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ePro - October edition


Welcome to the October edition of ePro, the electronic newsletter of the Houston chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA Houston).  Fall is upon us with TONS of professional development, networking and good-times activities. And don''t youd are miss lunch with us on Wednesday!

October 5 Luncheon Meeting - Marti Gazzier on "When the Alarm Sounds"                                                           How BP Gets the Team Pulled Together and on the Ground

Marti will discuss how BP has dealt with the necessities and the importance of training and drills for crisis communications.  Her presentation will cover both the people points (media response, families, the public, government, etc.) and dealing with investigations and lawsuits as well as lessons learned.

Gazzier recently served as the director of corporate reputation for BP North America.  Her work included developing a national program to specifically target key audiences taking into account the external affairs priorities for North America.  She served as a member of the US Policy Reputation Council and assisted in defining tactics and plans that enhanced BP''s reputation, setting milestones and metrics, and monitoring developments and activities to see that the plan was implemented.  In her new role, Gazzier will act as a public affairs director in the Rockies region supporting the North American Gas SPU in Wyoming.

Wednesday, October 5 - 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Courtyard on St. James

Register or find out more:

Sponsors: Bayou City Public Relations, BP and Schipul - The Web Marketing Company

Additional sponsorship opportunities are available. Contact Paula Ruth, APR, at or (281) 870-1717.

Want to Increase Your Value to Key Decision Makers?  Attend Strategic Communications Planning Workshop!

The strategic approach to public relations is the answer for practitioners who too often find themselves in a reactive mode, unable to plan or say “No” to unwarranted demands on their time.

Register now for the October 14 professional development workshop, Strategic Communications Planning, which will be led by Peter Hollister, APR, Fellow PRSA.  Participants will learn strategic communication techniques to help practitioners become more strategic, more prepared to offer solutions and counsel, and more valuable to key decision makers.

Peter Hollister, APR, Fellow PRSA leads the Strategic Communications Planning workshop on Friday, October 14, 2005.  Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the event runs from 8:30 a.m.to12 p.m. at the Doubletree Houston – downtown. 

Yummy, a breakfast buffet!

The cost for members is $40, and for nonmembers is $50.  Register now!

SponsorsSchipul – The Web Company
  Continental Airlines
  PrimeZone Media Network

Sponsorships opportunities are available. Please contact Terri Larson at (713) 353-6317 or Paula Smead at (713) 664-8526 for more information.

A Letter from a Friend: PRSA Houston Responds to Katrina

Dear Colleagues,
We hope this finds you safe and sound and ready to step out fearlessly as we move forward.  We just wanted to take a moment to officially thank you for the tremendous support and leadership you have given Houston as we deal with evacuees and the crises related to both Katrina and Rita.  The positive stories of how well evacuees have been treated have been due in part from all of your efforts to supply them with the things they need as well as letting us know of other needs that could be communicated through the PRSA network of members across the country.  We have received so much support from the national connection on this initiative that you can be proud of your membership in PRSA and know there is a reason to be involved in an international organization.  Though we have communicated to our colleagues across the country how much we appreciate it, it wouldn''t hurt to thank them personally either at the convention in Miami Beach in October or when Judy Phair, outgoing national president, comes to address us in November.  National also has been offering support through its web site at   I''m sure that every one of us has been involved in some way or another through our companies and clients, but I''d like to note a couple folks who also volunteered.

Perhaps most notable is Mabel Menefee, who is the volunteer president of PR Foundation of Houston and thus one of our ex-officio board members.  Mabel has been volunteering to lead other volunteers at the Salvation Army''s Pasadena Relief Center for the past few weeks.   Until recently, Mabel was the head of corporate philanthropy for a major energy company that restructured earlier this year, but she has found herself on the opposite side, seeking support as a volunteer these past few weeks.  She has been the right person at the right time for this job.

