Board of Trustees of the JCC of Staten Island for 25 years. In addition she is involved in the HIllel of the College of Staten Island, Project Hospitality, the UJA, and is currently a Trustee and coordinator of the Dr. Ronald Avis Foundation at Temple Israel.

In her spare time she loves designing and making beaded jewelry, doing wirebending, taking yoga and Pilates classes, and “Helping people to find solutions to their problems”.


Ann Korando

Ann Korando is a highly accomplished non-profit professional and one of the country’s leading fundraisers for science, technology, engineering and math education. Korando founded BBFK, LLC, a private consulting practice focused on providing corporations, foundations and government agencies strategic guidance on fundraising strategies, public relations and program development. Her work includes helping organizations raise money for existing programs, as well as designing and implementing new signature educational programs for corporations and non-profits in STEM education.  Over the past 25 years, Ann has raised over $200 million for the different partnerships.  Previously, Korando was CEO of EarthEcho, a non-profit dedicated to the legacy of Jacques Cousteau; Senior Director of Development for NSTA, a national organization of science teachers and Director of Development, Public Relations and Events at Science Service, an organization dedicated to increasing the public’s understanding of Science through publications and competitions. In this role, she secured Intel as title sponsor for both the Science Talent Search and the International Science and Engineering Fair and helped create and design the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge. Ann is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, Nashville Tennessee and holds a Bachelor of Science degree and Executive Non Profit Management Certificate from Georgetown University, Washington, DC.


Fay Shapiro, CEO and Publisher, CommPRO Global, Inc., BitAngels Investor Network – New York City Leader

Fay Shapiro is founding member and publisher of Her passion is achieving ROI for both clients and colleagues by delivering business-building results for professionals working in public relations, investor relations and marketing communications. Fay grew up in the world of communications, learning the ropes as editorial director at Bacon’s Information (now Cision), and then venturing into the publishing world with Oxbridge Communications, BurrellesLuce, O’Dwyer’s, and Bulldog Reporter. Founded in 2010, is today a global community of influencers involved in all aspects of the communication field, and media hub for the industry.

Fay is also active in the blockchain ecosystem through her role as city leader for the BitAngels Investor Network. The brainchild of industry leaders Michael Terpin and David Johnston in 2013, BitAngels has grown from being the world’s first angel network for digital currency startups to the largest. BitAngels is an open, thriving community of skilled blockchain professionals, companies, developers, and others, with local events in key cities to create growth and connectivity in the blockchain space and with online communication and collaboration.



Resume Impressions: 5 Points To Improve Yours

Your Resume: 10 Items To Remove ImmediatelyMarie Raperto, The Hiring Hub

Your resume gives an impression of you. It’s a quick, first-glance impression that a hiring manager makes while scanning your resume. To make it to the next step, your resume must tell the employer that you can do the job they want to fill.  Take a look at your resume for the following:

  1.  Does your resume clearly and concisely list your skills as mentioned in the job ad? Sending in one resume-for-all-jobs will no longer work. You must customize your resume for each opportunity stressing the matches you have to their description.
  2. Is your opening statement (if you have one)in synch with the job description? If your statement reads that you are a seasoned communications professional in the consumer sector but the job description is for a public relations professional with 10 plus years in a B2B sector, you need to revise this.  You can make it more general or mention any relevant sector experience from the past. You want to highlight how you fit not how you don’t.
  3. Are you saying the same things over and over?  Some duplication can highlight strengths but it can also make the resume too crowded with unnecessary repeated information.
  4. Do you list your skills?  If so, make sure they match what the employer wants.  If you have additional skills, you can mention those in your last bullet point under your current employment.
  5. Not enough white space on your resume?  Resumes are scanned quickly and white space makes them easier to read.  In your work history, it’s not necessary to list bullet points for your earliest jobs.  The employer/title/dates is sufficient and removing the bullet points will give you more room.

Listing jobs online means employers are receiving hundreds of resumes.  Make yours standout by giving the reader all the information they are seeking.

