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September ePRo - PR Day Just Days Away

Welcome to the September 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.

PR Day is Almost Here

Don't miss PR Day 2007, which offers PR professionals the opportunity to navigate beyond their experience in their own backyard.

PR Atlas: Navigating Beyond Borders, which will be held Sept. 13 at The Westin Galleria (near Nordstrom), features a lineup of experts from Austin, Miami, Dallas and Houston.

The keynote speaker is Bryant Hilton, global corporate responsibility communications manager at Dell, who will discuss environmental PR. Other topics covered include reputation management, Hispanic PR, social media and Web 2.0, internal communications, communicating with trust, investor relations and accreditation. As always, a panel of media representatives will provide media relations tips.

Don't delay register today. See the full lineup.

Thanks to all our sponsors who are supporting PR Day 2007. CenterPoint Energy is our notebook and printing sponsor. Vollmer Public Relations is our conference lanyard sponsor. SnapSteam Media will be a luncheon sponsor. Shell Oil Company is sponsoring 10 students to attend PR Day. Exhibitors include Atlantic Pacific Media, BMP, Brookwoods Group, Business Wire, Marion, Montgomery, Inc, PR Newswire, Renaissance Public Relations Group and VMS. The Master's Breakfast is sponsored by The Ammerman Experience, CyrusOne and FKM Agency. DataCert is sponsoring two students and Tony Stark Public Relations is sponsoring one student. In-kind sponsors include Continental Airlines, GolinHarris, Hispanic PR Wire and Stimulacra, our graphic designer. Sponsorship opportunities are still available; contact Emilee Fontenot or Paula Ruth, APR to commit.

Vote Today for PRSA Houston Board of Directors and Assembly Delegates 2007

PRSA Houston is electing four new members for the Chapter's Board of Directors and electing one new Assembly Delegate. A total of 13 Chapter members are seeking the four open board positions, and one member is seeking the open Assembly Delegate spot. We appreciate the participation of all the candidates and hope you will recognize them by casting your ballot after reviewing their information. We have listed the candidates below in random order, for you to review.

For more information on candidates and to vote, you must log in to the PRSA Houston Web site and enter your unique ballot ID that you received via e-mail in order to vote. If you are a member of the Houston Chapter and did not receive an email with your ballot ID, you can contact Paula Ruth, APR at to obtain one. Click here if you have forgotten your password. You may only vote once and voting closes at 5 p.m. on Sept. 12.

Board of Directors Candidates

Melanie Brenneman

Melanie Brenneman works as senior public relations specialist for legal technology provider DataCert, Inc., a rapidly growing private company with offices in Houston, Austin, Dallas, London, Paris and Frankfurt. She directs and executes numerous global PR strategies to elevate awareness for the company. Her responsibilities include media outreach, the writing and editing of press releases and three company newsletters, the development of client testimonials and the management of awards submissions.

Most importantly, Brenneman heads DataCert's community affairs program. The multi-tiered program, which includes company gift matching and volunteering, encouraged the company of 150 employees to donate more than 500 hours of their time to non-profit organizations in 2006. Prior to DataCert, she worked as an editor and account executive for the news release distribution company Business Wire. During her eight years there, she read and edited more than 6,000 news releases.

Brenneman is a member and volunteer for both PRSA and the American Marketing Association (AMA). She co-chaired PRSA Houston's PR Day 2005 committee and continues to be involved with that committee to date. In 2006, she served as vice president of communications for AMA Houston and coordinated communications for more than 40 events to the 900-member organization.
Stephanie Dedeaux, APR

Stephanie Dedeaux, APR, recently joined the public relations team at El Paso Energy, after working as a senior communications specialist at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center for more than four years.

Dedeaux has more than 11 years of experience in public relations after graduating from University of St. Thomas in 1996. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Alumni Association at UST and has mentored students interested in PR and communications through UST's mentoring program, "InSights.".

In addition to agreeing recently to chair the accreditation committee, in 2006 she chaired the PR Day planning committee. She has been an accredited public relations professional since 2003 and has been recognized with several PR industry awards, including a 2005 Bronze Anvil Award for Excellence in Video News Releases.

Emilee Fontenot

Emilee Fontenot is a native Houstonian raised in Baton Rouge. Upon graduating from LSU with a bachelor's degree in English, she returned to the Houston area and earned her master's degree in public relations in December 2005 from the School of Communications at the University of Houston.
Fontenot currently works with Elmore Public Relations as an assistant account executive. In her four years with PRSA Houston she has served as Director at Large for the New Professionals Group in 2006, as Vice President of New Professionals in 2007; as a committee member for PR Day in 2003, 2004 and is currently sponsorship chair for PR Day 2007. She worked on the 2006 Excalibur Awards event as a volunteer and on the 2007 committee as coordinator of post event press.

