First National Dues Increase in 10 Years Comes With Increased Member Services

After holding the line on dues increases for the past 10 years, the PRSA 2011 Leadership Assembly voted to approve a $30 increase in the cost of basic PRSA membership dues. In those 10 years, costs have gone up dramatically, and the organization cut $1.5 million out of the budget. In order to maintain the level of services the society currently has, and to provide the new services members need, the PRSA Board of Directors put together a task force to evaluate the Society’s financial condition, and to make a recommendation to the Board. Its recommendation was that PRSA should increase the cost of its member dues by up to $50.

Based on their recommendations, the Board voted to introduce a motion at this year’s Leadership Assembly to increase the cost of dues by $30, instead of the recommended $50, and the Assembly concurred, voting to approve the dues increase 209-53. As part of the dues increase, beginning in 2012, all PRSA webinars will be included as a free member benefit. Currently priced at $100 or above, the added value will significanly offset the increase in dues, an approximately $2000 value for someone who participates in one webinar per month. Continue reading First National Dues Increase in 10 Years Comes With Increased Member Services

Chapter Looking Ahead to 2012 Chapter Speakers

-Chris Orris

November is just now starting, but already the chapter board is hard at work to find and bring you the best programs available. We have several excellent speakers we can look forward to in 2012, and more to come.

2012 Chapter Events

Just as the New Year’s celebrations fade, we will hear from Mary Ubrina of Clearly Write LLC. These days, the Internet makes all of us international companies, whether that was our original business goal or not, and we have to be able to manage communications for the international audience. Clearly Write does public relations for the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS), which is making a growing effort to bring in international media, attendees and exhibitors alike, and Mary will discuss what her company is doing to draw in the international crowd and expand an event that already just about fills McCormick Place each year. Continue reading Chapter Looking Ahead to 2012 Chapter Speakers

PR Career Workshop Teaches Online Job Search Techniques

-Jose Villalobos

On Oct 22 our chapter held its PR Career Workshop event. With the current lackluster economy it’s been difficult for many people to find a job, and for those in the public relations field, it has been no exception.

The workshop committee of Chris Orris, Stephanie Markadonatos, Stephanie Gandsey and Jose Alfonso Villalobos brought together a variety of experts from across the spectrum to address all aspects of the job search. In addition to speaking on the various areas of a modern online job search, speakers worked one-on-one with the attendees, critiquing everything from resumes to portfolios and offering simulated interviews so participants could practice their skills. Continue reading PR Career Workshop Teaches Online Job Search Techniques

Ted Pincus Dies, Founder of Chicago’s Financial Relations Board Communications Firm

Prominent Chicago public relations executive Ted Pincus, founder of the Financial Relations Board, one of the largest public relations agencies in Chicago, passed away September 30th. He was a business columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, an adjunct finance professor atDePaulUniversity and a consultant for political candidates ranging from Nelson Rockefeller in 1960 to Barack Obama in 2008. Continue reading Ted Pincus Dies, Founder of Chicago’s Financial Relations Board Communications Firm

PRSA Suburban Chicago Proudly Supports the Champions for PRSSA

– Chris Orris

At our last meeting, our chapter board voted to make a $50 donation to the Champions for PRSSA and officially presented the donation at the Assembly delegate lunch meeting at the PRSA National Conference this year.

Betsy Plank, Founder of Champions for PRSSA

The Champions for PRSSA was founded in 1981 by Betsy Plank, APR, Fellow PRSA. Formerly called Friends of PRSSA, the organization brings together those who have special, ongoing interest in PRSSA, its student members and public relations education as a whole.  The donation will be going toward student scholarships such as the Teahan awards for PRSSA chapter accomplishments and the Altschul Outstanding Internship award.

As a champion, our chapter has joined individual practitioners, educations, companies, agencies and other organizations as listed in the Champions Directory. Beyond knowing that our chapter has helped the PR pros of tomorrow along their journey into our own world, our chapter will now have access to the Champions newsletter, PRSSA’s quarterly FORUM publication and is invited to a reception at the PRSA International Conference where Champions can meet with the leaders of PRSSA.

Betsy herself was an avid supporter of public relations education, and it was to the end of helping students that Betsy established the Champions as a means of giving aid to PRSSA, an organization she helped establish years prior.

On May 23 of last year, Betsy Plank, APR, Fellow PRSA and a treasure of the profession, passed away, leaving behind a legacy of passion and commitment. Continue reading PRSA Suburban Chicago Proudly Supports the Champions for PRSSA

CyberAlert, Inc., Offering Public Relations Grants to Not-For-Profits

If you’re working with a non-profit organization, you are eligible to apply for a free professional news and social media monitoring service a la CyberAlert, Inc. For the ninth year in a row, the company is giving out a number of grants in the form of free year-long subscriptions that begin in January and last until December 2012. The grant is exclusive to not-for-profit organizations.