Online Profiles: 10 Ways To Improve Yours

How to Use LinkedIn for Business and Personal Growth

Marie Raperto, The Hiring Hub

Online profiles play a very important role in your job search.  Profiles can help recruiters find you and, if a hiring manager is interested in your resume, they will check you online.  Of all the online sites, LinkedIn is probably the most important site.  Take the time to review your profile and make the following changes:

  1.  Your headline.  On LinkedIn, your headline defaults to your current role at your current company.  The headline option gives you 120 characters to share more information about yourself.  Since this is the first thing viewers will see about you, make sure it makes you stand out from the crowd.
  2.  Keep SEO in mind.  If someone is searching, they would use keywords.  Make sure your keywords are up-to-date and industry standard.  You can incorporate the keywords in your summary paragraph, as a separate list or within your resume.  Also, consider eliminating keywords from earlier positions if they are no longer viable.  You could have done fashion in your first job and now are in healthcare.
  3.  Current responsibilities.  Always make sure your current position is up-to-date with your title, location and duties.  After your headline, it’s where recruiters will look.
  4.  Update your groups.  Most users don’t sign up for groups or sign up for as many as possible.  Take the time to look at the groups and sign up for new ones and clean out the old ones.  If a group has not been helpful, it’s time to find ones that will be.
  5.  Use LinkedIn.  To get the most out of this site, you have to use it.  Start posting, commenting and sharing.  By doing this, you will make sure your profile is shared and you can reach many more people.
  6.  Recommendations & endorsement.  Review these and see if they are relevant.  Recommendations from years ago and endorsements of skills you no longer do, should be deleted.  It may be time to ask for new ones.
  7.  Your  LinkedIn URL.  It surprises me that so many people have not done this.  Just click on profile, then edit profile, click edit under your photo.  Try to make your URL consistent with your email.
  8.  Start following.  Using LinkedIn to keep up with people in your industry and people you want to know is important. It will show recruiters that you are following trends in the field.
  9. Connect with your team.  Keeping up with your co-workers is important.  If you work in a large organization, following the movers and shakers is a good move.
  10. Your photo.  This photo needs to show your corporate image.  On LinkedIn, your photo is part of your brand.

The Effects of COVID-19 on U.S Marijuana and Cannabis Product Consumers (INFOGRAPHIC)

Alan Wood, Founder, Weekend Gardner

We’ve come a long way since marijuana was first decriminalized in 1973 in Oregon. Since medical marijuana was first legalized in California, the popularity of cannabis and marijuana products has grown significantly.

In 2016, the global legal cannabis market was valued at $14.3 billion U.S. dollars and is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 21.1% from 2017 to 2024, with an expected reach of $63.5 billion U.S. dollars, according to a data compiled by Ameri Research Inc.

But since the COVID-19 outbreak, these numbers have become irrelevant. So how big of an impact did COVID-19 do on the U.S. marijuana and cannabis product consumption?

People have been stocking up on food and other essentials during the outbreak that led to a shortage of products like disinfectants, hand sanitizers, toilet papers, and food. Similarly, the demand for cannabis has also spiked.

Do note that it was also found in a similar survey conducted by American Marijuana that 29.28% of survey-takers admitted to smoking more weed since the COVID-19 outbreak compared to only 5.70% that stopped smoking. The majority (38.52%) of them consumed the same amount since the outbreak while 26.50% smoked less weed.

Moreover, the spike in usage was found to have a strong link with “keeping you sane” amidst the COVID-19 hysteria. While 65.49% of them didn’t use any anxiety relief supplements, 34.51% of them did admit to having tried other anxiety relief supplements besides marijuana but only 8.32% found the alternatives to be more effective than weed.

To understand the direct correlation between the U.S. marijuana and cannabis product consumption and the coronavirus outbreak, Weekend Gardener conducted a survey involving 1,000 U.S. weed smokers and their weed consumption habits amidst the COVID-19 pandemic as well as and came up with the following:

The number of heavy pot smokers during quarantine was found to have increased by 5%, from only 16.04% of survey participants that smoke above 10 times a week to 21.30% during the quarantine.

Similarly, there is also a decrease in weed consumption once a week or rarely, from 37.34% down to 31.83% during the quarantine period. The same goes for consuming weed below 3 times a week, from 21.55% down to 16.29%.

The main reason why American’s were found to consume more weed during quarantine is due to stress and anxiety amidst the coronavirus hysteria. 27.6% of the survey participants admitted that they use weed to treat stress/anxiety while 21.7% do so to help them sleep better.

Interestingly enough, 45% of American U.S. smokers don’t care about whether or not smoking weed will increase the risk of being infected with the coronavirus compared to 35.5% of them do so to some extent but will continue smoking.

