Winter 2016 Print

President's Report

My first interaction with PRSA came when I applied for the May C. Randazzo scholarship in 2007. At the time, I was taking a course at Buffalo State College that Jeff Paterson, APR, was instructing. He announced in class that the scholarship was available, though the deadline was the following Monday.

I had no idea what PRSA was but extra money is always good when you’re in college so I decided to go for it. At the time, my wife Kati was pregnant with our son, Logan—she ended up going into labor the next morning—and I ended up finishing the scholarship application on my laptop in the hospital.

Thankfully, the effort paid off and I got the scholarship. I was invited to accept it at the Excalibur Awards that year - and I remember seeing all of the area’s top PR pros winning awards and feeling like this was something I wanted to be a part of. So I joined PRSA, volunteered for the E-Communications Committee, and eight years later I have the honor of leading this great organization as your 2016 chapter president.

It’s opportunities like these that will help foster the next generation of leaders in our chapter, and as we head into 2016, I want to focus on two strategic priorities: continuing to provide value and building for the future.

For current members, we provide value through top-notch programming and networking opportunities. I’m thrilled to share that we have a solid lineup of networking and professional development events in place for 2016 already. We kicked it off in January with a retail public relations event featuring Maria Fruci from BJ’s Wholesale Club. On the horizon is our “Dramatic Readings of Bad Press Releases” event on Feb. 18, which will be a fun way to network with members of the local media and learn what not to do when drafting your next great media pitch.

We also provide value by fulfilling the mission of PRSA to advance the profession and the professional. I encourage you to advance yourself by attending one of our award-winning APR express classes to get you on the path to accreditation, and to be recognized for your exceptional PR work by submitting an entry (or two or three) to the 2016 Excalibur Awards.

To build for the future, I look forward to strengthening our relationship with local PRSSA chapters throughout the year. We’ll assess the best ways to get current students connected with PRSA Buffalo Niagara, much like I did through the May Randazzo scholarship.

Our committees are also vital to the future of our chapter. Consider making the most of your membership by getting involved with one of them. Participation is a great way to network and share your expertise.

I look forward to seeing all of you at an upcoming event. Throughout 2016, let’s work together to provide value and build the future of PRSA Buffalo Niagara.

Kevin Manne, APR
2016 President, PRSA Buffalo Niagara Chapter

Back to top

Excalibur Award Prep: It’s Never Too Early or Too Late

The 27th Annual PRSA Excalibur Awards is the perfect time for us hard-working professionals to get together to celebrate Western New York and the amazing PR efforts we’ve been working on since January 2015. But where to begin? Luckily, the deadlines aren’t for three more months (final deadline is Wednesday, May 4, to be exact).

Every year the Excalibur Awards sneak up on us (for most of us, at least)! Let’s face it, we’re busy people. When can you find time to prepare for entry submissions?!

You can begin with the Excal 101 Program on Wednesday, February 24 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at United Way of Buffalo & Erie County. Whether you’re a first-time entrant or need a refresher, you’ll get tips and tricks on how to get that Excalibur Gold from the seasoned pros, and insight on how to navigate the online submission process.

And/or you can use the following timeline to guide you through the submission process without any last-minute frenzy:

The Week of February 29:

Identify your five favorite projects/programs from 2014

  • You may consider: The most rewarding, challenging and successful projects of 2014. This list will become your starting block for potential entries.

The Week of March 7:

Of those five options, select the projects that you wish to submit with the following questions in mind:

  • Were you passionate about the project?
  • Are the results impressive and extensive?
  • Is the story compelling enough?

The Week of March 14:

Begin summary outlines for each of your entries.

  • Each section (Research & Planning, Execution and Results & Evaluation) should be included in the outline to ensure a focused summary covers all essential points.

The Week of March 21:

Draft the two-page summary and 75-word overview.

  • Using the outline as a guide, draft the written component of the entry.

The Week of March 28:

Collect all necessary supporting documents to confirm results. May include, but are not limited to:

  • Press materials
  • Promotional materials
  • Creative brief
  • Media coverage clips

The Week of April 4:

Ask 1-2 colleague(s) to review the two-page summary and 75-word overview for grammatical errors.

The Week of April 11:

Review the submission in its entirety. Please confirm:

  • There are no grammatical errors!
  • Is every summary section (Research and Planning, Execution and Results & Evaluation) well-supported?
  • Does your entry build to best showcase your results?