Board member Angela Young tipped us off on the need for volunteers at the Joint Information Center at Reliant Center as we headed into the Labor Day weekend.  Since they only needed a few, we appealed to the board and newly re-elected board member Lisa Martin responded and worked Sept. 3, answering phones with questions from evacuees, media, those wishing to help and people looking for people.  Early on Sept. 3, I, too, got a call from the Red Cross.  Having trained as a Red Cross disaster public affairs volunteer after 9/11 as part of PRSA''s "The Power of 2" program with the Red Cross, I was being called to duty and volunteered in the Joint Information Center most of Sept. 3, 4 and 5.  Saturday, I joined Lisa in answering calls, but I also got to spend some time in the Command Center, getting to know the players and the different people responsible for handling the dozens of different services.  Seeing how effectively city and county officials of both political parties - along with representatives of utilities, social service agencies, etc. - worked together smoothly in the face of crisis was quite inspiring.  By Sunday, the national media had moved in, and we were able to lead them as well as local media on tours of the Astrodome.  Standing on the floor of the Astrodome, one couldn''t help but be overwhelmed with the enormity of our mission and the grief present within the room, but also the spirit with which the city/county/churches and social service agencies were embracing the task at hand.  Monday was a parade of celebrities and political and religious leaders - and still more questions from people looking for people.  Though the efforts to support PR Day as well as other client needs prevented my return to the JIC, the experience enabled PRSA Houston to respond to national offers to help much more efficiently. 

The Red Cross continues to look for people who are willing to get this training and help them when disaster strikes, and I encourage every member to consider it.

So many of our PRSA Houston members have been involved in the Katrina efforts for their companies that we decided to podcast several sessions of our PR Day event earlier this month so that others could listen to what they missed.  The luncheon can be downloaded by anyone (site login required at and some of the sessions, including one by Jeff Ory of Deveney Company (an evacuee himself from New Orleans) and the blogging seminar, are accessible as a member benefit by logging in with a member number.   (If you don''t have a member number, then it is a great time to join PRSA.)

And no doubt many of you have stories of your own of volunteering and helping out in this shocking time of great need.  Thank you for all that you do to represent our profession and our chapter, and for all of your support - both with the Katrina effort and for PR Day.  The world needs leaders like you.

Paula Ruth, APR
Chapter Administrator

Despite Hurricane Katrina, PR Folk Attend PR Day 2005 in Droves


Speaker Terry Hemeyer and PR Day 2005 Co-chair Susan Richardson shake hands at the close of his presentation, "It''s a New World - Communicating with a Public that Doesn''t Know or Couldn''t Care Less."



In the hot seat! Proving PR Value panelists (l to r) Ned Walker, Graham Painter and Christine McGee prepare to take Q&A from the audience.


Thank you to everyone who attended PR Day 2005!

Since PR Day 2005 was held in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, you can imagine how anxious the planning committee was.  Every PR professional in the Greater Houston area had his or her hands full of Katrina crises.  It was difficult to go to lunch, let alone spend a day away from the office.

The burning question was: We built it. Will they come?

The public relations community did not disappoint.  On September 14, over 200 professionals attended PR Day 2005 for the opportunity to network and take in informative sessions.

Headlining speaker James Arnold, APR, Fellow PRSA, kicked off PR Day by hosting the Masters’ Breakfast for senior-level practitioners.  He also presented an afternoon session titled, “You Bet Your Company: Lessons in Public Relations Leadership.”

Other sessions included The Writing Workshop (John Sturtevant, presenting in back-to-back sessions), Crisis Communications (Terry Hemeyer), Why Some Brands Win and Some Lose (Ann Iverson) and the ever-popular Fundamentals of PR panel discussion.

Embracing the theme of the conference (Breaking New Ground: PR Tools for Changing Times), PR Day employed a new tool this year - podcasting.

