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ePro August edition

Welcome to the August edition of ePro, the electronic newsletter of the Houston chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA Houston). Join us each month for great luncheon programs, networking and wonderful professional development opportunities.

PRSA Houston Monthly Luncheon: Southwest Airlines’ Melanie Jones Shows Us How It’s Done

Facing Reality: How Southwest Airlines Maintains High Ratings in a Highly Criticized Industry

The airline industry has faced challenges both new and old for quite some time now. Many are asking for financial help; others declaring bankruptcy. So how has Southwest Airlines managed to stay on top? Learn how Southwest uses public relations to communicate the company's key messages and even take risks in doing becoming the star of its own reality television program. Through its uncanny – and often funny – method of communicating, Southwest Airlines continues to turn sticky situations into opportunities. Melanie Jones, Public Relations Program Director, Southwest Airlines, will discuss this and more on Wednesday, August 18, at 11:30 a.m. at the Houston City Club in Greenway Plaza. To register, visit or call (281) 870-1717.

Monthly Board Meeting and Luncheon – All the Details

PRSA Houston meets the third Wednesday of each month at the Houston City Club at Greenway Plaza.  Networking begins at 11:30 a.m.  A buffet lunch service begins at 11:45 a.m., followed by the meeting at noon.  Luncheon fees for the August program featuring Southwest Airlines’ Melanie Jones are as follows: if reservations are made before August 16 at 5 p.m., fees are $25 for members, $30 for guests and $15 for students. Luncheon fees if reservations are made after August 16 at 5 p.m., or for walk-ins, are $30 for members, $35 for guests and $15 for students. All "no shows" will be billed. 

To register to attend, go online or call (281) 870-1717.

Jim Lukaszewski…Live, Up-Close and In-Person at PR Day 2004

That’s right, don’t miss out on PR Day 2004, "Blueprints for Success in Public Relations,” on Wednesday, September 22, and your chance to see Jim Lukaszewski address "How to Develop The Mind of A Strategist."  

This year’s PR Day will blow you away with its line-up of speakers, including not only Jim Lukaszewski, but Craig Varoga, political strategist, Jeff Cohen, vice president and editor - Houston Chronicle and Myra Jolivet, former communications director for Mayor Bill White's campaign and transition team, just  to name a few. 

Visit us at for a complete list of speakers, conference schedule, and to register on-line. 

Make sure you’re at the PRSA Houston August luncheon for your last chance to win a free full-day registration.  Congratulations to Ben Wheatley, ABC, APR, our last winner for a free full-day registration to this must-attend event.

Finally, many thanks and much appreciation go out to our fabulous PR Day sponsors: Swank A/V, Wise Consultants, Business Wire, PR Newswire, US Newswire, Hill & Knowlton, Burrelle's Luce/VMS, Bacon's, Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas, PrimeZone Media Network, Greater Houston Partnership, CPY, AirCheck News Taping and the Hyatt Regency Houston.

Graphic design services have been provided by Phil Chrzanowski and printing services provided by Bayside Printing.

Additional sponsorship opportunities remain, starting as low as $40 to sponsor a student helper.  Call Paula Ruth at (281) 870-1717 for more information. 

SAVE THE DATE!!  The Public Relations Foundation of Houston Presents:
Get Better Mileage; Research and Measurement Fuel Effective Communication

Wednesday, November 17, 2004
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Join PRSA Houston Wednesday, November 17, when Louis C. Williams, ABC, APR, will present a special luncheon presentation and half-day workshop based on his new book Communication Research, Measurement and Evaluation.   The Public Relations Foundation of Houston is sponsoring the program, and profits from the event will benefit the Foundation’s efforts to support educational excellence in public relations.

In his luncheon presentation, Lou will discuss the future of public relations research and the link between public relations and the bottom line.  In an afternoon workshop, he will talk in depth about the “rules” of research, how to select the best research methods based on an organization’s culture, research techniques, and how expectations should be managed.

 Lou Williams is chairman and CEO of L.C. Williams & Associates, a leading Chicago-based public relations firm.

Votes Come In for Proposed Bylaws Change

PRSA Houston members have decided that all members should have an opportunity to serve on the Chapter’s Board of Directors regardless of their accreditation status. Members voted via e-mail to change the Chapter's bylaws, which had allowed no more than three unaccredited members to serve on the board at any given time. 

The final vote tally was 109 “yes” votes, 45 “no” votes and 2 members abstaining.

"As we prepare to slate candidates for the board election in September, we felt it important to allow members to consider this issue," said PRSA Houston President Dan Keeney, APR. "PRSA Houston remains committed to encouraging accreditation and supporting those members who seek accreditation, but believe it’s the members’ decision whether accreditation should be tied to Chapter leadership."

