Need an account?

PRSA Posts Minutes For March 2004 Board Meeting

PRSA Houston Board of Director Meeting

March 17, 2004

Houston City Club, Greenway Plaza



Dan Keeney; Kelly Papinchak; Julie B. Fix; Frank Agraz; Paula Ruth, Administrator; Holly Hutchins; Cindy Suggs; Terri Larson; Kris Taylor; Petri Darby; Angela Young; Wendy Burkeen; Jean Gonsoulin; Ben Wheatley; Lisa Martin; Susan Schmaeling. 


Excused Absences

Larry Springer; Sally Ramsay; Aaron Woods; Mark Hayden; Julie Gorling.


Projector Sponsorship

Dan opened the meeting at 10:30 a.m. with discussion of the first agenda item: projector sponsorship.  The chapter has received an offer from Schipul Technology to offer the chapter a projector in exchange for a sponsorship.  The rental rate from the Houston City Club is $200 per meeting which over the course of a year could cost the chapter anywhere from $1,400 to $1,600.  Dan feels that we can craft the proposal and state the benefits such as: (1) free ticket to the monthly meeting; offer to use the chapter mailing labels twice annually; newsletter acknowledgment; and literature out at a chapter meeting one time per year.  Ed is open to a counter offer.  Dan represents Schipul so he feels he must recluse himself from the discussion.  Members suggested also seeking other sources to offer the opportunity to other vendors. 


Holly has done a cost analysis and feels the package the chapter offers is fair and equitable.  He added that offer members should be able to bid on this sponsorship.


Julie Fix wanted to be certain that we are getting a premium value for the chapter mailing labels.  We shouldn’t offer them as a matter of course.


Dan agrees and the current price we charge $230 is comparable to what similar organizations charge. 


Dan and Paula will put together a sponsorship package.  There is no shortage of agencies that would like to put themselves in front of our membership.


Paula wanted to state that she has confidence in Schipul that they will deliver the projector on time, etc. The chapter needs to have a “quality control” check in our proposal so we don’t find ourselves at a meeting without necessary av equipment. 


Julie mentioned that the good thing about renting from the club is the tech support that comes with it if the equipment malfunctions.  Each organizations professional reputation rests on the quality of its equipment and people.



Dan wanted everyone to be aware that the chapter by-laws states that members and delegates are required to attend monthly meetings.  As a member or delegate you may not miss three or more meetings in a row during a given year.   If you do the President and Board can see to remove you from the Board.  The chapter currently has a delegate that started a new position and has not been able to make a board meeting to date.  Dan wants this requirement to be on everyone’s radar.  He wants the Delegates and Board to be connected to the chapter and its inner workings.  Ben agreed and clarified that the by-laws state that a member is allowed only three excused absences per year.  It was noted that we need members to attend to establish a quorum for voting purposes, and people should attend the meetings.  Cindy mentioned that time is an issue for everyone, but even if you have an excuse the chapter needs you to try to be present.  Dan noted that a member can not be effective it they are not attending meetings.  The chapter will revisit this issue next month if necessary.


February minutes – Susan Schmaeling

Please note that Jean Gonsoulin had an excused absence from the February meeting.   Also the name and title of the Events Manager of the Houston City Club has been corrected.  Going forward the chapter minutes will be e-mailed to National and the Southwest chapter chair per the Houston chapter by-laws.


Julie made a motion to pass the minutes, Petri seconded, and all responded “aye.”






Treasurer’s Report – Holly Hutchins

Holly stated that the chapter is in good shape financially two and a half months into the year.  The chapter is currently $2,100 ahead of expenses – the financials date from March 16, income/expense is not reflected.  Aramark reordered Excalibur certificates; and the chapter has gained several sponsorships.  The chapter has also incurred its expense for the Administrator.  The luncheons need to continue to generate income.  Money Market Status is good, and the chapter has $6,000 in the bank; so currently the chapter is in stable shape. 


There was some clarifications about the financials; the 2004 Actuals; and the status of the Job Bank revenue was divided into two categories not one overall category.


Jean is receiving about a listing per day on the Job Bank.


There was a motion to approve the Treasurer’s report by Ben, Julie seconded the motion, and all approved.


Committee Reports

Dan asked the chapter if there were any questions for any of the committee chairs.


Julie Fix inquired if Anne Peebles was extending the member rate for the Excalibur Awards to the TPRA members?  This has been done in the past.  Dan will recommend to her to offer the reduced member rate to TPRA members. 


Petri inquired about the chapter mailing labels.  Apparently we have given them paper labels and the chapter does not have a budget for paper labels.


Wendy wanted to know how much do we make by selling our labels?


Dan added that we don’t have a printed piece for the Excalibur Awards.  Dan added that we can send out relevant messages via e-mail. 


Lisa added that we need to protect the chapter e-mail list.  We don’t have a privacy policy and we need to look into that for the chapter. 


Kris added that in an educational environment there is an option to allow people to share or not to share their e-mail information.  That way we can share and reciprocate information.


Petri added that he welcomed the idea of the chapter controlling the dissemination of information – we control it.


Lisa agrees – it becomes a message from PRSA Houston.  It’s a judgment call.


Paula mentioned that the Hornberger Foundation wanted two things from the chapter.  To invite members to their Open House; and to a Caterers organization – special events group in May.  We can sell them the chapter labels. 


Kris mentioned using the newsletter with appropriate links as a way to handle these requests. 