Laura A. Frnka, APR

Laura A. Frnka, APR, is an account supervisor for Pierpont Communications, Inc. where she services clients in a wide variety of industries including oil & gas, public transit, wireless telecommunications and health care. She joined Pierpont in May 2006 as a senior account executive and was promoted to her current role seven months later.

Prior to her work at Pierpont, Frnka was a public relations specialist with Texas Children's Hospital where she supported several hospital service lines with public relations activities. In December 2005, Frnka was instrumental in the planning and execution of the Cure Kids Cancer Radiothon for Texas Children's Cancer Center - an event that has raised more than $1 million for pediatric cancer research. She was also employed with a PR agency headquartered in Dallas that serviced clients in the high-tech sector. She began her career as an assistant account coordinator with the Forbes Group, a marketing and advertising agency, also located in Dallas.

Jim Lowry, APR

Jim Lowry, APR, is the Communications Coordinator-Lower 48 Upstream for ConocoPhillips. Lowry serves as the media spokesperson for Lower 48 business and supports executive communications and presentations. Lowry also manages Web content and develops materials for field support.

Prior to this position, Lowry served as Publications Editor for Onstream and PhilNews, the company's employee publications. He has also held positions at The Detrick Companies in Tulsa, Okla. as Vice President, Marketing and Mapco, Inc., also in Tulsa, as Senior Communications Specialist.

Lowry has a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma in Norman. He has been a member of PRSA since 1974 and earned his APR in 1981. Lowry served as president of the Nashville Chapter of PRSA, and held other elected positions in that chapter, as well. He also has served on the board of directors of First Steps, a support organization for children with special needs.

Shelli Manning

Shelli Manning is a public relations professional with 20 years of experience in strategic planning, integrated marketing communications, product launches, branding campaigns, online public relations initiative planning, promotion and content management, event planning and management, promotional video and video and audio news release planning writing and production, and marketing material writing, design and production.

Manning has eight years of agency experience with business to business and consumer clients in the animal health, sporting goods, insurance and transportation industries. She has 10 years of corporate background, primarily with Sprint, the Kansas City Area Development Council and The Menninger Clinic.

Manning has been a member of PRSA since 1991 and served as the vice president of Professional Development and chair of the Media Roundtable Committee in Kansas City and currently serves on the Professional Development Committee in Houston. She is a graduate of Fort Hays State University in Hays, KS, with a bachelor of arts degree in communications and Baker University in Overland Park, KS, with a master of liberal arts degree.

Laura Harrison Mayes

Laura Harrison Mayes serves as Vice President of Public Relations for Marion, Montgomery, Inc. (MMI). She has worked in the public relations industry for more than 12 years with numerous clients in a variety of business categories. With a focus on delivering top-notch journalistic and creative writing, Mayes has been responsible for the strategic planning, positioning, media relations, community and client relations, crisis communications and image management for numerous real estate, development, healthcare, governmental, retail, non-profit, information technology, financial and entertainment clients and campaigns.

She joined MMI in 2001 to grow the marketing firm's public relations offering and to direct public relations for the Schlumberger Network Solutions account team. Six years later, the MMI PR department houses 12 professionals and serves a variety of clients including Shell Houston Open, Planned Community Developers, TIAA-CREF, US Family Health Plan, Mosiac on Hermann Park, MetroNational, Memorial City Mall, and Perry's Restaurant Group.

Prior to joining MMI, Mayes served as spokesperson and editorial director for Texas Children's Hospital, as the communications director for a United States congressional candidate, as public relations director for an Austin software company and as an account supervisor for The Tate Agency, a Houston-based public relations firm. She received her bachelor's degree in English and professional writing from Baylor University in 1993.

Mike Wysatta

Mike Wysatta has more than 20 years of experience as an outside public relations counselor and in-house staffer. He manages external communications at Ryder Scott Co. where his B2B campaign earned a 2001 Gold Excalibur award. As an independent practitioner in Dallas in the 1980s, he counseled clients in the environmental services, healthcare and high-tech industries. Wysatta also served various North Texas municipalities. His clients included Diamond-Shamrock, E. Bruce Harrison Co. PR agency; Dallas International Sports Commission, Figgie International Inc., Irving Health Care System and the cities of Lancaster, Duncanville, Desoto, Bedford, Hurst and Cedar Hill.

