From the President: Join WWPR’s Board of Directors in 2015!
Are you interested in getting more involved in WWPR and taking your leadership in the organization to the next level? Apply for a position on the 2015 Board of Directors and help shape the organization! Joining the Board is a great way to be creative, hone your leadership skills and establish relationships with all sorts of communications professionals. Email to request an application, which are due by Friday, October 17th. Questions? Email


Upcoming Professional Development Events Not to Miss!
Don’t miss what is sure to be a lively Brown Bag Panel Discussion, “Is the Press Release Dead? Has Social Media Killed It?” on Tuesday, September 30, 12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m. atBeekeeper Group.  Hear industry experts debate whether the role of the press release has changed for PR professionals, if it’s still a viable tool in today’s 24-hour news cycle, if social media has replaced it, and if it has advantages that newer alternatives don’t offer. 


Cost: Free to WWPR and PRSA members; $20 for non-members. Register today to join the conversation.


On Wednesday, October 8 at 11:30 a.m., join an exclusive group of WWPR members for abehind-the-scenes tour of the WJLA newsroom followed by Q & A with WJLA team members.  This event is only open to WWPR members with a limited number of spaces available.  Register before this special opportunity sells out!

Cost: $15 for WWPR members.


Join us for our annual Media Roundtable on Wednesday, October 29 at the American Chemical Society, 12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m.  Participate in this interactive discussion with members of the media moderated by Susan Matthews Apgood, president and co-founder of News Generation.  To see a list of panelists and to register, click here.

Cost: $20 for WWPR & PRSA members; $35 for non-members. A catered lunch will be provided.


RECAP: Developing a Winning Resume, Portfolio and Personal Branding for Career Success
By Tahira Christmon, Goodwill Industries International

“It’s a job, to get a job,” said Susy Howard, Principal at The McCormick Group as she opened up the Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) August Brown Bag discussion on resume building and personal branding.  If you think job hunting, portfolio development and self-packaging happens overnight, you may be next in line for a harsh awakening.

Howard joined Kate Perrin, CEO of PRofessional Solutions, LLC and Dana Theus, President & CEO of InPower Consulting LLC.  The panel discussed the importance of networking, shared critical career tips and discussed how best to present yourself when it’s time to make the next career move.

“Old-fashioned networking still works better than social media,” says Howard, but says that an updated LinkedIn profile allows you to be a bit more creative than your resume. “Your LinkedIn page should tell prospective employers about your interest and passion and should give a glimpse into your personality,” said Howard.

“Don’t overlook your cover letter, this is a way for you to distinguish yourself among the crowd of candidates and demonstrate your writing skills,” advised Kate Perrin.  Perrin said your cover letter should be customized for each job, accurate, professional and should also be brief, simple, easy to read and less than one page if possible.  Perrin also said bullet points are OK as it gives the potential employer a snapshot into your career and keeps them eager to learn more.  “Don’t address your cover letter as ‘Dear HR Manager’, we live in an age where information is easily accessible online,” said Perrin.  “Look online to find the PR or communications director’s name and put it on your coversheet.”

Portfolios are great conversation starters said Perrin who suggests that professionals keep a physical and online portfolio throughout their career to tout work experience and progression.  “Your portfolio should set you apart, that means you should keep and print everything related to your campaigns and projects so that you have it when you need it.” Perrin says your portfolio should include photos and marketing materials, documents to support your claims and experience and highlights from volunteer and professional opportunities.

Dana Theus stressed the importance of personal branding, saying that professionals should think of themselves as a product.  “Ask yourself, why someone should hire me.  The answer will most likely link you to your top skills and interest,” said Theus.

“Volunteer experience and personal passions should also be a part of your career branding,” said Theus.  “You need to find a way to bring part of your authentic self to your interview.”

The next WWPR brown bag discussion, “Is the Press Release Dead? Has Social Media Killed It?,” will take place September 30th at Beekeeper Group (1331 G. Street NW).


How Can Advocacy Groups Break Through?
“How Can Advocacy Groups Break Through” is a guest column written by WWPR Member Velginy Hernandez.  

