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Jen WardPresident’s Message

As I write this, thoughts of the BIG GAME that’s about to happen, Superbowl LI, are swirling in my head and I started thinking about all the different audiences that will watch this historical moment in history where we will crown the best team. We all have our roles to play whether we are sucked into the game or a supporter of a fan on the sidelines. Which one are you? Could you be that die-hard Falcons or Patriots fan who screams and cheers your team on, paints your face and intentionally annoys your peers who are still mourning their team’s losses? Are you the football guru that may not be a fan of either team but just loves the game of football? Maybe you just enjoy watching the half-time show or meticulously rating all the multi-million dollar commercials. Or maybe you just came out of your cave for the great spreads of food. Regardless of who you are or what role you play in all the hype, we know it happens every year about the same time and someone will win or lose.

With that in mind, I’d like to challenge you… What audience are you a part of in PRSA? It’s half-time in the locker room again and what’s your game look like right now? What do you want to accomplish in your field this year? Are you here to run the ball, make touchdowns, throw a 70-yard pass, or watch from the sidelines? If you are tired of being benched or watching flags thrown on your plays, what can you do to change that in your career? I’d venture to say that if I have hit a nerve or the ball in your game feels deflated, it’s time to switch it up and re-focus on your end zone. PRSA can help you do that and with the slate of speakers and activities we have planned for this year, we are preparing for overtime to get you back on that field. After all, it’s our 25th Anniversary this year and better yet, we started it off with a bang with our special $125 prepay option and there’s even more to come.

This year, you will find our luncheons back at the Hotel Roanoke with the exception of April which will once again be in Blacksburg. Our first luncheon will be held on Thursday, February 9 featuring Bill Roth, who was the voice of the Hokies for more than 27 years, who will talk about the Public Relations side of sports which is fitting following the Superbowl. Then, on April 13, we will be in Blacksburg to talk about Real News vs. Fake News, a very hot topic for today’s PR professionals, featuring the executive editor of The Roanoke Time, Lawrence McConnell.

There’s more exciting things to come as your board works diligently to help you get off the bench this year! I lok forward to seeing all of you get in the game and Happy 25th Anniversary to us!

Jen K. Ward, MSc
PRSA Blue Ridge President



We Want to Hear from You!

We want to hear from youBlue Ridge PRSA offers Professional Development events outside of our bimonthly luncheons.

Please take 5 minutes to take our Professional Development Survey.

All responses will be collected anonymously.

Thank you for your time and feedback! If you have additioanl comments or questions, contact Jeremy Butterfield, Professional Devlopment Chair.



sponsorship opportunitySponsorship Opportunities Available

Looking for a unique way to get your organization’s name in front of public relations and communications leaders in the community? Consider sponsoring a PRSA Blue Ridge Chapter professional development luncheon this year.

The cost is $500 to sponsor a luncheon and will include exposure in news releases, on our website, at the luncheon, and on social media. Contact president-elect and programs chair, Scott Ramsburg, for more information.

Other sponsorship opportunities are available. Check our website for more details.



Get a Free Lunch with PRSA Luncheon Pre-Pay Option

You can still save if you register before February 9, 2017. As a benefit of your membership, a pre-pay Professional Development Luncheon discount is offered to Blue Ridge Chapter members. This year, choosing the pre-pay option secures your registration for six Professional Development programs in 2017 at a discounted rate of $25 per luncheon instead of $30 per luncheon. That’s like getting nearly two luncheons FREE!

Registration is still required for each luncheon using our online registration tool. If for some reason you cannot attend a program, you are more than welcome to send a colleague, guest, or a student in your place. In addition to great food and networking, the programs will feature a variety of key speakers and topics as related to your own professional development, the public relations profession, and ones that we feel will be most useful to you as a practitioner.

The pre-pay option includes the February, April, June, August, October, and December programs. The deadline to pre-pay is Monday, February 9, 2017.

To take advantage of this option now, pay online by signing up for this “event” here.

If you would like to pay by check, follow the same process online and print a copy of the invoice. Send the invoice with a check made payable to PRSA Blue Ridge by the February 9 deadline to Blue Ridge Chapter PRSA - PO Box 804, Roanoke, VA 24004.



Meet Your 2017 Blue Ridge Chapter Officers and Committee Chairs

In December 2016, the Blue Ridge PRSA membership inducted the 2017 board of directors at its chapter meeting. The following individuals will serve on the board:

Executive Board:

  • President - Jen Ward
  • President-Elect - Scott Ramsburg
  • Treasurer - Teresa Hamilton Hall
  • Secretary – Adedayo Abah
  • Immediate Past President – Betsy Parkins
  • Assembly Delegate – Douglas Cannon, Ph.D., APR+M, Fellow PRSA
  • Director at-Large (2017-2019) - Jeremy Butterfield
  • Director at-Large (2017-2019) - Linda Scarborough
  • Director-at-Large (2016-2018) - Josh Meyer
  • Director-at-Large (2016-2018) - Chuck Lionberger, APR

