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President’s Message

It’s hard to imagine that 2016 is more than half way over. Do you even remember what your New Year’s resolutions were? I didn’t make anythis year, so I feel good about where I am today. But maybe now is the time to rethink that position. So here goes:

Resolution #1: I will not discuss politics on Facebook. I will resist the urge to “educate” those who disagree with me. I will not unfriend anyone (maybe).

Resolution #2: I will spend more time reading business-related books. But not on a Kindle, I like the old-fashioned method.

Resolution #3: I will renew my Amazon Prime membership. Amazon Prime Day was an amazing display of technology.

Resolution #4: I will get my Summit Awards submissions done in a timely manner!

Yes – it’s time for Summit Awards! (How about that transition!) And this year we are offering an all-digital submission process! That’s right, no more clunky binders or rewritable DVDs. No more last minute dashes across the Virginia Western Community College parking lot. From the comfort of your office, you can upload all your files!

In other exciting Summit Awards news, the Lin Chaff Award for Creativity is now open to ALL submitted entries. There is no need to enter the category separately. One entry will be selected by the judges as the overall most creative entry based on the creative execution of the campaign or tactic.

The 2016 Summit Awards are now divided into two main divisions: Campaigns and Tactics. Two Best-in- Show awards will be given – one to the entry receiving the most points in the Campaign division and one to the entry receiving the most points in the Tactics division.

The chapter has also eliminated budget categories and instead created several subcategories to better classify entries. The subcategories include:

  • For-Profit: Any campaign or program where more than 50% of the work is completed by a for-profit organization.
  • Non-Profit: Any campaign or program where more than 50% of the work is completed by a non-profit organization.
  • Government/Education: Any campaign or program where more than 50% of the work is completed by a local, state or federal government agency, public school or higher education institution.

Be sure to read your call-for- entries carefully!

Finally, we proudly announce the Adam & Alison Award for Media Excellence. PRSA Blue Ridge members may nominate an individual member of the media that exemplifies excellence in fair and accurate reporting (see separate online nomination). Nominations are due September 10, 2016. There is no fee to submit a nomination. This award is given in memory of Adam Ward and Alison Parker, two Roanoke reporters who were lost in a tragic attack on August 26, 2015.

Remember, we have an early bird entry option:

Early Bird – Due by 5 p.m. Sept. 1, 2016
PRSA Members $50 per entry
Non-PRSA Members $65 per entry
PRSSA Members $20 per entry
Non-PRSSA Students $25 per entry

Regular Entry – Due by 5 p.m. Sept. 10, 2016
PRSA Members $65 per entry
Non-PRSA Members $80 per entry
PRSSA Members $30 per entry
Non-PRSSA Students $35 per entry

Here’s to successful resolutions and award-winning public relations work! Good luck, everyone!

Betsy Parkins
PRSA Blue Ridge President

Communicating to Young Professionals

Engaging young professionals is crucial to recruiting and retaining talent to grow our region. It’s an issue that’s long been talked about – why do so many college graduates leave for bigger markets, including those in PR?

That’s the reason for eXperience YP, a conference to connect and empower young professionals in the Roanoke and New River valleys to strengthen our communities socially and economically.

What started as a one-day event has blossomed into a year-long movement centered around an annual gathering every spring to showcase the quality of life in our region as well as the career and philanthropic opportunities available to young people.

Join us for the next PRSA Blue Ridge chapter luncheon at noon on Thursday, Aug. 11 at the Roanoke Higher Education Center as the two eXperience co-chairs, Taylor Ricotta and Greg Danahy, join us for a panel discussion about the outlook for young professionals in our region, how to best communicate to young professionals, and what we can do as PRSA members to foster YPs and mentorships throughout the region. They’ll share data from the eXperience conference and PR best practices that were used to create a successful event for this important audience.

This luncheon will be sponsored by Appalachian Power. The panel will be moderated by Thomas Becher, APR, Senior Vice President at ndp and co-creator of eXperience. Register for the luncheon here.

About the panelists:

Taylor Ricotta discovered her passion for Roanoke when she moved to the area in 2001. After graduating from Radford University in 2012,Taylor helped lead the marketing efforts to launch Roanoke’s first co-working space, CoLab, to help local freelancers and small businesses succeed.

In 2015, Taylor began working for Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge to promote the region she loves to a much bigger audience. As the Public Relations Manager at Visit VBR, Taylor currently works directly with travel writers and journalists to showcase Virginia’s Blue Ridge as a great tourism destination. In her spare time, you will find Taylor soaking up the sun with family and friends and hanging out with her pet goats Lewis and Clark.

