2019 New Year’s Resolution for Communicators: Stay Curious & Be Agile

By Tim Smith, Managing Director – Seattle, APCO Worldwide

Only 4 in 10 (39%) Fortune 1000 executives feel that their company is very prepared to manage risk and disruption, according to new research from APCO Worldwide.

“We know that the world is changing. Yet most corporate leaders haven’t kept up with the pace of change,” said Brad Staples, CEO of APCO Worldwide. “You can’t slow that pace down, but smart corporate executives know that building agile organizations, ready to respond to and positively creating change, is the only way to succeed in today’s environment.” Research from McKinsey & Company from earlier this year found much the same: agile organizations are more likely to be customer-centric, see higher revenue growth, and generate lower costs.

It’s not surprising that today’s uncertain business environment causes most companies to move too cautiously or – worse yet – not move at all. Yet companies that thrive today are not stagnant; they’re insatiably curious and bold. They never stand still, disregard no one and miss nothing.  They’re agile, but in a new way.

APCO’s research specifically identified three core dimensions of agility:

  • Active leadership means that curious leaders are visionaries who know how their decisions impact the business, employees, partners and customers. What if and why not are part of their everyday vocabularies.
  • Enterprising culture means looking forward by rewarding risk-taking and reinvention, and encouraging employees to learn, adapt and push the boundaries to capitalize on opportunities.
  • Shared advocacy means that companies know their markets inside out and closely monitor potential risks while using their influence to shape current and future changes in their favor.

In the coming year, strategic communications will continue to play an increasingly critical role in helping companies identify and manage critical issues and ensure alignment with key stakeholders, including employees. Whether working in-house or as an external consultant, communicators who understand the shifting landscape and can help clients survive and thrive will lead the way.

With all of this in mind, APCO Worldwide launched a new corporate agility tool – Stay Curious. Stay Ahead. – designed to help companies become leaders, not only in their respective sectors but in the world around them. The platform assesses any organization’s ability to weather prospective challenges and provides actionable takeaways for the near and distant future.

If you’re interested in getting the New Year off to a good start and want to learn more about how APCO Worldwide’s insights and offerings could help you be more curious and agile, please contact seattle@apcoworldwide.com.

2018 Edelman Trust Barometer: In Search of Truth

By Will Ludlam, General Manager, Edelman Pacific Northwest

For 18 years, the Edelman Trust Barometer has evaluated public trust in institutions (business, government, NGOs and media), countries and sectors. This year’s global study revealed that not only has public trust not recovered from recent declines, but it’s the most dramatic decline the survey has ever measured. No country saw steeper declines than the United States, with a 37-point total drop in trust across all institutions. While at the opposite end of the spectrum, China experienced a 27-point gain – more than any other country.

But despite blanket distrust, people are still searching for the truth and there is a clear reward for leaders who choose to authentically speak out on issues.

In fact, 64 percent of respondents say that CEOs should lead change rather than wait on government, with 84 percent of respondents expecting CEOs to inform conversations and policy debates on one or more societal issues. When asked about the most important responsibilities for CEOs, trust-building is job one, slightly ahead of quality, company values and stock price.

Trust is more polarized than ever – particularly along political lines – and will require leaders to take action, break the silence and communicate the facts. Working together, business, government, NGOs and media can be an agent of change.

If you’re interested in hearing more about Edelman’s Trust Barometer and how the data is applicable to your business, please contact PNWTrust@edelman.com.


How Values Help Bridge the Story Gap in Tech PR

By Matt Ashworth, General Manager, WE Communications, Seattle

With questions around trust in companies being pushed into the spotlight, it is time to reconsider what responsibilities we have as technology communicators, and what authentic communication means for brand reputation. The PRSA North Pacific District Conference held April 22-24 in Seattle served as a great forum to discuss this idea.

In the past few weeks, we have seen an extraordinary display of how companies’ communication with users is important in building trust, and the pitfalls that companies often find when they’re tone deaf to what consumers really care about. For example, in the technology industry, we’ve recently seen Facebook and Twitter face challenges in keeping consumer trust in their brands.