At least one third of all members had to cast ballots for the vote to count. A vote to change the bylaws requires a two-thirds majority of the votes cast. Ballots were sent on July 7, 2004. The deadline for voting was August 6, 2004.

PRSA Houston Member News:

A warm and inviting welcome from PRSA Houston goes out to new members:

  • P. Burke Wilson of Fleishman-Hillard
  • Juven Jacob Cano of Reich & Binstock, Attorneys at Law
  • Theresa Ivins of Fulbright & Jaworski, L.L.P.
  • Holly Smith of Smith Public Relations

Refer a Colleague to PRSA in August and September and be Rewarded

It's a good time to encourage friends and colleagues to join PRSA Houston. Our Member-Get-A-Member (MGAM) campaign returns in August and September. Receive a $25 PRSA voucher for the first full member you refer and $15 for the first associate member.
More details and rewards found here:

PRSA Houston to Offer Accreditation One-Day Study Course

Based on feedback from past accreditation candidates, the Accreditation committee is offering a one-day study course on Saturday, Oct. 16, at a location to be announced.

“During the typical seven-week curriculum we’ve held in the past, we’ve noticed that many candidates drop out of the course due to other demands,” says Amy Kaiser, Accreditation Committee co-chair. “This one-day course was designed by PRSA to provide busy candidates with a more time-friendly option as they prepare for both the readiness review and the written exam.”

More information will be announced soon including registration, time, and location. For more information, please contact Amy Kaiser, APR at (281) 355-6493 or, or Aaron Woods, APR at (713) 420-6828 or

Accreditation Board Shortens Exam Time Limit

The Accreditation Board recently announced a shorter time limit allowed for candidates to take the written exam.

In the past, candidates were allowed one year from passing their readiness review to take the multiple-choice exam at any Prometric testing location. Now, candidates are allowed one year between having their accreditation application accepted and taking the multiple-choice exam, thus shortening the overall exam time process.

“This change is designed to encourage our candidates who pass the readiness review to go and take the multiple-choice exam as soon as possible,” explains Aaron Woods, APR, Accreditation Committee co-chair. “Candidates should take the exam while the information remains fresh in their mind.”

For more information, please contact Amy Kaiser, APR at (281) 355-6493 or, or Aaron Woods, APR at (713) 420-6828 or

PRSA Offers Accreditation Online Self-Study Course
PRSA now offers an online self-study course for members who wish to prepare for the accreditation exam.

The online course is available for $195 for PRSA members and partner organization members; $295 for non-members for a one-year subscription.

“This online course is perfect for our members living outside the Houston area, or for those who need additional assistance in preparing for the exam,” says Amy Kaiser, APR, accreditation co-chair for the Houston chapter.

The ten-module course includes a multimedia introduction and provides active learning experiences. The successful completion of the course also requires team and individual projects, and includes an online WebConference to review module topics and a question and answer session.

For more information, click here. (

Houston Accreditation Committee Changes Focus From Education to Outreach
PRSA Houston’s Accreditation Committee has revamped its structure and is now calling for Accredited volunteers to help with various planned activities, such as the upcoming one-day seminar or the promotion of accreditation throughout the Houston area.

“In the past, the committee was responsible for setting up speakers for the seven-week course, and for proctoring the actual exam,” explains Aaron Woods, APR, accreditation co-chair. “Since PRSA National revamped the overall program in 2003, candidates are more responsible for their own preparation, such as selecting self-study tools and textbooks. By changing the exam process to encourage accreditation exams throughout the year, we naturally are steering the accreditation chair’s role away from a classroom-type focus to more of a ‘coordinator’ function.”

Which now, explains Woods, allows the committee to focus on more outreach programs.

“We now are looking for accredited members to serve as mentors for the candidates, or to serve on one of the two committee teams: event planning or marketing,” says Woods.

Accredited members who serve as mentors will receive two points towards their accreditation maintenance. To register, please contact Amy Kaiser, APR at (281) 355-6493 or, or Aaron Woods, APR at (713) 420-6828 or

In the Market for a New Job?  Be Careful With E-mail

Job seekers are increasing using e-mail to introduce themselves to potential employers, but the approach can backfire. Correspondence via email has multiple levels and it's important to understand your audience and their expectations or desired response. For example, a note to a close friend or professional colleague may use a writing style similar to a broadcast script with sentence fragments and possible other grammatical mistakes because this is an informal discussion. It is similar to talking on the telephone.

However, PRSA Houston Director Aaron Woods, APR, cautions that a formal writing style is appropriate when composing an email soliciting a specific service, the assistance from volunteers, or other intentions to an unknown individual or group.

"It is an important first impression and a formal style establishes a professional tone and indicates a candidate's expertise in effective communications," said Woods. "I have recently received e-mails from job seekers with a casual style, grammatical mistakes and other serious errors that immediately get deleted."

