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PRSA Houston Board Minutes for April 2004

PRSA Board of Directors Meeting

April 21, 2004



Attendance: Mark Hayden; Susan Schmaeling; Kelly Papinchak; Javier Avellán; Aaron Long; Angela Young; Aaron Wood; Julie B. Fix; Larry Springer; Lisa Martin; Paula Ruth; Chris Bozman; Lauren Hammit; Wendy Burkeen; Julie Gorling; Francisco J. Agraz; Sally Ramsay; Dan Keeney; Jean Gonsoulin; Holly Hutchins.


Excused Absence: None


Dan Keeney opened the meeting at 10:35 a.m. by asking Paula Ruth, Chapter Administrator to summarize her April report.


Paula Ruth, APR – Chapter Administrator

More programs that we can do for our members.  Paula has been e-mailing the Member Survey conducted by Ray Crockett in 2003 which reflected a request for more professional development programs.  She has been working to secure sponsors for the chapter as well as new members for the chapter.  She needs the Board to turn in their disclosure forms for National.  She would also like some feedback on the PRSA Houston chapter banner that was produced for this meeting. 


The disclosure form is essentially an ethics form stating that you don’t know of any conflicts that will prevent you from serving on the Board.  The form is necessary for all Board members.  Paula will e-mail the form for the second time to all Board members.


Dan Keeney, APR – National Leadership Rally

The National Leadership Rally is coming up and traditionally the President-Elect has been sent to these meetings.  However the Pres-Elect will be celebrating her wedding anniversary on the same weekend so Dan will attend the rally in her stead.  National offsets the cost of attending the Rally to the tune of $500; the Houston chapter will contribute $200 to assist in defraying the cost of attending the rally as well.


Cost of Name Tags

A discussion was opened by Dan regarding the cost of updating; changing, etc. our chapter members name tags.  Discussion ensued around the table about funding one tag per member per year.  If you change your tag more than once you need to incur the cost of $10.    


Julie Fix moved that the Houston chapter will limit members to one name tag change per year; Aaron Wood seconded; all voted in favor of the measure.


Angela Young noted that our parking tags were stamped a month out of date.


Susan Schmaeling, APR, Secretary – March minutes

Julie Fix made a motion to approve the March minutes; Aaron Woods seconded the motion, all voted to approve the March minutes.


Holly Hutchins – Treasurer’s Report

Holly handed out two financial documents; the first being an Income/Expense report from the beginning of the year through April 16, 2004; and the second was the PRSA Actual vs. Budget statement through April 16, 2004.  Currently the chapter has $6,247.03 in the bank not including the Money Market fund; overall cash flow is good; however the big projects are looming on the horizon.  Excalibur 2004 did not meet expectations for entries and therefore the chapter did not meet its entry fee goals, but the overall total was close. 


The chapter is still receiving Excalibur bills from 2003; recently the chapter received $900 in certificate re-orders.  Holly implores the Excalibur committee to please get their expenses and invoices in to him ASAP. 


The cost of the Administrator is reflected in the budget; the detailed breakout is under the year.  The $2,500 that was borrowed from the Money Market fund has been returned to the fund. 


Frank Agraz asked about the $40,000 in the budget under the category of Total professional development.  Holly clarified that PR Day and other programs, general sponsorships, etc. will use those funds; programs cost money and generate revenue as well.


The 40K will be used for PR Day and the monthly luncheons.


Larry noted that the PRSSA funds should allow all three colleges we support to draw from the funds.  The computer just listed HOU for University of Houston which is a computer issue not the limit of the universities we support which are University of Houston, Sam Houston State University and Texas A&M. 


Julie Fix made a motion to approve the Treasurer’s report; Larry Springer seconded the motion and all voted aye to approve.


Julie Fix noted that TPRA would be sending PRSA a check for $1,000 after the Silver Spur Best of Texas awards.  The check will come sometime in May 2004.


