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PRSA Storytellers

Inspiration • Information • Issues

PRSA presents a series of engaging conversations focused on relevant and timely topics, emerging issues and concerns in communication, developments in the profession, our community, and more.

These webinars, podcasts and dynamic programs are designed to deliver thought leadership and keep you up to date on the state of our profession, as well as the current and future business environment. 

Join PRSA for conversations that matter!


Leading with Ethics and Accountability in Higher Education: The Role of Public Relations

April 20, 2021 03:00 p.m. – 04:00 p.m.

More than ever, ethical leadership is needed as higher education institutions grapple with multiple threats to their missions, reputations, relationships, and viability. The pandemic, budgets, politics, and demands for racial and social justice within and outside of the academy are straining institutions in ways they have not experienced in decades. Join moderator Michele Ewing, APR, Fellow PRSA, professor at Kent State University; John Diamond, President and CEO, University of Maine Alumni Association and author of the book, Please Delete: How Leadership Hubris Ignited a Scandal and Tarnished a University; and Darryl Lunon, II, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, Georgia Institute of Technology for a conversation about accountability and ethics in higher education — and the role public relations professionals should play in ensuring those stakeholder expectations. 

John Diamond, president and CEO, University of Maine Alumni Association
Darryl Lunon, II, Esq., deputy general counsel and chief ethics and compliance officer, Georgia Institute of Technology

Michele Ewing, APR, Fellow PRSA, professor, Kent State University

Hosted by the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards.

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What the Pandemic Proves About Leadership: Why Skilled Improvisation and Inclusion Are the Key to Our Futures

April 30, 2021 03:00 p.m. – 04:00 p.m.

While upsetting the balance of our lives all over the world, COVID-19 has also focused enduring themes and emerging trends for leadership practice. This big-picture webinar details why and how improvisation and inclusion must be at the center of every leader’s philosophy and behaviors in a post-pandemic world. In essence, no organization can be successful without their leaders cultivating these twin skills moving forward.

Detailing what has changed in our organizational environments, while drawing from a wealth of research and surprising insights from the field of improvisational theater, the webinar will provide participants with a framework that can be immediately put into practice by both rising and established leaders.

Using findings from the author’s new book, Improv for Democracy: How to Bridge Differences and Develop the Communication and Leadership Skills Our World Needs, the webinar will further provide an opportunity for participants to re-set their thoughts and actions as they launch into new and uncertain post-pandemic futures.

Don Waisanen is a professor in the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College, where he received the Presidential Awards for Distinguished Teaching and Distinguished Scholarship. He teaches courses and workshops in public communication—including executive speech training, communication strategy, and seminars on storytelling, conflict and negotiation, and leadership and improvisation. All of Waisanen’s research seeks to understand how communication works to promote or hinder the force of citizens’ voices. Since “every human advancement or reversal can be understood through communication” (Walter Annenberg), he has written over 45 scholarly publications on the subject, covering topics from strategies in public speaking to the ways that organizations and governments can better communicate with different stakeholders.

He is the author of Improv for Democracy: How to Bridge Differences and Develop the Communication and Leadership Skills Our World Needs, and forthcoming books on the intersections of strategic communication and voter suppression, participatory budgeting, and nonprofit leadership. Previously, Waisanen worked in broadcast journalism, as a speechwriter, and continues to develop and run communication campaigns for organizations across the private and public sectors. He is the founder of Communication Upward and an adjunct lecturer at Columbia University and New York University. For the last two decades, he's also been a comedy writer and improvisational comedian at theaters in Los Angeles and New York.

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Previous Programs

Behind the Scenes: How a World-Class Convention Center Became a COVID-19 Field Hospital

February 24, 2021 4 – 5 p.m.

Join us for the next PRSA Storytellers session, which features Tony Sclafani, senior vice president, chief communications officer, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

During this session, we will explore the unprecedented challenges of converting the 2.1 million-square-foot Javits Center into a fully operational field hospital with 2,000 patient units at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. You'll hear how Sclafani and the Javits Center team, working with the Army Corps of Engineers and civilian staff and members of the New York National Guard, managed the swift transformation as the destination venue for trade shows and conventions became a fully equipped, FEMA-operated medical facility in just one week.

Sclafani has more than 20 years of experience in executive communications, government affairs and media relations. As a leader in reputation and crisis management, he has led internal and external communications during high-profile events with global impact and interest, including Superstorm Sandy and the COVID-19 pandemic. 


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Leading With Ethics — A View From the Top

February 4, 2021 4 - 5 p.m. EDT

As we cautiously ease into the new year, the importance of open and honest communications is top of mind. Public relations professionals in particular face daunting challenges as their publics focus more and more attention on not only the “words,” but also the deeper meaning of those words. Please join moderator Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, for an in-depth look at the state of ethical communications today from the perspective of leading entrepreneur and philanthropist Craig Newmark, whose own personal standards have influenced tens of thousands of others.

Hosted by the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards.

