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October ePRo - Luck Is Not a Strategic Plan


Welcome to the October 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 programs, networking and professional development opportunities that can't be beaten.

October Luncheon: Luck Is Not a Strategic Plan
Lessons Learned from Virginia Tech

Public relations professionals, crisis communications staff, corporate management, board members are all on the firing line when a major event occurs. Tragedies like the shootings at Virginia Tech can create situations which are unmanageable and can result in further damage to the organizations credibility and reputation if handled poorly. Please join PRSA Houston and Harry Rhulen, CEO of Firestorm Solutions, LLC. for a luncheon seminar, "Luck is not a Strategic Plan – Lessons Learned from Virginia Tech." In addition to the presentation, all attendees will receive a copy of Mr. Rhulen’s book Disaster Ready People for a Disaster Ready America. Mr. Rhulen will be available after the presentation to answer questions.

On April 19, 2007 Mr. Rhulen was called by Virginia Tech’s President Charles Steger to assist the University in the crisis and media management after the shootings. He and the Firestorm team were on site 17 hours later. Firestorm spent the next two weeks providing the public relations/crisis communications support to the University.

Mr. Rhulen spent the first eighteen years of his career in the insurance industry. He has worked as a consultant in many industries, using his risk management, crisis management, and business management skills, public company, legal, bankruptcy, and due diligence experience to help his clients.

He has been Chairman and CEO of a public insurance holding company with United States and European operations. Mr. Rhulen has extensive due diligence experience having participated in over thirty M&A transactions. He has led several public offerings raising in excess of $350 million.

Mr. Rhulen, as an insurance industry representative, serving on the board of the American Insurance Association, testified before Congress to expand the opportunities for financial service companies. He has served on the boards of several profit and not-for-profit entities. He has received humanitarian awards for many of his efforts, including the “Quality of Human Life” Award from the American Red Cross. He graduated Cum Laude from the College of Insurance and has both a Juris Doctor and Masters of Business Degree from Syracuse University.

Register by noon today at: For questions or sponsor information, contact Paula Ruth at (281) 870-1717 or prsahouston@paularuth.comSchipul-The Web Marketing Company will be the AV Sponsor in October.

PR Day Recap
Thank you to all who attended PR Day 2007 — it was a great success! See below for some highlights from the day.

The audience listened to Bryant Hilton, Dell Corporation, during the master's breakfast at PR Day.

A large audience gathered to hear Kim Paisley, APR, and
Chris Bozman, APR, discuss Shell's 50-city tour during the opening session.

Penny Todd, manager of corporate communications for CenterPoint Energy,
printing and notebook sponsor, makes a point during a session at PR Day.

Randy Burkhalter, director of investor relations, and Rick Rainey, director of public relations, both at Enterprise Products Partners, L.P. gave a humorous and useful presentation about how the two fields could work together.

Accreditation Chair and newly elected PRSA Houston Board member Stephanie Dedeaux, APR, (left) El Paso Corporation, and Karen Blanchard, APR, Naumann Blanchard, a current PRSA Houston board member and membership chair, tout the advantages of accreditation.

Business Wire exhibitors Shannon Simonson and Anne Deuermeyer.

PRSA members Gus Vaeza and Laura Mayes of Marion, Montgomery, Inc.

SnapStream Media, led by Rakesh Agrawal, president and chief executive officer (right),  was the luncheon sponsor .

PRSA Houston President Lisa Walsh, Lyondell Chemical Company, greets luncheon speaker Bryant Hilton, Dell Corporation, with PR Day Chair Suzanne Lammers, Stewart Title, after the PR Day event. (No wonder they look so

HiMA: Interactive Strategies ‘07

The Houston Interactive Marketing Association (HiMA) invites you to attend the inaugural HiMA: Interactive Strategies '07. Interactive Strategies ‘07 is a compelling half-day event on October 25, 2007, where progressive marketers can learn from industry experts by diving into discussions covering the latest interactive strategies, innovative concepts and advanced technologies, all while networking with fellow professionals.

Dave Morgan, CEO of Tacoda, will deliver a keynote address over lunch; followed by a series of breakout sessions throughout the afternoon discussing online marketing and advertising, Web analytics, search engine optimization (SEO), mobile and e-mail marketing, branding, and social media. The day will wrap up with networking opportunities over happy hour

Visit for more information and to register for the event! It will be on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2007, from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Renaissance Houston Hotel, Greenway Plaza, 6 Greenway Plaza East, Houston, TX 77046. Take advantage of the early bird discount and register before October 8.

