PRSA Rochester Connect Newsletter

June 2020  

Message From Your President


It’s an exciting week at PRSA Rochester as we look towards our first ever virtual PRism Awards! We’ve watched our amazing volunteers re-imagine and re-tool this award ceremony into an online format for the first time ever and I can’t thank them enough for their dedication and hard work. We look forward to celebrating with you all on Thursday as we recognize the best work in the industry and the area – going on 30 years of excellence. I hope you have the chance to log in to our PRSA Rochester Facebook page and celebrate with us.

The good news keeps on coming with PRSA National’s push for good news stories from chapters around the country. From members volunteering their communications skills to support local organizations, to individuals mentoring PRSSA students, to simply recognizing and supporting each other through tough times – they want to hear it all. If you have a good news story or tale to share, email [email protected]. We hope to see stories from our community featured!

Finally, programming through PRSA Rochester will be moving to a virtual learning environment for the foreseeable future. We’re working on a great line-up of online sessions, workshops and webinars – including our June 23rd Coffee and Conversations “How’re *YOU* Doing?” workshop, featuring candid conversations about how you’ve had to pivot, adapt and change to address the challenges you have had to face over the last 3+ months.

If you’re interested in volunteering or have an idea for an upcoming program or initiative to share, we are always listening. Please reach out to us at [email protected]. And as always, thank you for supporting and staying engaged with PRSA Rochester.


Sarah Blackwell
Break the Ice Media

[email protected]


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Upcoming PRSA Rochester Programs and Events

2020 Virtual PRism Awards Ceremony

After much consideration and with our community's health and safety in mind, we've decided to hold the PRism Awards Ceremony virtually. Join us on our PRSA Rochester Facebook page this Thursday, June 18 at 6 p.m.  We will be announcing all of the award winners as well as the individuals receiving the Rising Star and Executive of the Year Award.

Coffee and Conversations Presents: How’re *YOU* Doing?

COVID-19 threw us all for a loop. Chat about how you managed the crisis, hear from fellow PR pros, and together, let’s talk about the next phase of PR in the Coronavirus era. 

Join our free *virtual* Coffee and Conversations on June 23! Sign up for the event here.

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PRSA Membership

Membership Specials!

For new and returning members: Now through July 31st, when you join PRSA National as a regular member your initiation or reinstatement fee will be waived (value of $65) and you’ll receive a FREE one-year Chapter membership (value of $55). Visit this website and use the code CHAPTER2020.

A special offer for PRSSA members: Now through June 30th, PRSA National is offering a free one-year membership to its New Professionals Section. This is a subgroup of PRSA for members who are new to the profession. Through newsletters, mentoring, podcasts, webinars and special events, the New Professionals Section helps you build critical knowledge and skills. This offer includes a Quarterly Payment Plan: Pay $15 a quarter — with no processing fees. Visit this website and use the code GRAD2020.

Did you know that you can pay your membership in quarterly installments? 
If you would like to be billed quarterly, please call PRSA National’s Member Services Team at 212-460-1400 to set up a payment plan.

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Ethics Corner

Celebrating Pride Ethically: How PRSA Ethics Can Guide Engagement with LGBTQ Employees

June is Pride Month and if your work touches employee communication or engagement, there’s no better time to start thinking about your LGBTQ employees – but don’t let June be the only time you value it. Up to 30 percent of Generation Z and 20 percent of Millennials consider themselves LGBTQ, so if you work at a company of more than 4 or 5 people, there’s a good chance someone in your organization identifies as LGBTQ, says Ben Finzel, President of RENEWPR of Washington, DC.

“Pride Month is a great place to start, but if that’s all you do, you’re doing it wrong,” he says. “You need to think about ways to engage your employees all year long.”

Finzel recently gave a talk to the PRSA Ethics Chairs titled, “Ethics of Understanding: LGBTQ & Employee Communications". Focusing on three particular principles of the PRSA Code of Ethics – Loyalty, Advocacy and Fairness — Finzel shared insights on how to start or improve engagement with LGBTQ employees.

Watch the full webinar or take note of these tips below.

  1. Loyalty: How can you show LGBTQ loyalty? Acknowledge the presence of LGBTQ employees in the workplace and encourage or allow participation in community-specific events or activities. For larger organizations, consider supporting a company LGBTQ resource group. Create opportunities for LGBTQ employees to get involved as leaders and contributors. Consider larger shows of support, like sponsoring events, but don’t neglect smaller shows of support. For example, consider putting your preferred pronouns in your email. Even if you assume everyone already knows what you prefer including that is a signifier that you’re open to all and willing to talk to all.
  2. Advocacy: How can you advocate for your LGBTQ employees? Some may shy away from this principle because it sounds intense but any organization can take steps to be an advocate. For example, you could formally include LGBTQ concerns in outreach you do or you could shift donations you make as a company or as an individual to support LGBTQ causes. You can make sure your company’s policies are inclusive of LGBTQ needs. For example, make sure your company’s family leave policies are inclusive of LGBTQ employees and their potential needs. You can also speak out in support of local, state or federal policies or legislation that support LGBTQ equality.
  3. Fairness: How can you make sure you are treating LGBTQ employees fairly? Make sure your company has non-discrimination policies in place that are complete and inclusive. Finzel led this webinar before the Supreme Court announcement that the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to discrimination against LGBTQ people. That Supreme Court decision means LGBTQ people are protected on a federal level from discrimination by employers. However, it’s still a good idea to ensure your employee benefits and policies are supportive and fair for all.