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Designing Your 2021 Accountability Wellness Story

January 14, 2021 4  – 5 p.m.

What Is Your Story for 2021?

As we spend days, nights, and weekends writing and rewriting stories for our companies and clients we neglect creating the most critical story: our own.

To continue to advance the profession and professional, we must not only advocate for ourselves and have a voice in major business decisions, but we also must do something often neglected: take care of our mind and body. And while we use professional development to evolve our public relations talents and grow to be trusted advisors, our minds and bodies must reduce stress, keep calm, and stay healthy to maximize those opportunities.

Mark Mohammadpour, APR, a certified personal trainer and health coach who lost and kept off 150 pounds more than 10 years ago, will lead a discussion on the state of our well-being in our industry and work with attendees to develop their 2021 accountability plan.

This webinar is designed for PRSSA and PRSA members of all experience levels.

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Taking a Position for Ethical Practice of Public Relations

Recorded Nov 9, 2020, 4 p.m. EDT

Join BJ Whitman and Tim O’Brien of PRSA’s Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS) as they dig into details of a new program BEPS launched in 2020 to help make PRSA’s Code of Ethics more accessible. The program is the BEPS Position Papers program, that provides members with brief, actionable documents on specific and common situations where members may need more guidance than the Code itself provides. BEPS’s positions center on the processes associated with the ethical practice of public relations.

In this session, you’ll learn how you can tap these position papers for your own work and as needed, and use them to provide ethical counsel to senior management in your own organization.

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Communicating From the Pandemic’s Front Lines:
A Matter of Life and Death

Recorded Aug. 19, 2020 6:00 p.m. EDT

The pandemic is unlike any other crisis—never more evident than for those responsible for public relations and marketing in health care. While highly versed in crisis communications, this time it’s different. Rather than dealing with a singular issue, the pandemic is pervasive to people across the globe: 24/7 twists and turns make it intense and excruciating with never-ending demands, ethical dilemmas, constantly changing content and unending expectations requiring undivided attention to reach every single market segment with no end in sight. These professionals are laser focused in critical support of health care heroes doing the sacred work of caring for communities, patients and loved ones. Organizations and communities also depend on them for clear, transparent, unbridled and moment-to-moment external communications in the face of fear and uncertainty. Their ever-evolving lessons learned are applicable to every professional no matter the sector.

Leading the seminar are highly recognized national leaders in both health care and pandemic marketing and communications. Dr. Rhoda Weiss, APR, Fellow PRSA, chair and founder of AMA Executive Summit and BetterTogether.health, leads large national and regional education and campaigns on the pandemic. Ramon Soto is the top marketing executive for New York’s Northwell Health, which diagnosed 50,000 COVID-19 patients and treated 15,000 in its facilities—largest number for any health system of its size.

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From a Distillery to Making Hand Sanitizer During COVID-19

Recorded Tuesday, July 14, 2020, 2–2:45 p.m. EDT

World-famous spirits maker Brown-Forman, parent company of Jack Daniel’s, took swift action in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Learn from Jack Daniel’s Public Relations Director Svend Jansen on what led to the decision to use one of their distilleries to make hand sanitizer for their community and to partner with others to distribute to a wider community.

Hosted by the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards

Presenter: Svend Jansen Public Relations Director, Jack Daniel’s, Brown-Forman Corporation

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Leadership Today:
Issues of Ethics

Recorded Tuesday, June 23, 2020, 3–4 p.m. EDT

As if we weren’t already thinking about and navigating more potential ethical issues these days than ever, along comes the new world order of COVID-19. And while being the ethical cornerstone of a company or organization is not any one person’s job, the very nature of our profession and Code of Ethics does challenge PR pros to fill a special role. We’ll talk about some of the most pressing challenges today and why it’s our job (and opportunity) to step up.

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Connecting During COVID-19:
How Entertainment & Sports Organizations and the Media Are Staying Engaged

Recorded Thursday, May 28, 2020, 2–3 p.m. EDT

As theaters have gone dark and stadiums remained empty, the entertainment and sports industries have faced the challenge of how to remain connected with fans, patrons and audiences during this time. And while things are slowly beginning to return, another outbreak this fall could quickly return us to a state of quarantine.

In this PRSA Entertainment and Sports Section and PRSSA sponsored session, leaders from entertainment and sports organizations, and the media who cover this industry, will speak to how they have remained relevant.

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Engaging With Comms Students:
COVID-19 Conversations

Recorded Tuesday, May 12, 2020, 3:15–4:15 p.m. EDT

The conversation centers around how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted both the type of content public relations educators are teaching their students and how they are helping their students navigate these uncertain times.

The panelists also discuss how COVID-19 has changed the type of information colleges are communicating to both current and prospective students.

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Trusted Advisers:
PR Agencies in a Global Pandemic

Recorded Tuesday, May 12, 2020, 2–3 p.m. EDT

Hear from public relations agency leaders as they discuss how agencies are supporting their clients during COVID-19 and how they are approaching their messaging and pitching, with sensitivity and situational awareness.

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