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President’s Message

Fake It to Break it!

Jen WardWe’ve all heard it or seen it. Maybe had the red flag image in our head when we did? Or maybe we even had a moment of the shock and awe as intended and then thought about it afterwards which then led us into doing our own research. The point is, fake news is everywhere now and as PR professionals, we will likely battle against it at some point on behalf of who we represent and the role we play. Sadly, one of the values we practice in our profession, integrity, has become second to the need to just be the first to break the story no matter what or generate buzz in the hopes of having five minutes of fame or sadly, to engage ammunition to destroy another’s credibility. Not to mention many of the news outlets now feature opinionated stories about the news as well as just straight news stories and it is left up to us to know which line the story takes and sometimes the distinction can be a complete blur.

So how do we take it on? Our greatest weapon is research and it is one of the key fundamentals we already practice. Knowing where to go to look for information or finding the easiest and fastest way to obtain it may sometimes be a challenge, but doing our due diligence to fact check and research not only helps us to maintain our own integrity but it can stop the story from evolving or becoming the news of the day. As PR professionals, we can play a part in this battle of fake news vs. real news. Everyone is pretty familiar with Snopes, but here’s a few websites I like to use to do just that!

Be sure to join us on April 13 in Blacksburg at the Hilton Garden Inn for a discussion on Fake News vs. Real News with Lawrence McConnell, executive editor of The Roanoke Times. You don’t want to miss this one!



Keeping it “Real”,

Jen K. Ward, MSc
PRSA Blue Ridge President



We Want to Hear from You!

We want to hear from youThere is still time to let us know your thoughts. 

Blue 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 additional comments or questions, contact Jeremy Butterfield, Professional Development Chair.



Shout Out to Members of the New PRSSA at Washington & Lee

PRSSA Washington and Lee February 2017Members of the new PRSSA at Washington & Lee University took time for a quick photo with Ms. Iris Holliday after a luncheon talk on February 15, 2017, in Lexington, Va. 

They are (from left to right) Lily Arnold, Claire Hoffert, Iris Holliday, and Ashley Faulkner. 

Prior to her retirement in June 2016, Iris Holliday was the director of corporate philanthropy and community partnerships of Dominion Resources in Richmond, Va.

Please share your photos with us! Let us see you out and about. Send photos, with a brief description and identify people in the photography from left to right, to Tricia Simons.



Tell Your Friends to Join PRSA in March for the Spring Break Promotion

Join PRSANew members will receive a free (up to $100), one-year Chapter membership when they join National PRSA as a Regular member ($255 annual dues plus $65 initiation fee).

This special promotion runs through the entire month of March. But don't let time slip by, encourage your friends to join now!

Note, the Spring Break Promotion is not available for Associate member types ($200 or less annual dues) and current or renewing members. 

Refer your friends to the PRSA website to join.



One More Time!
Meet Your 2017 Blue Ridge Chapter Officers and Committee Chairs

There have been a few corrections to the list, so we are repeating this article from the previous newsletter. 

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 Engagement 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 – Bill Wyatt (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.



Save the Date! PRSSA Blue Ridge Leadership Retreat Scheduled for Friday, September 8, 2017

Save the DateThe PRSSA Blue Ridge Leadership Retreat and Pizza Party is set for Friday, September 8, 2017, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 

The retreat is an opportunity to plan and problem solve with PR professionals and fellow PRSSA members in small groups. As always, the retreat location will be in Roanoke (exact location to be determined). We will pack a lot into two hours, so your return to basecamp is reasonably early.

While we have found that the first Friday of September is ideal before classes and activities ramp up, this year September 1 falls at the beginning of the Labor Day weekend; therefore, not a good option. 

Please double check your academic calendars and discuss with your PRSSA chapters. Let Heidi Ketler know of any conflicts by Friday, March 3, and suggest two alternative dates, if possible. 




Upcoming Chapter Events:

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


Upcoming National PRSA Events:

  • Leadership Rally - October 6, 2017
  • National Assembly - October 7, 2017
  • MAD Reception - International Conference - October 8, 2017

For more information about these events contact Jen Ward.


Upcoming Local Events of Interest:

eXperience 2017 Young Professional Summit

  • Dates
    - Thursday, March 9, 2017, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. – Kick-off social event in Blacksburg, VA
    - Friday, March 10, 2017 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Full day conference in Salem, VA at Roanoke College, Colket Center
  • Event Description
    Did you know that the region was named a top city for new grads? Or that Roanoke is the top adventure town on the East Coast? Get in the "know" this March with eXperience 2017, the third annual young professional (YP) summit!
    Be the first to hear about cool things happening in the Roanoke and New River Valleys while uncovering secrets to #adulting from influential YPs who have "been there and done that" in our region. Learn the skills needed to take on bigger roles in your personal and professional lives, find out how to impact your local community immediately, and get real, hands-on leadership training from the pros.

Don't miss the chance to find life-changing opportunities, connect with other awesome YPs and meet influential community leaders at eXperience 2017 - grab a friend or two and register today!

Find full event details and registration at



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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