Overall, it was found that about half (49.6%) of the survey participants will not change their weed smoking habit after the outbreak compared to 11.8% of them that will withdraw from smoking weed to focus on other things.

To learn more about the interesting data and findings by WeekendGardener, head over to this link.


Using CBD? Yes, You Can Be Fired

Marie Raperto, The Hiring Hub

Using CBD is a popular topic.  I’m being asked if it can show up on a drug test and if you can be fired or have a job offer rescinded for a positive result.  According to PayScale, the answer is maybe.  It’s very complicated.

First, CBD is a naturally occurring chemical compound in the cannabis sativa plant which has two primary species:  marijuana and hemp.  CBD can be extracted from either species.  The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp cultivation and allowed the transportation of hemp-derived products across state lines.  This bill defines hemp as those plants containing less than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC (the compound that causes marijuana users to get high.)  Both THC and CBD interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system but have different results.

Here comes the complicated part, the Farm Bill states that hemp-derived CBD is legal “if and only if that hemp is produced in a manner consistent with the Farm Bill, associated federal regulations, state regulations and by a licensed grower.”  It is illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement according to the FDA and they have approved only one CBD product so far – a prescription drug to treat two rare forms of epilepsy.

There is an extreme lack of regulation in this area and it is rapidly changing.

While CBD is becoming mainstream, it doesn’t mean your employer will allow it.  It may depend on the type of job you do or the type of employment you are seeking.  Jobs in transportation and those dependent on federal funds may be more restrictive.  It is really up to your employer.  According to The National Law Review:

  1.  Employers are generally permitted to adopt drug-free workplace policies and make employment decisions relating to recreational marijuana use by an employee.
  2.  Employers are allowed to refuse to hire prospective employees for failed drug tests stemming from the purely recreational use of marijuana.
  3.  Whether an employer must accommodate the use of CBD oil for medicinal purposes will vary by the jurisdiction and will depend greatly on whether the CBD oil is derived from help or majijuana.

So beware.  CBD or using CBD-infused products could result in positive THC test results and it would be possible to get fired.  Most employers screen for THC, current drug testing does not look for CBD. However, CBD products can contain more THC than listed on the label and that small amounts can build up in the body to detectable levels.  There isn’t any uniformity in testing since each state can determine how it samples and tests help plants for THC content.

Can you be fired, MAYBE!



PRSA Announces 2021 Officer and Board of Directors Nominees

CommPRO Editorial Staff

PRSA, the nation’s leading professional organization serving the communications community, announced the officer and director nominees for its 2021 Board of Directors. Delegates of the membership will vote on the nominees and any petitioning candidates at the annual PRSA Leadership Assembly scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5.  

“In an incredibly challenging year, a remarkable group of candidates generously stepped up to express their interest in leading PRSA and serving its members,” said Anthony D’Angelo, APR, Fellow PRSA, 2020 Nominating Committee Chair. “We are honored to announce the nominees for the 2021 Board of Directors, all of them outstanding professionals dedicated to ensuring that the organization continues to progress on its strategic plan and to deliver increasing value to all sectors of the communications community in a way that’s welcoming and inclusive.”  

The nominees for 2021 officer positions are: Chair-elect, Felicia Blow, APR, associate vice president for development & campaign director, Hampton University; Treasurer, Michelle Egan, APR, Fellow PRSA, chief communications officer, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company; Secretary, Joseph Abreu, APR, communications & emergency management director, Clerk of the Circuit Court, St. Lucie County.  

Current Chair-elect, Michelle Olson, APR, Managing Director/Partner, Lambert & Co., was confirmed as the 2021 PRSA Chair at the PRSA Leadership Assembly in 2019. PRSA Chair T. Garland Stansell, APR, chief communications officer, Children’s of Alabama, will serve as Immediate Past Chair in 2021.  

Blow is a longtime PRSA member and has served the organization in multiple capacities, including as current Co-chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee. She also served as Chair of the D&I Strategic Planning Committee, playing a lead role in the development of the 2020-2022 plan. Blow also was Senior Counsel on the 2018 and 2019 Boards and a Director representing the Mid-Atlantic District from 2013-2014.

