PRSA Rochester Connect Newsletter

October 2020  

Letter from the Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Dear Members,

Every year, PRSA National recognizes October as Diversity & Inclusion Month. The Rochester chapter is taking this opportunity to “transform our landscape” (to borrow from National’s theme), and develop stronger allies, advocates, and role models in our profession.

It is in the spirit of continual progress - collectively as a community and individually as communications practitioners - that we carry the momentum, focus, and attention on issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity. But we know it's not just about words, it's about actions. 

As we observe Diversity & Inclusion Month, we challenge ourselves and our members to reflect on what we as individuals, and our organizations as a whole, are doing to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive? 

The PRSA Rochester Board is committed to keeping diversity at the forefront of what we do; we look forward to engaging our members and collaborating with community partners to do our part. With that in mind, we invite you to join us for a series of events over the next year. Workshops and podcasts clubs will educate our members, emails and social media posts will share resources, and innovative programming will create spaces for open dialogue.

Join us and be a part of this progressive and necessary step forward. 

Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Nadine General, co-chair

Melissa Greco Lopes, co-chair

Rachel Laber Pulvino

Kira Smelser

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PRSA DE&I Resources

For October Diversity & Inclusion Month, we’ve compiled a list of resources from PRSA National, the greater Rochester community, and trade media outlets that focus on the topic of diversity and inclusion.

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21 Day Racial Equity Challenge

PRSA Joins United Way’s 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge

PRSA Rochester has signed on to the United Way’s 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge. As a partner organization, PRSA will share with our members daily emails that include articles, videos, podcasts, and other resources that explore understanding bias, levels of racism, housing inequities, building a race equity culture, and more. The Challenge runs from Friday, Oct. 23 through Friday, Nov. 20. Keep your eye on your inbox and get ready to learn and grow with us!

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Upcoming PRSA Rochester Programs and Events

Thriving in a Culturally Vibrant Workplace

October 15, 2020 | 8:30 AM - 10:30 AM

In today’s reality, diversity—in all the ways we define it, equity and inclusion are vital to the long-term success of organizations. But getting from here to there can be intimidating. The transition from a single culture to one that is multi-cultural requires courage, persistence, patience, and humility.

In this two-hour webinar, facilitators from the National Coalition Building Institute will challenge us to explore our personal, organizational and chapter readiness to take the next step - in an atmosphere that is safe, welcoming, highly engaging, and interactive. Participants will explore how their own identities and experiences influence how they engage with others, and vice versa.

Don’t miss out – register now! Attendance will be capped to ensure the group size fosters productive conversation. If interest is high, a second session will be offered.

Stay Tuned! PRSA is Dialing Up a Podcast Club

Book clubs are so last year, so PRSA is flipping the script and hosting a Podcast Club! We’ll provide links to a series of episodes, then gather as a group (on Zoom) to chat about the issues, topics, and people at the center of the podcast. Look out for details in the coming weeks.

Have you attended a PRSA webinar?
As a PRSA member, you have access to a wide collection of online instructional videos to further your skillsets. Every month, new webinars are presented live. Each is valued at $200, but as a PRSA member, you get access for FREE. 

PRSA’s next webinar – “Getting It Right: Diversity and Inclusion in LGBTQ and Latinx Communications” – will be held on Thursday, November 12 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. It features Monica Trasandes, who has spent more than a decade in media relations and media training with GLAAD. She will discuss issues faced by the LGBTQ and Latinx communities and provide concrete steps to incorporate inclusiveness as a key driver in critical business functions. Click here to learn more and register. 

For a complete list of PRSA’s webinar line-up, visit this website.

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Ethics Corner

Webinar Recap: Black Men with APRs Discuss Ethics, Equity and Inclusion 

In September, for Ethics Month, the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS) hosted a webinar where four Black men who have their APR and work in public relations shared their expertise around ethics. 

Cedric F. Brown, APR, shared helpful insights on the PR ethical principle of advocacy. Advocating for diversity falls within this, he expressed. As ethical PR pros, we have an obligation to enhance the profession, and this means improving diversity among our chapters and our organizations, while avoiding tokenizing.

Roszell Gadson, APR, discussed two closely related ethical principles: independence and honesty. It’s important to speak up if something is happening or being discussed that doesn’t seem right in your organization. He stressed the importance of culture when it comes to making these two ethical values possible. 

Brandon Wilson, APR, stated the fact that we are still so far behind when it comes to diversity is proof that we don’t really want it, because it means change and change is difficult. Change makes us vulnerable. However, he said, “only when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable will we start to address diversity in its purest form.” While we each have our own objectivity, he explained we can all expand our objectivity by embracing curiosity. 

