The Rules of Crisis Communications

John Ashford, of the Hawthorne Group, shared with us his rules for crisis communications, and shared highlights of the work he and his firm have done.  The Hawthorne Group has worked in all 50 states and over 20 countries around the world.

Everyone enjoyed the stories told by Ashford and learned valuable lessons along the way.

Ashford stressed that companies should be prepared for the unexpected before it happens, and practice crisis avoidance and mitigation.

He shared highlights of the work his firm has done with:

  • chemical spills (like the one in the Elk River)
  • healthcare and pharmaceutical companies
  • banks and financial institutions
  • security, from schools to data
  • laws, from legislation to petitions
  • new products
  • dealing with 60 Minutes

    The meeting drew a variety of members from various industries, as well as several students from WV State University.

  • cases they refused to take and
  • war stories from the sublime to the ridiculous.

    PRSA-WV Chapter President-elect Rachel Coffman, a partner with meeting sponsor TSG Consulting, welcomed everyone to the meeting.

    Thanks to TSG Consulting for hosting the meeting in the Walnut Room at Bridge Road Bistro in Charleston.

Looking to 2020: September is Ethics Month

Ethics must be included in every decision we make. This applies to both the workplace and our social/personal lives.  Ethics is part of the fabric that creates our relationships on every level – clients, coworkers, employers, family and friends.
As the WV Chapter’s former Ethics Director, I recommend reading two articles that have recently appeared in PRSay publication. You may find these online at the PRSA national site.
1) Ethics, Copyright and PR Practice: Ethical and Legal Considerations for Communicators by Cayce Myers, Ph.D., APR
2) Bringing Your Whole Self to Ethical Behavior by Karen Swim, APR
Several studies have shown that ethics is enhanced by achieving PRSA accreditation. For the 40 years that I have been a member of this chapter, I and others have emphasized the significance of ethical behavior and performance; plus, encouraged and helped other members earn their APR or College of Fellows status. Therefore, we are again making a plea to all of our non-accredited members to please work toward making this one of your goals in 2020. Every current accredited PRSA member is available for questions; not just in WV, but nationwide. National has study materials available, or – as in previous years – a WV study group can be formed to assist your preparation.

Congratulations, George Manahan!

Congratulations to George Manahan for being named one of West Virginia Executive’s (WVE) Class of 2019 “Sharp Shooters.”

Sharp Shooters are West Virginians over the age of 43 who are all-stars in their respective fields and represent what is great about the past and exciting about the future of the Mountain State.  Because WVE receives so many nominations each year, it has created a strict set of criteria to ensure the honorees are the cream of the crop.  Nominees must have lived in the state and been in their West Virginia-based positions for at least five years and must actively participate in community service and philanthropic endeavors, as well as efforts to move the Mountain State forward.

George said, “Forty years ago, West Virginia welcomed a boy from New Jersey and helped him become a man.  This is my home and always will be.”

Please join CRA in congratulating our CEO Susan Lavenski for being recognized as one of the country’s leading entrepreneurs, as she has been named one of Industry Era magazine’s “2019 10 Best Entrepreneurs of the Year.”
Susan also will serve as keynote commencement speaker for Marshall University’s 2019 graduation ceremonies next month.  She graduated from Marshall with a bachelor’s degree in public relations/journalism and a master’s degree in political science. She was inducted into the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism’s hall of fame in 2017.        

In addition, CRA recently received the 2019 Chairman’s Award from the Southeast Tourism Society (STS) at the organization’s Shining Example Awards in Daytona Beach. CRA has worked with the STS team for years, providing branding strategy, creative development and communications counsel.

“I am humbled and grateful for the Industry Era recognition and so deeply honored to be the commencement speaker at my alma mater, Marshall University. And then to be awarded the most prestigious Chairman’s Award from STS is incredible. This award is credited to every member of the CRA team. I have the privilege of working with the smartest, most creative people in our industry every single day.” – Susan Lavenski, CEO 

CRA has offices in Charleston, West Virginia; Richmond, Virginia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Columbus, Ohio. 


Welcome to our newest member!

Please join PRSA-West Virginia Chapter in welcoming our newest member:

Leslie Smithson
Communications Director
Convention & Visitors Bureau
601 Morris Street
Suite 204
Charleston, WV 25301
tel: (304) 344-5075 fax:

President’s Notes | March 2019

PRogress Report

From: Aly Goodwin Gregg, PRSA-WV Chapter President

PRSA-WV has started 2019 with a bang! Our first quarter has seen fantastic activity and engagement. I am excited momentum is building toward our 40th Anniversary Celebration later this year!

PRSA-WV CRYSTAL AWARDS – We are celebrating success!
PRSA-WV will host the Crystal Awards Celebration on June 19, our annual gathering to recognize the best in public relations strategic campaigns and tactics in West Virginia! The Call for Entries is now live with Early Bird pricing available through April 8, and a final entry deadline at midnight on April 29.

We have worked to improve your awards entry experience this year. Full details are available in the Call for Entries, but here are some specific improvements for the 2019 competition:

  • Knowing What the Judges Want. Before you craft your entry, be sure to review the sample scoring sheets for both Campaigns and Tactics available on our website. Our judging platform was created using the specifics of these judging sheets to ensure that your entries include the required information!
  • Location. Location. This year we are breathing new life into our annual Crystal Awards celebration and, for the first time in organization history, we are hitting the road! Our June 19, 2019, event will be hosted in Morgantown, W.Va., at West Virginia University’s Touchdown Terrace overlooking Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Looking ahead, we hope to hold our annual Crystal Awards event at different locations around West Virginia to better serve and engage our statewide membership.
  • OpenWater Platform. We are utilizing the OpenWater online application portal for streamlined award submissions. Create your account today.
  • Category Consistency. This year, for the first time, all categories included in the PRSA-WV Call for Entries matches the East Central District and national PRSA organization competitive categories. This means if your entry wins at our event, you simply have to submit to the district or national competition, without the burden of tweaking your entry to meet different standards.