The PRSA Nominating Committee also announced the nominees for the open director positions for the 2021 Board. They are: 

  • East Central District: Jennifer Day, MS, APR, Great Lakes regional coordinator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – U.S. Department of Commerce 
  • Mid-Atlantic District: Jeff Wilson, APR, vice president of agency marketing and promotion, Padilla 
  • Northeast District: Jane N. Law, APR, internal human resource communications manager, New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority 
  • Tri-State District: James Shackelford, APR, president and chief executive officer, SomaComm Inc. 
  • Western District: Dr. Kaye Sweetser, APR+M, Fellow PRSA, professor of public relations, San Diego State University 
  • Director At-Large: Ray Day, vice chair, The Stagwell Group 

Candidates by Petition 

Article VIII, Section 5 of the PRSA Bylaws provides: Nominations may also be made by petition by at least 10 Leadership Assembly delegates and filed with the Secretary of the Society at PRSA Headquarters at least 30 days prior to the annual meeting of the Leadership Assembly. All petitions must be submitted by Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020 for consideration. Immediately upon receipt of any such nominations, the Secretary shall send a notice of such nominations to all members.   

Following Assembly elections, successful candidates will join these incumbent members on the 2021 Board: 

  • Midwest District: Jacqueline Clark, APR, Fellow PRSA, regional manager government relations & public affairs, LafargeHolcim NA 
  • North Pacific District: Scott Trotter, APR, senior director of communications, Utah Valley University 
  • Southeast District: Denise Hill, Ph.D., APR, assistant professor of strategic communications, School of Communications, Elon University 
  • Southwest District: Heide Harrell, APR, director of marketing and business development, Rose Law Firm 
  • Sunshine District: Angela Walters Eveillard, APR, strategic communications officer, Hillsborough Community College 
  • Director At-Large: Jorge Francisco D’Garay, president & CEO, MXUS Public Relations 

Richard Levick – It’s Complicated

“Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but…life obliges them over and over to give birth to themselves.”

— Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Richard Levick, Esq., Chairman & CEO, LEVICK

In the 1940s, my grandfather Lou loved baseball so much that he not only went to Washington Senators’ games at old Griffith Stadium, but when the Senators were on the road and the Homestead Grays of the old Negro League played there (splitting their time between Washington and Pittsburgh), he would go to those games, too. Years later, I would buy a reproduction of their old warm-up jacket for my father. It looked so good, I bought one for myself.

Belief in fairness and equity were always a huge part of the value system my grandfather and father passed on to me. Yet there were limits, for even Jewish liberals who suffered antisemitism and saw so many parallels with Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. In 1968, when my parents returned from the Mexico City Olympics, my father said, “I support the message of Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists, but did they have to do it there, on the medal stand at the Olympic Games?” Even at age ten I remember thinking, “Well, perhaps not, but where else would they get the world’s attention?”

Bigotry is easy to spot when it is intended. It’s a half century later and I can’t get the photos of Bull Connor, the Birmingham Commissioner of Public Safety and other anti-civil rights thugs out of my mind. The dogs, the fire hoses, the chewing tobacco, the smugness, daring you to integrate “their” city. But unintended and unconscious acts of bias and exclusion? Those are harder to spot because they often occur in the synapses of our minds and take the form of omission or compliance with existing policy, not evil intent.

Over the years we have done an immense amount of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion work under a variety of names, #MeToo, anti-Arab and anti-racist work, LGBTQ rights, religious liberty, not to mention all the times we have represented foreign companies and countries and had to confront all the biases – and often regulations – which made their lives and opportunities much more challenging. We also have come to see some patterns, in those who seek cultural change and those who resist it. Not to mention in the thousands and sometimes millions of observers who, in the age of social media, weigh in with everything from support to false narratives to doxing, which has, I might add, resulted in risks to life and home.

We have a new eBook coming out next week on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, comprised mostly of our own observations, recommendations, broadcasts and best practices, along with a few guest columns, and we also have a series of DE&I infographics ready to release today. So far there are three in the series: one for corporations trying to figure out if now is the time to lead; one for people inside companies who lean on something between fear and an excuse when they don’t embrace the need for cultural change; and one for each of us. You and me. Mirrors if you will, that call upon us to “speak truth with love, not anger” as Paul Anderson-Walsh, Director of The Center for Inclusive Leadership, suggests. They call on us to not only embrace the change but also recognize that while we are almost all victims at one time or another, we can also all be victimizers. Make “good trouble” as John Lewis so adroitly told us through the decades, but also do it with love, not violence, anger or self-righteousness.

