In this Issue:
Washington PR Woman of the Year
Annual Speed Networking Event
October Brown Bag Recap
October Executive Communicators Event Recap”
Member Spotlight
Membership News
Pro Bono Client Update & Committee News
Employment Opportunities

Have you wanted to get more involved with WWPR? Being on the WWPR board is a rewarding endeavor! If you are interested in serving on the WWPR’s 2011 Board of Directors or if you would like to nominate someone, we have positions available. For qualifications, position descriptions and nominations contact WWPR President, Debbie Friez,

The Board of Directors is a group of WWPR members in good standing who are elected for term of one-year. All directors serve without compensation and are responsible for the duties of running the organization. A current list of the WWPR Board of Directors is available at

Washington PR Woman of the Year: Debra Silimeo
Congratulations to Debra Silimeo, who was named PR Woman of the Year at the awards ceremony held on November 10, 2010 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Each year, WWPR presents the prestigious award to a senior-level Washington area female PR practitioner as a means to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of PR women and expand awareness of their contributions to the industry.

Silimeo was selected from a panel of judges who nominated three final honorees based on their exceptional leadership and integrity to their fields, as well as their community involvement. Selected as honorees were Donna Vincent Roa, PhD, ABC, CSR-P, managing partner and chief strategist, Vincent Roa Group LLC, and Johanna Schneider, executive director-external relations, Business Roundtable.

The event also featured a keynote address by Dee Dee Myers, former White House Press Secretary, who recently joined The Glover Park Group as managing director of its Public Affairs practice.

Debra Silimeo and Dee Dee Myers
Photography by Maggie J. Szymanek Uncommon Photography

Thank you to our 2010 sponsors!

Gold Sponsors



Georgetown University

Hager Sharp

Mandarin Oriental Hotel

MultiVu PRNews

Washington Business Journal

Silver Sponsors


Consultancy Media

Johns Hopkins University MA in Communication


WestGlen Communications

Bronze Sponsors

Ogilvy Washington


My Media Info

The National Press Club

Don’t Miss WWPR’s Annual Speed Networking Event

It’s time again for WWPR’s annual speed networking event. Come prepared with lots of business cards as you get a chance meet every person in the room!

Event includes free appetizers and drinks!

When: Thursday, November 18, 6:30-8:30pm
Where: Bar Louie, 701 7th St NW (closest metro Chinatown)
Who: Top PR and Communication Professionals in the Washington DC area!
Price: $5 members, $20 non-members

Register now!

Event Recap: WWPR Executive Communicators Committee Brown Bag Lunch: The Latest Tech Trends and How They Impact PR
By Jeffrey D. Porro

“Eye opening” and “jaw dropping” were some of the phrases floating around the room after the October 6 Washington Women in Public Relations brown bag luncheon presented by Amy Webb, head of Webbmedia Group , an international digital strategy consultancy. Her presentation on “The Latest Tech Trends and How They Impact PR” was a rapid-fire introduction to emerging technologies that are or will be changing the way PR pros reach their key audiences.

Webb began by pointing out that “social media” is not a single technology, but at least five. She then combined descriptions of the hottest developments in mobile, e-readers, tablets, connected TV, and the web with very specific examples of how members of the audience could use them. For example, in describing the new services and networks offering “check-ins” – enabling people to use their mobile devices to let others know exactly where they are – she pointed out how a PR pro could use check-ins to leverage the demonstrations scheduled for Washington at the end of October.

She also recommended web sites and other sources that allow PR specialists to see the new tools in action and try them out. These included sites that allow users to learn a lot about a particular journalist’s interests and online profile. “Find someone’s usernames, and you can track them on all their networks,” she said.

While the technologies she reviewed were definitely cutting edge, she made clear her presentation rested on one of the most basic axioms of PR: know your audience. “If the people you want to reach are on a network or using a technology, and you’re not,” she said, “You have to change.”

Other takeaways:
* Generate engagement that’s habit forming;
* Use exclusivity and peer marketing to spread your message; and
* Make your clients’ “voice” on networks personal, not institutional.

Event Recap: Crisis Comunications in a Social Media World
By Deborah Brody ( )

The remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole did not stop the nearly 40 people who packed the conference room at the National Association of Broadcasters for September’s WWPR professional development program: Tips, Tools and Tactics for Effective Crisis Communications in a Social Media World. The program showcased how organizations deal with crises and use social media to help spread the word.

On the expert panel were:

* Karen Riley, press officer in the Federal Drug Agency’s Office of Public Affairs and leader of the agency’s medical products team of spokespeople.
* Laura Howe, vice president of public relations for the American Red Cross, one of the primary organizational spokespersons, in charge of overseeing day-to-day corporate media relations and crisis communication efforts.
* Moderator: Susan Matthews Apgood, president & co-founder of News Generation, Inc.

Each of the panelists shared case studies, best practices and advice, drawing heavily from a wealth of hands-on experience with national crises.

One particularly memorable crisis for Karen Riley at the FDA was when Heparin, which prevents blood clots and is considered an “essential drug,” was found to be contaminated and the reason some people were dying in hospitals across the U.S. A national news publication interviewed Riley and she was forced to answer tough questions about FDA inspections. The news created consternation, and the FDA wanted the story taken down. Riley worked to verify the story, and in the end, the story stood.