Participating in the Crystal Awards is your celebration of demonstrated, professional success! Say ‘yes’ and join us in June. We’re eager to celebrate you!


Each year our chapter participates it the national reciprocal judging pool with PRSA chapters throughout the United States. Last year we judged Hawaii with a record 29 volunteer judges from our chapter participating.

Looking ahead, we will judge entries to the ARcom Awards from PRSA-Arkansas and their participant communications partners in July. If you would like to judge, we would love to have you! The more judges we have, the easier this process is. Remember that we rely on other chapters to judge our entries, so our participation in judging makes the whole system work! If you’re interested in signing up to judge the Arkansas chapter entries in July, please contact me directly via gmail at

We will host a judging Lunch & Learn via web conference sometime in June for training and Q&A. Thank you in advance for your professional participation!

There are so many ways to get involved and connect with your PRSA-WV Chapter peers!
APRIL 17 – Spring Professional Development: Building Your Own Brand
MAY 10 – Lunch & Learn:  Earning your APR
JUNE 19 – Crystal Awards Celebration
JUNE TBD – Lunch & Learn web conference on reciprocal judging Arkansas chapter
JULY 18 – PRSA at the Park
SEPTEMBER 18 – Crisis Communications Seminar 
OCTOBER 16 – Fall Professional Development: Making the Pitch (planning in progress)
**DUAL EVENTS IN Charleston and Morgantown**
NOVEMBER – Mentoring Seminar (planning in progress)
DECEMBER – PRSA-WV 40th Anniversary Celebration (planning in progress)

Do you have an idea for Professional Development, a Lunch & Learn session, or just an opportunity the Chapter should know? We want to hear it! Please email us at

Thanks to our new Social Media Chair, Mary Brown (CRA), we are taking our social media game to a new level! Please be sure to follow all PRSA-WV social media channels and keep up to date on chapter events and news!

We are working hard to provide all the benefits you expect from your local PRSA chapter. But the success of PRSA-WV also depends on your participation and engagement! We encourage you to look over the schedule above and make every effort to participate. If you have any feedback, please email me directly at


Welcome to Our Two Newest Members

Welcome to our two newest members:

Tiffany Fridley
Marketing Manager
Thomas & Battle, PLLC
Spilman Center
300 Kanawha Blvd., E.
Charleston, WV  25301

Ramsey Kinsella
Senior Operations Supervisor
620 Junction Street
Morgantown, WV  26505
(304) 685-3702


Digital Content: Curation vs. Creation

The world of digital content is changing on a daily basis, according to Scott Rogerson of UpContent in Pittsburgh, who spoke at the chapter’s February meeting.

“The arenas of owned, paid and earned media now include the segment of shared media,” he said.  The number of web sites has increased phenomenally and Rogerson said researchers have discovered that gold fish now have a longer attention span than humans do.  “This means we need to move back to true story telling and sharing our own unique perspective,” he said.

He defined curation and creation:

  • Curators link to third-party information 75% or more of the time;
  • Balanced content links to third-party information 50-75% of the time; and
  • Self-promoters link to owned media 50% or more of the time.

He said research shows that balanced content has the best conversion per post.  As with any communication, he said you must utilize planning and develop processes.  Rogerson also said remarketing costs can be lower than paid marketing.

“Curation isn’t aggravation,” he said.  On social media, you need to give your audience a content clue beyond the headline.  You need to use the FACE model of find, assess, curate and engage.

He also shared misconceptions about curation:

  1. It’s a replacement for engagement.
  2. It’s lazy and easy.
  3. It takes too much of your time.
  4. It’s unethical.
  5. It drives your audience away.

As he closed the discussion, he shared, a web site that coverts text to video (and even has a free version).

We would like to thank our meeting sponsor:

President’s Notes | December 2018

“Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening…”
“Winter Wonderland” by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith

The recent snowfalls have gotten me into the holiday spirit. It’s time to wind down, reflect and recharge. It was a year of good meetings and great networking – I am hopeful that everyone who came to an event this year learned something or met someone who made their time with the chapter worthwhile. I wish everyone the blessing of time to relax during the upcoming holiday season before we hit the ground running in 2019.

The November meeting was informative and inspirational for everyone for more” style=”border: none; color: #666666 ; font-weight: normal !important; text-decoration: none;” >visit who could join us. We heard about the recent election results, and, more importantly, installed the officers and board members for the upcoming year. Our West Virginia Chapter celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2019, and with our planning session next week, I’m excited to see what this milestone year has in store for all of us!

I’ve now joined the past president’s club, and what an amazing group of leaders with whom to be included. I have the utmost confidence Aly Goodwin Gregg will shepherd our chapter through the next year with grace, wit and innovation.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


Chapter & Verse | December 2018

Please visit our December issue of Chapter & Verse for highlights of our November events in Charleston and Morgantown, highlights of 2018 meetings, installation of the 2019 board of directors, a welcome to new members who joined in 2018, highlights of PRSA-WV member benefits and a notice on how to win a gift card in 2019, plus a note from President Kyra Harris.