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Philly Chapter 70th Anniversary  PRSA Philly

News / Articles

September 2022

Michele Besso | Published on 9/19/2022
September 2022 PRSA Philly Chapter Chat

President's Letter
by Michele Besso

The theme of this month’s edition of PRSA’s national newsletter, Strategies & Tactics, is “The Benefits of Continuous Learning.”

At every stage of your career, author Leah Gladu writes, there is a new topic to learn and a new subject to master.

“That means we vacillate between student and teacher multiple times as we grow as communicators, and it’s important that we embrace both roles.”

As leaders in the profession, we should also shepherd young talent through the same lessons that helped shape us to earn that designation, Leah goes on to say.

I love this quote about how at various points in our careers as public relations practitioners, we will pivot between both the student and teacher roles. Having a mentor can make the difference between a fulfilling career journey and a frustrating one.

We are lucky, as members of PRSA, that we can connect with mentors and advisors who can take us to the next level and guide our careers. At the same time, we can help our younger, budding communicators take flight through mentoring, networking, and other programs.

The Philadelphia chapter is here to help you - whether you are a leader or brand new to the field – connect with like-minded people at all levels of their careers. Come to one of our networking nights. Check out our weekly job bank. Ask to find a mentor or offer to mentor someone. Take advantage of all the national workshops and classes offered free of charge to PRSA members.

Put yourself out there and see what the universe grants you in return. You will be happy you did.

Speaking of happy, I’m thrilled that we’re less than a week out from our chapter’s big 70th anniversary kickoff event, a conversation with PRSA National Board Chair Felicia Blow, Ph.D., APR, on diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is a feather in our caps that we were able to attract someone of Felicia’s caliber and standing to travel to Philadelphia and address our members.
If you have not already, please REGISTER for the Tuesday, Sept. 20 lunch, learning and celebration event in Center City, Philadelphia. In addition to our anniversary, we will also celebrate another milestone -- PRSA national’s 75th anniversary. All our past presidents are invited back to Philadelphia to commemorate this momentous occasion. And there will be cake!
The event includes lunch and FREE PARKING (now THAT’S a perk) at Rodeph Shalom. Register here and if you have any issues registering, please contact me at Our system can sometimes be wonky. Registration will also be accepted at the door the day of the event.
On another note, get your Pepperpot submissions in by Today's early bird deadline or the Oct. 7 final deadline! We want to celebrate all of your hard work!
I hope to see you next week in Philadelphia and have a great day!
Michele Besso
President, PRSA Philadelphia
PS: PRSA's annual Pepperpot Awards will be here before you know it (Dec. 6)! As most of you know, the Pepperpot Awards are a cornerstone of our organization and the biggest revenue driver of the year. Each year, leaders in our industry submit projects for recognition. It is an opportunity to demonstrate excellence amongst your peers. If you or your business have interest in sponsoring this event, please contact me at for more information. Thanks in advance!

Exclusive Member PRofile:
70th Anniversary Edition
FeaturingRosemary Rys, APR, M.A., APC
by Wendy Harris, SHRM-CP
In celebration of the 70th Anniversary of PRSA Philadelphia, over the next few months the
newsletter will feature several leaders and members of the organization to share their insights about the PR field, moments from their careers, challenges they’ve faced, and advice they have for the next generation of PR professionals.

This month, we provide a Q&A with Rosemary Rys, APR, M.A., APC - Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Communication, Drexel University.
“I love what I do, and I’d like to think it loves me back. Working in PR has been a very rewarding and special opportunity for me to truly enjoy my professional life in my chosen career. I was proud to serve as Chapter President in 1994; it was an amazing experience.
Happy 70th Anniversary and many more!”

Q: Why did you choose public relations as a career?
A: I started out working with FMC when I moved back to the area years ago, and I was doing event planning and marketing in their international department. Before that I had worked for a small company that sold computer support materials. Its founder, Isaac Auerbach, was involved in the development of the very first computer system, now known as ENIAC. After I earned my undergraduate degree in marketing and management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, my neighbor suggested we should get our masters’ degrees in PR. It was really the hot topic back in the day, and Rowan University (then still Glassboro State College) was offering it in their new evening-school graduate program. So, sure enough, we went ahead and did just that. It was the best thing I could have done because after that, I was able to teach—first part-time for 20 years, then full-time for 11 years to date. When I found out how great, useful, and necessary PR was, I was hooked!

