PRSA Charlotte

The Lead |January 2022

President's Message

Welcome to 2022 and to the first PRSA Charlotte newsletter of the year. I hope each of you had a wonderful holiday season and a great start to the new year. 

I want to start by thanking the 2021 Board of Directors for their leadership during a year of uncertainty and challenges. Despite the continued COVID-19 pandemic, the board provided great programming throughout the year, executed a successful virtual Symposium and celebrated great communications with the QCPR Awards. Thanks to each of you for your continued support of PRSA Charlotte. 

I also want to thank the new 2022 Board of Directors for volunteering to share their time and talent with our membership. I'm excited to work with this amazing and diverse group, which includes communications professionals in varied roles corporate, nonprofit, health care, education and more and with varied backgrounds and years of experience. Those differences only make us stronger as a board and as an organization, and I'm confident we will achieve our goals for this year.

Let's touch on those goals for a moment. The board met in December to plan for the year and to update the organization's strategic plan. The PRSA Charlotte Strategic Plan 2022-2024: Recruit, Develop and Retain has five main goals: Membership Engagement and Growth, Financial Growth, Communication, Education and Volunteer Development. We'll share the complete plan shortly, but this month, I'd like to focus on Volunteer Development. 

It is critical for PRSA Charlotte to provide opportunities for our members to develop not only communications skills, but also leadership skills. My son's preschool teacher said, "We are all experts in something," and I believe that's true. Whether you're a great artist, soccer player, reporter, writer, social media content creator, website developer, photographer, crisis communicator or can build tall towers with blocks, we all have skills to bring to the table. 

This year, I want to learn about your skills and find new ways to share your expertise with your fellow communicators. Whether it's through monthly programs or workshops, leading a Network group, or volunteering with one of our committees, we want to work with you. 

Our committees are a great way to learn more about PRSA and meet others in your field or build contacts and resources in other fields! Over the next few weeks, we'll be updating our committee information on the PRSA website, so please consider sharing your expertise or stepping out and learning a new skill to broaden your portfolio. 

While we're still planning virtual events right now, we hope to offer some in-person events this year. I know many of us miss the opportunity to share ideas in person, so each month, I'll visit a coffee shop in a different area to talk through Timely Topics. Stop by for an hour to caffeinate and chat about whatever's on your mind or what's impacting our industry. Join me from 8-9 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 10, at Brakeman's Coffee & Supply, 225 N. Trade Street in my town of Matthews. Click here to let me know if you'll attend, and send me an email to help me choose where to visit next.  

On behalf of the Board, we are excited and ready to serve you this year and look forward to great new partnerships and friendships. 

Cynthia Robbins Shah-Khan
PRSA Charlotte President

Lead Story: Call for Volunteers

We know you have skills - it's time to show them off! Please consider sharing your expertise with PRSA Charlotte by becoming a volunteer with one of our committees. They all have varying time commitments and seasons to best match your availability. Here are a few committees looking for volunteers, but you can explore more on our website.

Get involved with the 2022 Queen City PR Awards!

We're looking for volunteers to join the 2022 QCPR Awards Committee!

If you would like to be involved in the planning and execution of this exciting event that honors Public Relations professionals in and around Charlotte, we'd love to have you!

Please contact Tina Helms at

Communications Committee

Are you interested in building your social media skills? Do you love writing? Are you always in-the-know when it comes to Charlotte? It sounds like you'd be a perfect fit for the Communications Committee! Please contact Ashley Brown to learn more: 

Communications Symposium Committee

Help plan and execute our chapter's signature annual event. Involvement in this committee allows you to help choose programming, schedule speakers, create content to help promote the event, and work behind the scenes on the big day to ensure the event runs smoothly. Please contact Danielle Doolen to learn more: 

Updates to 2022 PRSA Charlotte Board of Directors

We would like to welcome Ashley Brown, APR to the board as our new Communications Chair!

Caitlin Ryan, APR has also moved into the Secretary position.

The Civil Rights Movement and #BlackLivesMatter: The Evolution of a Movement - Part 1
By Cheron Porter, MA, APR

BAYONETS wielded by police officers halt unarmed protesters seeking to reach city hall in Prichard, Ala., in June 1968BAYONETS wielded by police officers halt unarmed protesters seeking to reach city hall in Prichard, Ala., in June 1968, months after Martin Luther King's assassination in Memphis, Tenn., in April. Credit: Bettmann Getty Images

In 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was walking through the Florida neighborhood of a family member when a vigilante pursued him and ultimately shot him dead. The killing was eerily familiar to the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Money, Miss., at the hands of white men who believed he had whistled at a white woman. Though nearly six decades apart, the similarities were uncanny. Both were young Black men visiting the communities where they were slain and whose killers were acquitted of murder. And in both cases, the exonerations underscored the utter disregard for Black life in America. The subsequent anguish and outrage by African Americans sparked the country's largest and most significant social movements.  

The failure to achieve justice for Till galvanized the Civil Rights Movement in December 1955 with the Montgomery Bus Boycott when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white passenger. In July 2013, upon learning about the acquittal of Martin's killer, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi invented the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, a rallying cry for numerous local struggles for racial justice that sprang up across the U.S.

The Civil Rights Movement challenged the Jim Crow system of racial economic, political, and legal domination over Black communities that protected and continued white supremacy in the Southern U.S. After the abolishment of slavery in 1865, this collection of state and local statutes legalized racial segregation and relegated Black people to the lowest economic order. The legal enforcement of racial segregation set African Americans apart from the rest of humanity and labeled them as inferiors. The humiliation and fear begun in slavery continued despite the 14th and 15th constitutional amendments. The reverberations of slavery and Jim Crow continue today. 