In addition to using proper tone and grammar, Woods offers the following simple tips:

1. Do not state your name at the beginning of an e-mail. Your closing signature provides sufficient identification.

2. Always research the individual and their organization to understand their situation and likely needs. Pointing to a specific challenge that they are facing shows that you have done some homework and may distinguish you from the stack of other letters and resumes.

3. Do not be self-serving. A recent job seeker wrote, "I want to come in on the bottom floor and work my way to the top. I want to be able to learn many different aspects of one business and make myself an asset to the company I am working for. I just need someone to open that first door for me so I can get inside and prove myself to those around me. I hope you are that person." This focuses on the needs of the candidate rather than on the needs of the employer and, therefore, fails to demonstrate any useful information for the recipient.

Overall, your cover letter should identify specific capabilities and experiences that will entice a hiring manager to schedule a personal interview for further investigation of how you can meet their needs. Once you progress to the interview stage, it's usually just a matter of the company determining if your personality is a good fit which is out of your control and all you can do is be yourself.

Photos from Mayor’s Address to PRSA Houston

Houston Mayor Bill White told the 150 PR pros who attended the July PRSA luncheon that he intends to fix Houston’s problems before conducting a major public relations campaign. The mayor cited the May article in Fortune Magazine, which mentioned Houston as among the few cities addressing the pension issue for city employees, as an example of how the White administration is using public relations to change Houston’s image nationally and achieve its electoral objectives on bond issues.
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Ralph W. Frede Scholarship Winner Awarded At July Luncheon

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)-Houston Chapter recognized University of Houston student Sheena Oommen as the winner of the 2004 Ralph W. Frede scholarship at its July luncheon. PRSA's Public Relations Foundation of Houston (PRFH) helps select the annual $500 scholarship winner from communication students at the University of Houston in honor of Frede, a distinguished member of the communication profession. Ben Wheatley, senior vice president of Pierpont Communications and PRFH president, congratulated Sheena Oommen, a junior in public relations at UH. Oommen was selected because of her academic achievements and involvement in the student chapter of PRSA.

Photos of 2004 Excalibur Awards Now Available Online

Photos taken at the 2004 Excalibur Awards, "An Enchanted Evening, Celebrating the Magic of Communications," are now available online.

Go to, click on "Society," then click on "Access Images." You will be prompted for a password. Type in "prsa" all lower case. Prints are available for sale for the following costs: 4" x 6" is $8; 5" x 7" is $15; 8" x 10" is $25. 

Building a Community of Leaders: The 5th Annual PRSA Leadership Rally

Leadership was the hot commodity in New York’s Financial District June 4 and 5, as PRSA Houston President Dan Keeney, APR joined more than 140 chapter and section leaders for the fifth annual PRSA Leadership Rally.

PRSA promised a weekend of learning, listening and inspiration for these incoming leaders. And, from start to finish, PRSA delivered.

Jonah Bloom, executive editor of AdAge and former editor of PRWeek, opened the rally recognizing the great value of public relations and calling on the public relations industry to standardize its measurement techniques. Only by adopting a common measurement system, he believes, will upper management realize the return on investment in public relations.

At-large presentations addressed PRSA’s vision for future, the challenge of true leadership and questions the leaders had.

Skill-building sessions led by PRSA national officers, staff members and veteran chapter leaders delved into board management, financial management, accreditation and using technology to manage your chapter/district.

Finally, round-table sessions allowed the moderators and leaders to share best practices in the areas of professional development, advocacy and ethics, membership recruitment and retention and diversity.

Public Communication Strategies Certificate Program Develops Tools to Successfully Reach Targeted Audiences

To give professionals the skills needed to make measurable contributions to their organizations, The University of Texas at Austin's Professional Development Center and PRSA Austin collaborate each year to offer the Public Communication Strategies Certificate Program.

This program explores the diversity of the public relations field, including planning, research, technology and the Internet, strategy development, media relations, crisis communication management, community relations, writing, employee communications and ethics.

The 2004 program begins September 22 and continues each Wednesday evening through November 10.  Information on the program and the speakers is available at

For more information or to register, contact:

Gail Bickling, M.Ed.
Program Manager
UT Professional Development Center
P.O. Box 7518
Austin, TX 78713-7518
(512) 232-9530


ePro is the electronic newsletter of the Houston chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA Houston), and is a tool for you.   Deadline for submitting items for the September newsletter is Friday, September 3, 2004.   We welcome your thoughts and news, so send generously to

Lauren Hammit
(713) 798-7595
(713) 798-7413
Author: Lauren Hammit
Phone: (713) 798-7595
Fax: (713) 798-7413
Category: newsletter | Sub Category: epro