Q: Who were some of your early influences in the business?
A: One of my inspirations was the father of PR, Edward L. Bernays. I got to meet him when I started teaching part-time at Drexel University in 1991. I had earned my APR in 1987 through being a PRSA member and became the Professional Advisor for Drexel’s PRSSA Chapter, then later was their Faculty Advisor when I started teaching there. That year, 1991, Drexel was celebrating its 100th Anniversary and Mr. Bernays had just turned 100. At the PRSA National Conference in Phoenix that year, some of Drexel’s student PRSSA representatives and I had the chance to meet him and share some Drexel anniversary gear for an amazing photo opportunity.


Q: What do you enjoy most about working in PR?
A: I really enjoy the type of work that it is and the many ways to use my skills and creativity. I've worked for different PR agencies, as well as in corporate, nonprofit, consulting and much more. For 11 years, I was the PR Director of the largest architectural/engineering/interior design firm in Philadelphia, Kling Lindquist.  That was a great experience because I got to promote our exciting work, meet with national editors, develop big events, and “open” buildings like GlaxoSmithKline’s headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina, and other pharmaceuticals, as well as Bell Atlantic Tower in Center City Philadelphia, which is now called Three Logan Square.  We would host a fancy party at the end of the project to celebrate with the client, construction firm, and our team, all of whom had worked closely together to make it a reality.  It was a remarkable thing. So, I got to do a lot of fun things. I also love teaching it. I've taught PR and other communication topics for 31 years now at Drexel, and also taught at Temple University as an adjunct for 12 years.

Q: What are some of your most memorable moments working in PR?
A: I was asked to co-chair a committee to have an event like the 70th Anniversary PRSA is having now, but this one was for Kling Lindquist’s 50th Anniversary. That became a year-long planning session that included meaningful monthly programs and student competitions dedicated to giving back to the community. I also chaired a committee for one of PRSA Philadelphia’s special anniversaries for which we decided to celebrate at the then-new Philadelphia Convention Center. There were about 350 members and guests there, but we didn't know that Aretha Franklin was helping to open the Center just down the hall from us. It was exciting to be able to walk down the hall to the former Reading Terminal and hear her belting out a song.
Another memorable moment involved Frank X. Long, APR, Fellow PRSA. He took me under his wing as a “newbie” in the PR field and gave me the benefit of his vast experience and the golden opportunity to meet his elite circle of colleagues. Known as one of the best in the business, Frank taught me how to launch our first restaurant client, Au Bon Pain, and together, we won a Pepperpot for another client, had a wonderful time brainstorming ways to promote new companies, and in general, shared our love for this field.  Frank was fearless and so talented. I was very fortunate to have him as my teacher, mentor, and friend. PRSA Philadelphia offers an award in his memory each year.

Frank introduced me to some of the big names in PR then, like Anne Klein, Charlie Volpe, John Moscatelli, Larry Litwin, and many more experts, so I also got a chance to work closely with them—such a privilege!

Q: Why did you join PRSA and how did it help your career? 
A: What started me off was being a member of PRSSA in college. When I was at Rowan learning what PR was all about, I wanted more than anything to earn my APR credentials. I was fighting for the accreditation to be more recognized, especially when I became President. To this day, I don’t think enough people understand and/or appreciate what it takes to earn that designation and/or how it can further both your knowledge and career.

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced as a past president of PRSA?
A: I was President of the Philadelphia Chapter in 1994 and on the board and various  committees before that. At the time I was elected, it had become challenging for our chapter to keep our members involved and present engaging programs monthly. So, my board and I decided to ask the big firms of the day, Anne Klein & Associates, Earl Palmer Brown & Spiro, Ketchum, and others to design and sponsor special events of their choosing each month. Even our PRSSA chapters joined together to present a terrific program—at that time, their focus was on technology. It was a big hit—all of their well-conceived ideas and concepts were great.

