PRSA Charlotte

The Lead |March 2021

PRSA Membership Matters - It Helped Me Find My Current Role!
By Cynthia Robbins Shah-Khan; Communications Manager, Retail Business Services

PRSA membership matters, especially when it comes to making critical connections. Cynthia Robbins Shah-Khan joined Retail Business Services as a communications manager in early January. Retail Business Services is the services company of Ahold Delhaize USA, currently providing services to East Coast grocery brands, including Food Lion, Giant Food, The GIANT Company, Hannaford and Stop & Shop. Shah-Khan's role is to provide strategic communications leadership, including internal and external communications, brand and community relations for Retail Business Services and the corporate entities of Ahold Delhaize USA.

Shah-Khan is a seasoned communications professional with experience in TV news, local government and K-12 education communication, nonprofit management and crisis communications planning and response. For the past four years, she owned TVPRgirl Consulting, where her diverse background provided clients with media relations, crisis management, website design and content, graphic design, communications audits and more.

She's also volunteered with PRSA for years, first with the Tar Heel Chapter, then as the communications committee chair and treasurer for the Charlotte chapter. That's why in February 2020, Erin DeWaters, current PRSA board president and director of communications for Retail Business Services, thought of Shah-Khan when she needed a seasoned communicator to fill in while she and another member of the communications team were on maternity leave.
Shortly after that, the coronavirus pandemic hit with an incredible impact on the retail grocery sector while Retail Business Services was undertaking several critical company-wide projects. Shah-Khan stepped in, and months later, is now a full-time member of the team.

"We are thrilled to have Cyndi as member of our team. She has made great contributions over the past year, and we're excited about all she will deliver in her new role," said DeWaters. "Our connection is a direct result of PRSA membership and the benefits it provides."
And Shah-Khan is paying her PRSA experience forward - reaching out to other PRSA colleagues who are independent practitioners to take over her TVPRgirl Consulting contracts.

Do you have a story of how your PRSA membership has helped you?
Let us know! We'd love to feature it here in the PRSA Charlotte newsletter or on social media. Learn more here.

APR Information Session: March 18th
Are you looking to take your career to the next level? If you're a PR professional with 5-10 years' experience, consider going for your APR, the Accreditation in Public Relations. Recognized worldwide, the APR integrates timeless communications principles with contemporary strategies and tactics and distinguishes you as a leader in the field.

Join PRSA CLT, for an online information session and overview of the accreditation process. Register here.

Members-Only Happy Hours
Mark your calendar for March's happy hour (and save the date for next month: 4/15) and join your fellow PRSA Charlotte members for a little bit of fun. More information will be sent through invitations. We hope to see you there!

All happy hours are from 5:30-6:30 p.m. 

For more information and to RSVP:

PRSA Network Events
We've rebranding the Connect Over Coffees and enhanced the benefits for you! See details below. And grab your free ticket here.


PRSA Charlotte Public Affairs/Government Network: Wednesday, March 17 at 8:30am

PRSA Charlotte Employee Communications Network: Friday, March 19 at 8:00am

PRSA Charlotte Media Relations Network: Tuesday, March 23 at 8:30am

Register to one or all of the upcoming PRSA Charlotte Network events here.

PRSA Charlotte March Program

Managing the election process during a presidential-election year is already a challenge that involves collaborating with state and local leaders, county boards of elections and thousands of moving parts. Now imagine handling all that during a deadly coronavirus pandemic that meant developing safety protocols and responding to ever-changing federal, state and local restrictions.

Got it? But wait there's more, when North Carolina emerges as a battleground state for the presidency and control of Congress, as well as questions over the validity of ballots and election fraud.

That's what Karen Brinson Bell, Executive Director of the N.C. State Board of Elections, lived over the past year. She's joining PRSA Charlotte from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31, to share how she and her team handled the challenges of the 2020 election, from responding to the pandemic to security measures and election integrity.