Excalibur Awards – Dan Keeney

Dan noted that the judging of the Excalibur Awards was painless and well set up by the committee which allowed the judges to leave by 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.  The turn-out was terrific with 40 members volunteering to be judges.  The budget is currently at a break-even point for the event which will be held in June.  Entries were extended through Friday, April 23 to attempt to gain a few last minute entries.  Overall entries are down 20% from last year.  The Excalibur Committee is being a solid steward of the funds they have available for the event.  Dan noted that there were several categories that received zero entries. 


Report on monthly luncheon venue change – Angela Young

Angela noted that through the survey many members requested a return to the Junior League of Houston location or looking into another location like Brennan’s.  The Junior League wanted a guarantee and has raised their rates which would cost the chapter $2,275per month.  ($17.50 per plate and a guarantee of 130 people)  Or we could charge $30 per head and have a guarantee of 70 people.  Right now the only days they currently have available are the second or third Mondays.  Groaning was heard throughout the room at the mention of a Monday meeting.


Brennan’s is where IABC Houston meets every month.  However with the closure of Spur 527 easy access to this location becomes problematic.  Angela noted that the service was incredible and the food was terrific.  IABC has a deal where you pay for 6 meetings at $25 per meeting which includes meal, iced tea, coffee and valet parking.  There is no minimum and you can guarantee just two days out before the luncheon.  The ballroom is long and rectangular.  However Angela did stand in line for 10 minutes+ waiting for her car in the valet line.  People asked about extra valet attendants during the chapter meeting but no one knew what that would cost or if it would be available.


The Houston Advertising Federation meets every third Wednesday. Mark Hayden mentioned that we should not compete against our fellow marketing associations for meeting times and dates.


The discussion led to a consensus to ask the membership a direct question would they like the monthly luncheon at the Junior League or Brennan’s. 


Julie Gorling suggested posting easy directions to Brennan’s on the chapter Web site.  Larry Springer added that at Brennan’s it takes 30 minutes for the valet to retrieve your car at the end of a big gathering.  Jean Gonsoulin asked if there was a surface lot at Brennan’s; the answer is “no.” 


Dan suggested that the committee poll the membership about a monthly lunch at the Junior League at the cost of $30 per member.   He also instructed the committee to continue the investigation of other location options.


At Brennan’s the member luncheon would be $30 per person.  Julie Gorling suggested a priority parking tag for members.  Larry said we would be obligated to use the valet; and it doesn’t address the access and parking issues that seem to drive attendance as indicated by the survey results.


The discussion continued; perhaps the Junior League will loose contracts in the new year.  Wendy Burkeen asked why the chapter left the League; the reason is that the chapter sometimes has luncheon meetings with (50) members; the average attendance is about 70 members per luncheon.   Larry added that the months of July and August are the months that have the lowest turnout. 


With our upcoming “field trip” luncheons the committee can get feedback on those locations.  Wendy agreed that the chapter and committee need to continue the investigation.  A Monday luncheon at the JL did not sound appealing to her or other members.


Dan stated that Monday could be a big obstacle for people; and the committee needs to continue looking for a suitable location.


Aaron suggested that the committee gets some feedback from IABC regarding the parking/valet situation at Brennan’s since they hold their monthly meeting at the restaurant.  Can we add additional valet?  Are there any other solutions?


How about the Houstonian?  Parking and guarantee issues are present there as well.


Angela stated that her mission was “to go forth and look some more.”


Julie Fix asked about replacing some of the luncheons with breakfast.  Could we turn out 50 people at the Junior League for breakfast?  Jean concurred that it was a terrific option that didn’t break up a work day.


Aaron added that a good program brings people out


Mark Hayden added that if we move our meeting day we’ll get conflicts.  AMA has their meeting the second Wednesday; and HAF is the third Wednesday.  Are the first or fourth Wednesday of the month available and do not conflict with our organizations with similar missions?


Paula stated that HAF moved to Friday in April; today’s attendance for PRSA is at (56) reserved members; (not including walk ins).



Dan added that the new setting would not be a reality till October or November of this year.  There will be no monthly meeting in June due to Excalibur; July we will be at the Hilton or elsewhere; and September is PR Day at the Marriott. 


