In this issue:

Pro Bono Update
Professional Development
Trends of the Trade
PR in Focus
Member Spotlight
Articles of Interest
Upcoming Events
Membership News

Pro Bono Update

The Financial Literacy Organization for Women and Girls (FLOW) will hold its First Annual Mother 2 Daughter Financial Summit on Saturday, March 9 at the National 4H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md.

This all-day event tailored just for teen and pre-teen girls and their moms will help these young women gain more confidence and smarts about the world of money and money matters, as well as arm them with tools and strategies to help them make better money decisions, achieve higher goals and realize their full potential.

First Annual Mother 2 Daughter Financial Summit

“Empowering Girls to be Money-Wise”
Saturday, March 9, 2013
8:30 am-3:00 pm
National 4H Conference Center
7100 Connecticut Avenue
Chevy Chase, Maryland

For more information and registration visit:


Professional Development Update

WWPR has a number of exciting professional development events in the works for 2013.

If you haven’t already, reserve your spot now for our March 20th Brown Bag event, “Why It Matters and How It Works: Evaluating Communications,” from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Vanguard Communications, 2121 K St, NW, Suite 650, Washington, D.C.  Space is limited!  Cost: Free to members; $15 non-members.

Attendees will hear from industry experts who will discuss the value of communications evaluation; provide examples of effective, user-friendly and cost-efficient methods; share case studies from the field; and answer your questions about evaluation and measurement, and encourage knowledge-sharing among the group. Presenters include:

  • Brenda Foster ( @vancomm), vice president of account services, Vanguard Communications;
  • Karen A. McDonnell, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Prevention and Community Health, George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services; and
  • Pallavi Kumar ( @pdkdc), assistant professor, School of Communication, American University

Following the March event is WWPR’s Minute Mentoring on Thursday, April 25th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Edelman’s offices at 1875 I “Eye” St, NW, Suite 900 in Washington, D.C.  Mark your calendars now!  This event will bring together seasoned professional women with women still carving their career paths, enabling the sharing of knowledge, experience, tools and tips.  Minute Mentoring creates an environment where women are encouraged to lead and succeed by women who do. WWPR is partnering with Edelman’s Global Women’s Executive Network to offer this event.  Cost: $15 for WWPR, PRSA members; $25 non-members.  Stay tuned for event registration details!

On May 8, join in the dialogue at a brown bag discussion, “The Science of Communicating with Scientists,” with Washington area science reporters and communications professionals from our host, the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.  Participate in the conversation about how to get coverage for science issues in a changing media landscape, the challenges reporters face interviewing scientists who use highly technical language and give lengthy answers, and how PR professionals can better assist them in getting to the heart of the information they need for stories. Take away insider tips on better ways to communicate about complex issues by learning about the American Chemical Society’s “Speak Simply About Science” initiative.  Cost: free to WWPR members; $15 non-members.  Event registration details coming soon!

If you have a suggestion for a future program topic or would like to join the Professional Development Committee, please email PD Co-Chairs, Melanie and Erica at


Trends of the Trade

Trends of the Trade is a monthly column written by WWPR member Cory Churches exploring, well, trends in PR.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Washington Women in Public Relations

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

Let’s talk about trends.  I don’t mean Faith Popcorn or Bill Gross type of predicted trends, although they’re probably two people to tap into for good overall trends.

I’m talking more about trends, both good and bad, in the communication and public relations area.  I don’t purport to be a predictor of trends nor do I have any special insight in what will be hot and hip six months from now.  What I do know is how we as communicators relate to our audiences, how we can be more effective in reaching out to them, and how we can incorporate new technologies and channels to be better at what we do.

Washington communicators walk the line between heavy jargon, acronym laden “government speak” and “corporate speak” (both of which can be fraught with insider terms) yet plain speak is what resonates with most readers.  Communicating to the average reader without reducing language to the lowest common denominator is a trend I’d like to see take root.

This is by no means a new trend, mind you.  It’s just a trend that keeps cycling through and needing to be reinforced.

Companies should be talking to and with their clients and partners rather than at them. Too often we are stuck in the same routine of reusing talking points and staid attorney-approved speak to communicate with our internal and external audiences.

I spent more than a decade deciphering the acronyms of “government speak” and look forward to having a true blue conversation with someone face-to-face or via Twitter that is void of any jargon or acronyms.  Clear and concise communication is a trend that I hope continues long into the future.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Value the connection you’re making with your reader.  Treat them like you care what they think.

If you have a trend, either good or bad, that you’d like to discuss, please be in touch and we can make this a bigger conversation.  I look forward to hearing from you.

PR in Focus

PR in Focus is a monthly column written by WWPR member Jessica Williams exploring a wide range of topics and current events from a public relations perspective

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Washington Women in Public Relations

Be Prepared

Founded in 1910, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is one of the largest youth scouting organizations in the country (along with the Girl Scouts of America) and has more than 2.6 million members.  A private organization, it is funded by membership dues, product sales, contributions and sponsorships.