As the state's chief elections official, Bell leads about 85 full-time employees at the state agency, which is charged with administering elections and overseeing the 100 county boards of elections, as well as campaign finance compliance. North Carolina has more than 7 million registered voters and is the ninth most populous state in the country.
In her time as Executive Director, Bell has overseen 10 elections, including the 2020 Presidential election, which is the largest election in North Carolina's history; two special congressional elections impacted by Hurricane Dorian (September 2019), North Carolina's first Super Tuesday primary on March 3, 2020; and a Congressional second primary during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You won't want to miss this event, so click on the link now to reserve your spot.

Committee Updates
Shake off what you think you know of virtual conferences because the 2021 Communications Symposium is going to be an exciting day of connecting with colleagues in a virtual environment not just a series of tired PowerPoints. As an attendee, you will have multiple networking opportunities including 1-1 speed networking, affinity group conference rooms, direct messaging, event-wide chat, and Connect over Coffee groups sessions. 

You'll hear from world-renowned keynote speakers sharing on topics we know you're interested in right now. Learn time-tested tips on crisis recovery and smart prep to modernize your approach to crises with Gerard Braud. Finally find a reliable way to calculate the ROI of your communications to validate and demonstrate the impact of your work with sought-after strategist Angela Sinickas! Plus you'll get access to Gerard and Angela in an unbagging session to dive deeper on your questions after their presentations.

Attend breakout sessions on topics that hit key pain points and goals for PR people including:
  • recruiting and leveraging internal experts as brand ambassadors
  • humanizing our communications to be more inclusive
  • creating a culture of responsible transparency
  • and an ask-me-anything social media panel with experts from our area! 
This half-day event is jam-packed with engaging, useful content and it's being offered at a more affordable rate than ever before! This year's Symposium is only $80 for members and $100 for guests! Plus, you can save 20% when you sign up 5 or more colleagues at once. 

Register today to access this renowned lineup of speakers and gain the networking opportunities you've been craving in these stay-at-home times.

Queen City PR Awards

After a successful virtual event last year, planning is under way for the 2021 Queen City PR Awards. We hope to return to doing a live event this fall, but contingency plans are also being developed if circumstances won't allow us to gather in person. Right now, our biggest need is volunteers for the QCPR Committee, which will begin meeting this month. If you're interested in supporting one of PRSA Charlotte's signature events, please contact committee chair Barry Finkelstein at

PRSA Charlotte Member Spotlight
Chelsea Waddell, Manager, Senior Social Media Coordinator, INSP

Chelsea Waddell began her career in digital communications writing for a social media agency. She began volunteering in PRSA Charlotte in 2015. Waddell always wanted a career in entertainment and found her way to a small (but mighty) general entertainment network INSP located in Indian Land SC. Waddell was honored with the 2019 New Professional Award at the Queen City PR Awards. In 2021 Chelsea became an official board member of PRSA Charlotte as the New Pros Committee Chair.

Originally from Greensboro, NC. Waddell has a bachelor's degree in public relations with a concentration in international public relations and a minor in journalism.

When did you start working in communications?
I started working in communications right out of college. I was lucky enough to land a paid internship at the 24 Foundation through the PRSA Jobs portal. From there, I knew my passion was in the digital space. After the internship ended, I had a brief stint at a social media agency. I then found my way to my current position as Senior Social Media Coordinator at INSP, a top 25 general-entertainment television network.

What's your current role and what does a "typical" day look like for you?
When I first come in, I take a look at our social media accounts (we have over 30) to answer any questions that viewers might have with us. Thankfully we only have about half of those active at those time. I then turn to email to give our creative teams feedback, who've given proofs of videos and images for me to approve. I then assign posts for our copy editor and part-time social media coordinator to write for the day. After that, I write, write and write some more with meetings in-between. I finish up the day by going through our social accounts again one last time.

What is your favorite part of PR/marketing/communications?
My network caters to an older audience, mostly 55+. Our programming is sometimes the only company they get daily. We also bring meaningful memories of the past that they connect within a deeply profound way. Bringing people joy with our programming is one of the joys of my current career.

Why are you a member of PRSA?
I was a member of PRSSA in college, and I knew that joining PRSA Charlotte once I graduated was something that I needed to do. I saw the value of the organization throughout my time at UNC Charlotte. I got two paid internships in college from the PRSA website. I knew this organization was something I needed to be a part of in my professional career even if I wasn't in a directly PR-related field.