When in doubt, there are a number of resources you can turn to for guidance. These include, but are not limited to, Out & Equal, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, GLAAD, and PFLAG.

Having a more inclusive environment at your organization can come from the bottom up but leadership’s support is critical. After all, leadership sets the tone that a company follows – not just during June, but all year long.


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Member Resources

With many things going on in the world today, a global pandemic, global protests and marches to end racial discrimination, we’re here to provide resources to help with professional communication around these topics.

In need of tips on managing communication in a time of crisis? PRSA held a webinar breaking down the anatomy of issues and crisis communications and how to take the “panic” out of these situations. The webinar is available for on-demand listening here.

Now more than ever we need to ensure that diversity and inclusion is at the core of our business, and business communications. Earlier this month, PRSA’s Employee Communications Section presented a webinar addressing how communications professionals can help lead conversations within their organizations on race and race relations.

June is Pride Month, and PRSA shared communication on best practices for integrating diversity and inclusions initiatives within organizations.


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PRSA Young Professionals

Building a Strong Network

Are you a young PR professional looking for tips on how to build or leverage your network? Growing and sustaining a network is a key component as you grow your career, but like most things, it doesn’t come without a little bit of hard work. Our YP committee has you covered with these four simple steps:

  1. Put Yourself Out There
  2. Use Social Media Strategically
  3. Leverage your Network
  4. Have Perspective

Read more on the importance of networking and best practices in their latest blog.

Resume Review Session

Are you or someone you know looking to put your interview skills to the test or have your resume or portfolio reviewed by a professional? The PRSA Young Professional committee is here to help!

Our team of industry experts is available to provide feedback and give you tips on how to land your next opportunity. To participate, please reach out to [email protected] with your name, college/major and graduating year.


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Member Spotlight

PRSA Member Spotlight

In this member spotlight, we’re highlighting Olivia Rotondo, Marketing Specialist at the Saunders College of Business at RIT. Olivia is one of the three co-chairs of the PRSA PRism Committee. Learn more about Olivia, and her commitment to the PRism Committee on keeping this year’s PRism event alive and running.

  1. What is your title and role at RIT Saunders College of Business?

I am the marketing specialist for Rochester Institute of Technology’s Saunders College of Business. My role involves managing the strategic marketing and communications efforts to advance the mission of Saunders College and its highly-ranked programs.

  1. How long have you been a member of the PRSA?

I’ve been involved with PRSA since college graduation in 2017. At St. John Fisher College, I was involved with our Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Chapter and was the president my senior year. Through our student chapter, I attended two national conferences and participated in the PRSSA Bateman Case Study Competition, where our team received national recognition. It was because of my undergraduate experience that I wanted to get involved with our Rochester chapter.

  1. When did you get involved in the PRism committee and why?

I wanted to get involved because the PRism Awards showcase the best in Rochester. I’ve always thought of the awards like the GRAMMY’s for PR people… and why wouldn’t you want to be involved with that?! Through my college internships, I was able to volunteer for the 2016 and 2017 PRism Awards. Shortly thereafter, I joined the committee to get more involved, and I’m very thankful I did! It’s nice being part of a tight-knit organization that supports each other, personally and professionally.

  1. Describe how you and the PRism committee have adjusted this year's event due to the impact of COVID-19, what challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Our committee was putting the finishing touches on the 2020 awards ceremony when we realized the impact of COVID-19. After going through the process of planning an in-person event, it was initially hard to digest the thought of creating a virtual event that would still be meaningful to our members. At the end of the day, we wanted to celebrate the hard work of our community!

The virtual event was a team effort through my co-chairs, Traci Legonelli and Elaina Mancuso, along with our committee and PRSA Board of Directors. We worked together to make the best of the situation while keeping our community’s health in mind. Plus, I think the first “rule” of being in public relations is all about being flexible!

  1. What are some lessons you've learned for event planning that would be beneficial for our members to hear?

Being organized helped our committee transition the in-person event to a virtual setting. We had all of our steps documented along with a timeline that was easy to adjust to this year’s event. Another thing that helped us was listening to our committee and the PRSA Board of Directors. In order to change gears, we needed to make sure everyone was on the same page. This involved talking through all of our options while being realistic.

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