CyberAlert 5.0, one of the services being given away by the company, includes such tools as press clipping, news and social media monitoring and customizable features. According to CyberAlert, Inc. the value of the grants range from $3,000 to $6,000, and the total grants given out are expected to exceed $50,000.

For more information or to apply for the grant, go to .

When Wall Street Meets Main Street: Communicating in Tough Times

Tom Kelly speaks to a few of the chapter's newest members: Chris Orris, Stephanie Gandsey and Christina Tyler.


All Eyes on Chase

The recent recession turned millions of distraught heads toward the big boys of American finance, and JPMorgan Chase was up there with the biggest. Suffering from a convoluted financial mess that few understood, the bank’s media department faced many challenges as customers blamed losing their jobs or their homes on Chase and other banks. Last Tuesday, PRSA Suburban Chicago had the opportunity to hear Tom Kelly, senior vice president and regional director of media relations for JPMorgan Chase’s retail banking operations, explain how the retail banking operations managed the fallout of the investment banking crisis centered in New York City.

In communicating these efforts, Kelly emphasized the value of speaking in terms that regular people understand. While terms such as “pre-qualified modification terms” won’t resonate well with the average American, most Chase customers can appreciate hearing that Chase was creating regional centers with mortgage counselors, or preventing 650,000 foreclosures. In being so selective about his language, Kelly showed how attention to detail could make the difference between making consumers even more confused and frustrated, and getting the feeling that someone was finally cutting them a break.


What it Takes

Perhaps the first lesson of the night was learned to those of us who had the opportunity to chat with Kelly well before the meeting began. The questions he asked and the comments he made about things hardly even related to PR gave insight to the kind of thinking that goes into handling media relations for such a recognized brand as JPMorgan Chase. When a member mentioned their neighborhood, Kelly asked “Does it have street lights? How far do the sidewalks go?” When asked about his time at Northwestern University, he brought up how a recent adjustment to the lobby seating was very practical. That strict attention to detail, as Kelly later demonstrated, is key to getting a positive message across to a weary and suspicious audience.


For the Rest of Us

Kelly’s overall message was simple: “Talk about what you are doing. Do more and talk about it.” He showed how Chase backed up their messages with facts and figures that mattered to local audiences, such as total numbers of mortgage modifications offered, increases in consumer credit accounts opened, the number of new small business loans created, and contrasted the increase in these areas with results from previous quarters.

He also advised using every channel possible to communicate with audiences. Chase has used their website with video (, overnight mail packages, phone calls, bus stop shelters, radio advertising, mobile billboards in affected neighborhoods, press releases/reporter contacts, and meetings with community groups and elected officials to get information out to mortgage holders who need assistance with their mortgages. Kelly cautioned that when using statistics, make sure they are numbers that resonate with consumers – something that applies directly to them. Instead of talking total dollar amounts of credit extended, Chase used the number of small business credit accounts that were opened, or the number of new credit card accounts for individuals that were opened – figures that directly affect people.

Each tactic used by Chase to manage communication at the local level was illustrated with samples of media and direct-to-consumer messages. He also shed light on how to incorporate current examples of local philanthropy and special programs for military families into the mix without seeming self-serving.

The program closed with a different kind of crisis – examples of how Chase responded to customers affected by Hurricane Irene. Chase implemented crisis communications to customers, informing them about special programs such as waiving ATM fees for customers in the storm-damaged areas. Kelly demonstrated how Chase’s retail banking operations have continued to keep customers informed throughout multiple crises not of their own making.

October Events Feature Silver Anvil Award Winner Ryan Yantis, Career Workshop & PR After Hours

Ryan Yantis, Principal of Yantis Consulting

October is a busy month for PRSA Suburban Chicago, with a stellar program October 11th on managing a crisis in the midst of disaster with Ryan Yantis, Principal of Yantis Consulting, a private public relations and crisis mitigation practice, recounting managing communications at the Pentagon in the aftermath of 9/11.

Career Workshop on Saturday, Oct. 22nd will help you jumpstart that search for a new position, and we haven’t forgotten the need for some R&R to recharge the creative juices: our last PR After Hoursof the season is on October 27th at Houlihan’s in Oak Brook. It’s time to rev up your PR career, and with something for everyone, we hope to see you in October!

 On Duty: Communicating After 9/11 in the Pentagon – October 11th

All communicators need to think about and prepare for crisis scenarios for the workplace. But what do you do when your workplace is the site of a terrorist attack, with hundreds killed and badly injured?  While basic operations and infrastructure is in a shambles, how do you meet the surge of media interest, increased public interest, and care for your workforce and those most affected by the attack?  Learn how the Army prepared for the first anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks and sought to better inform the American people about what happened that day in the Pentagon. Register now.

