PRSA Charlotte

The Lead |September 2021

September Program Moves to Virtual: Breaking Conventional Marketing Communication Norms to Tackle the Biggest Crisis Our Nation Has Ever Faced
09/29/2021 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM 
Register here.

As marketers and communicators gear up for a post-pandemic world, we must come to terms with how Covid-19 became a catalyst for change and accelerated digital disruption. The Ad Council, the national nonprofit which convenes the world's best marketers, created a groundbreaking public engagement campaign tackling the most pressing issues facing the country. The agency was forced to abandon traditional approaches and become more agile, creative, diverse, innovative, and collaborative. Their campaign, led by Sherry Thompson, utilized a five-part tactical strategy that embraced both an "air" and "ground" game while integrating targeted audience intentionality toward communities of color. Ms. Thompson will dissect the ongoing vaccine education campaign, the biggest and most important public service effort in U.S. history.

About our speaker

Sherry Thompson is an engineer turned marketer, who now commits each day working to transform the lives of women through health and wellness. A graduate of the University of Virginia and Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, she works as a private consultant, where she leads projects in the health and wellness space placing special emphasis on communities of color. She currently consults for the Ad Council as the Coalition Consultant Lead on the organization's Covid-19 Vaccine Education Initiative. Prior to consulting, Ms. Thompson worked at WW (formerly Weight Watchers) where she served as SVP of Diverse Community Engagement and Activation and SVP of U.S. Marketing. In these roles, she led marketing and communications efforts and developed the company's strategy to reach diverse communities.

2022 PRSA Charlotte Board of Directors Slate
The nominating committee is pleased to present the 2022 PRSA Charlotte Board of Directors slate. We will ask our members to vote to approve via email on October 14, 2021.
Final 2022 Slate

Executive Committee

Cynthia Shah-Khan, President
Shawna Berger, APR, President Elect
Samantha Story, Treasurer
Simone McDowell, Secretary
Erin DeWaters, APR, Immediate Past President

Natasha Suber, Assembly Delegate/Southeast District
Jolie Shifflet, APR, Assembly Delegate/APR
Christy Jackson, Assembly Delegate/Membership
Tina Helms, Director At Large/QCPR Awards Chair
Danielle Doolen, Director At Large/Symposium Chair
Cheron Porter, APR, Director At Large/Diversity & Inclusion
Chelsea Waddell, Director At Large/New Pros
Caitlyn Ryan, APR, Communications Chair

PRSA Charlotte Member Spotlight: Caitlin Ryan, APR; Senior Account Supervisor, Public Relations, Mower Agency

Caitlin Ryan is a Senior Account Supervisor on the Public Relations team at Mower, one of America's largest privately held full-service advertising and marketing agencies. She is responsible for developing public relations strategies for clients, including media relations, content marketing, social media, influencer marketing and event activation. She serves clients in a range of industries, including health and wellness, travel and tourism, and B2B.
She's passionate about giving back to the community and mentoring the next generation of public relations professionals. She runs the public relations internship program at Mower and taught as an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She was a board member and chair of the PRSA Charlotte Communications Symposium in 2019 and 2020, and chair of the PRSA Charlotte New Professionals from 2017-2018. She's also an active member in the Junior League of Charlotte.

Caitlin earned a M.S. in Public Relations from Quinnipiac University and a B.A. in Communication Studies with a concentration in Journalism from the State University of New York at Cortland. She earned her APR in 2019. Learn more about Caitlyn...

When did you start working in communications?
I first started working in communications upon graduation from graduate school. I was hired by an integrated marketing agency in upstate New York and have worked on the agency side ever since. I started in account services, but gained experience in media buying, content marketing, and social media.

What's your current role and what does a "typical" day look like for you?
What I love about the agency side is no day is the same. I work with multiple clients and juggle several projects concurrently, but each day tends to include a mix of content creation, social media management, pitch development, and budget management. Oh, and lots of Zoom calls!

What is your favorite part of PR/marketing/communications?
I love coming to work and getting to do something creative every day. I also really enjoy leveraging my background in journalism, media planning, and copywriting to develop integrated public relations campaigns for clients using the PESO model (a blend of paid, earned, shared, and owned media strategies) to help them achieve their business objectives.

Why are you a member of PRSA?
I first joined PRSA upon moving to Charlotte from New York. I joined the New Professionals group and immediately made some great friends that I keep in touch with to this day. Over the years I've gotten more involved by serving as chair of the Communications Symposium and earning my APR. The relationships I've built though my PRSA membership are invaluable. I also love attending the monthly luncheons to stay on top of the latest trends in our industry.