Kenn Dixon, APR, discussed preferences versus principles. Preferences come and go. They can change with the day. Principles, however, are your ethics and the foundation of your belief, understanding an outlook in decision-making. He stressed the importance of treating diversity as a principle, not a preference. He also talked about how what we do on and off the clock impacts not only our profession but also our society. As ethical PR professionals, we are obligated to help develop new PR pros entering the profession. 

If you are interested in watching the webinar in full, a recording of the webinar is available to PRSA members in the MyPRSA Communities – Ethical Communication. 

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PRSA Membership

The Triple Play offer is BACK!
New and returning members – don’t miss this great deal. Join today and you’ll get a FREE Chapter membership ($55 value), a FREE Section and a waived initiation fee ($65 value) or reinstatement fee ($35 value). Some restrictions apply. Visit and use the promo code TRIPLEPLAY20 to take advantage of this once-a-year offer.

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Member News: Congratulations to our New APR Designations

We are thrilled to announce that Rochester chapter members Rich Pulvino, Manager, Corporate Communications & Social Media at ESL Federal Credit Union, and Charla Kucko, Senior PR Counselor at McDougall Communications have received their APR designation! Congratulations to Rich and Charla on your commitment to continuous improvement and to the PR profession. What a great accomplishment!

Visit our website for information on earning your Accreditation in Public Relations.

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Open Positions: PRism Committee

Event Planning Positions Available! Lead the planning and execution of PRSA Rochester’s annual PRism Awards ceremony in 2021 and beyond.

Here are some broad specs of the role:

  • Plan & execute the annual PRism Awards ceremony, on-time and within budget
    • Planning begins in fall 2020 and ramps up during winter & spring
    • Event takes place in mid-June
  • Lead committee meetings & empower the team to take tasks
  • Lead reciprocal judging
    • Organize our chapter’s judges for the reciprocal chapter
    • Communicate with the reciprocal chapter that judge the PRisms
    • Use the OpenWater awards system, which provides a streamlined experience for users
    • Collaborate with our Young Professionals committee for student awards
  • Potential candidacy position on the PRSA Board of Directors
  • Support of past year’s co-chairs and PRSA Board
  • PRism Committee has historically had a dynamic duo of co-chairs sharing responsibilities and fun

If interested, please reach out to Elaina Mancuso at [email protected]

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Member Spotlight

In this member spotlight, we’re highlighting Kira Smelser, Assistant to the Founder & Communications Director at Camp Good Days. Learn more about Kira’s involvement in PRSA – including her participation on the Diversity & Inclusion Committee.  

Describe your title and role at Camp Good Days.

I am the Assistant to the Founder & Communications Director at Camp Good Days. I support our Founder and oversee, plan and execute any internal or external communications for our organization.

How and why did you choose to get involved in the Diversity Committee of the PRSA?

After about a year into my PRSA membership, I wanted to become more involved and the Diversity Committee seemed like a great fit. I liked the committee’s commitment to finding opportunities for raising awareness regarding the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, and their passion for educating communications professionals on how to tell inclusive stories. Diversity is an important facet of our society as a whole and I am glad that I get to be involved in spreading awareness about it in our profession.

Describe some of the activities and educational resources the Diversity Committee works on and shares with the PRSA Rochester chapter.

We act as an overall resource for the chapter regarding DEI and host activities and events. In 2019, we collaborated with Causewave Community Partners on their initiative, “Shaping Our Stories,” which looked at how race is represented and perceived in local news media. We acted as coaches to help local nonprofits that serve communities of color to share their stories with the media. We also host the annual “PR Apprentice Program,” which is a two-day bootcamp for local college students. They get to work in small teams to plan communications strategies and tactics for a local human services non-profit and then present their ideas to a judging panel made up of local professionals who select the best pitch. We are also always looking for ways to increase the membership diversity of our PRSA chapter and within the PR profession.

October is Global Diversity Awareness Month, what initiatives are the Diversity Committee doing this month to spread awareness within the community and PRSA?

We have the “Thriving in a Culturally Vibrant Workplace” workshop coming up on Thursday, October 15 from 8:30AM-10:30AM via Zoom. Facilitators from the National Coalition Building Institute will lead participants through a workshop to explore how their own personal experiences can influence how they engage with others. The workshop will act as a safe discussion space where people can share their thoughts, questions, and ideas.

What advice would you share with individuals or organizations right now on how to be more mindful of diversity, equity, and inclusion?

Listen to others. There is a lot of information circulating right now and it can seem overwhelming at times, but broadening your perspective by listening to others who have had different experiences from you is important—it makes you more compassionate, understanding, and open as an individual and as a professional. Read a book, listen to a podcast, and talk to friends, co-workers and family members who have had different experiences than you—be open to new conversations and perspectives. Look at ways that you and your organization can help people to feel more comfortable, represented, heard, and included. Don’t be afraid to take that hard look and see how you can work on yourself. By doing so, you can help your organization as a whole to move forward. Little steps now can help encourage long-term progress.


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