PRSA Rochester Connect Newsletter

February 2020  

Message From Your President


Thanks for taking a few minutes to catch up on the latest from PRSA Rochester! We are looking forward to a great year in 2020 and are excited to share some of the plans we have coming up in the next few months.

This year, we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of our prestigious PRism Awards, highlighting the best PR work completed in our community over the last 13 months. Earlier in February, we hosted a series of student workshops as well as a successful PRism PRep Happy Hour at Jeremiah’s Tavern, where award-winners from the 2019 PRisms shared their top tips for success.

We hope to see your entry in the mix this year! Entries within 45 different categories (12 Program categories and 24  categories, or nine Student categories) can be submitted using our online system through Friday, Mar. 13 at 11:59 p.m. Nominations for our Rising Star and Executive of the Year Awards are also due at that time and can be submitted by emailing me directly at [email protected].

We’ve got a great year of programming planned out in 2020 and are looking ahead to some stellar workshops and how-to sessions. First up, watch for the announcement of our upcoming “Freshest Faces in the Media” panel, connecting the community with the newest reporters, producers, and media members in Rochester.

As always, we hope to see you at a PRSA Rochester event or workshop. And don’t hesitate to reach out if you are interested in helping support our chapter through volunteering. We are always looking for fresh ideas and new faces to join our committees.


Sarah Blackwell
Break the Ice Media

[email protected]

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Northeast District News Update

As many of you know, PRSA Rochester along with seven other chapters are part of PRSA’s Northeast District. (Ours is one of 10 districts across the US.)

The district just finalized its 2020 slate of officers: Chair, Mike Masseur (Southeastern New England Chapter); Chair-Elect, Yvette Sterbenk (Finger Lakes); Immediate Past Chair, Erin Callanan (Boston); Treasurer, Tom Bebbington (Yankee) and Secretary, Rene Petties-Jones (Buffalo/Niagara). Rochester Board Members/Assembly Delegates Michelle Cometa and Bobbi Lonobile sit on that board along with leaders from chapters in the district. 

If you haven’t already, save the date for this year’s District Conference—Friday June 12 hosted by the Yankee Chapter in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The call for speakers went out recently. Deadline for submission is March 6, 2020. Click here for more information. 

Looking ahead, next year’s conference will be hosted by the Capital Region chapter in Albany. The big news is that we will host the conference in Rochester in 2022. There will be many great volunteer opportunities for the planning committee and subcommittees, and of course, for workshop presenters. Stay tuned for more information as plans begin to take shape. 

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PRSA National News

The 2020-2022 Strategic Plan has been published. Find it here. 

This year’s annual convention, ICON, takes place October 25-27 in Nashville. More information will be announced in the coming months.

Please remember, as members, you are able to take advantage of many benefits the national organization offers, including lower event registration fees, the ability to join affinity sections, free webinars and more.

For the latest national PRSA news, visit this website


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Upcoming PRSA Rochester Programs and Events

Internal Communicators Meeting: 

The PRSA Rochester chapter is hosting an internal communicators networking session – an informal way for internal communicators to meet regularly and share best practices.

Join us on Friday, March 13 at 7:45 – 9:00 a.m. at the Village Bakery Culver Road, located in the Armory at 145 Culver Road.

The idea was brought forth from an internal communications workshop in Sept. 2019. We’d like to provide an informal forum to continue conversations started at the event about networking, best practices, challenges and possible solutions.

The meeting on March 13 is to determine how this new networking group can be developed as well as how it could work and who would be involved.

The first meeting will be co-hosted by Suzette Norris from URMC and members of the PRSA Rochester chapter. Interested? Bring your challenges and ideas for discussion.

The event is free but we kindly ask that you register so we can get a headcount. 

PRSA Rochester is always looking for ways to connect professionals in our area. We can learn a great deal from each other and provide support as well as ideas for improving how we do our work. Are you interested in more informal meet ups and discussions? Email Joy Auch, [email protected], with your interest and ideas.

“Freshest Faces in the Media” Panel:

Looking for more ways to stay connected and up to date with the Rochester community’s newest reporters, producers and media members? We’re here to help.