During Laura Howe’s years at the American Red Cross, there have been countless natural disasters-floods, hurricanes and earthquakes, but these are not considered crises, as they are the core of the Red Cross’ business. However, there have been crises like the large reduction in force (RIF) that took place in 2008 as the Red Cross struggled to deal with serious financial difficulties. Howe had to be prepared to answer tough questions such as “how will you maintain your services to America” and to deal with employee leaks to the media.

Social media has changed the crisis communication landscape. Organizations can use social media to find advocates to tell their stories. Problems can also become obvious through social media, as Howe said: “social media is the canary in a coal mine.” It has become imperative for organizations to monitor social media. Social media has also impacted media relations, as many times media outlets will use tweets and blog posts as commentary in their own stories.

Among the many lessons and best practices in dealing with crises she has learned, Laura Howe shared the following:
* Think like a reporter
* Be prepared to push back on media questions
* Be first and be right-don’t let someone else tell your story
* Not being on social media can be risky for an organization
* “Never Twitter when you are bitter”(and tweet only verified information)

Karen Riley shared the following points:
* Wait to have correct information and a complete message before you talk to the media
* Have a standard format written document ready to go
* Get to know the technical experts so you can understand what is going on
* Know and understand the communication style of the top officers in your organization.

One big lesson learned from the panel is being prepared to deal with crisis communications, and using social media to get your side of the story out, is the best way to make sure a crisis does not explode and further damage your organization’s reputation.

Member Spotlight: Laura Cilmi

by Meghan Sager

Do you ever wonder if that networking event will pay off professionally? Or if anyone will even notice your newly updated LinkedIn profile? WWPR member Laura Climi has the answer for you: yes.

Laura is a Managing Associate at Chlopak Leonard Schechter and Associates (CLS). CLS is a mid-sized communications/public relations firm that focuses on public affairs, corporate, international and crisis communications. Prior to joining CLS, Laura was recruited by a Senior Vice President at CLS because of her robust and relevant LinkedIn profile! Laura is not alone in finding opportunities online. Many people find jobs by taking full advantage of services like LinkedIn. To take full take advantage of sites like this, Laura recommends updating frequently and including group memberships, current job responsibilities and relevant experience.

At CLS, Laura, along with her co-workers, serves on a team that provides public relations services and strategies for their clients. While she enjoys the culture and co-workers at CLS, Laura also stays active outside of work, attending networking events and seminars.

“Networking is a huge part of working in PR and an even bigger part of working in Washington. I think the key is to be involved. A lot of people sign up for email notifications or pay organization memberships and then don’t attend meetings or events. Joining every group and attending every event isn’t necessary but look at the events and what interests you. Then when you get to events talk to people. Don’t be afraid to go up to a stranger with a business card and talk about your experience,” recommends Laura.

When she’s not going down the list of “who’s who” to meet in the Washington PR scene, Laura can be found enjoying DC museums and tailgating at her alma mater, James Madison University. One day, when someone decides to write a novel about her life, Laura hopes it will be titled “The Life and Times of Fighting Inaccurate Reporters.”

Membership News

New Members
– Robin Evans, EFX Media
– Trish Donnally, Forrest Perkins
– Johanna Schneider, Business Round Table
– Jennifer Sergent, Washington Design Center
– Kathy Zufall, PR Newswire

Returning Members
– Jennifer Bolick, Richfield Productions Inc.
– Kirsten Suto Seckler, Special Olympics
– Debra Silimeo, Hager Sharp
– Donna Vincent Roa, PhD, ABC, CSR-P, Vincent Roa Group LLC

Membership has its benefits! Members do not pay for most WWPR monthly professional development brown bag lunches. To learn more, please contact Caitlin Douglas, membership chair, at

Pro Bono Committee Client Updates & News

Help the Homeless Walk on November 20
Join WWPR’s team at the Help the Homeless Walk on Saturday, November 20 to raise money for our former pro bono client, Doorways for Women and Children. To join us, log on to , click on register, then search for our team,WWPR, then click to join. Each walker contributes $25. The registration deadline is Thursday, November 18. If you don’t wish to walk, consider making a donation to our team. Please email if you have any questions.

Become a Santa for Children’s Law Center
WWPR’s pro bono client, Children’s Law Center has started its 2010 Adopt-a-Family Holiday Gift Drive. You can become a Santa and make a needy child’s holiday dreams come true. Santas will buy two items from the child’s wish list, shop for one clothing outfit and provide a holiday meal by purchasing a gift card. Sign up to help or get more information at or by emailing Erika Manderschied at

Pro Bono Committee News
Thanks! Thank you to NABfor its generous donation of room space to the Pro Bono Committee.

New Client: The WWPR Pro Bono Client Search for 2011-2012 received more than 30 applications from wonderful organizations around the DC metro area! We are currently reviewing the applications and will announce the selection at the annual WWPR luncheon in January so stay tuned!

Employment Opportunities

Communications Manager, Northrup Grumman

Community Relations Specialist, Freddie Mac

Public Relations Account Executive, Boscobel Marketing Communications

Public Relations Account Executive, Department of the Interior

Communications Manager,MRIS

Director of Communications, NOAA Fisheries

Marketing Specialist, NISH

Media Relations Manager, Secular Coalition

Account Supervisor – Consumer, GolinHarris

Communications Assistant, Center for Competitive Politics