Fall 2017 Print

Letter from the President

Now that Labor Day has passed and the kids are back in school, it's a great time to think about enhancing your career! Getting involved in PRSA Buffalo Niagara, through our programming and networking opportunities, is a terrific way to do that.

Mark your calendar for the following professional development and networking opportunities through our PRSA chapter. Kudos to our programming committee, co-chaired by Matthew Biddle and Christina Bosilkovski, and our membership committee, co-chaired by Jacqueline Ghosen, APR and Kathy Kirst, for all of their hard work on these outstanding events!

  1. Saturday, Sept. 16: APR Express Class. Have you considered earning your accreditation in public relations (APR)? Find out what it takes to achieve it during this comprehensive class. The registration deadline is Wednesday, Sept. 13. Learn more. And congratulations to our newest APR, chapter secretary Stacy VanBlarcom, APR!
  2. Wednesday, Sept. 20: "Communications in the Age of Fake News." Join us for a thought-provoking roundtable discussion about current events and trends — with no alternative facts. Save money and register before the early-bird registration deadline on Sunday, Sept. 17! Details.
  3. Thursday, Oct. 19: PRSA Members-Only Fall Happy Hour. Chapter members are cordially invited to catch up with other members! Register now.

Beth Silverman GruberThese events follow a busy summer for our chapter, starting in June with our 28th Excalibur Awards event - our annual evening to honor excellence in communication. A total of 61 gold, silver, and bronze awards were presented as well as four individual awards, including the newly renamed Ann R. Carden Rising Star Award, honoring our past president Ann Carden, APR, Fellow PRSA, who died in May. We also created a new category this year, Student Excalibur Awards, and presented awards to students for campaigns or tactics. Full details on all awards are on our Excalibur Awards page. Thanks to Excalibur Awards chair Devon Slobodzian and her committee for an outstanding event!

In July, members enjoyed "A Spirited Summer Social" at one of the city's hottest new distilleries, Buffalo Distilling Company – and we learned a thing or two about distilling brandy and other spirits.

In August, we had a stellar lineup of speakers for our four Sunrise Seminars: "Tell Your Story Using Video" on Aug. 9 featuring past chapter president Beth Donovan, APR; "Branding in a Branded World," on Aug. 16 with Tyler George; "Inspiration Is a Blue-Collar Job" on Aug. 23 with Benjamin Brindise; and "Special Events: More Than Just a Party" on Aug. 30 with Karina Lopez. These speakers definitely offered creative ideas for any communications program!

In addition to our programs, another excellent way to connect with our chapter is to join one of our committees, including programming, e-communications, sponsorships, and more. You'll meet other local public relations professionals and get the opportunity to make new friends. Check out our full list of committees!

We're also looking for volunteers to help with the PRSA 2018 Northeast District Conference, which our chapter is hosting on June 1, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo. Subcommittees that still have vacancies include Sponsorships, Logistics, Marketing, and Finance. The committee and subcommittees are conducting their work via conference calls rather than in-person meetings. If you're interested in volunteering, contact the conference chair, Dr. Deborah Silverman, APR, Fellow PRSA, at

I hope to see you at one of our future events!

Beth Silverman Gruber
2017 President, PRSA Buffalo Niagara Chapter

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Rising Star Award Named for Ann Carden, APR, Fellow PRSA

PRSA Buffalo Niagara's Rising Star Award has been named for who passed away in May following a long battle with cancer. Tributes to Ann include these words from Stanton H. Hudson, Jr., APR, Fellow, PRSA:

Ann Carden, APR, Fellow PRSA"Ann was not only a professional colleague--she was a dear friend. We reminisced about our more than 30-year relationship last fall when we taped a conversation for NPR's StoryCorps. Among other things, she remembered vividly our first meeting; coming to my office to discuss the possibility of changing careers from broadcasting to public relations. I was so impressed by her demeanor, her professional portfolio, and her eagerness to take on a formidable new challenge. I knew immediately she'd excel in the public relations field. And, did she ever!