What did we miss? What did we get wrong? Please let us know and we will update the infographics. Please stay tuned for the eBook in a week and let us know if you want to contribute.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi


Fudamentals to Weave Into your Search Engine Marketing

Why Small Businesses Need SEOJill Kurtz, Owner, Kurtz Digital Strategy

You want your business to appear in searches when your target customer is looking for you or your services. Paying attention to search engine optimization (SEO) fundamentals will make that happen.

Like other online activities, SEO needs its own marketing strategy. You need to have a plan for ongoing activities to monitor and improve your SEO.

Search Result Pages Have Changed

A keyword or phrase that cranks first organically is no longer the top result seen by searchers. Google has changed search engine results pages so that organic results are no longer at the top.

Today’s results pages can have one or more of these elements before any organic results:

  • Google Ads – paid placements at the top of the page. There can be none, one or several, depending on the keyword searched.
  • Featured snippets – summaries for the searcher’s query that appear just below the ads
  • People also ask – a feature that includes related queries to the original search phrase
  • Knowledge Graph – boxes that include data ranging from companies to celebrities on the right of search results page
  • Local packs – several local listings appear together, often under a map marking the location of each one
  • Carousel listings – interactive visual display of results for things like movies, songs and restaurants
  • Image packs – often a single row of images appearing on the results page
  • Sitelinks – multiple links to subpages within the website result visible below the primary website
  • Reviews with star ratings

In addition to these items, organic results are now longer. This pushes even the second result down further on the page or even to the next page.

    Create Your SEO Marketing Strategy

    You can manage and improve your regular organic results.

    First, set your target. Unless you are a very large business, you cannot rank well for every keyword related to your business. You need to target your efforts.

    Narrow to less than five keywords and phrases. You want to pick them based on their relevance to your business. Verify that they are actually searched, but do not have high competition.

    Look at how your website ranks for your keywords today. Set realistic expectations. Your best chance of success is in taking words you already rank for and optimizing to rank better.

    For every word or phrase you want to target, you need this at your website:

    • A web page with a title that has the keyword
    • A page URL with the keyword
    • Content that features the keyword

    Create Page Titles for SEO

    Keywords should be at the beginning of SEO page titles. (These are the titles that appear on search results pages.)

    Many companies have their name at the start of the title, followed by the name of the page. Flip this. The first words tell search engines what to rank the page for.

    Work Keywords into Your Content

    You need to strike a balance with page design, clarity, and SEO strategy. You don’t want to ruin content by putting keywords everywhere and ruining flow and meaning. Find opportunities to naturally work in your primary keywords and close variations:

    • Headlines and subheads
    • Image captions
    • Image names
    • Image alt text
    • Use for link text
    • Expand page content

    Set a schedule to revisit and revise content regularly. Search engines generally rank older content lower than newer content.

    Leverage Factors Beyond Content

    Website design, technical considerations, and sufficient responses to questions (i.e., voice search) can all help your keywords rank better. Important factors to consider include:

    • Links to your site from other sites
    • Functionality on mobile devices
    • Page load speed
    • Voice search
    • HTTPS encryption

    Use Strategy to Stay in the Game

    SEO is not easy or fast. You’ll always have an organic presence. It’s just a matter of how good your visibility is. You need to stay attentive to the details to do better than the competition.

    Top Industry Talent Joins News Direct Team

    CommPRO Introduces Startup, News Direct to Agency LeadersCommPRO Editorial Staff

    News Direct continues to shake up the newswire category with standout industry leaders, each with nearly two decades of experience

    News Direct, the only news and content distribution platform purpose-built for the demands of modern media outreach, announced several senior hires as part of the leadership team. These hires include Neil Hershberg as Chief Media Partnership Officer; Brenda Bell, Mark Essa, Jennifer Dunn and Josh Rehrer each as Vice Presidents of Regional Sales; and Jeff Abelson as Director of Multimedia Services. Hershberg and Abelson will report directly to News Direct founder and CEO, Gregg Castano, while Bell, Essa, Dunn and Rehrer will report to Chief Revenue Officer, Charles Lucchesi.

    “I’m thrilled to welcome Neil, Jeff, Brenda, Mark, Jennifer and Josh to the News Direct team. News Direct is disrupting the newswire industry and transforming the way PR and IR professionals distribute their news. Their combined knowledge and expertise are a tremendous asset to our brand and our customers. I can’t think of a more qualified and forward-thinking group to lead the charge,” said Founder and CEO, Gregg Castano.