The murders of innocent Black boys triggered both the Civil Rights Movement and #BlackLivesMatter, but the rage that burst forth in sustained protest stemmed from far deeper, systemic injustices of racial oppression. For the Civil Rights Movement it was the humiliating chokehold of Jim Crow and for #BlackLivesMatter it is the continued devaluation of Black lives in all domains of American life.

While key tactics such as one- and two-way models of public relations, alliance building, political advocacy, consumer boycotts, and grassroots communication, including political and citizenship education, voter registration are instrumental to the success of both movements, what has changed? #BlackLivesMatter is the irrefutable descendant of the Civil Rights Movement, but has it learned lessons from the elder's successes and failures? Over the next few months, we will review how communicating a movement has evolved from a bus boycott in a small southern town to a global call for diversity and inclusion.  

GRIEVOUS INJURIES sustained by 25-year-old Freddie Gray of Baltimore, Md., during his arrest on April 12, 2015, sparked this standoff in front of a police station. Gray died the day after the protest. Credit: Devin Allen

Member Spotlight

Tina Helms, Publicist, INSP

Tina Helms works as a Publicist for general entertainment television network INSP in Indian Land, S.C. In her role, she works to secure press and visibility for original series and films for INSP and for its subsidiary Imagicomm Entertainment.

Tina serves as Chair of the PRSA Queen City PR Awards and is a Director at Large for the PRSA Charlotte Board of Directors. She also is a member of The WICT Network: Carolinas (WICT); and the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC). Tina is also an Ambassador for her local Chamber of Commerce in Lancaster, S.C..

In her spare time, Tina enjoys hiking, exploring nature and traveling to the mountains, the coast, or to Virginia to visit her family. 

When did you start working in communications? I started working in communications in 2011 as a freelance writer writing about a variety of topics (pet care, nutrition, healthcare and even weightlifting - yes, I used to be an avid weightlifter!) for several online publications, including Livestrong. 

What's your current role, and what does a "typical" day look like for you? As a Publicist for INSP, a western-themed cable television network, I spend a lot of time creating pitches, advisories, and releases to distribute to entertainment writers to publicize our original films and series.

What is your favorite part of PR/marketing/communications? My favorite part of working in PR is being able to communicate with people from different backgrounds all over the U.S. And I love that feeling that you get when you get coverage in national media!

Why are you a member of PRSA? My workplace encouraged me to become a member of PRSA, and I'm so glad that I did. I have met so many wonderful and talented PR professionals in the Charlotte area, and it's opened my eyes to all the different things you can do in a career in PR.

Is there anything about you that would surprise people? It might surprise people to know that I love doing construction projects. I have helped to build two houses and have worked on several remodeling jobs. It relaxes me to work with my hands in that way, and I love being able to see a tangible result from my efforts.

Upcoming Events


2022 PRSA Charlotte Communications Symposium

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Join us for PRSA Charlotte's Annual Communications Symposium on Wednesday, April 27! This half-day virtual event is filled with dynamic programming that will enable you to bring new ideas, strategies, and perspectives to your teams and clients.  

This year's symposium will feature two keynote presentations and seven exciting breakout sessions with an impressive lineup of communications leaders on topics relating to internal communications, diversity equity and inclusion, brand journalism, podcasting, and more!  

You'll also have the opportunity to build your network of fellow communications professionals during our speed networking sessions and connect over coffee breakouts. 

Registration is now open. Reserve your seat today! 

PRSA Members

  • Early bird (through Monday, February 14): $55

  • Regular: $80 

Non-PRSA Members:

  • Early bird (through Monday, February 14): $75

  • Regular: $100 

Click here to register.

The Shout Outs!

Congratulations to our members who recently started new jobs!

  • Danielle Doolen was promoted to Corporate Communications Manager at Sonic Automotive
  • Heather Lee, APR is now Vice President, Automotive at Ketchum
  • Caitlin Ryan, APR is now Senior Manager of Content Strategy at AvidXchange
  • Chloe Watson is now Marketing Manager of Flow Control Group
Have a Shout Out to share with us?
Do you have great news to share? Did you get a promotion or change jobs? Did your team win an award, or did you win recognition for volunteer efforts? Let us know! Click here to share your great news with us, so we can consider featuring it here in the PRSA Charlotte newsletter or on social media. Learn more here.

PRSA Charlotte Leaders are Speakers at Quick Start

The Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions sponsored a PRSA leadership development program on Jan. 7 called Quick Start, where PRSA Charlotte members Towanda Long, APR and John Clemons, APR, ABC, co-presented during a breakout session on "Implementing a DE&I Strategy." Long is a former PRSA Charlotte president and incoming Southeast District board chair and Clemons is a Southeast District director-at-large. 

Together, they shared the variety of initiatives that the chapter's DE&I Committee launched and continued since it began in January 2019: 

  • Appointment of DE&I liaisons to chapter committees 

  • Hosted a membership engagement event, "Coffee with the D&I Committee"

  • Secured a July 2020 program speaker, Sean Greenwood of Ben & Jerry's, to discuss the company's approach to social justice and diversity and inclusion. This program was held in partnership with the Southeast District and had over 500 registrants

  • Created a new D&I award as part of our chapter's annual QCPR Crown awards event 

Other breakout sessions included "How to Recruit and Manage Volunteers" "Business Continuity" and "How to Manage, Promote and Execute Awards Programs." The Quick Start program was kicked off by a welcome and comments from 2022 PRSA National Chair Felicia Blow.

Thank you to our 2022 Chapter Partners:

Gold Partner

Silver Partner
PRSA Charlotte
PO Box 35442
Charlotte, NC 28235
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