I was delighted to have been her sponsor when she applied to the PRSA College of Fellows, and to this day regret that I couldn't be there to share in that special evening when she received her medallion. But, I think my most enduring memory of Ann is the strength of will and the inner peace she exhibited during her battle with cancer. I think of her daily and get teary-eyed whenever I hear John Denver singing Take Me Home, Country Roads."

The following words in tribute to Ann are from Jeff Paterson, APR:

"The PRSA Buffalo-Niagara Chapter Board of Directors has attached Ann Reynolds Carden’s name to the Rising Star Award that is presented each year at the Excalibur Awards ceremony. It’s a fitting tribute, and kudos to Dick Shaner for suggesting it. Having been asked to reflect on Ann’s life, I’d like to share a few thoughts about my friend of 20 years.

Ann was a broadcaster, a public relations counselor, an author, a professor, a mother, a second mother, a grandmother, a person of faith, a mentor and a friend. Ann was a past president, board member and accreditation chair of PRSA Buffalo-Niagara. She received our organization’s May C. Randazzo Outstanding Practitioner Award and the Board of Directors’ Distinguished Service Award, and was only the second member of our chapter to be named to the PRSA College of Fellows. She was the founding faculty advisor of the SUNY Fredonia PRSSA Chapter. She was a scholar of the Kent State Massacre and Route 66, and a devoted rock-and-roll fan.

To know Ann was to know pure joy and a zealous thirst for life. When she did something, she went at it all the way. That was especially true of her work as an educator, which she began as a part-time faculty member at SUNY Buffalo State before joining SUNY Fredonia as a full-time assistant professor. Ann took an interest in her students not just as future communicators, but fundamentally as human beings. She taught life lessons, not just textbook lessons, and she put a premium on service-based learning.

Two months ago, in the days after Ann’s untimely passing, many of us saw our Facebook feeds fill with tributes from former students. More than one referred to The Star Thrower – a story adapted from Loren C. Eieseley - that Ann loved to tell at the end of each semester:

A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!

The girl seemed crushed and deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”

For all of the honorifics that Ann earned, she is content to be remembered for her acts of kindness. She was our very own star thrower. When a student struggled, when a recent grad needed a lift, when a young professional was discouraged by a job search that just didn’t seem to yield results, or when a colleague needed inspiration, Ann lovingly picked us up and set us back on our journey.

For rising stars who needed direction, and for struggling starfish who needed saving, Ann’s touch has made all the difference – not to one, but to many. And still she shines."

And, from other friends and colleagues whose lives and careers were positively impacted by Ann's influence:

 "Ann was truly one-of-a-kind. Our chapter is lucky to have benefited from her considerable talents and giving nature. Her students were provided the opportunity to learn from one of the best and her friends can tell you that her laugh, her warmth and her amazingly upbeat outlook on life cannot be matched. I consider myself blessed to have called her my teacher, my mentor, and most importantly, my friend. I miss her and will love her always." - Lori Allan

 "I had the great fortune to watch Ann’s amazing work. As director of marketing amd communications at Fredonia, we had her students in our office as interns almost daily. They’d come in and talk about what she said in class, what projects they were working on, or what classic rock song she had played for them that day. They absolutely loved her, even though she was tough on them. That love continued well after they graduated. She was connected to tons of them on Facebook. When they’d come back to campus for a visit, a stop by her office was at the top of their list.  Dozens guest lectured and shared their experiences with the next generation.  It’s no exaggeration to say that Ann Carden influenced hundreds and hundreds of young people’s lives. And most of them point to Ann for much of their knowledge, success and happiness." - Mike Barone