The following three PR Day sessions are available to download immediately as an audio file:

Proving PR Value Luncheon
  Bernadette Morris, founder and chairman, Sonshine Communications and Owner and Founder, Black PR Wire
Panel Moderator:  Tony Wyllie, vice president of communications, Houston Texans
Panel: Christine McGee, APR, vice president marketing, Weatherford International; Graham Painter, APR, senior vice president of corporate communications, Sterling Bank; Steve Stuyck, vice president for public affairs, UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; and Ned Walker, senior vice president of Worldwide Corporate Communications, Continental Airlines
Go here:

Big Results, Little Budgets: Campaigns on a Budget
Jeffrey Ory, APR, ABC, Deveney Communication
Go here:

The Onslaught of Blogs – The Alternative Media
Ed Schipul, president and CEO, Schipul – The Web Marketing Company
John Wagner, owner and principal, Wagner Communications
Go here:

Special thanks go to Schipul – The Web Marketing Company for making this podcasting possible.

A complete recap of all PR Day sessions will be available at within a week.


Paulette Peoples (left) of PrimeZone describes the benefits of her media distribution services to Vanessa Wade and Kim Beckman of Vulcan Packaging.  Vulcan was also a sponsor for PRSA Houston''s PR Day. 



Ed Schipul (left), Schipul-The Web Marketing Company, responds to a question from the audience during the PR Day session on blogs that he participated in with John Wagner (right), Wagner Communications. 


PR Day Chair Melanie Brenneman, Business Wire, takes a break for a massage offered at the Business Wire booth during the afternoon of PR Day, Sept. 14.  THANK YOU FOR A SUPERB JOB, MELANIE!!!




Jim Hauser of The Hauser Company, an exhibitor at PRSA Houston''s PR Day, chats with Patricia Chandler of Pate Engineering.

Missed this year’s Fabulous PR Day?
Don’t worry; we podcasted it for you.

From research by Schipul Technology’s Ed Schipul and PR Day chair extraordinaire Melanie Brenneman, a literal first for PRSA Houston and for any PRSA chapter ... ever.

PRSA Houston recorded the events of PR Day for podcasting playback, hosted on the Houston chapter Web site:

Not sure what podcasting is? Read below:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Podcasting is a method of publishing audio broadcasts via the Internet, allowing users to subscribe to a feed of news files (usually MP3s).  It became popular in late 2004, largely due to automatic downloading of audio onto portable players or personal computers.

Podcasting is distinct from other types of online media delivery because of its subscription model, which uses a feed (such as RSS or Atom) to deliver an enclosed file.  Podcasting enables independent producers to create self-published, syndicated "radio shows," and gives broadcast radio programs a new distribution method.  Listeners may subscribe to feeds using "podcatching" software (a type of aggregator), which periodically checks for and downloads new content automatically.

Some podcatching software is also able to synchronize (copy) podcasts to portable music players.  Any digital audio player or computer with audio-playing software can play podcasts.  By 2005, some aggregators could play video as well as audio. With increasingly robust personal digital devices, podcasting is likely to continue to evolve.

"Podcasting" is a portmanteau word that combines the words "broadcasting" and "iPod."  The term can be misleading since neither podcasting nor listening to podcasts requires an iPod or any portable music player.  A little-used alternate is "blogcasting," although this usually only refers to recordings that are based on, or similar in format to, blogs.

Professional Development Out the Wazoo with the TPRA Fall Seminar
Come get the inside scoop on a day in the life of a big city mayor’s communications machine.  Join Frank Michele, director of communications for Mayor Bill White, at this year''s Texas Public Relations Association fall professional development day on November 11 at the Renaissance Hotel, 6 Greenway Plaza East.  At lunch, Col. Thomas Nickerson will explain the strategy behind the U.S. Army’s challenge to continue recruiting soldiers in the midst of a war.  Breakout sessions will target crisis communications lessons from the field, how to use technology to improve productivity, and what blogging can do for you.  Registration begins September 30 at

Use the Business Directory – It’s for You!

