PRSA Orlando May Newsletter

One size does not fit all: Diversity within communications roles

By Alyssa Badalamenti, Diversity & Inclusion Chair

I previously led communication strategies for an accounting firm and gained invaluable experience from this role. However, I remember feeling a little “out of the group” among my peers who had the traditional PR role for the local agencies who market for big brand names. Here I was, building out tax marketing lingo for a campaign I was proud of, yet sensed it wasn’t “sexy” enough to share with others.

Then, a PRSA member asked me to lunch so I could share some advice on best practices for email headlines based on what I’ve learned from my job. I was honored. Although I knew that I could write a book on the subject, I assumed this person would rather ask someone else since my financial audience may have been too lackluster.

Removing bias and embracing differences

This encouraged me to remove my own bias within the diversity of communications roles and instead embrace the differences between us. PRSA has given me reassurance that all of us have something sexy about our jobs because we all have something the others do not.  Each of us brings something unique to the table. That’s what makes us stand out from the crowd.

Besides, we already have diversity in most other aspects of our roles, despite the strength that unifies us by being in the same industry. Some of us are single executives. Others have three children and two pets. Some work from home. Some communicate to employees and some communicate to the media. Some work on websites while others tweet.

One size does not fit all

Just like how our society continues to make changes to be more inclusive, we as a profession are doing the same thing. Last year, PRSA changed the use of “public relations professional” to “communications professional.”  This will better reflect our membership base and avoid having members feel “out of the group” because our profession expands beyond traditional PR roles. This change will help show that PRSA encompasses a society for all communications roles to learn and advance from.

Our network of members provides a huge benefit to continuing your professional growth.  So no matter what company you work for, what title you have, or what audience you communicate to, we are all unique and diverse within communications; and we all have something to learn from one another.

2018 PRSA Membership Savings

by Beth Swanson, MBA & APR

Taking time from our busy schedules to refresh and renew with peers opens us to new ideas, advice and problem-solving assistance, according to Francesca Gino, a professor at Harvard Business School in a recent article on HBR.org.

During my 13 years as a member and volunteer, PRSA has provided me with just that through opportunities to meet communicators in my field and the industries where I’ve worked. These professional relationships are both fulfilling and enlightening and have made me a believer in the link between networking and career success. That’s why I encourage professionals in PR, marketing, and communications to join us.

This year PRSA is making it even easier to share the benefits of our chapter and national organization with several 2018 promotions that welcome new and returning members to PRSA.

Score a thank you gift and help a colleague save on membership dues during the Refer-A-Friend promotion. Members receive a $40 Amazon gift card for each new person who joins PRSA and lists your name as a referral on the application form (How did you hear about PRSA). PRSA will also waive your friend’s $65 initiation fee if they use the promo code FRIENDS18Applies to Member (3+ years experience) and Associate Member 3 (2-3 years experience) levels only.

Know a lapsed PRSA member? Let them know former members can use the promo code WELCOMEBACK18 and PRSA will waive their $35 reinstatement fee. Applies to memberships lapsed 6 or more months. 

Anyone applying as a new member can use the promo code JOINPRSA18 and the $65 initiation fee will be waived.  Applies to Member (3+ years experience) and Associate Member 3 (2-3 years experience) levels only.

All promotions are valid through Dec 31, 2018.  Learn more about PRSA membership benefits, chapters, and professional interest communities at https://www.prsa.org/membership/.

Have questions?  Please email Beth Swanson, Co-VP Membership Recruitment at beth@swansoncomm.com.

PRSA Orlando April Newsletter

Representation Matters

By Alyssa Badalamenti, Diversity & Inclusion Chair

The animated film, Coco, recently won Oscars for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song at this year’s Academy Awards. The film represented a young, Mexican boy who had dreams of becoming a musician; a heartfelt story with culture and diversity beautifully woven in. But it was Director Lee Unkrich’s words in his acceptance speech that really stuck with me:

“With Coco we tried to take a step forward toward a world where all children can grow up seeing characters in movies that look, and talk, and live like they do. Marginalized people deserve to feel like they belong. Representation matters.”

A small fire of emotion lit inside me after hearing this impactful sentiment because it resonates in so many places and among so many matters in this world. And while increased representation advances diversity and inclusion throughout all industries, it’s also directly important to our very own public relations industry. PRSA’s defined role in diversity and inclusion efforts is to reach and involve members who represent a broad spectrum of differences. Students and entry-level roles must be able to visualize themselves as a PR professional, and that goes hand-in-hand with actually seeing the representation of someone similar within our industry.

How else can we aim to involve members and learn from others if we don’t have representation of differences in the PR field? It’s probably safe to assume without researching statistics that several decades ago there weren’t many differences among the working individuals in our profession. Now, we have better resources, better strength, and better representation to include diverse members.