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

During and since college, I’ve spent chunks, maybe one too many, of my free time participating in cause campaigns.  Many of them were on strict budget or time constraints; some didn’t have a budget at all, like my adhoc neighborhood group that, long story short, was trying to rally support from all neighbors to get one neighbor to clean his fence.  What I’ve experienced is that no matter the cause or issue, advocacy groups are fixed on getting their core message out on top and above the noise, and as a PR professional, the thought gets me excited!
Breaking through is a goal virtually every company or organization aims to achieve either at some point or on an ongoing basis.  Changing the conversation.  Making a wave. However you phrase it, it’s a highly coveted outcome for lots of advocacy groups.  You’d think with the myriad of free and accessible media platforms, it’s easier to get the message out nowadays.  Quite the contrary.  Nearly everything is personalizable in today’s online media environment and publishing is effortless.  Consumers are fire hosed on a constant basis with information and content-that they then can personally select and filter.  The Facebook news feed algorithm does not help much either!
If the goal is to inspire people and get them to join your cause, what are some basic elements advocacy groups should consider in their communications strategy?  Here are three points I’ve come across in my experience:

#1 For starters, tell a story.  Really, tell it like it is.  Incorporate simple stories in the overall strategy.  They give life to your issue while also getting your core message across. Consumers don’t remember hard, cold statistics; they remember stories, which is a great advantage if your goal is increasing public awareness.  Consider this: instead of creating website that consists mainly of statistics and charts that you think paint a picture of your very urgent issue, record videos or post photos of individuals who’ve been directly impacted by the issue and let those first-hand accounts do the storytelling.  It will be more impactful and inspiring.
#2 Expect to “give” more than “get.” You may be asking why, since the very purpose of an advocacy group is to get something to change, isn’t it?  How many times have you been asked to “take action,” “sign this,” or “send that”?  In an ideal world, everyone would listen to you and change would happen every time, all the time. But reality is, folks don’t like being told what to do.  Issuing “calls to action” on a frequent basis are not very effective. The strategy is to put out content to your audience to help foster relationships, and that takes some time.  Trends also show that listening more than talking on social media is becoming more and more necessary for certain brands.  Giving content more often helps spark and sustain conversations.  So, foster those relationships.  Then when the situation arises, issue a specific call to action and your supporters will be there.

#3 Unite with champions to elevate your message.  Sometimes it takes a team to get things done.  In advocacy, relationships are crucial.  It does not have to be for your entire campaign (Consider this saying: you put three people in a room and you’ll have four opinions.)  But perhaps for at least for a phase of it, make it count by uniting with stakeholders who share a common goal and leverage that relationship in all communication tactics.  Strength comes in numbers.  Your followers will see and feel that energy and get inspired.


PR in Politics: Optics and Perception
The Role of Public Relations in Politics is a monthly column written by WWPR member Margaret Mulvihill, examining the role of PR in politics.

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

One of the more enjoyable parts of my job is skimming the newspapers and checking the online media outlets for any news that might give my clients the edge.  A headline flashed by recently about President Obama not understanding how damning appearances can be. It stuck in my mind for some reason, maybe because one would assume that the President is ‘packaged’ by the ultimate public/media relations team.

The O’Reilly Factor has a segment called ‘Washington Insider.’ (Fox News, “The O’Reilly Factor” weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.)  The August 26th segment was dedicated to ‘Will President Obama Change His Image’.

It was and it is a valid question.  Earlier, the President had interrupted his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard to comment publicly on the savage beheading of American journalist James Foley by ISIL terrorists.  Immediately following his public condemnation of the act of terror, the President returned to the golf course to continue his vacation.

The President, as O’Reilly accurately stated ‘got hammered.’

I rarely agree with O’Reilly, but in this instance, it is inconceivable that the President’s public/media relations team did not anticipate this.  If you make a serious, somber statement to the American people about an act of terror committed on an American citizen, you do not return to the golf course.  You go home to your family and you spend the rest of that day in seclusion.  Straight up, this was not merely poor public/media relations.  This was a disaster of epic proportions.  It must have caused pain to the immediate family of James Foley, and to his closest friends.

In his recent September 8th interview with Chuck Todd on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’, the President admits that he ‘should’ve anticipated the optics.’  Does this mean that the White House is finally acknowledging the huge role played by media relations at the highest level in global politics?  I am adopting a wait and see – change doesn’t come that rapidly.