WIRED’s Editor in Chief Nicholas Thompson commented in his presentation that the world is changing at a pace that is hard to comprehend.  In these fast-paced times, finding the essence of your brand and consistently interacting with authenticity creates a shared conversation that helps create confidence in and loyalty to your brand for the long term.

In today’s environment, every single technology company narrative, no matter what business function you operate in, will be met with a high level of scrutiny and skepticism. Influencers, for example, are expressing a strong distaste for communications strategies that lack proof and empathy toward how products may impact people and society at large, negatively.

As communicators of impactful brands, we hold great responsibility and need to understand not just our clients’ products, but the people and processes behind the scenes. Scott McClellan, Vice President of Communications, Seattle University, reminded us that communications professionals have the ability to influence organizations to make sure decisions are values-driven. By doing so, we have the opportunity to force deeper conversations that could help companies like Facebook think through their crises.

One way to do this is to be cognizant of how messages are likely to be received by highly politicized audiences. When surveyed, democrats and republicans don’t share many values, but both groups put a high premium on authenticity, conscience, wisdom and serenity. Brands that can identify similarly shared values in their own audience, and then build communications strategies and segment their audience based on those shared values are less likely to run afoul of backlashes and political criticism.

At WE, we’re also increasingly encouraging our technology clients to communicate with mainstream audiences in mind. We see a new responsibility to counsel our clients to add technology messages to their broader company narratives that help link the technical language of the datacenter to the values of the general public. This approach enables our clients to be better prepared to communicate about their technologies to all audiences in the event that their technologies gain mainstream attention.

As Microsoft’s Chief Communication Officer Frank Shaw discussed in his presentation, trust is built in drops and lost in buckets. Companies today have a harder time winning back trust because there isn’t a strong trusted media to help them regain confidence in their brand.

To speak with WE Communications about building trust by authentically communicating what your brand stands for, please contact talktowe@we-worldwide.com.

3 Tips for Getting Pro Quality Video with your Smartphone.

By Kelly Guenther, Shoosta

Every year our smartphones get smarter, faster and feature more technology than you can poke the proverbial a stick at! Seriously, the average user will never need all that tech in their pocket, or will they?

Mobile camera technology has predominantly been the key feature for smart phones thanks to better technology. Features including low-light functionality, time-lapse, faster shutter speeds, and higher quality audio means that nearly everyone can take professional quality videos with their smartphone.

This is one of the main reasons Shootsta developed the Mini Kit. The Mini Kit comes standard with an iPhone 7+, Osmo Gimbal for stabilizing, mini tripod and accessories to get your footage uploaded to the Shootsta Hub (our Video Management Platform) ready to be edited faster than you can say “once our editor’s get your video, it will be edited, color-graded, motion graphics added, top and tailed and back to you in 24-hours”! Well, almost as fast.

Here are my 3 tips to get you making pro-quality videos with your smartphone today.

#1 // Get Good Lighting

Natural lighting works best. If shooting a person, always try to position the subject near a window as this allows for a more natural look with softer lighting. When you’re not shooting people try and make sure the scene you’re shooting is bright with constant light (not flickering). Don’t try to get too much light or your footage will be overexposed and little can be done about this in post-production. If you hold your finger down on the screen of an iPhone you can achieve AE/AF Lock in yellow letters. This will lock in the focus on a person’s face and keep the light from flickering.

#2 // Use a Stabilizer.

There’s nothing worse than ruining a great video than having a shaky hand or whilst you’re walking the camera is bobbing up and down like a bouncing ball. Most iPhones have built-in stabilization to keep a handheld interview looking good but not a walking motion smooth.