Please continue to remember to look in the PRSA Houston Business Directory when you are looking for special services.  Frequently, the PRSA Houston office is called by people looking for suppliers.  Sometimes the search is for public relations firms, while other times we’re contacted for recommendations on graphic design firms, photographers, web site developers, writers and video production companies, to name a few.  The easiest way to offer a recommendation is to refer the caller to the PRSA Houston Business Directory.  That way, specialties are clearly advertised.  Just last week, a national public relations firm emailed us for advice on local video producers.  Although we responded within a half hour, the firm meanwhile had searched the Internet and found our site, then Newman & Newman as a professional video producer.  That''s because PRSA Houston''s web site ranks highly on all the major search engines, so a position on our web site gains greater visibility.  Advertisers may create their own ad for $100 for a year, including logo, and pay with a credit card.  If assistance is needed to post your ad, please contact

Choose Your Email Options, PRSA Houston Members

Members now have options for the emails they receive from National, and the best part is that they may change their options at any time simply by clicking the link provided at the end of all PRSA email messages.  To view or change the present email choices, click

Choose all or any combination from the following email categories:
I wish to receive emails about:

1. PRSA Membership
2. PRSA Professional Development
3. PRSA News
4. Urgent/Emergency Matters
5. Opt-Out of all E-Mail Communications*

*If you check this box, you will receive NO e-mail information from any of the categories above. Additionally, your e-mail address will NOT be included in any subsequent Blue Book Member Directory or in the online member directory, MemberNet.)

Congratulations to PRSA Houston’s New Board!

Thank you to all of the members who took time to vote in the PRSA board and assembly delegate election.  Thanks to your efforts, a few more than a third of our members voted either electronically or by email.  The election is final and, as announced at PR Day, the new board members are Kelly Papinchak of Schipul--The Web Marketing Company; Julie Fix, APR, Fix & Associates; Lisa Martin, Lyondell Chemical Company; and Petri Darby, APR, Jenkins & Gilchrist.  The new Assembly Delegates are Susan Schmaeling, APR, Susan Schmaeling PR & Marketing; and Aaron Woods, APR, Lyondell.

Congratulations to all of these members in a very tight race!  Meanwhile, board member Jean Gonsoulin has resigned to accept a position in Los Angeles.  The board will be naming a replacement to fulfill the balance of Jean''s term in the near future.  If you are interested in being more active in PRSA next year, now is a good time to let President-Elect Sally Ramsay of Pierpont Communications know what you might like to do.  Email Sally at 

New Professionals Group Always Doing Something!


Newly elected board member Kelly Papinchak, Schipul-The Web Marketing Company and 2005 New Pros chair, greets Todd Holloman of Art Colony Association at the reception following the New Pros seminar, "Preparing for your future in public relations" on Sept. 20.  Food for the reception was provided by Chick-Fil-A.  The program covered going back to school for a masters in business and what is needed to obtain an APR.



Megan Swiatkowski of Kaplan Test Preparation told New Pros members what they need to do to prepare to return to school for an MBA, including some items they will need for the GMAT test.  The event, organized by Mari Pillar of GolinHarris, was sponsored by Chick-Fil-A, a sponsor recruited by Janaeya Carmouche.

Join PRSA at Moody Gardens for Fun and Career Exploration - October 15

Bring your friends and family with you on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2005, to Moody Gardens for a day of fun and exploration. Jerri Hamacheck will speak with the New Professional members of PRSA from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Our friends and family can enjoy Moody Gardens during Jerri''s presentation on what is it like to work in event attraction and entertainment public relations.  After Jerri''s presentation, you will be able to rejoin your friends and family for a fun-filled day at Moody Gardens. 

Where: Moody Gardens 
One Hope Boulevard
Galveston TX,  77554 

Please visit for more details.  Contact Suzanne Lammers at (713) 960-8100 or

Moody Gardens has set up a tremendous discounted rate for our group.  The ticket price for a day pass will only be $19.00.  The pass will allow one admission to each attraction including Palm Beach (seasonal), the Rainforest, Discovery Museum, IMAX 3D film, The Ridefilm, the Aquarium Pyramid and the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat.  Children 3 and under are free.

When making your reservation for our speaker, please also register each friend or family member who will be coming to Moody Gardens with you.  We will need to give a guarantee number to Moody Gardens.  We want to make sure they have enough of our discount tickets available.  Please make sure to register online for this event.  But don’t pay for this event online; you’ll pay for your tickets at Moody Gardens.