Is there anything about you that would surprise people?
I was classically trained in choir for 9 years I even made All-County and All-State Chorus in high school. I really miss it. Before the pandemic, I was looking for choral groups to join in the Charlotte area.

Editor's Note: In last month's newsletter the incorrect photos were used for Pam Granzin. Please see correct photos below and a synopsis of her spotlight.

Pam Granzin joined PRSA in 2020 and looks forward to becoming more involved in the year ahead. Learn more about how her love of communication led her from her middle school newspaper to her role as manager of marketing and communications for SCOR Global Life US.



MARCH PROMO: FREE Section PLUS waived initiation or reinstatement fee (up to a $130 value)
New and reinstating (former) members will have their initiation or reinstatement fee waived, when they join National as a Regular member ($260 annual dues) and receive a FREE 1-yr Section (up to $65 value)
Promo Code: SECWINTER2021

N/A for Associate member types ($200 or less annual dues) and current or renewing members. Include Counselors Academy up to $100.  Refer to for details.

In between jobs?

2020 has presented its share of challenges, not least among them, furloughs and hiring freezes in agencies, private and public companies, and across a plethora of industry verticals, impacting our members. PRSA is your partner in accessing the career stimulating connections and community you need to find your next job, advance in your professional life, and expand your opportunities. Visit>>

Use the CODE: INBETWEEN when registering.

Join now at a deep discount.
If you have been forced to make tough choices on the best way to invest in finding your next position, we would like to help by keeping you connected to the PRSA network and resources at reduced professional membership dues for one year, and some additional savings to help you get moving toward a brighter future.

If you are currently unemployed, take advantage of the "In Between Jobs" program:
  • Receive one full year of PRSA professional membership at a 50% discount.
  • We will waive reinstatement fees for returning members, a $35 savings.
  • Receive a one-year complimentary membership in the Independent Practitioner Alliance.
Check out the largest public relations and communications focused job board, with thousands of current job listings and employers posting every day. Receive a targeted career newsletter each week, with valuable tips, resources and information on building your personal brand. Access career coaching, resume review, tips for your social media profile, online interviewing, and more.

Mentoring and Global Skills Assessment
PRSA also provides a mentor program, internship programs for students, and an online skills assessment tool to assist you in determining areas for future professional development.
Expand your network when you connect with local chapters, districts and online communities where you will meet potential employers, colleagues and experienced professionals ready to support and advise as you find your next job. Join the "In Between Jobs" or "Jobcenter" discussions in MyPRSA.
Consider becoming an independent practitioner, whether temporarily, or as a career shift. Check out the IPA professional interest section, delivering original programming including business resources, to support you in making the transition to an independent practitioner,

Are you a seasoned professional, with an interest in teaching in a college or university, investigate PRSA's Learn to Teach Program? We will connect you with our Educator's Academy and others who will help you explore the many opportunities to teach Communications.

Other discounts:
  • Enjoy exclusive discounts at Office Depot, ADP, FedEx, Hotels & more
  • Access the business insurance discount program from Gallagher Affinity
  • Save on insurance for auto, homeowners, renters, motorcycle and more from GEICO
  • Receive car rental discounts on Zipcar, Budget, and Avis
  • Qualify for business discounts through UPSĀ®
  • Take advantage of personal and corporate relocation service discounts
Silver Anvils recognize the highest standards of performance in public relations and communications programs or campaigns. This year, there are 19 different Silver Anvil categories, along with numerous subcategories, in which you can submit your work. New additions for 2021 are:
  • Most Effective Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Campaign, divided into the subcategories of Associations, Government, Nonprofit Organizations, Business and Pro Bono.
  • The inclusion of COVID-19 Challenges in the Crisis Communications category.
Bronze Anvils single out the exceptional public relations tactics that contribute to the overall success of these programs or campaigns. New Bronze Anvil categories for 2021 are: Brand Videos, Best Tactical Pivot, and TikTok Engagement.