Alliances Committee – Priscilla Thorne Tinsley

Priscilla was not able to attend the meeting.  The committee is currently exploring a reciprocal with the Greater Houston Partnership.   PRSA members would not have to pay the local chapter membership.   The committee is also exploring reciprocals with other marketing organizations.


Larry asked would chapter members receive the recognized visitor discount.  Julie added we could offer them member’s rates and put them on the contact list.  Larry added that with the high cost to join the Partnership our chapter members would get the better deal.  Dan will investigate to see what they mean by “reciprocal.” 


PRSA Houston chapter Web site – Lisa Martin, Chair, Web site committee and Aaron Long, Schipul – The Web Marketing Company

Lisa noted that we launched the current Web site two years ago.  Over those two years we have added numerous features including the option to register on-line; etc.  It’s time to refresh the site and add applications and make the site dynamic. 


Aaron Long – Schipul added that site visits have doubled in the past year.  He distributed a report which illustrated the current state of the Web site and the increases in member usage; etc.


The Job Bank is the number one resource visited on the Web site; and Jean runs it fluidly.  One the bar charts in the Schipul report terracotta cars indicate e-mails sent to membership.  Through April 21 chapter members received (7) e-mails about chapter activities; to the entire membership and other people on the e-mail list that translates into 9,000+ e-mails in a 20 day period which according to Aaron is a lot.


Also 505 people have read dated articles that are on the site.  It indicates that our audience wants information. 


The site can be refreshed and allow committee members to add content.  It means training people to use the software; and right now the Web site is not structured to handle dynamic content.


Each committee could have its own Web page and could add articles and update events without Schipul assistance.


An example was PR Day which has a challenging event registration structure; i.e.; you can register for the morning session; for lunch only; for the afternoon session; or for the entire day. 


It was suggested that if we re-design the site we use the PRSA National guidelines to brand the site. 


There is added revenue opportunity for the site as well; a good example is the Georgia chapter which has sponsorships; site sponsors; etc. 


The Business Directory could be restructured as well. 


Jean Gonsoulin has been applying the funds generated by the Job Bank to better the Job Bank options on the site. 


Angela Young suggested we dedicate that money to redesign the site. 


Dan added that it would be a positive to identify new revenue generating features to the site which would reduce other aspects of the budget.


Paula Ruth assists the chapter in identifying and securing sponsorships for the chapter which is a major revenue source.


Angela added that right now the site doesn’t link you to National. 


Jean Gonsoulin added that we need a site that is easy to administer; Paula Ruth is doing a lot and things are being turned over to Paula. 


Lisa stated that she has a timeline for the project and would solicit feedback from the membership.  The launch would be timed around the May meeting.  The formatting on the site would become invisible and the font size would be increased.  It may have a USA Today feel to it with lots of access points.


Dan said that we need a protocol for training members to use the site.  Schipul could do it (10) members per session.


Susan added that there needs to be an editorial check to material added t the site.  The site administrator needs to review and approve materials before it hits the site.


Julie concurred and said there needed to be an editor for the site.  Lisa, Paula, Jean and Lauren would serve as the administrators. 


Angela added that at IABC the Web master is a part-time paid position.  


Wendy brought forward that perhaps the Schipul agreement needed to be reviewed since they donated untold hours of pro-bono work to the chapter and got paid a set amount.  Susan added that perhaps Paula Ruth’s contract needed to be reviewed as well since her job responsibilities seem to have evolved beyond the initial job description.


Dan said the chapter has grown to the size that right now we can afford a full-time administrator but not much more.  Revenue building capabilities in the Web site and other chapter activities are needed to maintain and grow the chapter and its offerings.


Frank suggested a text only option be explored for the Web site. Aaron said it’s easy to change the print button to text only.


The enhancement of the Web site will cost the chapter $2,000.  Julie moved to designate $2,000 in chapter funds be used to refresh the Web site; Larry seconded the motion and all voted in favor of the motion.


The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 a.m.


Respectfully submitted by Susan Schmaeling, APR, Secretary, PRSA Houston chapter.

Daniel Keeney
(832) 467-2904
(832) 467-2909
Author: Daniel Keeney
Phone: (832) 467-2904
Fax: (832) 467-2909