The Week of April 18:

Submit your Excal Award entry in time for the Early Bird Special (Wednesday, April 27).

Remember, the Excal submission process can be a great exercise in recognizing the successes of your own work, especially when completed in time to meet the deadlines (April 27: Early Bird; May 4: Final and Special Honors Deadlines).

May your Excal season this year be stress-free! Good luck with your entries and we look forward to seeing you at either the February program or the ceremony on Wednesday, June 22.

Back to top

Feburary Program Features the Drama of Bad Press Releases

We've all seen them—news releases with bad grammar, terrible headlines and little to no news value, packed full of jargon or clichés. They’re the type of releases that give PR professionals a bad name.

Well, we’ve invited members of the media in our region to deliver dramatic readings of the worst press releases they’ve ever received. Think Jimmy Kimmel’s Mean Tweets—but live, on stage, right here in Buffalo. Our February PRSA Buffalo Niagara program is entitled "Dramatic Readings of Bad Press Releases."

And, don’t worry: Only non-local press releases will be read! (Unless, of course, you’d like yours to be considered; if so, contact Matt Biddle at

Join us Thursday, Feb. 18 at 5 p.m. at Helium Comedy Club, 30 Mississippi Street, Buffalo, for happy hour specials and a buffet of complimentary heavy appetizers. The show will begin promptly at 6 p.m.

Participating media members thus far include:

  • Laura Daniels, host of The Mix Morning Rush on 96.1 FM
  • Erica Brecher, general assignment reporter and fill-in anchor, WGRZ
  • Laura Wahler, managing editor, AAA's Member Connection magazine
  • Jim Fink, reporter, Buffalo Business First
  • Nate Benson, multimedia journalist and photographer, WGRZ

Thank you to our sponsor:



Tickets are priced at:

  • $40 PRSA Member Ticket
    $30 Earlybird rate before Feb. 4
  • $50 Guest Ticket
    $40 Earlybird rate before Feb. 4
  • $30 PRSSA Students
  • $35 Non-PRSSA College Students

Register here.

Back to top

Members on the Move

Michelle Blackley Glynn is chief creative officer of Full Plate Publicity, a new public relations and social media agency for the travel, hospitality, culinary and lifestyle industries in Western New York and South Florida. Blackley Glynn's new firm was formally launched internationally at in New DMichelle Blackley Glynnelhi at SATTE, a three-day event showcasing more than 750 exhibitors from the travel and tourism industry, including national tourist offices and state tourism boards, airlines, hotels, destination marketing companies and cruise lines.

Pat Burgio, APR, director of communications for the Lancaster Central School District, was recently honored by the New York School Public Relations Association at the New York State School Boards AssociatioPat Burgio, APRn annual convention. Burgio's work was singled out in five categories, including an Award of Excellence for a $57 million bond issue PR/marketing campaign; as well as her work with newsletters and social media. Burgio simultaneously spearheaded national media relations, crisis communication and Michael Freedmancommunity engagement during the district's transition from the school mascot of 'Redskins' to Lancaster Legends. 

Michael Freedman, associate director of PR and manager of online content at Niagara University, has been selected for Niagara County's inaugural 12 Under 40 class, a group of young area leaders recognized by the Niagara Gazette, Lockport Union-Sun & Journal and Leadership Niagara. The award "showcases young leaders who are the future of the community, and hold the keys to the continuing success and development of Niagara County."

Jill Pawlak, senior marketing manager at Uniland, and her team recently won a 2015 Gold MarCom Award from the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals for their corporate video, "A Reputation for Results," in the B2B Brand Image category. Pawlak served as visionary and project manager, and was assisted by Valmark Associates.

Beth Silverman has announced her engagement to Mark Gruber. The couple got engaged on Christmas Day, 2015. Silverman is the commMark Gruber and Beth Silvermanunications manager for the Buffalo State Alumni Association, co-chair of PRSA Buffalo Niagara's E-Communications Committee, and chapter president-elect. Gruber is an Internet marketing strategist at Resolute Digital. The two diehard hockey fanatics are planning a June 2017 wedding in Buffalo.Paula Witherell

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education District II has selected Paula Witherell, director of institutional communications at Daemen College, to receive a 2016 gold Accolade Award for Excellence in News Writing: General News Writing. The award will be formally presented to Witherell at the organization’s annual regional conference being held in February in Philadelphia.

Want to include your honor or achievement in our next e-newsletter? Please email

Back to top