Enter the 2019 Blacksmith Awards!

The 2019 Blacksmith Awards entry platform is now LIVE! The chapter has selected the OpenWater awards platform, which will provide a simpler entry experience for members.

The Blacksmith Awards honor the best of Greater Cincinnati's public relations community, from talented, experienced practitioners to stellar work that has local, national and international impact.

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Diversity and Inclusion Survey Findings

By Suzanne Boys

Addressing diversity and inclusion has never been more important, especially in public relations. In line with national PRSA calls to increase diversity in the field, Cincinnati PRSA has made diversity one of its strategic goals for the past two years. To meet this goal, however, we needed to know more.

To that end, we distributed a diversity and inclusion (D & I) survey to its membership this winter. The rationale behind this survey was twofold. First, we hoped to better understand the diversity of our membership. Second, we hoped to assess the skills and interests of our membership on D & I related topics. What follows is a summary of our findings.

For context, here is some demographic information on the 51 respondents.

 ·      66% were Cincinnati PRSA members

·      45% were younger than 40; 51% are 40 years old or older

·      6% percent identified as LGBTQ+

·      6% percent identified as having some type of disability

·      73% identified as Caucasian; 24% identified as African American/black; 2% identified as Hispanic, and 4% identified as “other”

 -On a Likert scale (1= not important; 5 = very important) rating how important diversity and inclusion were to respondents’ work, 86% rated diversity and inclusion a 4 or 5.

 -On a Likert scale (1= not important; 5 = very important) rating respondents’ knowledge of diversity and inclusion, 59% rated their knowledge a 4 or 5.

-On a Likert scale (1= not important; 5 = very important) rating respondents’ diversity and inclusion skills, 55% rated their skills a 4 or 5.

 -When asked if there is a lack of diversity in PR, 73% said yes, 10% said no, and 18% said they did not know.

The following charts shows what diversity and inclusion topics respondents are interested in and how they prefer to learn about those topics.

What D&I topics are you interested in?

What D&I topics are you interested in?

When asked if it would be helpful to establish affinity groups in Cincinnati PRSA, respondents were split between Yes (43%) and I don’t know (43%). When asked what affinity groups they might suggest, 70% suggested race/ethnicity, 60% suggested career point, 53% suggested LGBTQ+, and 30% suggested men in PR.

Overall, findings affirm the need to diversifying our membership. They also suggest respondents find D & I lacking, but very important to the profession of public relations. Respondents are slightly less confident in their D&I skills than their D&I knowledge. This supports Cincinnati PRSA’s goal of diversifying our programming.

As Cincinnati PRSA continues to work on its strategic diversity and inclusion goals, we would like to extend an invitation to join the chapter’s diversity committee. If you are interested in D & I issues, please contact our diversity chair, Suzanne Boys (boysse@ucmail.uc.edu) for more information.

How do you prefer to learn about diversity and inclusion?

How do you prefer to learn about diversity and inclusion?

Tips for Navigating the New Newsroom

The Cincinnati Enquirer hosted April’s PRSA meeting where members heard from Michael Perry, senior news director for content and Jordan Kellogg, senior news director for digital at the Enquirer. The two offered some tips for PR pros trying to get coverage locally, here are some highlights:

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March Event Recap: PRSA Members Learn About Union Terminal's Rebirth

The first day of Spring brought PRSA members to the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal to hear about the recent restoration of the historic facility (and Cincinnati icon) from a PR perspective. The organization relied on transparency, frequent media access and experiential events to drive successful PR coverage for the Museum Center. See the photo gallery below for photos from the event!

Miami University students learn about inclusion and diversity

This post is from Diego Marcucci, a Miami PRSSA student.

For Danielle Jones, educating others about the importance of diversity and inclusion is something she’s passionate about. In her current role as an assistant vice president and senior public relations manager at Fifth Third Bank, it’s a part of her job. But, beyond that, it’s been a part of her life. Jones believes everyone has a voice and deserves to be seen and heard. On Feb. 19, more than 150 PRSSA members and communication students packed into Bachelor Hall on Miami’s campus to hear her story.

 “It’s important for students to learn more about diversity and inclusion because it opens up their mind to what else is happening in the world,” Jones said. “It gives them background information that will help them be successful in the future.”

 To reinforce the importance of these topics, Jones provided statistics about businesses and organizations that have increased or improved their workforce diversity. She said that ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform their peers and if organizations aren’t able to internally manage diversity properly, they’ll get left behind.