He has worked in the oil and gas sector for 13 years, starting as an editor at JPT, the largest-circulation magazine in the industry. Wysatta is committee chairman of the PRSA Houston's Job Bank. He has a master's degree in public relations from the University of North Texas.


Christian Riepe

Christian Riepe is the founder and President of RTS Marketing Research, a full-service marketing research firm headquartered in Houston, Texas. Christian has conducted a full spectrum of marketing research across numerous industries. His experience includes store environment studies, segmentation studies, brand positioning and brand equity studies, concept tests, ad testing, customer loyalty studies, and discrete choice analyses.

He is experienced in both qualitative and quantitative research and his industry experience includes B2B, financial services, retail, consumer packaged goods, energy and utility, environment, and education.

Christian holds a master's degree from the University of Kansas in communication studies and a bachelor's degree from Trinity University in speech communication and business administration, where he was elected into Phi Beta Kappa. He has served as the chair of the Marketing Research SIG for the Houston Chapter of the American Marketing Association and is currently serving on the Board of Business Marketing Association - Houston. Tricia Bentley is a senior account executive spearheading VOLLMER's public advocacy and arts sectors. Bentley provides public relations counsel and strategy, and a deep knowledge of media relations to a diverse client base including the Houston-Galveston Area Council, Commute Solutions, Harris County Flood Control District, Brown & Gay Engineers, Inc., Air Liquide America and the Houston Grand Opera.

Christy Lee

Christy Lee is the President and Founder of InkSpot Communications LLC. In her work, Lee focuses on helping clients creatively reach their intended target audience while communicating messages effectively. Her clients include a variety of both small and fortune 500 clients, with a strong emphasis in the energy sector.

Prior to founding InkSpot, Lee worked in the Corporate Communications department of Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP. At Chevron Phillips, she was responsible for the implementation of several global internal and external communication initiatives. Earlier in her career she worked as an Assistant Account Executive at Pierpont Communications, Inc. and as a writer for Frequency, a local music magazine.

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), American Marketing Association (AMA), Texas Public Relations Association (TPRA) and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) have recognized Lee's work with over 30 professional awards, including the PRSA Houston chapter’s top award of 2006 – the Grand Excalibur Award. Lee is an active member of PRSA Houston, serving as chair of the 2007 Excalibur Awards event.

Tricia Bentley
With more than nine years of public relations and marketing expertise, Bentley provides strategic development and implementation of public relations campaigns, branding initiatives, media relations programs and planning, internal/external communications, event coordination and execution, community outreach, and collateral development.

Prior to joining VOLLMER, Bentley served as the director of marketing and public relations for a regional healthcare practice where she specialized in business development and strategic planning. She holds a master's degree in communication from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX and is an active member of PRSA, serving on the PR Day Committee.


Shelly Porsch Chetty

With more than 15 years experience in public relations, including campaign management, government relations, and fundraising primarily for the nonprofit and healthcare industries, Shelly Porsch Chetty recently has scaled back her work with American Cancer Society in the Gulf Coast Region, where she has been Director of Communications for five years, and launched SPCcreative, a photography and contract PR services firm.

At the American Cancer Society, Chetty worked with a coalition of health organizations to build awareness and public support for a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance, protecting Houstonians form the dangers of secondhand smoke. She trained volunteers and managed promotional activity for approximately 30 fundraising events per year as well as seasonal cancer awareness campaigns and patient-service programs.

Before joining the American Cancer Society, Chetty's work included media relations, fundraising and donor development, program management, volunteer coordination and event planning. She has promoted causes including infant health, services for homebound senior citizens, mental health, and developmental disabilities.

Originally from Midland, Texas, Chetty is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor's degree in journalism, specializing in public relations.

Suzanne Lammers
Suzanne Lammers graduated from the University of Missouri - St. Louis in 2000. She moved to Houston that fall to begin her career in public relations with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

She has since worked in entertainment, drilling, high tech and recently joined Stewart Title, where she reports to a state legislator. Suzanne is actively involved in PRSA. She is chairing PR Day on Sept. 13 and last year chaired the New Professionals group. Lammers also is a board member of the PRSA Foundation and volunteers with the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto by assisting senior scouts in earning their Public Relations Interest Project Award.

Assembly Delegate Candidate

Barbara D. Langham, Ph.D., APR

Barbara D. Langham, PhD, APR joined PRSA and earned accreditation in 1986. She has served as Houston Chapter president, National Conference representative, Chapter accreditation chair and is a member of the Counselors Academy.