Q: What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing PR practitioners today?
A: I just read that the top challenge is measuring and improving value and demonstrating ROI. Number two is educating the executive team. I was always taught the same things when I went to Rowan, and I was lucky enough to have some of the most prestigious teachers who started the well-renowned program there.  They were the great ones like Don Bagin, Tony Fulginiti, Don Gallagher, and Jim Gillespie, who created the excellent, much-loved newsletter called “Communication Briefings.” What fabulous role models they were!
Pepperpot Season is Upon Us...
Is Any of Your Work Pepperpot-worthy?

by Michael Wood, MBA
In recent issues of PRSA Philly Chapter Chat, we have put the spotlight on some of the 2021 Pepperpot winners, what made their campaigns or projects exceptional, and lessons learned relevant for any of us.

The recent Pepperpot winners also described how much the award meant to them and their teams, a validation of the quality of PR professionalism, a source of pride, and a reputation boost with their colleagues and peers. And a fun night to celebrate, too.

Plenty of companies, large and small, universities, agencies, and non-profits are making a difference with stellar PR programs. Soon, it can be your turn to display your best work for the 2022 Pepperpots!

As we gear up for the Pepperpot season, now is the time to consider your award-worthy work to nominate, like creative campaigns your team
executed that achieved solid results for your organization. There are Pepperpot award categories for everyone -- specific tactics, campaigns, and individuals who help advance the profession, demonstrate a commitment to education or excellence in writing.

Winning entries are not just ordinary or typical for a particular category, but those which are original, creative, innovative, and meet a high standard. Successful entries will articulate how research informed thorough planning with clear objectives, impressive execution, as well as quantitative and/or qualitative results. Consider PR strategic elements: research, planning, execution, and evaluation.

Access the Pepperpots Call for Entries Now

Check out the "10 Tips for Preparing your Pepperpot Award Entry" article from our August newsletter HERE!

Early Bird: TODAY—Friday, September 16 at 11:59 PM
Absolute Final: Friday, October 7 at 11:59 PM

If you will not meet today’s deadline, here is a list of Pepperpot categories to get ideas flowing in time for your October 7 submissions!

Campaigns:  Community Relations; Crisis Communications or Issues Management; Development or Fundraising; Influencer Programs; Internal/Employee Communications; Integrated Communications; Marketing Communications; Media Relations; Multicultural Communications; Public Affairs; Public Service; Reputation/Brand Management; Social Media; Special Events & Observances; and Shoestring Budget Campaigns.

Tactics:  Annual Reports; Audio-Visual Programs; Brochures; Content Marketing; Editorial/Op-Ed, Executive Communications; Feature Stories; Magazines; Mobile App; Newsletters; Research; Social Media Platform; and Website.

Coming together as PRSA Philly is a chance to highlight and celebrate outstanding work being done in our region. Take time in the weeks ahead and consider how you can participate.

(We look forward to continuing the 2021 Pepperpot winner spotlight series in the coming months, too.)