BSA’s overarching goal is to guide boys into becoming responsible citizens.  Through outdoor activities, community service and educational programs, Boy Scouts are also supposed to learn self-reliance and fortitude.  Most Americans are familiar with their motto, “be prepared” and yet the BSA has been unprepared to deal with major scandals that have rocked the organization to its core.  From a public relations perspective, there are many lessons and cautionary tales to be learned from what could easily become a communications case study in years to come.

On February 7, the BSA Council agreed to postpone until May, a final decision on whether to lift its ban on gay members and leaders which was reaffirmed in July 2012 to significant opposition.  The media spotlight will remain harsh but the public eye even more so as the BSA decides on a highly controversial policy-one that if finally lifted will mark a historic shift for the organization.

Changing With the Times

Throughout American history, scouting activities have mirrored the times.  In both World War I and II, Boy Scouts were active participants in wartime efforts.  In post-war America, segregated Boy Scout troops were common in both the North and South, not dissimilar to public schools and other institutions throughout the country.  Some troops in the South threatened to leave BSA and burn their uniforms in protest.  Even the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed discrimination against women and racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities were no match for an organization whose practices were deeply entrenched and left largely to the discretion of individual troop leaders giving new meaning to the adage, “everything is local.”



Member Spotlight

By Jessica Williams

This month’s member spotlight features WWPR board member Helen Mitternight of Vanguard Communications.

Majoring in journalism at Marquette University gave Helen Mitternight the opportunity to tell people the story they wanted to hear.  “I love that words are more powerful than any atomic bomb.  When deployed correctly, they can move mountains.”

Mitternight began her career at the Associated Press and became press secretary to a Congressman after moving to Washington, D.C.  Although she has moved to the “dark side – from hack to flack”, she finds herself fortunate to work for a company that lets her use that power for good.  As Associate Director for Project Management at Vanguard Communications, she manages a large federal government contract promoting children’s mental health and mentors colleagues on effective project management.

Over the course of her career, Mitternight has seen a lot of change within the PR/communications field.  As one of WWPR’s original members and now Vice President and Emerging Leader co-chair, she would like to align with other groups believing that picking up skills in the complementary areas of marketing and advertising keeps us sharp as communications professionals.

On advising young professionals interested in breaking into PR/communications or just advancing their career further, Mitternight says, “Learn to write well, don’t confuse being jaded for sophistication, and stay humble.  After all, words are powerful, but it’s not like we’re brain surgeons or air traffic controllers.  People seldom die when we make a goof.”


Articles of Interest

Upcoming Events

3/14/2013 — 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: PRSA-NCC — Anatomy of a Crisis & the Impact of Social Media: Lessons from The Aurora Theater ShootingCost: $25 PRSA and WWPR members, $45 non-members, $15 students/retirees.

3/20/2013 — 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.: Evaluation and Measurement — PR uses numbers that are meant to dazzle but only tell a part of the story. How do we get past counting and begin to actually measure social change?  Cost: free to WWPR members, $15 to non-members.

3/26/2013 — 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.: PRSA-NCC — The Baltimore Ravens Top PR Executive Talks Super Bowl Media Relations and Displays the Lombardi TrophyCost: $40 PRSA and WWPR members, $55 non-members, $25 students/retirees.

4/25/2013 — 6:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.: Minute Mentoring — Event will bring together seasoned professional women with women still carving their career paths, enabling the sharing of knowledge, experience, tools and tips.  Registration details coming soon!  Cost: $15 WWPR and PRSA members, $25 non-members.

5/8/2013 —  12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.: The Science of Communicating with Scientists — Join in the dialogue at a brown bag discussion with Washington area science reporters and communications professionals from our host, the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.  Cost: free to WWPR members, $15 to non-members.  Registration details coming soon!

If you have a suggestion for a future program topic, please contact the Professional Development Committee at


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Membership News

February New Members

– Rachel Griffith: National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition
– Sharon Jenkins: My Brothers’ Business Enterprises
– Melanie Pipkin: American Red Cross
– Yiming Roberts: Yiming Roberts
– Melissa Zuckerman: Lipman Hearne
– Kalee Miller: Adfero Group
– Amy Friess: Lipman Hearne
– Katherine Brinkley: DS Simon Productions
– Kristen Youngblood: Bread for the World
– Rachel Racoosin: RepEquity
– Erika Brown: Peace Corps
– Tracy Murray: DiversiTech
– Caroline Sheedy: Adfero Group
– Sheri Singer: Singer Communications
– Tressa Mattingly: Airlines for America
– Claire Onley: Audax Health
– Nora Onley: U.S. Department of Education
– Stephanie Bostaph: Concepts, Inc.
– Gabriela Suarez: The Rappaport Companies
– Jessica Borchert: Blue Engine Media

February Renewals

– Alexa Vogel: Student at George Washington University
– Leslie Rutledge: Thomson Reuters MyMediaInfo
– Kimberly Ash: Plan A Marketing Solutions
– Gwen McKinney: McKinney & Associates
– Karen Nussle: Ripple Communications
– Rebecca Geraghty: SELEX Galileo Inc
– Susan Ahearn-Pierce: Media Strategies