Cindy asked if our members know that we sell the chapter mailing labels?


Lisa reiterated that we need a policy which states how your information is sued and not used.


PRSA Foundation

Cindy mentioned the PRSA Silent Auction which benefits the Foundation is a collaborative Board effort and will be a featured aspect of the Excalibur Awards.  The Auction needs some juicy, big ticket items. 


Ben added that the Auction benefits the PRSA Foundation which will give out its first scholarship in spring 2005.  Ben is asking the Board to give or find the chapter an item.  Entertainment items etc.  The Excalibur Awards are set for June 17, 2004.  


PR Day – Terri Larson

Terri distributed a day of event breakdown for PR Day on September 22, 2004. Jim Lukaszewski of The Lukaszewski Group will be present at a private reception for senior practioners.   Craig Varoga was the national manager for Wesley Clark’s presidential campaign.  The offerings are a mix of junior/senior material.  Jeff Cohen, Vice President and Editor of the Houston Chronicle are the key note speaker.  Currently PR Day has garnered $2,300 in sponsorships.  The event will be held at the Hyatt Regency Downtown.  The A/V people are throwing in $3k of equipment and $2k in sponsorships.  The theme the committee is mulling over is

” Using Strategic Messages to Navigate Change.”  Susan mentioned that another organization or perhaps National had used the term “Navigate Change” within a 3-year window. 


Angela stated that a bulk of the program dealt with politics so perhaps that could be worked into the theme message.


Frank mentioned that September is Ethics month for PRSA so perhaps something could be worked in there.


Julie commented that the overall program deals with strategy.   




Luncheon Committee Report – Cindy Suggs

The goal is to have clear guidance from the board regarding luncheon venue(s) through 2004 – 2005.


The Programs Committee has been formed to support Mark and assist in venue selection.  There will be no June luncheon due to Excalibur; and July the chapter is seeking Mayor Bill White as the speaker to bolster a usually depressed attendance at a summer gathering. 


Overall, Time is the biggest challenge facing our colleagues.  We need to continue with the supped up communications.  Two special outreach messages, then take two luncheons on the road.  Today – we need to discuss the location of our luncheons.  Dan placed several qualifying questions on the survey.  The majority of respondents cited Time as the overall factor as to whether they can attend a luncheon. 


Kris mentioned that Atlanta PRSA luncheon attendance is a part of regular dues.  We should not increase the luncheon price; however distinctive venues are a big draw. 


Frank wanted to know if the tea and coffee option was still available to members.  It is not.


Angela noted that only a few people took advantage of it, and then they had to sit at the “tea and coffee” only table which negated their networking options. 


Holly noted that 40% of the respondents found the Houston City Club unacceptable as a meeting place.  Important factors that impact attendance are access – i.e.; parking, 80 to 90% of the respondents noted time and access.


Dan noted that the City Club performs poorly in the access area.  71% rated it fair or poor.  The Special Events Manager Jane Dale has been made aware of this situation at a meeting prior to the board meeting.  The specific action she will take is to open adjacent lots and make visitors aware of these new parking spaces. 


Parking issue is major.


Dan asked “should the committee be charged with finding a new venue for 2004-2005?” 


Ben feels that yes the committee should investigate it.  We have received numerous negative responses from members.  We need to address it, or the members will perceive that we do not view it as a problem.


Kris it’s not necessary to stay at the Houston City Club till the end of the year.  Several members were struck by how many mentions and requests there were to move back to the Junior League.


Others asked if we could negotiate a half-year mid-year deal with the Junior League.


Jean mentioned that the ambiance at the Houston City Club was not as nice as the Junior League.


Wendy concurred with Jean’s statement – and added is it advantageous to have people pay for a certain amount of luncheons in advance?


Kris added that people pay and then do not RSVP.  Firm RSVP’s would be difficult to obtain.


Jean wasn’t certain about the pay in advance option.


Wendy felt if she had money invested in an activity she would make the effort to attend. 


Ben wanted to know how other organizations are dealing with the Junior League’s request for a specific number of reservations because Houston Advertising Federation and other organizations have their luncheons there.


Dan mentioned that sponsorships would solve this issue.  Other organizations like NIRI (National Investor Relations Institute) have no problems since it’s an organization sponsors want to be in front of.  Paula is working on generating members and sponsors for the chapter. 


Dan summed up the conversation.  The Luncheon Committee will approach the Junior League and examine other options.  We will take the luncheons “On the Road” with a special July venue.  April and May are already booked.  August we return to the City Club.  In September PR Day is at the Hyatt Downtown.  Then the chapter would return to the City Club for October, November and December. 


Members noted that the survey was painless, fast and easy to use. 


Terri asked if we could stream our meetings on-line?


Petri added it would be a good feature to have after the fact.


Dan mentioned that Los Angeles or Orange County currently does that on their chapter Web site. 


Jean added that perhaps having a transcript available would be advisable.  Frank noted that a Powerbook version would be ideal.


Dan noted that the Houston Business Journal published the article he circulated at the February board meeting in the March 11 isssue.  He has received calls from around the country; the NJ chapter is looking to republish the article in their statewide publication. 


Lisa added that she would check into the website and streaming options.


The meeting was called to conclusion by Dan Keeney.  Ben moved to conclude the meeting, Angela seconded and the meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m.


Respectfully submitted by Susan Schmaeling, APR.

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