Is there anything about you that would surprise people?
I played the piano, flute, and piccolo from third grade through senior year of high school! I now get my fix by attending the Charlotte Ballet and Symphony.

Stay Connected to Ethics in September
By Krista Terrell, APR; Member, PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards

September is Ethics Month for PRSA, and this year's theme is "Leading with Ethics."  Over the course of September, there is an array of FREE membership programming with which to engage and further your understanding and commitment to leading with ethics, and to help you and your organization navigate contemporary business challenges and opportunities. You can connect to the free programming at and in the Ethics in Communications Community in MyPRSA
Ethics is at the center of our work as PR practitioners. It is important for us to stay connected to and understand PRSA's Code of Ethics and its values: Advocacy, Honesty, Expertise, Independence, Loyalty, Fairness, as well as the Code's Provisions of Conduct: Free Flow of Information, Competition, Disclosure of Information, Safeguarding Confidences, Conflicts of Interest, and Enhancing the Profession.

The tools provided this month by PRSA's Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS), where I am a member, will help you be better ethical communicators. I hope you take advantage of the opportunities that are available during September and beyond.


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. Check out the complete lineup and register today!

Did you know? PRSA members can enjoy all webinars at no charge. Members with the APR credential can earn CEUs for taking many of these webinars.

Certificate Programs:

Nov. 3 - Dec.15 
Media Relations Certificate Program

In today's fast-paced and evolving media environment, it has never been more important for PR/communication professionals to have a solid grasp of how we collaborate with media. Designed as an interactive, live certificate of completion program, PRSA's newest Certificate Program on Media Relations unpacks a toolkit that is customized for today's PR/communication professional.


Sept. 9 
PRSA Storytellers: Ethical Communications in the Military: Eliminating the Say/Do Gap on the Battlefield and Beyond

Join this webinar to learn how the principles of ethical integrity can form the foundation for organizational success, and discover how to have a harmonious relationship with the media, even when the press wants information that could compromise operational security.

Sept. 14 
Developing a Strategic Communications Plan: How to Do the Work That Gets Real Results

This presentation gives practical steps, techniques, tips and templates for crafting a workable strategic communications plan.

Sept. 21 
PRSA Storytellers: Stay Humble and Keep Your Head Down: A Conversation on Ethics Like None Other

Join this webinar to hear how a relentless commitment to ethics and transparency continues to make a difference in the lives and health of communities.

Oct 5. 
Brand Reputation and Crisis Management

Join us for this webinar as we explore how PR and communication professionals are crucial in helping organizations to build a "crisis ready" culture, leveraging both internal and external communication tools while preserving business continuity.


Communicating to Manage Performance Certificate Program
This dynamic skills-based program will empower managers, team leaders and supervisors to achieve high-performance performance every day, through effective, consistent workplace communication based on emerging management best practices.

Section Events

Sept. 8 
How They Got Here hosted by The Entertainment and Sports Section and the 
Future of the FAM Trip: Faster, Better, Leaner Itineraries hosted by The Travel and Tourism Section

Sept. 14 
Developing a Strategic Communications Plan: How to Do the Work That Gets Real Results hosted by the Association Nonprofit Section

Sept. 16 
The Greenroom hosted by the Entertainment and Sports Section and 
PRo Chats: A Conversation on the Ins & Outs of the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) hosted by the New Professional Section

Sept. 19 - 21 
Counselors Academy 2021 Conference

Hitting A High Note In 2021 and Beyond

Oct. 6-7 
New Professionals Digital Summit

Building Reputation & Branding Yourself

Oct. 22 
Educators Super Friday

Committee Updates
Queen City PR Awards

Thanks to all who submitted entries for this year's Queen City PR Awards. We exceeded last year's entries and our counterparts in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, chapter are currently evaluating our work. Stay tuned for news on this year's finalists and our individual award winners.

After careful consideration, due to Covid concerns we've made the difficult decision to cancel our plans for an in-person event to celebrate our winners. Our committee is in the process of planning a virtual recognition event, the details of which will be shared via email, on social, and posted at

The Shout Outs!

Welcome to PRSA Charlotte!

Welcome to new member: Juan Carlos Hernandez, Jr. and Julie Starck.