PRSA Houston Member News

PRSA Houston Vice President Petri Darby, APR, was recently commended by Interviewing magazine for correctly answering a, well, difficult public relations trivia question.  Find out what he won:,b3f8d7VF

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Julie B. Fix, APR, president/principal of Fix & Associates, Inc. Public Relations, has accepted a position as clinical assistant professor in the University of Houston School of Communications.  She is teaching public relations writing, crisis communications and public relations campaigns this semester.
Fix also presented a half-day writing workshop this fall for beginning graduate students in the College of Business and Economics at Houston Baptist University and is on the PRSA Dallas Chapter''s Media Day program Oct. 28.  She''ll present a half-day "Jumpstart" workshop that explains the Accreditation process as well as "PR 101" basics.

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Among the PRSA Houston members making changes, Pamela L. Tragesser is now director of corporate communications for Service Corporation International (SCI). 

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And have you heard the news about PRSA Houston member Angela Jeffrey?  Congratulations Angela, new vice president at VMS…

VMS Acquires Measurement and Analysis Leader PRtrak®
New York, NY – September 15, 2005 - Video Monitoring Services (VMS), the world leader in news and advertising monitoring and analysis services, today announced that it has acquired media analysis and measurement innovator PRtrak, expanding the breadth and depth of VMS’ Integrated Media Intelligence (IMI) solutions portfolio.

PRtrak has developed a stable of software tools and services that focuses on the link between competitive media coverage and business outcomes through innovative research and precision metrics.  PRtrak® products help communications professionals demonstrate the value of their work in terms management understands.  PRtrak products range from a simple, Web-based do-it-yourself application to sophisticated “Share of Discussion” services with correlations to outcomes.

“We’re excited to be joining such a bold and dynamic company,” noted Angela Jeffrey, who will continue to lead measurement activities as Vice President at VMS.  “The integration of PRtrak’s metrics, software solutions, and know-how with the VMS InSight™ and BroadcastCenter™ platforms, and the reach offered by VMS’customer base should fuel significant growth,” she continued. 


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PRSA Houston Welcomes New Members!

  • Donna Boyer of Marathon Oil Company
  • Lindsay Gasek of Texas A&M University
  • Magan Hunt of Metromarketing Services, Inc.
  • Ericka McCauley of the Barbara Radnofsky for US Senate Committee, Inc., and
  • Xavier N. Van Chau of Abitibi-Consolidated

Speaking of Membership…Now is the Time to JOIN!

If you have been thinking about joining PRSA, do it now!  Through the end of October, PRSA is offering free Houston Chapter dues for one year to members joining at the full rate of $290 ($225 for national dues and $65 initiation fee).  Former members who have been inactive for at least one year may also participate, but the offer does not apply to Associate membership.  The special membership applications are available at under the "Cultivate Your Career" PDF application.  You may also apply online at, but you must mention the code CHAP2005 in the area marked "special promotion code" to receive the special rate.  Now''s a good time to tell your friends how much you value PRSA membership.

A Note from National -

PRSA Family,

On the heels of Hurricane Katrina came Hurricane Rita, still catastrophic for those whose lives it destroyed. The public relations community in the affected areas needs your help.  Please read on, and take action.

On the home page of our Web site, PRSA has created a Hurricane Relief Resource Center.  There, a message board has been established where you can offer assistance or, if you''re in an affected area, you can post the type of support you need.

Visit now: or

The Need
To date, members have requested things like:

  • Housing 
  • Office space 
  • Telecommunications and administrative support (routing calls, managing mail, etc.) 
  • Client services (media relations and employee communications support, etc.)

There''s also a need for industry-and-discipline-specific expertise (environmental, employee communications, health care, hospitality, media relations, etc.).  Our colleagues are in need of counsel and support on the ground.

How It Will Work
After you post on the PRSA Web site the type of assistance you can provide (or the type of support you need), all information will be gathered and you will be contacted regarding next steps.

PRSA has provided to leaders within Chapters, Districts and Sections a "Hurricane Relief Tool Kit" to further drive the request for support throughout the Society.

What Are You Waiting For?
Sign up now!

