PRSA Rochester Connect Newsletter

February 2021  

President's Message

Greetings, Friends,

The 2021 Board of Directors and committee volunteers are busy planning for an exciting year of programming. As your 2021 PRSA president, I am proud to have a front row seat to the creativity and passion our volunteers have for PRSA and would like to express my sincere gratitude for the time and effort they dedicate to our organization.

As you will read in this issue, several of our board members will remain with us for an additional year of service. We also have two open leadership positions; if you are interested in taking a more active role in PRSA Rochester, raise your hand and join us. Board service is a rewarding experience – you will meet an incredible group of professionals and have the chance to positively impact our chapter.

As always, the Board’s goal is to provide an outstanding experience for PRSA Rochester members. Please know my inbox ([email protected]) is always open for your questions and suggestions.


Kindest Regards,

Melissa Greco Lopes

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2021 PRSA Rochester Board of Directors Slate Announcement

The PRSA Rochester Chapter and its 2021 Nominating Committee for the Board of Directors (B.O.D.) announces its formal slate of candidates for potential incoming positions in 2021. View the 2021 slate and two proposals that were voted on by the board on the PRSA Rochester website

All current members are encouraged to vote on the slate via electronic survey, available here:


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PRism News

2021 PRism Awards: It’s time to prepare your entries!

Early Deadline: March 19 | Final Deadline: March 26

We look forward to seeing the best of your communications programs and tactics in this year’s PRism Awards.

Now through March, we’re welcoming submissions across 12 program and 24 element professional categories and three program and five element student categories. Category descriptions, summary page guidelines and scoring grids can be found on the PRSA Rochester PRisms page. All entries will be judged by our peers in the Nashville Chapter.

Special recognitions for the Rising Star and Sharleen M. Bruse Award will also be featured this year. The final deadline for these nominations is Friday, April 9, 2021.

Additionally, the PRism committee is exploring virtual and in-person options for events to support entry preparation and for hosting the awards ceremony. We will keep members up-to-date on this and seek your input on ideas for making this happen. Last year’s virtual event was a success, so we have set a precedent of being able to celebrate in any environment!

For more information, please visit the PRSA Rochester PRisms page.

For questions, contact Michelle Cometa at [email protected]

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Get involved with PRSA

There are a variety of ways you can get more involved with PRSA! Consider volunteering on one of our 8 committees. These groups help run PRSA Rochester – from organizing events to growing membership to handling our chapter’s communications.

If you’re looking for a larger role in the organization, consider running for one of our open board seats. We have two open Director-at-Large positions available - one leading the PRism Committee and a second leading Nominating/Diversity/APR. Email [email protected] for more information or to apply for a position.

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Upcoming PRSA Rochester Programs and Events

Join the PRSA Podcast March 25

The PRSA Podcast Club kicks off on March 25 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.! Join your fellow PRSA members for an intimate chat in the PRSA Zoom room where we’ll discuss two episodes per session. (We will meet bi-monthly on the last Thursday of the month.) First up on the list is “The Diversity Gap” by Bethany Wilkinson. We’ll discuss the first two episodes from season one: “Amplifying Minority Voices + Diversifying Your Board of Directors” with Donna and Leroy Barber and “Is Systemic Change Possible?” with Adrian Pei. Podcasts hosts Nadine General and Kira Smelser will guide the first discussion for us to connect and debrief. From there we’ll rotate hosts—if you’re eager to lead the discussion, let us know!

Interested? Register Here

National Event Spotlight: Leading with Equitable Narratives

3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10

Do your organization’s PR strategies provide equitable solutions to Black and Brown communities, or do they take advantage of their plight to benefit your bottom line?

Y’Anad Burrell, MPA/MHA, will offer insights on how nonprofits and associations can communicate about their work with underrepresented groups in a way that demonstrates progress instead of poverty.

Register Today

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Member Resources

March Membership Offer: FREE Section PLUS waived initiation or reinstatement fee

New and reinstating members* will have their initiation or reinstatement fee waived when they join National as a Regular member ($260 annual dues) and receive a FREE 1-yr Section (up to $65 value).

*N/A for Associate member types ($200 or less annual dues) and current or renewing members. Include Counselors Academy up to $100.

If you would like to be billed quarterly, please call the PRSA Member Services Team at 212-460-1400 to set up your payment plan.

In Between Jobs Program

2020 has presented its share of challenges, not least among them, furloughs and hiring freezes in agencies, private and public companies, and across a plethora of industry verticals, impacting our members. PRSA is your partner in accessing the career stimulating connections and community you need to find your next job, advance in your professional life, and expand your opportunities. Visit: Use the CODE: INBETWEEN when registering.

In Between Jobs Membership Offer

If you have been forced to make tough choices on the best way to invest in finding your next position, we would like to help by keeping you connected to the PRSA network and resources at reduced professional membership dues for one year, and some additional savings to help you get moving toward a brighter future.

If you are currently unemployed, take advantage of the “In Between Jobs” program:

  • Receive one full year of PRSA professional membership at a 50% discount.
  • We will waive reinstatement fees for returning members, a $35 savings.
  • Receive a one-year complimentary membership in the Independent Practitioner Alliance.

REMINDER: Don’t Forget About All Your Great Member Benefits!

FREE Monthly Webinars: PRSA members have access to a wide collection of online instructional videos, to further their skillsets in the public relations and communications communities. Each month, new webinars are presented live. Each is valued at $200, but as a PRSA member, you get access for FREE. Check out the complete lineup and register today!

Member Discount Programs: Check out the wide assortment of discounts available at the PRSA Member Savings Center.