 "As much as I wish I could find more unique words, I can’t help but describe Ann as the quintessential role model and mentor.  Even when she wasn’t consciously filling these roles, she inspired those around her with her drive, vision, strategy and passion. Ann influenced many facets of my professional development, particularly my leadership roles within the chapter and my journey to earn my APR, and we were bonded in our determination to develop stronger ties between the chapter and student members.  One of my greatest professional honors was being present when Ann, who epitomized everything a PR practitioner should be, was inducted into the College of Fellows.  I know I am just one of countless individuals she left an indelible mark on but I will be forever grateful to have had her as a treasured colleague and friend. " - Beth Donovan, APR

 "I learned everything I know and love about my career from Ann. She taught everyone around her how to be a better learner, a better communicator and, most importantly, a better person. The world is a better place because she touched it – and for that reason, she'll forever be in our hearts." - Grace Gerass

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Share Your Feedback ... You Could Win a Prize!

The PRSA Buffalo Niagara chapter is looking for your feedback!
We want to know how we can better serve you through our chapter events, programs and professional development materials, whether or not you are a member yet. In the coming weeks, we'll be sending you an email blast with a survey that will take no more than 15 minutes of your time, and make you eligible to win one of several gift cards.
So please watch your inbox, share your input, and help us make the PRSA Buffalo Niagara chapter the best resource it can be for communications professionals across our region.

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Managing Media Relationships

In Spring, PRSA Buffalo Niagara hosted "Managing Media Relationships Effectively," giving members the chance to network with local journalists and hear best practices for maintaining a positive rapport with media — straight from the source. PR pros from Martin Davison PR first shared their insights on successful pitch strategies. Afterward, members rotated between tables to meet guests from the Buffalo News, Hamburg Sun, WBFO and WKBW. Did you miss the event, or just want to continue the conversation? Kelsey Hanks, public relations manager at MDPR, and Jennifer Gallardo, corporate communications specialist at Rich Products, have gathered advice from all four participants. Read more on the Martin Group's blog:

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Communications in the Age of "Fake News"

Less than a third of Americans trust mass media or the federal government, according to 2017 Gallup and Pew Research Center polls, respectively. “Fake news” is more prolific than ever on social media.

In this environment, what responsibility do PR practitioners, journalists and public information officers have to ensure the public gets the truth? What is the relationship between PR, journalism and government, and how can each of these players operate ethically and effectively when there’s an inherent tension between their roles?

Join experts from public relations, academia, media and government on Wednesday, September 20, from 5:30-7 p.m. for a roundtable discussion about current events and trends — with no alternative facts. Panelists include Deborah A. Silverman, PhD, APR, Fellow PRSA, Associate Professor of Communication, SUNY Buffalo State; Jim Heaney
Founder, Editor and Executive Director, Investigative Post; and Melanie McGovern, Communications Director, Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York.

For details and updates: Communications in the Age of Fake News Facebook event page
For early bird rates: Register here before September 17.

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Members on the Move

Cherie Messore Cherie Messore has been named executive director of WNY STEM. WNY STEM facilitates collaboration with business, education, community organizations, arts and cultural organizations and government entities to advance the interdisciplinary teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics, to support the sustained educational and intellectual vitality of a five-county region of Western New York. 
Beth Silverman Gruber Beth Silverman, 2017 chapter president and web coordinator at Delaware North, married Mark Gruber, search and analytics strategist at Resolute Digital, on June 17 at the Avanti Mansion in Hamburg. They enjoyed a honeymoon in the Cayman Islands.
Devon Slobodzian, president-elect and marketing specialist at the University at Buffalo, married Brandon Jerla, quality assurance manager at Empower, on August 19 at Kloc’s Grove in West Seneca. They visited Universal Studios and Jamaica on their honeymoon.
Dave Wedekindt Dave Wedekindt, director of marketing at the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts, has joined the Board of Directors of MusicalFare Theatre.
Paula Witherell Paula Witherell, director of institutional communications at Daemen College, has been named the 2016 Am-Pol Eagle Citizen of the Year for Media in recognition of her contributions to the Polish-American community.

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

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