    Each executive on the leadership team has an average of 20 years of industry experience. Following is more information on the makeup of the executive team and their responsibilities:

    Gregg Castano, Founder and CEO: Gregg brings to News Direct more than 32 years of industry experience, including a seven-year stint of serving as president of Business Wire. At News Direct, his primary responsibilities include overseeing planning and strategy, company operations, business development efforts, and account management and growth.

    Neil Hershberg, Chief Media Partnership Officer: Neil also joins News Direct with over three decades of experience in the newswire industry, as well as a distinguished career as a journalist with UPI and Newsweek prior to that. After serving as Vice President of Media Relations at PR Newswire for nine years, followed by 22 years as Senior Vice President of Global Media at Business Wire, Neil became New Direct’s Chief Media Partnership Officer this past May. Neil oversees News Direct’s global distribution network and develops and maintains senior-level media partnerships.

    Brenda Bell, VP, Regional Sales: Brenda has more than three decades of industry experience, including 18 years at PR Newswire and 13 years at Business Wire. Based in Colorado, she joins News Direct as VP, Regional Sales where she will bring the News Direct message to professional communicators throughout the Rocky Mountain region, as well as portions of the Midwest.

    Mark Essa, VP, Regional Sales: Mark joins News Direct with more than 28 years of newswire industry experience. Previously, Mark held various senior roles at Business Wire, including Vice President of Competitive Business Analysis and Vice President of Sales, Tracking & Analysis. As VP, Regional Sales, Mark drives dynamic sales directives and relationship building throughout Southern California.

    Jennifer Dunn, VP, Regional Sales: After spending time earlier in her career in marketing and PR, Jennifer entered the newswire industry when she joined Business Wire in 2008. After a highly successful 12 years covering the D.C. region as well as the Carolinas, she became News Direct’s VP, Regional Sales, where she will continue to serve the D.C. metro area, while also managing the company’s future expansion into the southeast.

    Josh Rehrer, VP, Regional Sales: Josh brings to News Direct 18 years of industry sales experience with Business Wire. While with Business Wire, he served in various roles including Regional Vice President, Director and District Manager, focusing on the Mid-Atlantic region. Josh’s role is to drive adoption of News Direct’s game-changing platform throughout the Delaware Valley region.

    Jeff Abelson, Director of Multimedia Services: Jeff brings to News Direct nearly 24 years of experience as Multimedia Specialist at Business Wire. As News Direct’s Director of Multimedia Services, Jeff brings substantial newswire expertise in a client-facing advisor role, while specializing in multimedia support. News Direct is the only platform of its kind with the capability to release standalone multimedia content, making this an ideal role for Jeff’s talents and knowledge.

    “Gregg is a bold and progressive business leader. His vision for the future of the newswire industry is reflected in News Direct’s purpose-built platform and predicated on more than three decades of industry leadership experience. I’m thrilled to join the News Direct team and deliver impact, value and results for our clients,” said Neil Hershberg.

    For more information, visit

    The Stevens Group Introduced Osmosis Films to Ruder Finn

    CommPRO Editorial Staff

    Ruder Finn has acquired Osmosis Films, the Brooklyn-based full-service video content studio, to bolster its storytelling expertise. The Stevens Group introduced Osmosis Films to Ruder Finn.

    The acquisition adds production and technology tools for animation and interactive video experiences to RF’s menu of creative services.

    CEO Kathy Bloomgarden said RF is doubling down on its commitment to video “because it has this unrivaled ability to keep audiences engaged in a way that many two-dimensional platforms can’t, all while conveying very complex concepts through an empathetic lens.”

    She believes that “emotional resonance is going to be key in delivering our clients’ messaging—particularly today, against the backdrop of everything we’re experiencing in our country.”

    Launched in 2011, Osmosis has worked for Fortune 500 clients, as well as World Economic Forum, PayPal, The Wall Street Journal Magazine, Teach For America, Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Council on Foreign Relations.

    Osmosis founder/CEO James Lawler said video represents a dramatic shift in how people communicate, which companies are just beginning to understand. “That shift is going to expand exponentially with the explosion of worldwide access to mobile 5G,” he added.

    Ruder Finn is No. 7 on O’Dwyer’s roster of independent firms with fees of $78M during 2019.