On Wednesday, March 18, PRSA Rochester will host a panel to bring together some of the newer reporters and personalities in the Rochester news and media scene to connect with PR pros. The following will be in attendance:

  • Michael Schwartz, 13WHAM ABC
  • Kris Betts from, 13WHAM ABC
  • Rebecca Fath, WROC-TV
  • Raven Brown, News10NBC
  • Emily Hessney Lynch, iHeart ROC, Serve Me the Sky Digital


Stay tuned for more information on this panel series on our website.


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Ethics Corner

Fighting False Information: Six Tips to Protect Your Organization and the PR Field

The wide adoption of social media has made it easier than ever to connect with people and share information around the world. But it also makes it easier for people with or without a negative intent to spread false information.

In fact, you may be horrified to learn that some agencies around the world are being created specifically to spread disinformation, which is false information created purposely to mislead.

As ethical PR practitioners who serve as the conscience of an organization, we have a duty to act against disinformation, misinformation and malinformation (check out the link below for specific definitions) whenever we can.

In a recent call with national Ethics Chairs from PRSA chapters around the country, Michael Cherenson, APR, Fellow PRSA, shared the following tips to combat misinformation, outlined below. This is adapted from his agency’s blog, which you can read in full here.

  1. Use real-time listening to identify a problem as early as possible.
  2. Invest in trust now so that you have that to rely on should false information about your organization spread. “The more you invest in the trust reservoir, the more you can withstand,” Michael shared.
  3. Make ethics a priority. Show you are passionate about the intangible. If you need guidance, visit org/Ethics.
  4. Establish a plan for what you will do if you should experience a misinformation crisis. That could likely include identifying key partners who you could tap to help defend you.
  5. Help educate the public around media literacy. This could be teaching people one-on-one when the opportunity arises or getting involved in schools or colleges to lend your expertise around ethical communication.
  6. Use inoculation. Talk about potential misinformation among your audience before it happens, that way a bulk of your audience already has an understanding of the issue, which may make them less likely to be swayed by false information when it crops up.

Battling this problem requires more than a few solutions, though. If you have ideas for ways the chapter or the national organization could help combat misinformation, please reach out at  [email protected].


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PRSA Membership

Looking to take a more active role in the Rochester PR community? Now’s the time to join PRSA Rochester!

From March 1-31, new and returning members will have their initiation or reinstatement fee waived (up to a $65 value) when they join national as a regular member ($260 annual dues) and receive a FREE one-year section membership (up to $65 value) – use code MAR2020 when registering.

Want to join? Click here for more information.

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Member Spotlight: Jen Gallo

In this month’s member spotlight, we’re highlighting Jen Gallo, membership, marketing and events director at Brook Lea Country Club. She’s been an active member of the PRSA since 2017. Prior to joining the Rochester chapter, she was a member of the Buffalo-Niagara Chapter. Learn more about Jen below!

  1. What is your title, and describe your role working for Brook Lea Country Club?

I am the membership, marketing and events director at Brook-Lea Country Club. I am responsible for reaching out to and signing up new members, communications with our current members, utilizing our website and social media to promote the Club, and planning and managing all member and non-member events.

  1. What led you to pursue a career in PR?

I went to Niagara University for Communications and Marketing, which led to my passion for PR. Once I graduated, I worked at Archer Communications for a couple years, which allowed me to strengthen my PR skills through a variety of clients. 

  1. When did you first join the PRSA Rochester chapter? 

I joined the Rochester chapter in late 2017. Previously I was part of the Buffalo-Niagara chapter. 

  1. What committees have you been involved in with the PRSA?

I have been involved with the Young Professionals Committee in Rochester and previously in Buffalo-Niagara. Both have been great experiences and allowed me to connect with a variety of experienced professionals in the area.

  1. What advice would you share with fellow members of the PRSA Rochester chapter to encourage them to further participate? 

As far as advice goes, I would say to attend as many PRSA events as often as you can because you never know who you'll meet or the connections you'll make. PRSA members are always willing to help you grow your career further and provide advice whenever they can. It has helped me so much in my career!

  1. Outside of your involvement in PRSA, what do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I love to shop and travel! My sister and I have a goal to visit all of the MLB stadiums. I also love trying new restaurants in the area.



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