Here are two items to make your videos look more pro than amateur. The Osmo Gimbal. This tool allows you to capture moments with cinematic movement all smooth and stable. It can also pair with your device for even more control options. The second option to stabilize your videos is to just use a tripod that comes with a phone holder. If you don’t have either of these, try and hold the phone as close to your body as possible, This will limit the amount of shaking thanks to your center of gravity and save your arms from getting sore.

#3 // Did you say Audio?

Yes, audio is super important, especially for smartphones. In most quiet environments, with minimal activity going on, the audio from the smartphone should be adequate. If you want to get clear audio, simply make sure your environment is quiet, unless you’re at a rock concert and then I guess that may just add to the ambience — but you won’t get a good interview.

If you’re shooting an interview or testimonial, for example, the best thing would be to position the smartphone as close to the subject as you can. Remember to make sure that the subject is still composed properly on screen. If you’re struggling to get a great audio you may want to consider using the Voice (memo) recorder function on another phone so that you can overlay the audio in the editing process.

For even better audio consider getting an external microphone such as the Rode SmartLav+.

In summary, to get pro-quality video with your smartphone remember:

  1. Get Good Lighting
  2. Use a Stabilizer
  3. Make sure your Audio is adequate.

To learn more about creating high-quality video content with your smartphone join Shootsta’s North American Video Specialist – Kelly Guenther – as he gives you a hands-on walk through on doing just that at this year’s PRSA Game Changers Conference.


Session Details:

Title: Power in the Palm of Your Hand

Date: Tuesday, 24th April 2018

Time: 11:45 AM – 12:45 PM

A Tribute to Jay Rockey, APR Fellow PRSA

A true pioneer of public relations, Jay Rockey’s game changing campaign for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair drew international attention–forever putting Seattle and the Space Needle on the map. But Jay’s career was just getting started. Jay and his wife Retha founded the Rockey Company, with offices in the Northwest, New York and Washington, DC, and later acquired by Hill & Knowlton. He influenced countless careers with his quiet but steady brand of honesty, ethics and integrity and had an undeniable impact on the profession.

We lost Jay recently, but colleagues across the west will honor his impact on the profession in a special tribute Monday, April 23 at the 2018 PRSA North Pacific District Conference.  A past president of PRSA National and the local chapter, Jay and Retha established the Jay & Retha Inghram Rockey Scholarship Endowment in Communications at Washington State University to recruit and recognize communications and public relations students.

Eventbrite - 2018 PRSA North Pacific District Conference

Call for nominations for the PRSA North Pacific District PR Practitioner of the Year is now open

The PRSA North Pacific District PR Practitioner of the Year Award is a regional honor for our District members to recognize those who have excelled professionally and given back to the industry through volunteer contributions to PRSA.

Does this sound like someone you know? Nominate him/her/them for the 2018 PRSA North Pacific District PR Practitioner of the Year Award today.

Award criteria is simple and inclusive:

  • Nominee must be a member in good standing of a PRSA Chapter in the North Pacific District
  • Nominee has worked full-time in public relations for more than five years and demonstrated excellence in his/her/their public relations knowledge, skills and abilities

Nominations should also include a letter of recommendation from someone who is not the nominator nor the nominee and must be submitted at the time of the recommendation.

Nominations are open now through Friday, March 30, 2018.

Op-Ed: Why I’m excited about the conference

By Taraneh Fultz, APR

One of the things I love about volunteering with PRSA is that you get the freedom to do things here that you could never do at work.

That’s why every new PRSA volunteer experience of mine has started with “what if?”

It’s led to some pretty interesting adventures:

  • Watching my friend and mentor, Barbara Kerr, APR, receive her College of Fellows medallion and crying my eyes out next to her husband (see image).
  • Talking Joel Stein into coming to Portland for less than a third of his regular fee and watching my idols ask for his autograph.
  • Serving as my chapter’s first millennial president the same year I celebrated my 10th anniversary of membership.
  • Flying to Boston for 24 hours to attend a national strategic planning committee meeting and sneaking in a game at Fenway (luggage in tow, straight from the airport).
  • Going to my first past presidents’ dinner where I got to meet folks who were chapter president at a time when I was learning to ride a bike.
  • Turning a nominating committee meeting into a backyard dinner party and introducing colleagues to Persian kebabs and baghali polo.
  • Eating oysters for the first time while at ICON in New Orleans with my fellow PRSSA members after having sold our weight in Krispy Kremes to raise enough money to finance the trip.