And by having diverse members, we can benefit by educating each other about our differences and provide knowledge and support to help each other succeed in PR. For example, representation of millennials has certainly correlated to evolving types of communication methods. Millennials have built momentum and created a standard in connecting in new ways with the media and the public.  Just look at police departments and their ability to communicate faster during a crisis by using social media. And yet, those same millennials are learning what actually to say during said crisis on social media, among many other tactics that come with experience, from their baby boomer peers.

If we continued as a profession to be more purposeful in increasing representation and talking about our differences, public relations professionals will have a continuous back-and-forth learning experience. The opportunities to grow professionally and personally are endless when there’s representation of diversity and inclusion within our own stories.

PRSA Orlando February Newsletter

A Louder Voice for Diversity & Inclusion

By Alyssa Badalamenti, Diversity & Inclusion Chair

The last 12 months have highlighted diversity and inclusion in such a powerful way that it makes my role as Diversity and Inclusion Chair only a microscopic piece of a much larger initiative in our lifetime.

As a public relations professional (and an ethical and moral human being), I have been encouraged by the power of voice in the last few months, albeit the horror stories we’ve read across headlines. Because let’s admit it: this isn’t just about the recent sexual harassment allegations. This is about shifting the longstanding choice to look away or avoid change from what we’ve always known to be. The brunt of the Harvey Weinstein acts coming to light may have given buoyancy to a louder and more diverse voice.  The response has even become a movement for greater awareness, listening, and action.

When we think about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, we may have always ignored the fact that there were no women keynote speakers planned at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. We may have always ignored that although H&M communicates to a diverse audience, their recent misstep seemed to disregard an entire part of that audience. We may have always been uncomfortable with asking the right questions to gain knowledge about how to become more inclusive and diverse in our own organization, or in our own SELF!

What this movement teaches us is to embrace our differences and work together to understand each other so we can improve our skills in collaboration.

PRSA defines diversity and inclusion as follows:

“To champion diversity of thought, cultures, disciplines, ideals, gender, disabilities, sexual orientation and age in order to develop an inclusive society. By reaching and involving members who represent a broad spectrum of differences, we will encourage and educate members about the benefits of a diverse profession by providing professional development, knowledge and support to help them succeed in public relations.”

Champion is more than following; it’s being the one to make the difference and take the action.

Reaching other members and involving those who represent differences will educate ourselves and others to better our profession and help us succeed.

This is our time to use the momentum of truth and voice; to encourage diversity and make an impact so that we can support each other and be inclusive in all aspects of PR—our messaging, our teams, our audiences, and our thoughts.

Even in my “microscopic” role, I am empowered to be a part of the larger initiative with a loud voice and a strong collaboration among all those who will join me in becoming an agent of diversity and inclusion.

PRSA Orlando January Newsletter

How Nonverbal Communication Speaks Loudly Through Diversity

By Alyssa Badalamenti, Diversity & Inclusion Chair

Over the holidays I traveled to three different countries – all of which I didn’t speak the native language, but learned a few key phrases to help me communicate throughout the day.

What I quickly realized, though, was even though I could speak “enough,” the language didn’t actually help me as significantly as I thought it would. Instead, while trying to speak my message, there were follow up questions I couldn’t understand. So, without even thinking, my reaction was to respond with my hands and animate nonverbal cues to communicate more fully. In turn, the others responded the same way, and we actually had a short conversation that came to the point naturally, and without even speaking to each other.

This nonverbal communication helped me through three language barriers, so much that I didn’t feel like I was at a disadvantage not knowing the native tongue. It’s amazing how through simply using your hands and expressing emotion through your face to set the tone spoke more loudly than “il conto per favore,” which plainly means, “may you please bring the bill?” I added in nonverbal signs for how the food was great and that we were pleased and ready to go.

Of course, there are cultural differences among nations that prove some nonverbal behaviors vary in their message, but for this example let’s put that aside and instead focus on the fact that those of different nations are still human beings. Good communication carries strongly all over the world.

In 79 AD, on the southwest coast of Italy, the extremely dangerous volcano, Mount Vesuvius, explosively erupted over the city of Pompeii. All those residing there died instantly of thermal shock. Back then (and for thousands of years), settlements painted and drew pictures on the walls of their city and homes to depict expression. Even though we lost the chance to learn about the people of Pompeii through written language, we’ve learned about them through their paintings. When viewing just one, we see a narrative and several learnings of how they lived. These stories are told without words, yet we can interpret the message of what they mean just by focusing on the details of the painting. Pretty remarkable.

So what does this mean to me—to you? This is more than the lesson of “nonverbal communication is still communication.” This trip and these type of experiences actually instead remind me to not overthink things when working in communications among different audiences. Simple pictorial or nonverbal communications speak loudly. Getting to the point is the most important part, and be aware of facial expressions that set the tone of your messages. Nonverbal signals speak loudly to those of all backgrounds, so never underestimate your ability to communicate effectively and authentically to those who are different than you.