October Career Workshop – October 22nd

The October Career Workshop will feature presentations and personalize critiques on job hunting techniques, resume design, portfolio organization, networking and business etiquette. To attend, register here.

PR After Hours – October 27th

The PR After Hours is a purely social gathering to meet existing colleagues and make new ones in a social setting. PRSA Suburban Chicago holds these events periodically throughout the year to encourage the lighter side of the profession. October’s event will be held at Houlihan’s in Oak Brook. It’s pay-as-you-go, so you can spend as much or as little as you want. To let us know how many to expect, please RSVP here.

Fall Programming Lineup Set: Crisis Communications, Pentagon Communications After 9/11 and Advocacy Campaigns

Ryan Yantis, Principal, Yantis Consulting

The season is noticeably changing, which means the PRSA Suburban Chicago summer break is ending. It’s time to return to improving our professional skills through our fall professional development series, and we have some exciting programs scheduled.

We’re kicking off September with When Wall Street Meets Main Street – Managing a National Crisis Locally, a look at how local Chase banks managed the financial crisis impacting the parent organization in New York.

Our October program features  Ryan Yantis, Principal of Yantis Consulting, a private public relations and crisis mitigation practice, recounting managing communications at the Pentagon in the aftermath of 9/11, and for the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks. All communicators need to think about and prepare for crisis scenarios for the workplace. But Ryan and his colleagues faced the unimaginable: managing crisis communications in midst of a terrorist attack, with over a hundred coworkers killed and badly injured. One year later, Ryan and his colleagues prepared for the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and sought to better inform the American people about what happened that day in the Pentagon. The anniversary observance earned the Army a PRSA Silver Anvil award.

Our holiday meeting features a long-time friend, 2006 PRSA National President Cheryl Procter-Rogers, APR, Fellow PRSA, president of A Step Ahead Public Relations and formerly vice president, Office of Public Relations and Communications, DePaul University. In 2000, Cheryl was the youngest member ever to be inducted into the Public Relations Society of America’s College of Fellows, a distinction held by a little more than 400 senior practitioners in the field of public relations.

Cheryl Procter-Rogers, APR, Fellow PRSA

Cheryl will be presenting a case study of a public relations advocacy campaign she led at DePaul to save the Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant for the spring 2010 semester. After $2.1 billion was cut from MAP grants in early August 2009, more than 130,000 Illinois students were left scrambling to fill the gap in their tuition costs. Under Cheryl’s guidance, DePaul led the fight to restore the MAP funding, and the resulting demonstration of the ability of public relations to affect change has useful lessons for PR practitioners, regardless of industry.



If Only I Had a Job….PRSA Suburban Chicago to Host Career Workshop

If Only I Had a JobWhile attending past chapter meetings, many of you have probably listened to presentations with a smile, thinking about how great it will be when you can apply this new-found knowledge at your workplace. But with the economy being the way it is, it’s just as likely that some of you listened and thought “How useful this information would be, if only I had a job.”

In an effort to help those of us without a job find their way back to the office, PRSA Suburban Chicago will be hosting two events: a career workshop in October, and a job fair in March. The first of the events will feature presentations on all the job-hunting essentials, including networking, organizing one’s portfolio and how best to appeal to recruiters. Following three panels on these subjects with speakers of varying specializations, attendees will get the chance to interact with speakers directly as they present their resumes for review, take part in mock interviews and pitch their elevator speeches to a PR pro.

With their resumes polished and their padfolios full of diligent notes, attendees of the career fair will be fully equipped to take on the chapter’s next career-focused event: the March job fair. With invitations going out to employers as far north as Milwaukee and as far south as St. Louis, the job fair committee is looking to stuff the fair with enough recruiters and hiring managers to fill the ballroom of the Sheraton Suites.

The advantage of the job fair is that it will be exclusive to PR and marketing jobs; no sales, no customer service. For attendees, this means that there is potential for a job that matches their background and interests at every table in the room. For the benefit of the employers, attendees must also have a background in communications in order to attend.

However, the required background is the only restriction placed on job fair attendees. Anyone seeking a PR job, be it a current college student or an experienced professional, a member of PRSA or not, is able to attend both the fair and the earlier career workshop.

Both the workshop and the job fair will take place at the Sheraton Suites in Elk Grove where our monthly chapter meetings are held. The workshop will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, October 22 and will last until 3 p.m. An exact date for the March job fair is still being finalized.

Register now for the PRSA Suburban Chicago Career Workshop. Until then, happy job hunting!