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Philly Chapter 70th Anniversary  PRSA Philly

News / Articles

April 2022

Published on 4/12/2022

President's Letter
by Michele Besso

Hello PRSA Philadelphia!

I hope you’re enjoying the warmer weather (when it’s not raining!) and doing the things you enjoy again, like gardening or just soaking up the sun.

Obviously, we have missed seeing your faces! Our first IN-PERSON event is scheduled for Wednesday, April 27 at Victory Brewing Company in Philadelphia. This evening event will be a good time to network with your peers, learn about some new craft beers from a master brewer, and enjoy food and drink while meeting the 2022 new board members! We hope you will attend – visit to register!

Since April is APR month, we are hosting an APR workshop TODAY at 12:30 p.m. via Zoom. Our APR board chair, Jake Farbman, will share the ins and outs of what is involved with the APR and how earning this accreditation can help you! PRSA Philly, along with IABC, is offering “Flip the Script with Chelsea Austin” on Thursday, May 12 via Zoom. Chelsea is a writer, motivational speaker and advocate who will share tricks and tips for how to change your mindset!

Our PRSSA chapters are important to us! Expect more programming aimed at students in the future, including a resume/portfolio workshop and a mentoring event. We are also planning some exciting programs this fall to kick off our 70th anniversary celebration! We are looking into hosting new happy hours/networking events in the Philadelphia suburbs and southern New Jersey areas. We want to offer something for everyone!

We hope to see you all soon. As always, reach out to me if you want to get involved or have ideas for programming. or

Michele Besso
President, PRSA Philadelphia

Exclusive Member PRofile


PRSA member since: 2020

Workplace and title: Director of Engagement at Klunk & Millan. I start this new position on April 19. I am currently head of Communications at Bloom Works.

Why I Joined PRSA: I joined PRSA to deepen my connections within the PR community across industries, sectors, skill levels and seniority levels. PRSA has also provided incredible training opportunities, including the Advancing Your Communication Strategy in DE&I Certificate Program, which I recently completed.

Hobbies and Special Interests: Veteran advocacy is my primary philanthropic interest, and I serve on a number of boards for this purpose. I am the daughter of the first Polynesian soldier buried in Arlington National Cemetery, and my husband is in the Pennsylvania National Guard. I am also very interested and involved in anything that advances mentorship for young professionals. 

If I could trade my profession for any other in the world, it would be: If I had to trade PR for another profession, I would definitely work in emergency management. In 2021, I had the privilege of helping to lead the Public Information Officer team for the Philadelphia portion of Operation Allies Refuge, which was the multijurisdictional effort to airlift Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants from Afghanistan during the final days of the 2001–2021 War in Afghanistan. I have completed two certifications for FEMA Incident Command Systems and encourage all strategic communications professionals to consider this training.

Insight from a PRSA Pepperpot Awards Winner
by Michael Wood, MBA

In the third of our series spotlighting the PRSA Philly chapter 2021 Pepperpot winners, congratulations to the team at the American Heritage Federal Credit Union, led by Mike Dinneen, Senior Vice President of Marketing.

The American Heritage team won two Pepperpots and four Ladles. The winning Pepperpots were:  Special Events with a budget of $15,000 or less for the holiday Drive Thru Grand Illumination, and Development or Fundraising for its “Labor of Love” campaign. The Ladles were awarded in the Marketing Communications, Social Media and Newsletter categories. Here are excerpts from a conversation with Mike Dinneen, along with Kirstin Wilson, Marketing and Public Relations Specialist who joined American Heritage in 2020 and spearheaded the Pepperpot nominations.

From left, American Heritage Marketing & Public Relations team members Mike Dinneen, Rebecca Brackman, Holly Benedetto, Kirstin Wilson, Yuliya Stupen
Why do you participate in the Pepperpot Awards?
Participating in the Pepperpots validates the hard work and ingenuity done by our team members in PR, marketing, member communications, event planning, social media and the cross-collaboration across our disciplines. Preparing the nominations was a way to memorialize the good ideas, the execution, and the solid impact.

The Pepperpots event is one of the most iconic events in our discipline, and a great opportunity to build relationships among our fellow public relations practitioners. Seeing all the winners of so many well-respected brands and what they have done was both educational and a good benchmark for us.
There are many opportunities for partnership and collaboration among our PR community as well, with peers willing to share insights, experiences, and best practices. We were proud to participate and found it to be rewarding.