Jump Start 2007 — Accreditation Session

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become accredited in public relations? Here’s your chance to find out that and more in “JumpStart 2007.” Saturday, November 17, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. the PRSA Houston chapter will sponsor a one-day workshop to prepare you for the accreditation process. The workshop is open to anyone interested in the accreditation process. If you’re committed to pursuing professional Accreditation or simply contemplating it for the future, you probably have questions. Among the topics will be:

  • Review of Accreditation Process
  • Review of Knowledge, Skills & Abilities to be tested
  • Review of reference texts
  • Discussion of Readiness Review
  • Examination fee and other costs
  • APR candidate’s checklist & schedule

The workshop is hands-on learning opportunity that will give candidates a jumpstart on preparing for the Readiness Review and exam. Please come prepared to share your questions and insights.

A minimum of five years’ experience in public relations and related fields is recommended. If you plan to attend “JumpStart 2007”, or would like to but can’t make this date, please contact Stephanie Dedeaux, APR, at or 713-420-5449. Information on the Accreditation process may also be found at Register here for the event.

Accredited professionals are also needed to help facilitate this workshop. Not only will you get a refresher on valuable information, but you can also earn APR maintenance credits.

New Pros Writing Workshop

Join the New Pros this October as we will host a writing workshop spotlighting the basics behind good writing skills. If you are a recent college graduate looking to enhance your writing skills or a seasoned PR practitioner who needs a refresher course, this event aims to give you the tools you need to make for a more successful PR career.

Think Career Growth

Through Oct. 31, new members and reinstating members who have been inactive for at least one year receive a free one-year membership to the Houston Chapter because PRSA National is covering the $55 of local dues.

Join online at by clicking on the Think Career Growth icon. Be sure to put in promotional code AUTUMN2007. Or, contact local Membership Chairwoman Karen Blanchard, APR at Naumann Blanchard, LLC at 281-633-6645 or

Thank You PR DAY sponsors!

We are delighted to have so many wonderful sponsors for PR Day. CenterPoint Energy is our notebook and printing sponsor. Vollmer Public Relations is our conference lanyard sponsor. SnapSteam Media, a new sponsor, was the luncheon sponsor. Shell Oil Company sponsored 10 students. Our exhibitors include Atlantic Pacific Media, BMP, Brookwoods Group, Business Wire, Marion, Montgomery, Inc, PR Newswire, Renaissance Public Relations Group, VMS and our in-kind sponsors include Continental Airlines, GolinHarris, Hispanic PR Wire and Stimulacra and Responsible Printing. Our breakfast sponsors include  The Ammerman Experience, CyrusOne and Stevens/FKM . Other students were sponsored by DataCert and Tony Stark Public Relations. Thank you to all of these sponsors.

Thanks for the Volunteers!

The PR Day Committee stuffed notebooks on two separate occasions and recruited dozens of volunteers to work the PR Day event. Among those who helped were Suzanne Lammers, Bill Zander, Melanie Brenneman, Emilee Fontenot, David Casey, Lisa Walsh, Sherry Franke, Tricia Bentley, Anne Deuermeyer, Phyllis Brenneman, Chris Atwood, Justin Concepcion, Heather Martin, Inez Jackson, Katie Winslow, Kuriko Hasegawa, Barbara Cramers, Elizabeth Cardenas and Lissette Gomez.

Request for Judges

The Cincinnati chapter of PRSA was gracious enough to judge all the entries in this year's Excalibur awards competition, and now is our chapter's chance to pay them back. The Cincinnati chapter will stage their local competition this month, and volunteers are needed from the Houston chapter to judge their entries once they are shipped here in mid-October. Tentative date for the judging is Saturday, October 20. Members willing to judge should contact Mike Breslin at or 713-752-1938. Lunch and beverages will be provided. Please e-mail Mike if you can provide space for a large group of judges to spread out with boxes of entries.

Advertise Your Business in the Business Directory

If you want to reach the 2000/day (and sometimes more) who visit the PRSA Houston Web site each day, then consider advertising on our business directory. For $100, you get a year of exposure on a site that is among the top-ranked for public relations in Houston.

Check Out the Job Bank

New jobs are posted each week. Sometimes an employer will get enough resumes in the first day or so that they ask us to “turn off” the ad. So check the Web site frequently, you just might miss a great opportunity.

The Year Is Not Over Yet!