Now having joined our District’s leadership team, when faced with the knowledge that the next district conference was during my term as chair, the question I asked was “what if we could have a conference with ICON-level programming (without ICON-level pricing) that had the bonding opportunities of an old-school slumber party like ‘Thirteen Going on Thirty’?

Jacque Coe (aka my new PRSA BFF and your District conference chair) took up the challenge, and the 2018 North Pacific District Conference was born.

  1. First, we found the perfect venue. The Hyatt at Olive 8 in Seattle’s meeting spaces have floor-to-ceiling windows, so we’ll never feel like we’re learning inside of a coffin. Plus, their food is yum, and their rooms are wow.
  2. Next, we have a cocktail reception with Chris Porter because who doesn’t want to start off a conference with beer and wine? Not us! He’ll talk about the transition from a PR director into the owner of Seattle’s “best pie shop.” Plus, there’s pie. “Best pie shop” pie. Mmmm.
  3. Then we have our keynotes. There’s Frank, the guy who leads communications for Microsoft, the company that basically ushered in personal computing; Scott, who was the longest serving press secretary under George W. Bush, and who we bet will have some rather interesting things to say about the current team in the White House; and Nick, who before returning to Wired as its editor-in-chief revitalized the newyorker.com as its editor by focusing on — what else? — “telling better stories.” He’ll be talking about technology and fake news, among other awesomeness.
  4. Rounding out our program is a list of session speakers that could have been keynotes. Here’s a partial list: a senior adviser to the Clinton White House, an artist and writer whose work has been described as “our favorite reason for the Internet to exist,” an Emmy-Award-winning TV reporter, producer and photographer, and (spoilers!) Washington’s attorney general, who’s going to talk about the communications behind fighting Trump’s travel ban. (And we’re still collecting more.)
  5. Finally, we’re bringing the fun back to networking. Frank’s thinking about hosting a morning run. I’m looking into how to pull off a mini-slumber party with a screening of “Sleepless in Seattle,” a PJ fashion show, followed by a dance party for those hopped up on sugar and spiked punch. And since I’m pregnant, there’s talk of bringing in baby shower games, like guessing how big my belly is.

The bottom line? Even if you come to the conference a stranger, you’re going to leave a friend. A friend with a lot of new inspiration, tips and tricks to up-level your game at work, but a friend nonetheless. And isn’t that really why we joined PRSA in the first place? To be surrounded by people who get us, push us and make us better?

So what about you? Why are you excited about the upcoming conference?

And if you’re not registered yet, or if you are, and you haven’t booked your room at the Hyatt, what are you waiting for?

Seriously. Inquiring minds want to know.​

Eventbrite - 2018 PRSA North Pacific District Conference

Congratulations to the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter on its 2017 PRSA Chapter Diversity Award

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the nation’s largest professional organization serving the communications community, presented the 2017 “Chapter Diversity Award” to the PRSA San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (PRSA-SF). The award was announced at the PRSA 2017 International Conference in Boston.

The Chapter Diversity Award is given annually to the PRSA chapter that best embodies and demonstrates key values in diversity and inclusion (D&I) and contributes to advancing diversity locally and nationally. The San Francisco Chapter’s D&I efforts, stood out among its peers for successfully developing and hosting multiple panels, workshops and seminars focused on the importance of implementing D&I programs and best practices.

“The San Francisco Chapter is very proud to have been chosen for this recognition. Our D&I committee worked diligently to ensure that diversity and inclusion had a seat at the table in all decisions about our program offerings and member communication,” said Annie Moore, 2017 PRSA-SF Chapter President.