Describe the mission you are supporting with your PR efforts?
We are a different kind of financial service institution. Based in Northeast Philadelphia, American Heritage is a non-profit credit union that has been in business for nearly 75 years. It’s about people helping people. We have about 250,000 members and partner with hundreds of local workplaces, including 14 hospitals. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is the primary recipient of our charitable fundraising. A large part of our work is communicating directly with members, along with educational programs for financial wellness. We offer free financial webinars and seminars and participate in many community events throughout the year. 

After being so successful with the 2021 awards, what are the key takeaways for your team and PRSA members?
Living through COVID has been difficult for all of us, and yet it has also brought out the best in us. More than any other year, the Pepperpots showed how all of us can adapt and keep learning. With all of our goals, we learned to continuously re-imagine what we do and bring a new perspective to our traditional events and how we interact with our members, especially as many of our traditional in-person events became virtual.

We expanded our helpful “on demand” content on our website and interacted with more members via social media. During the pandemic, social media became a major link to our members. We work diligently to ensure that social media is a dialogue, not a monologue, and it is a medium with quality content.

Throughout 2021, our PR efforts were a full court press efforts for our whole team. Our achievements have encompassed all of our disciplines, and the entire team deserves credit.

What made your Special Event (Month-Long Grand Illumination) exceptional?
The Grand Illumination at our main campus is a longstanding tradition for American Heritage. It takes place the first Saturday after Thanksgiving to kick off the holiday season. It features a Christmas tree lighting, holiday musical performances (with the Philadelphia Boys Choir and the Philadelphia Fifes and Drums), fireworks, the announcement of our Grand Vacation Sweepstakes, and a $300,000 donation to CHOP that supports its pediatric music therapy program. There is a two-pronged approach with pre-event promotion and getting people there, as well as post-event. We had B101 as a partner, advanced press releases, media alerts, and coverage on all four local TV stations. It attracted more than 4,000 viewers via live stream, and 10,000 people in person who could stroll the campus or drive through. It’s a fun and feel-good family event with a charity aspect. It is one of our signature events and pretty unique for a financial services firm. It was a great accomplishment, and a big source of pride.

Tell us about your Labor of Love fundraiser.
It is a great example of re-imagining what we do. American Heritage is the sponsor for the Kids-n-Hope Foundation to support CHOP and local hospitals. How we raised funds for the foundation changed dramatically with COVID. The Labor of Love was a weeklong, virtual “Ride or Stride” event in September. Participants could walk or ride one of six pre-selected courses or wherever they choose, while raising funds for the cause and posting photos and videos to our social media. Our member communications and social media played a large part with participants and donors, very active in advance and during the event week. It was a great success and raised more than $67,000 in its first year.
PRSA Philly's Upcoming Events


Advance Your Career with an APR!
TODAY,  12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Looking to advance your career or position yourself as a leader? The Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential might be the lift you need! Dr. Jacob Farbman, APR, PRSA Philadelphia’s APR Chair, will share the ins and outs of what is involved and how earning this accreditation can help you!
About our Speaker
Jacob C. Farbman, Ed.D., APR, serves as the executive director of the New Jersey Center for Student Success, which supports the state’s 18 community colleges in strengthening their roles to provide economic mobility   for students. The New Jersey Center for Student Success    is part of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, the statewide nonprofit enshrined in state law that strengthens and supports New Jersey’s 18 community colleges.
In addition, Jacob has taught as an adjunct professor of communication studies at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in Ewing since January 2001, teaching Introduction to Communication Theory and Strategies of Public Relations. He is the recipient of the Sigma Pi fraternity Outstanding Faculty Award and the Public Relations Society of America Philadelphia Chapter’s Outstanding Public Relations Educator Award.
Jacob serves as the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) Chair for the PRSA Philadelphia Chapter, and is responsible for supporting Chapter members in their pursuits of the APR credential.

Jacob holds a doctorate in educational leadership, a master’s degree in corporate public relations and a bachelor’s degree in communication, all from Rowan University. He also holds an associate degree in communications/journalism from Salem Community College.

Networking Night at Victory Brewing Company in Philadelphia

Wednesday, April 27, 2022,  5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Join us for our first IN-PERSON networking event of the year at this expansive taproom and brewery on the beautiful Benjamin Franklin Parkway! Enjoy light bites and drinks as you socialize with your peers, meet the 2022 board of directors and learn from a master brewer about Victory's wide selection of special beers, seltzers and ciders!