 “Our students need to hear from people like Danielle who aren’t just talking about diversity, but are living it,” said Shara Clark, APR, faculty advisor for Miami’s PRSSA chapter. “These students are the future leaders in our industry, so their willingness to use their voices for diversity and inclusion will impact our field for years to come.”

 Jones shared four important takeaways that students can apply to the field right away:

1)    Speak up when you notice that diversity is lacking in marketing and communication materials.

2)    Offer a different perspective when you see racial bias in our field.

3)    Challenge yourself to see things from a different perspective and consider the standpoint of the audience.

4)    Seek local input and guidance from those whose lives are different than yours.

 “People can take a few different steps to be more inclusive,” Jones said. “When we place ourselves in the shoes of other people, it helps us understand why someone's walk might be the way that it is.”

 The importance of diverse voices is the central theme of Miami’s current Bateman competition campaign, #MUVOICES. They are sharing about the PRSA Foundation’s new book “Diverse Voices” as well as spreading awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion by encouraging others to sign a Diversity Pledge.  

Miami University PRSSA Students with Danielle Lewis and Professor Shara Clark, APR.

Miami University PRSSA Students with Danielle Lewis and Professor Shara Clark, APR.

Thank you

Darcy Schwass, APR

Darcy Schwass, APR

To my Cincinnati PRSA colleagues – I send you my heartfelt thanks for allowing me to serve you as president this year. A humbling experience, it was a highlight of my career.

I began 2018 knowing that we needed to tackle the roadmap laid out in our strategic plan. We had several objectives to accomplish this year and others we needed to start. I’m proud to report that we met each 2018 objective, made excellent headway on our long-term objectives and did so much more.

Here’s what we did together:

Digital efforts

  • Revamped our website .

  • Started an Instagram account (and got an inside scoop into the daily lives and work of our members thanks to our Instagram takeovers!)

  • Improved coverage of our events and activities via all of our social media platforms

Media relations

  • Launched a new chapter media relations chair position and recruited our first chair

  • Developed a media relations plan

Membership value

  • Convened a Membership Value Task Force, who took a hard look at our chapter and similar groups and developed recommendations to ensure we properly leverage the value we bring to members and find ways to add more (be on the lookout next year)

Diversity & inclusion

  • Grew and nurtured our networks with diverse organizations, such as the Greater Cincinnati Black PR Pros group

  • Held a Diversity in Hiring event at University of Cincinnati, in conjunction with our New Professionals group


  • Hosted a variety of events, spanning topics from international media tours to co-programming with Cincinnati’s Society of Professional Journalists to learning who in government and business has the public’s trust

  • Developed new sponsorship opportunities

New professionals

  • Established regular, recurring contact (and relationships) with local PRSSA chapters by proactively planning panels and meetings on their campuses

  • Held an event for professionals new to the PR industry – regardless of age

Legacy events

  • Delivered professional and well received Media Day and Blacksmith programs – reflective of countless hours of hard work by their respective chairs and committees

APR program

  • Mentored six candidates in our preparation class

  • Welcomed two new APRs at the Blacksmiths


  • Bestowed the highest recognition our chapter gives to a member – the Werner-VonderHaar-Bogart Award – to Jonathan Kissell, APR – a deserving colleague and professional

  • Bestowed the President’s Award to famed, local mixologist, Molly Wellmann

None of this would have been possible without this year’s board and leadership team. Thank you to these individuals – volunteers – who committed their time and talents to our chapter’s success. Thank you, also, to our chapter’s business manager, Elliot Campbell, who works tirelessly to keep us on track. When you see Elliot, be sure to tell him “thanks.”

It has been a true pleasure. Stay tuned for next year, when Erin Rolfes, APR, assumes the president role. I cannot wait to see the great heights she will take all of us.

Happy holidays and happy New Year.

Darcy Schwass, APR

DEC 12 - Holiday Happy Hour

Eventbrite - PRSA Holiday 2018 Happy Hour

Deck the Yard with PR people, fa la la la la, la, la, la…

Join your friends and colleagues for Happy Hour at the Yard House at the Banks on Wednesday, December 12 from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. Appetizers provided. Cash/credit cards accepted at the bar.  

PRSA Cincinnati Chaper will also be doing a collection of toys at this event to donate to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. For a list of toy ideas, click here. Can’t make it but want to donate toys? Contact Shara Clark, APR.

Event Details:

Eventbrite - PRSA Holiday 2018 Happy Hour
PRSA Happy Hour 2018.jpg