Kudos & Congratulations!
Kudos to PRSA Charlotte members Adam Bernstein, APR, Towanda Long, APR and Benny Smith, APR for sharing their experience and expertise around the values of Fairness, Expertise and Loyalty with members across the U.S. during BEPS's Ethics Officers Outreach webinars. Take time to watch not only their webinar, but all the Ethics Officers webinars. They are in the Ethics in Communications library section in MyPRSA.

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

Here are a few current job opportunities in the Charlotte area:
UNC Charlotte's Belk College of Business - University Program Associate                        
Central Piedmont Community College - Account Coordinator                        
Central Piedmont Community College - Account Executives (Grant Funded)           
City of Charlotte - Corporate Communications Content Specialist   
Centene Corporation - Senior Manager, Public Relations

Please check out the
PRSA Charlotte Job Bank for details on the above positions and to see additional opportunities too. Open to opportunities outside of Charlotte? You can review communication roles throughout the country here.

Diversity & Inclusion
Spotlight on DEI within Public Relations: An introduction to the Hispanic Public Relations Association and the Carolinas chapter
By: Ashley S. Roseborough, PRSA Charlotte Board Member and D&I Committee Member

Natalia Flores, APR, president of Inspire PR, has always been passionate about public relations, and opportunities to connect and empower PR professionals. As a longtime member of the Charlotte and Miami Chapters of PRSA and a founder of the Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA) Carolinas Chapter, Natalia continues to leave her mark on the community, fostering meaningful conversations that enhance diversity, equity and inclusion within various organizations -- while also preparing future practitioners (high school and college students) to understand how their future roles can be leveraged to improve outcomes for underrepresented communities, especially for those among the Hispanic Latino populations. 

HPRA was established in 1984 by a group of Latino practitioners who believed that the creation of an organization dedicated to serving their specific needs and interests was the most effective way to promote professional advancement in the PR profession. That need still exists today.
As the world starts to observe Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, many organizations will turn their focus to Hispanic and Latino audiences and the development of relevant stories. Natalia says members of the Carolinas chapter of HPRA will continue their efforts, as they do every day, aimed at three important goals:
  1. Providing networking for Hispanic/Latino professionals in public relations, marketing and community engagement. 
  2. Filling gaps from an educational perspective on important topics for Hispanic/Latino professionals.
  3. Providing opportunity and access for the next generation of Hispanic/Latino professionals.
While HPRA Carolinas' growth is still in the early stages, Natalia and her colleagues seek to lead in the profession to emphasize the importance of a multicultural lens, offering virtual programming throughout the pandemic as well as connecting members to national level efforts and other HPRA chapters throughout the country.

"We have all seen how DEI has become trendy in the aftermath of events from the last year, but organizations must have actionable goals and objectives to really make an impact," said Flores. "For HPRA, we are focused on helping ensure that our professionals are advancing in their careers, and at the right tables at the right time, to help lead and influence messaging. We want our practitioners to have the ear of the C-Suite in order to offer strategic counsel and a perspective that goes beyond being a person of color in the room, or what we typically think of when we hear the word diversity."

Natalia stresses the importance of every PR professional approaching their work from a multicultural lens. She and a team of other members from the PRSA Charlotte chapter: Loán Lake, Senior Communications Manager at Moishe House, Nathalie Santa Maria, APR, CEO of Sunnyside Communications and Matthew French, assistant director for employer relations and partnerships, UNC-Charlotte, partnered on a presentation during the PRSA ICON conference in 2020 on "Humanizing Communications: How To Create Thoughtful and Inclusive Narratives." The presentation was one of the event's most well attended sessions, offering strategic and tactical inclusion tips on commonly accepted terminology and best practices on effectively incorporating inclusion into communications efforts. The session remains available as a resource to PRSA national members as an online on-demand webinar.

HPRA Carolinas plans to work closely with various local colleges and universities, partnering with professors on guest speaking opportunities and mentorships to help put diversity, equity and inclusion at the forefront of public relations and communications instruction.

"We have to bring our work full circle," said Flores. "The students in PR programs today are the future of the profession. They need to learn what it means to communicate with a multicultural lens early on, so they don't have to overcome the tendency to be narrow-minded later in their careers. Think about the number of languages - over 100 - spoken in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) today. Imagine what that will look like 20 years from now. That is just one aspect of diversity that we must prepare for as we groom the next generation of professionals."
To learn more about HPRA and their efforts:

Thank you to our 2021 Chapter Partner:

Silver Partner
PRSA Charlotte
PO Box 35442
Charlotte, NC 28235
Stay connected!
Email Us
Visit us on LinkedIn Visit us on Instagram