We have opportunities to be involved in all of our upcoming luncheons. Already PR Newswire’s US Newswire has committed to sponsor our November luncheon featuring Teach for America, and Schipul-The Web Marketing Company will be our AV sponsor in October. Other sponsors are possible, including our December event. Our luncheon sponsors make it possible to bring in speakers from around the country and still maintain a break-even luncheon price for our members. Please call Paula Ruth, APR, at 281-870-1717 if you are interested or e-mail her at In return for your $500 at lunch, we offer the following opportunities:

  • Mention in promotional e-mail sent to database of subscribers
  • Mention and text link in ePRo, the PRSA Houston newsletter
  • Text/Logo link on PRSA Houston Web site for one month
  • Ability to distribute materials to all luncheon attendees
  • Table in back of room to talk with luncheon attendees before and after the event
  • Opportunity to speak to the luncheon gathering (no more than 3 minutes)
  • One lunch registration at the President's table
  • One set of paper mailing labels for all 450 PRSA Houston members or one-time use of electronically provided membership list (if desired).

For larger sponsorships, we can discuss tables.

How to Get Involved

Your PRSA membership, including the PRSA Houston Chapter, represents an investment in your career of 77 cents per day. Get the most for that investment by getting involved. Come to the meetings to glean the new ideas you might take back with you from not only the speakers, but your peers.

If getting away from the office in the day is not possible, you might try participating with the New Professionals, who usually meet in the evening. Not only young people go to these meetings, and they offer a way to stay current.

Next, you might serve on a committee. This past year’s awards committee met frequently for breakfast, while PR Day generally met for dinner, but the leaders tend to determine the meeting times. PRSA is gearing up for next year. Contact Priscilla Tinsley, president-elect, or Paula Ruth, APR, chapter administrator, to say you are interested in chairing a committee. Consider getting accredited. Because of the requirements for certain leadership positions, accreditation can be a way to set your skills apart. National strongly encourages the ethics chair to be accredited, as an example. If you can’t meet, there are still opportunities to be involved in promoting the chapter by helping with the newsletter or chapter efforts to promote the profession. If you are interested in helping, we would love to have you involved. E-mail Paula Ruth, APR, at

Thank You Voters!

Thank you all for voting in this years election. Elected to three-year terms on the board, beginning January 2008, are Melanie Brenneman, DataCert; Stephanie Dedeaux, APR, El Paso Corporation; Laura Frnka, APR, Pierpont Communications; Jim Lowry, APR, ConocoPhillips. Dr. Barbara Langham, APR, Renaissance House/BD Langham Public Relations, was elected Assembly Delegate. Thank you to everyone who took time to read the ballot and vote. Obviously, a board position at PRSA Houston is desirable to many, so the challenge for those elected is to attend meetings and represent the needs of the membership. For those not elected, there are many other leadership opportunities beyond board participation, and these can be just as visible.

Attention! Luncheon Policy Change on Nametags

The PRSA Board has approved a policy change beginning with the October 3 luncheon. From now on, only the PRSA Houston members who have reservations should have a permanent name badge at the luncheon. All walk-ins will need to use handwritten paper nametags. Our hospitality chair, Paula Smead, has been lugging an abundance of magnet tags to every event because we have no permanent storage at any of our venues. With the growth in membership (and some nametags of those who have actually dropped), this has become a backbreaking endeavor. So, PRSA Houston members now have two reasons to register in advance: a lower price and a permanent nametag available. Of course, we will continue to bill those who do not show nor pay for their reservations.

New Members

Jessica Manning, Love Advertising

Iris Cross, BP North America

Gin Pierce

Anna Hawley, City of Houston George R. Brown Convention Bureau

Natalie Rivera (reinstated), Marion, Montgomery Inc.

Daniel Arguijo, Jr., Houston Community College

Keisha Bocage, Stevens/FKM

Kim Antley, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Megan Breckenridge, Toby Stark Public Relations

Sarah Gonzales, Alert Logic

Jennifer Rozelle

Tricia Coghlan (reinstated), Richards/Carlberg

Arthur Pike, El Paso Corporation

Thomas Baen

Member News

David Casey, member of the PR Day Committee, is a communications associate with Waste Management Inc.

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 November newsletter is Octopber 18, 2007. We love hearing your thoughts and news, so send generously to Stephanie Pertuit.

Stephanie Pertuit
(713) 663-0164
Author: Stephanie Pertuit
Phone: (713) 663-0164
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