Visit: or

Our hurricane relief efforts are a marathon, not a sprint. We will continue to reach out to members to learn their needs, and ask the PRSA family for support.

Many thanks for all you''ve done so far. We''ve heard stories from across the nation of members helping members, but more people need your help.  Many of our colleagues have lost their homes and their businesses.  Let''s help them find their future.

Thank you.
PRSA Hurricane Relief Task Force

 Sharpen Your Communication Skills With Two Great Seminars
Led by IABC member and two-time Gold Quill Award winner Bill Crain, the following two professional development opportunities will take place on Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 3 and 4.
Seminar 1:  Cutting-Edge Communication Skills:  Making A Quantum Leap
In this seminar, you’ll get a “big picture” look at how change is reshaping global communication.  You’ll take a tour of changes in politics, economics, science, technology, psychology and other fields that suggest the need and the basis for communicators to work faster, better and with greater peace of mind.  You’ll develop new written and oral communication techniques and leave the seminar with new ideas, motivation and practical tips on how to succeed as communicators. 
Seminar 2:  (Fun)damentals of Speechwriting:  Writing And Delivering Speeches That Wow Audiences
Give yourself a career and a creativity boost as you take a whirlwind tour of the profession today and tomorrow.  Learn practical tips on how to work faster, better and with greater peace of mind.  You’ll also learn:
  • How to develop a game plan for executive speeches that matches your company’s overall objectives
  • How to work harmoniously with executives in a way that maximizes the use of your time and theirs, and allows them to see the value of your contributions
  • How to master the inner dynamics of writing and public speaking by using visualization, meditation and other techniques
  • How to write attention-grabbing openings and memorable closings 
  • How to find winning themes and to use literary and poetic devices to punch up and polish remarks to new levels of eloquence
  • How to appeal to international audiences and to work with translators
  • How to set up a speaker’s bureau that impresses management and targeted audiences alike
You’ll leave this session with your head spinning with new ideas, motivation and practical tips to succeed as a speechwriter.
INSTRUCTOR:  Bill Crain heads his own communication and coaching firm with an international roster of clients, including ChevronTexaco, Radio Shack, EDS, BellSouth, Southern Company, Tuesday Morning and many others.  He has worked as chief speechwriter for Exxon Mobil Corporation, director of executive communications for Sabre Holdings and chief speechwriter for Georgia Power.  He has an M.A. degree in comparative literature from Harvard, and his poetry and other writing has appeared in numerous publications – from The Paris Review to Reader’s Digest.

Gratitude for our Magnificent Sponsors

Printing Sponsor: CenterPoint Energy
Luncheon Sponsor: Vollmer Public Relations

Conference Notebook Sponsor: Aquent 
Lanyard Sponsor: Business Wire

Premier Masters Breakfast Sponsor: FMC Technologies
Additional Sponsors: A&E Graphics
, Bacon''s, Burrelles Luce, Enbridge Energy Company Inc., MediaLink, Multivision, Paradigm, Piland Design, PrimeZone Media Network, PR Newswire, RoadShow Media, Schipul – The WebMarketing Company, The Hauser Company, US Newswire, VMS, Vulcan Information Packaging, XL Multimedia and XL Films.

We also would like to thank Bayou City Public Relations, Schipul – The Web Marketing Company and BP for sponsoring the  Oct. 5 Crisis Management program featuring Marti Gazzier, BP''s former director of corporate reputation.  In addition, thanks to Administaff for being the first sponsor for the Nov. 2 program featuring PRSA''s 2005 National President Judy Phair.  We are still looking for Holiday Party sponsors in December, when there will be no speaker and the function will be an after-hours event.

For $500 as a regular monthly luncheon sponsor, PRSA Houston offers the following benefits:
* Logo/name and a link to sponsor web site PRSA web page related to event
* 50-word or less description of firm on PRSA Web site
* Sponsor recognition on all communications for event
* One complimentary seat at President''s table
* Link to sponsor''s web site included in e-mail communications related to the event
* Acknowledgement from podium at event
* Opportunity to display signs/brochures at even

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