Timely Announcements

*We are in need of sponsorships for this event*
Please reach out to President Michele Besso at if you or your business are interested in becoming a sponsor!
PRSA Philly's Upcoming Events
PRSA Philly to celebrate 70th anniversary with visit from National Board Chair Felicia Blow
‘Thought Leadership in PR: A Conversation with PRSA's Felicia Blow on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’ will be held Tuesday, Sept. 20 at Rodeph Shalom
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 14, 2022 — For 75 years, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has been the nation's leading professional organization when it comes to serving the communications community. Its presence is arguably no more significant than it is in Philadelphia, which boasts the fifth-largest PRSA chapter in the country and is celebrating a pretty big birthday of its own this year: 70 years.
The local Philadelphia Chapter of PRSA will celebrate both milestone anniversaries next week when it welcomes PRSA National Board Chair Felicia Blow, Ph.D., APR, for a special luncheon presentation.
“Thought Leadership in PR: A Conversation with PRSA's Felicia Blow on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” will be held Tuesday, Sept. 20, at Rodeph Shalom, 615 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pa. The event will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. Blow is an award-winning leader with extensive organizational, fundraising, strategic planning, leadership and management experience and currently serves as Associate Vice President for Development at the renowned historically black institution Hampton University.
"As the fifth largest chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the Philadelphia chapter is thrilled to be celebrating our 70th anniversary with new and longtime members, students, past presidents, community leaders and future members-to-be," said Michele Besso, PRSA Philadelphia president. "It is apropos that we also have the opportunity to recognize PRSA's 75th anniversary with someone of such stature as PRSA National Board Chair Dr. Felicia Blow, APR, who will be with us in person for a conversation on diversity, equity and inclusion, an area of profound importance. An award-winning leader in her field, we are grateful to have a speaker like Dr. Blow with us to share in such a happy occasion and we hope everyone will register to attend what looks to be a tremendous learning luncheon with PRSA Philly!”
Cost to attend the presentation, which includes lunch, is $25 for PRSA members, $35 for future members and $10 for students. Attendees can register here and walk-ins will also be accepted. Free parking is available behind the building off Green Street.
During her talk, Blow will discuss how organizations should empower and guide leadership in embracing inclusivity and in “speaking truth to power.”
“Dr. Blow is a very dynamic speaker, and the topic she will be discussing is paramount in importance to communicators and the companies and organizations that they represent,” said Rick Alcantara, a current PRSA Philadelphia director at-large and former president of the organization. “You see a lot of companies that talk the talk but don’t walk the walk, and that is why Dr. Blow’s message is so important. She is one of the most impactful thought leaders in this area, and every organization, both big or small, can benefit from her message.”
During the event, the Philadelphia Chapter of PRSA will also pay tribute to its organization’s roots. Every past president of the organization has been invited to the luncheon. A special first-ever commemorative coffee table book that describes the top moments in PR and the top leaders of the profession will also be available for purchase.
“PRSA has been a stabilizing force in Philadelphia for a lot of folks who have gone into public relations, and it has been around for 70 years,” Alcantara said. “For new practitioners, PRSA is a great way to connect, network, find job opportunities and learn new skills by taking on volunteer roles. For established practitioners, it’s a great place to work with other professionals and the networking, volunteering and idea sharing is just so valuable.”
For more information on PRSA Philadelphia and its upcoming 70th anniversary event, visit the organization’s website.
The Philadelphia Chapter is the fifth largest chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). We provide opportunities for professional development, mentoring, networking and continuous learning in all strategic communication disciplines to 430 members across Greater Philadelphia.
PRSA Philadelphia supports PR and communications professionals in all stages of their career and offers a myriad of resources, including the region’s preeminent PR job bank; the exclusive opportunity to earn the APR professional accreditation; professional development and networking events; and volunteer opportunities. We also work closely with student chapters of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) in the region.
Dr. Felicia Blow, APR, is an award-winning leader with extensive organizational, fundraising, strategic planning, leadership and management experience. With a 30-year career spanning work in Manufacturing (Caterpillar, Inc.), Waste Management and Environmental Services (Southeastern Public Service Authority), Telecommunications (Cox Communications), and Higher Education (Paul D. Camp and Tidewater Community Colleges). Dr. Blow currently serves as Associate Vice President for Development at the renowned historically black institution Hampton University.
At Hampton, Dr. Blow led the university’s $150 Million Dream No Small Dreams II Campaign as its campaign director. That campaign concluded December 2019 and ultimately exceeded its goal in raising more than $166 million in support of University priorities.  Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Blow has been featured in a book Entitled “Diverse Voices” published by the PRSA Foundation in 2018. She also has been featured in a book entitled “PR Women with Influence: Breaking Through the Ethical and Leadership Challenges” by authors Meng, J., Neill, M.S., Pitts, et al., published in late 2020. She also was named Outstanding Alumna of the Year by one of her alma maters (Strayer University) in 2012. In 2019 and 2020, she also led a nearly year-long strategic planning effort that concluded in the establishment of PRSA’s first three-year strategic plan for Diversity & Inclusion and served in 2020 as Co-Chair of the National Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Dr. Blow formerly served as Chair of the Universal Accreditation Board. During her leadership term, she worked to approve and initiate the APR+M credential which positions PRSA with military organizations.
Dr. Blow is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and numerous other business, economic development, and community service organizations. She also has earned the Accredited in Public Relations credential from the Public Relations Society of America. Finally, Dr. Blow earned her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media Arts from Hampton University, Master’s in Business Administration degree from Strayer University, and Doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Old Dominion University.
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.
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.
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