Check out the largest public relations and communications focused job board, with thousands of current job listings and employers posting every day. Receive a targeted career newsletter each week, with valuable tips, resources and information on building your personal brand. Access career coaching, resume review, tips for your social media profile, online interviewing, and more.

Don’t forget PRSA Rochester’s Job Board, too!
Remember that PRSA Rochester also posts local job opportunities on our web site. View open positions or post a job description.

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PRSA National and Northeast District News

National News

PRSA has named Linda Thomas Brooks as its new Chief Executive Officer. She was most recently a consultant working with media, marketing and trade organizations. She succeeds Philip Bonaventura who served as Interim CEO since July 2019. He has resumed his role as CFO, the position he held since joining PRSA in 2007.

More professional development opportunities than ever are available for PRSA members through National, many of them free or at affordable rates. Visit to check it out.

Northeast District News

The 2021 district board slate of officers was recently announced: Yvette Sterbenk, chair, Finger Lakes Chapter; Kelly Gaggin, chair-elect, Central NY; Tom Bebbington, treasurer, Yankee; Michael Bohne, Capital Region, secretary; and Michael Masseur, immediate past chair, Southeast New England. A diversity, equity and inclusion officer will be named once national PRSA approves the district’s new bylaws that call for adding this position.

The district board started the year by meeting for its annual retreat earlier this month during two half day Zoom sessions to discuss a range of topics and issues including mission statement, website and a great talk about diversity and inclusion by Rene Petties-Jones, D&I officer, WNY/Niagara chapter.

A notable agenda item was the 2021 Northeast District conference hosted by the Yankee Chapter. Taking place virtually on the afternoon of Thursday, June 17 and the morning of Friday, June 18, the conference promises to offer a great variety of workshops, panel discussions and other presentations on a wide range of topics geared to new and experienced professionals alike. Christopher Penn will kick off Thursday with a keynote on the future of AI in the PR industry. A call for presenters has gone out with a deadline of March 5. For more, visit

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Young Professionals Blog

What’s it like to intern during a global pandemic? Gabriella Gracy opens up to share with us her personal experience in our latest YP Blog.

Here are her main insights to share with anyone searching for opportunities during this time:

  • Your “Weak-Ties” Are There To Help You – “Weak-Ties” are people in your network who can help. Most importantly take advantage of your connections! Professors, mentors, alumni are all there to make an introduction, review a resume and more.
  • Say “Yes” To Everything – There’s no better way to stand out than by being ambitious, and if you need help, just ask. Take advantage of your chance to be hands-on in your field of interest.
  • Stay Humble: Your Boss Knows Best – For Young Professionals starting out in the professional world, there’s a lot to learn and practice is what helps you grow.

Read her full blog post on our website here:

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Ethics Corner

Advocacy. Loyalty. Fairness. Honesty. Independence. Expertise. Those are the values that make up the foundation of PRSA’s Code of Ethics. To be ethical PR practitioners means to understand and live these values in our work every day, through big and small challenges alike. Get to know the values more through the graphic below or at

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Member News: Congratulations to our New APR Designations

We are excited to announce that another PRSA Rochester chapter member has received their APR designation. Congratulations to Arien Rozelle, APR, Assistant Professor at St. John Fisher College, on this tremendous accomplishment!

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

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Member Spotlight

In this member spotlight, we’re highlighting our newly appointed PRSA Chapter President, Melissa Greco Lopes. Check out her full interview on our website here:

What is your title and describe your role and responsibilities at St. John Fisher College?

I am the assistant director of marketing and communications for St. John Fisher College, but I like to say that I’m one of Fisher’s biggest cheerleaders! My role on the team includes media relations, internal communications, reputation management, and crisis communications, among others. I work with deans, professors, administrators, students, and alumni to tell the story of how Fisher provides a transformative educational experience.

When did you first get involved in the Rochester PRSA Chapter, and as newly appointed President what are you most looking forward to this coming year?

I have been a member of the Rochester PRSA Chapter for just over a decade and am so honored to be stepping into the role of president this year. I’m looking forward to continuing our chapter’s work around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion both in our profession and community and supporting our programming committee as they plan innovative workshops and events.

Do you have any goals for the Rochester PRSA this year that you'll oversee as President?

The 2021 Board is committed to improving the chapter experience for our members. We’ve been brainstorming ways to create a more robust website, offer programming that meets the needs of professionals today, and provide a sense of community for our members. As president, my goal is to support the Board and our committees in these efforts and keep moving the chapter forward.

You recently achieved your APR accreditation, tell us about this process and why you wanted to pursue it?

I have been fortunate to work for employers that offer tuition assistance, and early in my career used that benefit to obtain a master’s degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology. The APR was a natural next step in my academic journey as accreditation would help sharpen skills and crystalize the strategies and theories espoused by those at the pinnacle of the profession.

It turned out to be one of the best professional decisions I have ever made. Through an online APR course, I was able to meet professionals from around the country, learn best strategies for taking the exam, and hear from current APRs. The experience taught me so much, and I was immediately able to apply those learnings to my position at Fisher.

Studying the content and working on my portfolio reminded me about all the things I love about public relations and renewed my passion for the profession. For anyone thinking about taking the APR: Take the leap. You won’t regret it!

Coming off a challenging year, do you have any advice or insights you learned that you would like to share with fellow members in our industry and our chapter? 

The success of our profession is often a reflection of the relationships that we build, and at a time when we’re isolated from our work environments and each other - those relationships are all the more important. My advice: reach out to your fellow colleagues here at PRSA Rochester. The communications industry in Rochester has always been supportive, so connect with us and each other:  for advice, networking, job recommendations, an email address for a reporter, a question about a new platform or tool, or just a chat. We’re a stronger, better community when we work together.

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