The award is reflective of the work that the chapter produced and implemented from July 30, 2016 through July 31, 2017. During that time, the San Francisco Chapter successfully developed and hosted multiple diversity-minded programs and events including the “Fall Into Diversity” mixer, a Diversity & Inclusion Best Practices Google Hangout and Twitter chat, “United. Not Divided. Communicating Through a Crisis,” and “So You Have a Diversity & Inclusion Program. Now What?” In addition, the committee ensured a more diverse representation of communications experts across all programs and activities within the Chapter.

This year, Ayele Ajavon, Communications Manager at Autodesk and 2017 PRSA-SF D&I Director, took the additional step of volunteering on the Chapter’s Professional Development Committee, chaired by Marquise McCoy, Corporate Communications Manager at LinkedIn, and working more closely with the organizers of the Chapter’s Second Thursday Networking Committee, chaired by John McCartney, Managing Director, West Coast at Wise Public Relations, to ensure even greater synergy and more diverse representation across chapter activities and events.

“D&I is not a tactic or box to check off. It’s a critically important lens through which all communications activities flow and this year we ensured that it was embedded into the framework of all of our programing,” said Ajavon. “The PRSA-SF chapter has always tried to lead by showing what great public relations work looks like and this year, we were committed to serving as the gold standard for D&I in action.”

PRSA 2017 D&I Committee

  • Ayele Ajavon, Director
  • Ashleigh Richelle
  • Marquise McCoy
  • Joanna Rosenthal
  • Rahel Marsie-Hazen, Director-At-Large
  • Y’Anad Burrell, Immediate Past President, PRSA-SF

PRSA-SF D&I Statement*
PRSA-SF is committed to providing professional development opportunities that are reflective and inclusive of all segments of society. Our goal is to provide communications programming that encompasses a wide variety of ideas, perspectives and cultural backgrounds. Through our events and resources, we aim to encourage, educate and engage with a diverse group of communications professionals while affecting change and fostering growth in the public relations industry.

About The San Francisco Chapter of PRSA
The San Francisco Chapter of PRSA is a dynamic networking group of public relations professionals dedicated to the advancement of the profession and the professional. Visit http://www.prsasf.org for more information.

*PRSA-SF released its first-ever D&I statement in 2016 under the leadership of Y’Anad Burrell, CEO, Glass House Communications and PRSA-SF 2016 President

[This press release was distributed by PRSA San Francisco Chapter via PRWeb]

Congratulations to PRSA North Pacific District’s 2017 PR Practitioner of the Year Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA

Dianne Danowski Smith, APR

Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA, named PRSA North Pacific District’s 2017 PR Practitioner of the Year

District honors practitioner and founder of Answer2Cancer

After receiving a cancer diagnosis and fighting through treatment to recovery, this year’s PRSA North Pacific District Practitioner of the Year, Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA, turned her thoughts to the principles she learned in her practice of public relations to support others struggling with cancer.

Danowski Smith took her 20+ years of experience in public relations, and while she was recovering from surgery and weak from chemotherapy and radiation treatments, began creating an Oregon event called Answer2Cancer. Drawing on her connections, she secured sponsorships from dozens of heavy-hitter health care and cancer community brands. She built a consortium of support and helped host the day-long event, held on April 23, 2016 in Portland, where those impacted by cancer could learn, share and receive support from people who truly understood. Her goal was to get enough sponsorship dollars so the event could be free to cancer patients, their families and friends. She succeeded, raising 300% of her funding goal.

As she shared event information through traditional and social media, she had an epiphany; once Answer2Cancer went live on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, it was shared like wildfire. At that moment she learned it was no longer a local initiative. She had just gone global, and requests to have an Answer2Cancer event in other communities began coming in.

“It’s a privilege to recognize our colleague Dianne, who used her own experience, combined with her PR expertise, to positively impact others,” said Alison Gaulden, PRSA North Pacific District 2017 Chair. “Many of us can only aspire to have our work have such a tremendous impact. Dianne is an exemplary practitioner.”