A Roanoke native, Greg Danahy graduated from Hampden Sydney College in 2008. Post-graduation he spent several years working as a project manager in Washington D.C. His love of Roanoke brought Greg back in 2014, however, taking a position with Allegheny Partners managing a portfolio of multi-family residential properties in the Downtown Roanoke market.

His personable approach and seemingly limitless energy quickly prove him a friend to all and helped establish him as one of Downtown Roanoke’s leading managers. Whether in his role as property manager of the Hancock Building and the Auction House Lofts, or as an avid outdoors enthusiast running on Roanoke’s Greenways, Greg strives to be an ambassador for Roanoke.

Please note change of location: this luncheon will be at the Roanoke Higher Education Center.

Summit Awards Call for Entries!

As Betsy announced in her president’s message above, it’s time to start putting together your entries for the 2016 Summit Awards! We are making several changes to the Summit Awards process this year that we are hopeful will encourage participation in this important opportunity to recognize excellent public relations initiatives in our region, so be sure to read through the call-for-entries carefully.

The Early Bird submission deadline is Sept. 1 at 5 p.m. The non-Early Bird deadline is Sept. 10 at 5 p.m. Find the call-for-entries on thechapter website.

Winners will receive their 2016 Summit Awards at the annual gala on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016 – mark the date on your calendar now! More information and registration for the gala will be available soon.

Take a look at your portfolio of work over this past year and consider what you will submit for the 2016 Summit Awards!

Free Learning Opportunities!

Be sure to take advantage of the FREE webinars offered by PRSA as part of your membership! Here are a few of the upcoming live webinars you can participate in (many are also available on-demand):

Tuesday, Aug. 9 – Guiding Leaders to Make Wise Decisions in a Crisis: A Step-by-Step Process
Details & Registration

Tuesday, Aug. 16 – Diversity and Inclusion: The Competitive Edge
Details & Registration

Thursday, Aug. 18 – Think Like a Friend, Fan, Follower or Visitor: Offer News You Can Use, and Watch Your Reach and Influence Grow
Details & Registration

Thursday, Sept. 8 – Art and Courage of Dealing with Ethical Issues: Develop Allies and Form Coalitions
Details & Registration

New Members Spotlight

Name: Nicole Bruch 
Title & Company: Corporate Marketing Coordinator, Virginia Lutheran Homes
Joined PRSA: November 2015

Where did you attend college? Lynchburg College

Why did you choose PR as a career? It always seemed interesting to me. However, once I took a few classes in college and learned more about how companies manage and strengthen their reputation within a community I knew that was what I wanted to do. 

What have been the highlights of your career, or what are some goals of your career? My careers goals are to grow my knowledge and gain more experience in PR. 

Are you married; single? Married

Do you have any children? 1 son, Grayson who is 14 months old

Pets? A pit bull, a miniature schnauzer, and 2 cats. 

What are your hobbies/interests? I love spending time with my son and husband. 

What is the strangest situation you have found yourself in, or what has been your biggest adventure? My biggest adventure has been traveling around Europe on a study abroad in college; it was a once in a lifetime experience and was a true culture shock to me but has made me a better person. 

Name: Mark Hurley
Title & Company: Senior Market Manager
Joined PRSA: January 2016

Where did you attend college? Roanoke College

Why did you choose PR as a career? I like public speaking and working in the community. I also love to promote events.

What have been the highlights of your career, or what are some goals of your career?

I owned a restaurant from 1994-2000.

With the help of the Advance Auto Parts team and Roanoke community leaders, I was able to lead staff and help create the largest fundraising golf tournament for the American Cancer Society. In eight years it has raised over $3 million dollars.

In March of 2015, I helped spearhead the first American Cancer Society car at a NASCAR race. The purpose of the car was to help promote colon cancer screenings to a nationwide audience.

Are you married; single? Married- Joan Hurley

Do you have any children? Just our pets

Pets? 1 Dog (Molly), 2 cats (Calvin Lamarcus and Josephine).

What are your hobbies/interests? Golf, Genealogy and American History

What is the strangest situation you have found yourself in, or what has been your biggest adventure? In November I was selected as the honorary starter for the Martinsville STP 500. It was very fun but nerve-racking (I did not want to drop the flag!).


Upcoming events at a glance: 

  • Thursday, Aug. 11— “Communicating to Young Professionals” chapter luncheon; noon; Roanoke Higher Education Center
  • Thursday, Sept. 1 – Early-Bird Summit Awards entry deadline; 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 10 – Final 2016 Summit Awards entry deadline & online nominations for Adam & Alison Award for Media Excellencedue; 4 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov3 – 2016 Summit Awards Gala


Tell Us What's Going On!

Help keep PRSA Blue Ridge members informed by submitting items for the chapter newsletter. Please send your industry-related story ideas and articles to newsletter coordinator Allison Lindy.

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