Flip the Script with Chelsea Austin
May 12, 2022,  12 p.m. - 1 p.m.
Being a communicator can be very rewarding but, like all professions, it also comes with unique challenges.  You’re charged with delivering the right message in the right way to the right audience(s) at the right time.  As a communicator, you play a very important role; one that is not for the faint of heart. 

You’ve spent years honing your skills and abilities, so it can be frustrating when your communication counsel is questioned – or worse, ignored!  At times, it can have you second guessing your abilities and questioning your true value.  Even the most successful communication professionals occasionally hear that little inner voice wreaking havoc with their confidence and self-worth as it plays those self-doubt scripts over and over in their head. 
In this engaging and inspirational session, Chelsea will reveal her story of labels, worthiness and refusing to be boxed in, and teach us how to Flip the Script to finally realize the success we are meant to achieve!  During this program, we’ll also explore:
  • Self-doubt – it’s root causes and how to keep it from holding you back
  • The warning signs your body gives you when you’re on the verge of burnout and how to recognize them, before it’s too late
  • The true definition of success and how you can achieve it

About Our Speaker
Chelsea Austin is a writer, speaker and advocate from Malibu, California raised by two of the most incredible parents, her dads. Chelsea has taken her story of being raised by two gay men, and used it as a platform to spread love and acceptance. She has advocated for the LGBTQ+ community since she was in high school. In 2010, she was voted one of the Top Fifteen LGBT Activists in the Los Angeles area. Her upcoming book Inexplicably Me: A Story of Labels, Worthiness, and Refusing to Be Boxed In will be released April 26, 2022.
Graduating Magna Cum Laude from Muhlenberg College in 2015 with a degree in theatre and dance, Chelsea has taken her theatrical background and created a career out of sharing her experiences as the daughter of two gay men and a young woman navigating the world on her blog, “The Girl With Five Names,” her podcast, “Worthiness Warriors,” and through speaking engagements, as she prepares to release her first book about her life, her beliefs and her wish to bring peace, self-love and joy to as many individuals as possible. Home for Chelsea is in Los Angeles with her incredible husband, Dominic and sweet puppy, Moe.
Timely Announcements

PRSA Philadelphia Celebrates 70 Years

PRSA Philadelphia’s 70th anniversary celebration is underway. Last week, we revealed the anniversary logo. Thanks to Riggs Creative Group for their great design work.
In the coming months you’ll see anniversary-themed posts on our website, social media and emails. You’ll also see 70th anniversary tie-ins with our programs.
We’ll formally kick off the festivities in September when PRSA National Chair Dr. Felicia Blow, APR will be our speaker. She’ll discuss PRSA’s 75th anniversary, our 70th anniversary, PRSA’s priorities and the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion.
If you’d like to be part of the anniversary planning committee, contact Rick Alcantara at The team welcomes help with writing, event planning and logistics.
PRSA National News

Professional Development opportunities from PRSA National, including webinars, workshops, on demand training sessions, case study presentations on various industry topics, and a range of certificate programs can be found HERE.
Important Updates:
  • APR Month is being commemorated throughout April. If you don't yet have your APR or APR+M and are interested in learning more about this prestigious credential, you can get all the details about APR here.
  • Applications are open for the 2023 PRSA Board of Directors, and will be accepted through Tuesday, May 24. PRSA is seeking candidates to fill three Officer positions as well as Director positions for five Districts and one Director-at-Large position. Click here for the application form and additional info.
  • The finalists in the 2022 Anvils Awards have been announced. Join us May 19 at the Edison Theater in NYC to hear who will enter the Silver and Bronze Anvils winner's circle. RSVP here.
  • Marlee Matlin, Academy Award-winning actress, star of CODA -- this year's Oscar winner for Best Picture, and a trailblazing activist, will be a keynote speaker at ICON 2022, taking place Nov. 13-15 in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas — register now!
  • Have you heard that PRSA’s new regional representative for the East Central, Northeast and Tri-State Districts is John Tintera, APR?

PRSA/PRSSA in the News:
New & Noteworthy Programs:
Love your PRSA Membership? Encourage a friend or colleague to join today!
Learn more here
PRSA Job Board
For those of you who may be in the hiring position, we hope that you will 
submit your openings as they become available so we can share them with our
community of PR and communications professionals.
If you are on the job hunt yourself, check out our local chapter listings.
We also encourage you to visit the PRSA National job board.