2017 Committee Chairs:

  • Accreditation ’17 – Chuck Lionberger, APR
  • Accreditation ’18 – Jen Ward
  • Accreditation ’19 – Scott Ramsburg
  • Awards Chair – Chuck Lionberger, APR
  • Ethics Chair – Douglas Cannon, Ph.D., APR+M, Fellow PRSA
  • Newsletter Coordinator – Tricia Simons
  • Social Media Coordinator – Lori Greiner
  • Website Coordinator – Scott Ramsburg
  • Hospitality Chair – Jen Ward
  • Membership Chair – Anita Tomaziefski
  • Mid-Atlantic District Rep - Thomas Becher, APR
  • Nominating Chair - Jen Ward & Chuck Lionberger, APR
  • New River Valley Chair – Laura Neff-Henderson, APR
  • Professional Development Chair - Jeremy Butterfield
  • Programs Chair – Scott Ramsburg
  • Public Service Chair – Hannah Cline
  • PRSSA Engagement Chair - Heidi Ketler, APR
  • PRSSA Academic Advisors – Issac Woo, Ph.D. (James Madison University); Jason Leverett (Liberty University); Jeremy Langett, Ph.D. (Lynchburg College); Douglas Cannon, Ph.D., APR+M, Fellow PRSA (Virginia Tech); Dayo Abah, Ph.D. (Washington & Lee)
  • PRSSA Professional Advisors – Heidi Ketler, APR (Lynchburg College); Chris Finley (Radford University); Laura Neff-Henderson, APR (Virginia Tech)

Are you ready to be a leader? Would you like to consider a future leadership role as a committee chair? Or would you like to get involved as a committee member or on a special initiative/event?

Please let chapter president, Jen Ward, know how you’d like to become more involved.



APR Boot Camp Scheduled for April

APR AccredidationIf you have ever considered earning Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) status but just never got around to it, now is the perfect time to start down that path. The PRSA Mid-Atlantic District is hosting the country’s second-ever District APR Boot Camp on April 5-8 at the Jefferson Lakeside Country Club in Richmond.

Why seek accreditation? It sets standards of practice and legitimizes our profession. Even more, it builds accountability by identifying you as having demonstrated broad business and communications knowledge, strategic perspective, and sound professional judgment in the field. Accreditation in Public Relations also demonstrates a commitment to lifelong learning and serves as a source of great personal pride for public relations practitioners.

Interested? Then the APR Boot Camp is a great opportunity for you to pursue accreditation. This course is designed to provide a setting that will meet the needs of busy professionals whose schedules don’t permit extensive preparation time. It's a four-day intensive program for APR candidates to prepare and advance through the Readiness Review™. At the end of that time, candidates will take the computer-based Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations.

The deadline to register is March 3. The APR test takes place on April 8, so APR candidates are encouraged to register and start studying as soon as possible. Information about the Boot Camp is available on the PRSA Mid-Atlantic District website.



New Member Spotlight

Tricia SimonsName:Tricia Simons

Title & Company: Content Marketing Specialist, Freedom First Credit Union

Joined PRSA: March 2016

College/University Attended? Virginia Tech

Why did you choose PR as a career? I kind of stumbled into it. My bachelor's degree is in Mechanical Engineering. My first job out of college was providing program management support to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency working specifically on bleeding-edge technology for submarines (think Hunt for Red October). As life happened, I looked for other, less-demanding jobs. My next long-term job was with the Loudoun County (Virginia) Department of Economic Development. I held a number of positions there, the first was Rural Coordinator and I managed the marketing of the farm tours and wine trail. After 10 years with local government, I took a job as Marketing & Communications Manager with a 60-attorney law firm. In mid-2015, my husband and I started exploring the idea of retiring somewhere in the Blue Ridge mountains. While exploring cost-of-living and  job opportunitiess, what started as a 4-year plan turned in to a 3-month plan. I joined Freedom First Credit Union, moving from Northern Virginia to the Roanoke area in August 2015..

What have been the highlights of your career so far? Surviving three website redevelopments! I am also proud of being elected to the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and my company, a law firm, winning Large Firm of the Year for 2015.

Are you married; single? Married

Children? A daughter who just turned 21, and is a junior at Virginia Tech

Pets? Daisy, a border collie mix, rescued via Pilots and Paws from a kill shelter in Georgia

What are your hobbies/interests? Day trips in the Blue Ridge, and, I'm sorry to say, Netflix binge-watching.




Upcoming events at a glance:

Bill RothFebruary 9, 2017
12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
February Luncheon: The P.R. Side of College Sports

Location: Hotel Roanoke - Regency Room

Sports heroes… Academic integrity… Stealing signals… NCAA Division I Schools are in the media limelight every day. The popularity of college sports means a high level of examination in the press on a variety of issues. How do these institutions and their sports information departments shape their story while maintaining a positive community image? Where do the lines blur between public relations and journalism? Bill Roth spent 27 years in broadcasting as the Voice of the Hokies, and has recently returned to Virginia Tech as a communications professor. He’ll share his unique insight on the state of public relations in college sports.

Learn More and Register Here


Lawrence McConnellApril 13, 2017
12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
April Luncheon: Real News vs. Fake News
Location: Hilton Garden Inn Blacksburg (900 Plantation Road, Blacksburg, VA)

One phenomenon from the 2016 election year was the proliferation of fake news stories online, clouding the way Americans understand important issues. After years of shrinking budgets, can traditional media sources continue to separate fact from fiction through editorial review and quality journalism? What will protect the integrity of our news in the future? Lawrence McConnell has been executive editor of The Roanoke Times for the past three years, and has more than 45 years’ experience as a reporter, editor and publisher. He’ll review why fake news is not a new development, discuss the state of multimedia newspapers going forward, and suggest ways public relations professionals can use ethical standards of PRSA to help keep citizens well-informed.

Learn More and Register Here



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 Tricia Simons.

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