She founded Renaissance House International / BDL PR in 1984. Previously she was director of investor relations for Ridgeway Exco Inc.; director - Korea and associate dean - Japan, operating Department of Defense contracts for American Educational Complex; was Associate Professor of English at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale and an editor for the SIU Press.

Langham speaks to business audiences in the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia and has published in magazines, anthologies and other books including The Encyclopedia of Public Relations. She studied at Southern Methodist University, Furman University and Carnegie Mellon University where she earned her Doctor of Arts.

Members must log in to the PRSA Houston Web site and enter your unique ballot ID you received via e-mail in order to vote. Click here if you have forgotten your password. You may only vote once and voting closes at 5 p.m. on Sept. 12.

Watch for the PR Day Mailer!

Our thanks to Business Wire for hosting an all-day mailing session on a weekday to enable us to get the PR Day mailer on your way before the holiday weekend. Various PRSA members helped out to accomplish this. Brook Wooton of Noble Drilling came the night before to give us a head start. Also helping were Anne Deuermeyer and Shannon Simonson of Business Wire, PRSA Houston board members Karen Blanchard, APR, Naumann Blanchard, and Bill Zander, BG Group and Don Moser of Houston Business Journal.

Next Opportunity…

The PR Day Committee will be stuffing notebooks this Saturday, Sept. 8, at DataCert. We are seeking student help, but would offer chapter members who can participate this opportunity for some networking and the glimpse at speaker’s notes. For information, contact Melanie Brenneman at or Paula Ruth, APR at We must know in advance who to expect for security. We would all like to finish before the Saturday kickoffs.

Upcoming October Luncheon: Luck is Not a Strategic Plan

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 lead 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.

August Luncheon a Success

PRSA Houston welcomed Factiva as a new sponsor in August as well as Schipul-The Web Marketing Company, who again provided our AV requirements at no cost. Among those shown are (left to right) Scott Lutter, Rhonda Brown and Rich Borrego of Factiva, PRSA Houston President Lisa Walsh, Lyondell Chemical Company; Craig Eppling, General Motors, speaker, and Ed Schipul of Schipul-The Web Marketing Company.

In this photo, PRSA President Lisa Walsh, Lyondell Chemical Company, thanked Shiara Trumble and Christian Riepe of RTS Marketing Research who presented the results of PRSA Houston's recent membership survey to the board in August. RTS did the survey at no cost to PRSA Houston. The board will be evaluating the results as they plan for the future. Thank you to all the members who participated and to RTS for this valuable service.

Getting Involved is Easy!

A PRSA membership, including the PRSA Houston Chapter represents an investment in your career of 77 cents per day. How do you get the most for that investment? Get involved! The best way to get involved is to come to the meetings to glean the new ideas you might take back with you from not only the speakers, but your peers.

If you are unable to attend a luncheon, 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 will soon be gearing up for next year, so it is a good time to let Priscilla Tinsley, president-elect, or Paula Ruth, APR, chapter administrator, know you are interested in chairing a committee.

In addition, you should 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 in any way, we would love to have you involved. E-mail Paula Ruth, APR, at

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 (281-633-6645 or

Be a Luncheon Sponsor in 2007

Thank you to Factiva for sponsoring our August luncheon. We are delighted to have CenterPoint Energy back as our notebook and printing sponsor for PR Day. Vollmer Public Relations will be the lanyard sponsor. SnapStream Media is sponsoring the luncheon. Shell Oil Company is sponsoring 10 students. Our exhibitors include Atlantic Pacific Media, BMP, Brookwoods Group, Business Wire, Marion, Montgomery, Inc., PR Newswire, Renaissance Public Relations, VMS and our in-kind sponsors include Continental Airlines, GolinHarris, Hispanic PR Wire, Pierpont Communications, Stimulacra and Responsible Printing. Our breakfast sponsors include The Ammerman Experience, Cyrus One and Stevens/FKM. Other students are being sponsored by DataCert and Toby Stark Public Relations. Thank you to all of these sponsors. 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, but other sponsors are possible.

Our luncheon sponsors make it possible to bring in speakers from around the country, occasionally, 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.

Advertise Your Business in the Business Directory

If you want to reach the 2000 a 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. Go to the PRSA Houston Web site to find out more.

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. Go to the PRSA Houston Web site to find out more.

Stephanie Pertuit
(713) 663-0164
Author: Stephanie Pertuit
Phone: (713) 663-0164
Category: newsletter | Sub Category: newsletter