During the course of the Todd interview, the President acknowledged the error in perception.  A good first step, you say.  Not so fast. He then continued on to discuss the ‘theatrics’ of the presidency, appearing to blame the press for aggressive reporting. Reporting is more aggressive these days, and the perceived lack of transparency within the Obama administration is a root cause of this.

As a public/media relations practitioner in the Washington, DC political arena, I do not blame President Obama.  He is a politician, a head of State. He is not a public relations maven.  Although hesitant to assign blame, any media relations failure on this scale rests on the shoulders of the President’s Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, who manages the White House media relations team.


The B Hive: Infographic — Press Releases By the Numbers
The B Hive is a monthly column written by WWPR member Beth Stewart.  

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


Member Spotlight
This month’s Member Spotlight interview features WWPR member Rachel Racoosin of RepEquity and WWPR Woman of the Year Committee member.

Q: How did you get started in communications?

A: Storytelling has always played an integral role in my life and ultimately led me to a career in the communications industry. Much like telling a story, crafting a message has the power to inform, to entertain and to connect people to one another. In college I hosted a radio show, wrote for the student newspaper, and majored in strategic communications– eventually falling in love with and pursuing a career in public relations.

Q: What inspired you to get involved with WWPR?

A: I am always looking for ways to meet new people, expand my network, and, enhance and enrich my skills. When I learned about WWPR it seemed like the perfect place to meet and build relationships with a group of smart, ambitious, creative, caring, well-connected and fun-loving women.

Q: What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment professionally?

A: At a previous job my greatest accomplishment was mentoring our team of interns, many of whom went on to become full-time employees. As well, I take great pride in the volunteer work I do for non-profit organizations that I feel passionately about. For example, over the last year I have volunteered as the social media manager for America’s Voices in Israel, and organization that sponsors journeys to Israel with celebrities, media, and other trendsetters. Through this experience I have developed a strong understanding of working with members of the entertainment industry, and leveraging the social media networks of high profile celebrities and media personnel in order to increase awareness about this organization.

Q: Why did you choose the WOY Committee?

A: The PR Woman of the Year Award Luncheon is an amazing event that honors the most talented women in the PR profession. In addition to honoring incredible and inspiring women, proceeds from the event’s raffle ticket sales help support FLOW (Financial Literacy Organization for Women and Girls), WWPR’s pro bono client. FLOW is an organization that provides information to women and girls, enabling them to make informed decisions about spending, saving, borrowing, investing and building assets. For the second year in a row I have worked to collect a treasure trove of donated items for the raffle– I promise you will not be disappointed! Some of the wonderful raffle items include spin classes at DC’s new SouldCycle, dinner for 4 at one of Jose Andres’ restaurants and a signed cookbook and certificate for crack pie from Momofuku’s famous Milk Bar (which is coming to DC soon!). Please join us on November 14th for this special event.


Articles of Interest


Upcoming Events

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


– Press and Media Relations Manager, Americans for the Arts

– Communications Associate for Digital Media, Advancement Project

– Communications Officer, The Pew Charitable Trusts

– Communications and Marketing Assistant, Iona Senior Services

– Public Relations Coordinator, American University

– Media Supervisor, Health PR, Edelman

– Vice President, Health Alliances PR, Edelman

– Senior Account Supervisor, Health PR, Edelman

– Marketing and Communications Consultant, Archbishop Carroll High School


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August New Members 


Kathy Grannis National Retail Federation
Maddie Grant
Ronda Keys, CMP Inspired Event Productions
Rachael Lighty Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE), An Exelon Company
Staci Maiers National Education Association
Jennifer Meyers National Corn Growers Association
Kelly Nantel National Transportation Safety Board
Clare Plaisted Plaisted Reid Communications
Stephanie Sawyer Georgetown University
Alev Sezer-Jacobs Cycle Technologies
Lauren Shank Freelance
Amy Tatelbaum FleishmanHillard
Lai Wei Hager Sharp
Kirsten Weymouth-Ullman The Nature Conservancy


August Renewals


Margaret A. Ferry MAF Global Communications
Sue Hensley National Restaurant Association
Marjorie Lane The Lane Marketing Group




Sponsor Spotlight



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