    Originally appeared on

    Get Hired: Six Tips to Stand Out During your Job Search

    Stacey Ross Cohen, CEO/President of Co-Communications

    Since the onset of the pandemic, more than 50 million job claims have been filed.  If you are one of the many seeking a new job, you need to develop a compelling narrative and competitive advantage. To succeed, it is not enough to merely update your resume – – you need to put your best self out there. Here are six steps to stand-out: 

    1)  Be the Best Version of you. The job search is not about me, me, me — — it’s about your value to others. What’s important to the hiring company? How can you solve their needs better than your competition? To make strides in this challenging job market, it’s particularly important to showcase your good fit values and why they should choose YOU.  Highlight your experience and problem solving capabilities which will make you excel in the role.. Also, showcase your value with a “wow” portfolio of testimonials, achievements, success stories, and a professional profile with headshot. 

    2)  Establish yourself as an expert in your field to give you a competitive edge. Those hiring are apt to question what you have been doing in between jobs during the pandemic. It’s a great time to get a certification (e.g., social media, Google Analytics) to build your skills and knowledge in your field. You may also want to develop content that reinforces your thought leadership. Whether you develop articles, blog posts, e-books, white papers or videos, make certain the topics are relevant to your audience. 

      3)  Grow Your Network. It’s been said that “Your network is your net worth” Networking is one of the most important investments you can make to uncover job opportunities during the pandemic. Engage and build relationships with mentors, influencers, and industry leaders. No need to focus on how many people you meet networking — focus on meeting the right people. Reinforce existing relationship and connect with past meaningful ones. Be social — — attend virtual networking events and be sure to connect with your new contact promptly via LinkedIn, etc.  Seek out professional groups within your industry on LinkedIn and invest the time in engaging with the community and building authentic relationships. 

      4)  Strive for top of mind awareness during the interview process. Besides sending the traditional thank you note (within an hour), connect with the recruiter via LinkedIn.  Since, hiring decisions are lagging during this unprecedented time, find creative ways to stay in touch. If you go dark, the hiring manager may think you have lost interest.  Make sure that you actively engage even if it’s something as small as liking a LinkedIn post. You can also share any updates to your skill set (e.g., certification). And of course, communicating with empathy and clarity is of upmost importance during the pandemic. 

      5)  Ace your virtual interview. Make sure that you are camera ready. Consider your appearance, lighting and background.  While a Zoom virtual background of a tropical island is fun to share with your friends during a happy hour, a business-like background (e.g., bookshelves) is more fitting for this interview format. Instead of considering every question the interviewer may ask you, prepare 4-5 talking points (with supporting evidence) that you want to get across that will demonstrate your good fit value.  

      6)  Do your homework. It’s important to be in the know. Make sure you set up Google alerts for the companies of interest which will allow you to get real-time information. You can then leverage some of these “news items” during the interview.  The hiring manger will appreciate that you have not only done your research but that you are keeping current on how they are faring during the pandemic. You can also share your good fit values related to the challenges the company may be currently facing.  

      During this uncertain time, try to remember that this is a temporary state and the job market will rebound.  With some grit, patience and a positive outlook, securing a new job can soon be within your reach.

      Stacey Ross Cohen is CEO/President of Co-Communications (, a full-service marketing communications agency, with offices in New York and Connecticut. She can be reached at   She is also a personal branding authority and recently made her debut on the TED stage.  

      About the Author: Stacey is an award-winning communications professional who earned her marketing stripes on Madison Avenue and at major television networks before launching Co-Communications, an integrated marketing communications firm with offices in New York and Connecticut. Co-Communications serves clients in education, healthcare, real estate, professional services, technology, and the nonprofit realm. Services include branding, website development, inbound marketing, PR and social media. Stacey excels at taking brands to market — leveraging each client’s unique voice to make an indelible impact on social media, in board rooms, and everywhere in between. She has garnered the Forbes Enterprise and PRSA Practitioner of the Year awards for her work in the communications field.  

      Stacey is a sought-after speaker and recently made her debut on the TED stage. She is a blogger at the Huffington Post and Thrive Global and has been featured in Entrepreneur, Forbes, Crain’s, and a suite of other national media. Stacey holds a B.S. from Syracuse University, MBA from Fordham University and recently completed a certificate program in Media, Technology and Entertainment at NYU Leonard Stern School of Business.