This PRSA North Pacific District Practitioner of the Year award is given annually to a PRSA member in the district who has worked full-time in public relations for more than five years and demonstrated excellence in public relations knowledge, skills and abilities. It honors those who have excelled professionally and given back to the industry through volunteer contributions.

Danowski Smith was selected out of nine nominees by a panel of judges who are PRSA members, Accredited and current or former district leaders.

“The profession and practice of public relations has taught me so much about real, honest engagement,” said Danowski Smith. “Early in my treatment, I realized no one is born knowing how to have cancer.  As I entered intensive treatment, I learned I didn’t know what I didn’t know. But using the principles of public relations has taught me about authentic communications and how to help others become empowered and engaged in their cancer care. And, research shows that those who are most engaged in their cancer journey statistically have better outcomes. That is the most important part of all of this.”

Danowski Smith has nearly three decades of experience in the management of public relations, public affairs, strategic marketing and corporate communications through her work at agencies and for large, complex organizations. She has garnered award-winning results in community programming, issues management, strategic counsel and tactical implementation. She serves on the 2017 board of directors of the Oregon Bioscience Association and the Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce, chairing its Business Advocacy Council. For the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), she serves on the 2017 board of directors of PRSA Oregon as a leadership assembly delegate, and served in multiple chapter, district and national committee roles, including the 2006 president of the Portland Metro Chapter and as 2004 chair of PRSA’s North Pacific District. She is the recipient of the 2009 PRSA Portland Metro Chapter William W. Marsh Lifetime Achievement Award.

Smith counsels boards of national and local nonprofits as well as serving as an invited trainer for executives, administrators, community advocates, university students and leadership candidates. Additionally, she is a national speaker providing public relations and strategic expertise regarding media advocacy, strategic PR, scenario planning, social engagement and protecting one’s online reputation.


About PRSA North Pacific District

One of the largest geographic areas of PRSA, the North Pacific District consists of 2,500 members in 14 chapters located in Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.


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Announcing the 2017 NPD PR Practitioner of the Year finalists

PRSA North Pacific District PR Practitioner of the Year

The PRSA North Pacific District PR Practitioner of the Year award is given annually to a PRSA member in the North Pacific District who has worked full-time in public relations for more than five years and demonstrated excellence in public relations knowledge, skills and abilities. It honors those who have excelled professionally and given back to the industry through volunteer contributions to PRSA and mentoring young professionals.

A call for nominations was published in May and the deadline for submissions extended through the end of June.

We’re pleased to announce the nine North Pacific District PRSA members who were nominated for this year’s award:

Heather Barnum, APR
Communications Director, Utah Department of Human Services
Greater Salt Lake Chapter

Kristin Helvey, APR
President/Owner, Helvey Communications
Alaska Chapter

Amanda Thiebaud Horn
Director of Communications, Nevada Museum of Art
Sierra Nevada Chapter

Nance Larsen, APR, Fellow PRSA
Strategic Communication Consultant
Alaska Chapter

Colby Reade, APR
Account Supervisor, CMD
Oregon Chapter

Melissa Rohlfs
Director of Communications, Summit Public Schools
Silicon Valley Chapter

Michael Smart
Principal, SmartPR
Utah Valley Chapter

Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA
Vice President, Publix Northwest Public Relations
Oregon Chapter

Scott Trotter, APR
Community Relations Manager, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Greater Salt Lake Chapter

Judging will be done by a panel of out-of-district PRSA members who are both Accredited in public relations and are current or former PRSA district leaders.

The winner will be announced this fall and the award will be presented by NPD Chair, Alison Gaulden, APR, at an event in the winner’s local PRSA chapter.

Congratulations on this honor and best of luck to all the nominees.

The 2016 NPD PR Practitioner of the Year award went to Cindy Sharpe, APR from PRSA’s Puget Sound Chapter. You can learn more about Cindy and her award here.

Betsy Hays, Cindy Sharpe and Pete Codella