2021 Silver Anvil Entry Deadlines
March 5: Deadline Extended

2021 Bronze Anvil Entry Deadlines
March 12: Early Deadline

Entering by March 12 saves you $100 on each submission!
March 26: Final/Late Deadline

Being a PRSA member offers many valuable member benefits including:
FREE Monthly Webinars

PRSA members have access to a wide collection of online instructional videos, to further their skillsets in the public relations and communications communities. Each month, new webinars are presented live. Each is valued at $200, but as a PRSA member, you get access for FREE. (This is a great tool to recruit new members!) Check out the complete lineup and register today!

Member Discount Programs
Check out the wide assortment of discounts available at the PRSA Member Savings Center.
For a full list of the Member Discount Programs, please login and visit

Managing Your Job Search with Intention
Mar. 2
Whether you are engaged in an active job search are simply planning your next career move while employed, creating a job search plan will propel your effort to help you get the results you want. Executive Recruiter and Career Coach Angee Linsey leads this session to expand your job search efforts beyond just applying online and she gives you a new approach to helping others help you make great career move. In this session: Learn how companies hire and how you can spend your job.

Integrated Analytics: Connecting Communications and PR Activities to Business Impact
Mar. 18
Based on her years of experience with global support services, Pragya Dubey will introduce the concept of integrated analytics and how to approach impact-based PR measurement in this webinar. She will showcase ready-to-use metrics that are cost effective and scalable to apply across various programs and clients for PR agencies.

Building the Best Agency To Work for, and the Best Agency To Work With
Mar. 23
Join us for this webinar during which Alex Slater will outline the building blocks for creating and sustaining an agency culture that puts "people first." Slater will describe the challenges he faced in doing so, the values and principles that underlie his firm, Clyde Group, and the clear business case for building a values-based culture.

Videos That Stop the Scroll!
Mar. 25
This webinar will look at some easy ways for content creators at all levels to step up their video game and maximize reach on social media and beyond in 2021 -- everything from framing, lighting and adding text to which platforms to utilize and considerations on video length.

Women in Sports (hosted by the Entertainment & Sports Section)
Mar. 3
Join the Entertainment & Sports Section in welcoming our panelists to discuss their journey, how they overcame stereotypes and how they leverage their positions to continue to move the needle forward.

Leading with Equitable Narratives (hosted by the Association nonprofit Section)
Mar. 10
Do your organization's PR strategies provide equitable solutions to Black and Brown communities, or do they take advantage of their plight to benefit your bottom line? Learn how nonprofits and associations can communicate about their work with underrepresented groups in a way that demonstrates progress instead of poverty.

PRSA Counselors Academy Networking Event (hosted by the Counselors Academy Section)
Mar. 11
Get to know your fellow members.

So you want to go Independent? COVID 19 Edition (hosted by the Independent Practitioners Section)
Mar. 12
Join us in this interactive webinar to hear from an expanded panel of IPA members who have navigated this uncharted territory and overcome obstacles to build successful businesses.

State of the Sector 2021: Global Internal Communication and Employee Experience Trends (hosted by the Employee Communications Section)
Mar. 16
Join this webinar to get an overview of the key themes covered in the employee communications "State of the Sector" report, including both the digital experience and the employee experience.

Entertainment and Sports:
  • The Greenroom (Networking) -- networking sessions recurring every 3rd Thursday of the month (March 18th, April 15th, etc.) 
  • The Clubhouse --4pm EST/1pm PST -- industry chats -- recurring every 2nd and 4th Friday of every month. (March 12 & 26 and so on)
Welcome to PRSA Charlotte!

Welcome to new member: Rachel Kompare.

Kudos & Congratulations!
Congratulations to Simone McDowell, Partner & SVP, Communications of Magenta Communications who shared lessons on success with GoSite (the #1 app for small businesses), along with nine other Black business owners and entrepreneurs. Check out all insights (including an infographic) here:

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.

News You Can Use
Are you looking for a new job?
Please check out the PRSA Charlotte Job Bank. Open to opportunities outside of Charlotte? You can review communication roles throughout the country here.

Thank you to our 2021 Chapter Partners:

Silver Partner
PRSA Charlotte
PO Box 35442
Charlotte, NC 28235
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