Tracy Sweet

Making a Statement On Societal Issues: When It Is (And Is Not) Warranted

Making a Statement On Societal Issues:

Andover’s Principles Clarify When A Response To World Events Is (And Is Not) Warranted

By Tracy M. Sweet, Chief Communications Officer, Phillips Academy

Yankee Chapter PRSA member

Reprinted with permission from Currents magazine (May/June 2024), published by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Phillips Academy is an independent co-educational boarding school. As its CCO, Tracy Sweet takes to heart her role in providing communications that enrich, inform, and protect the school community. When pressures to respond to an increasing number of political and societal events began taking her away from that mission, she, and the school’s leadership team, took action by developing guidelines for responding to world events.

What prompted the need for guidelines that establish when to address societal issues?

In the span of two years, we issued eight statements on societal events, such as the war in Ukraine, the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The process was reactive and, further, it felt presumptuous to think that a school statement would have some profound effect. We questioned whether putting out such statements aligned with our mission. We took a moment to pause and really think about that.

The guidelines start by asking what the campus community needs from Andover. This includes things like informational resources and support, a place for fellowship, or an educational forum.

Once our campus community is taken care of, we address the need for a public statement by asking: Is the matter relevant to education? Does it directly impact our mission? Does Andover have expertise to advance a deeper understanding of the issue?

If we answer “yes” to any of those questions, the guidelines lead us through a discussion that helps us consider the potential effects of issuing a statement such as, “Would some students, faculty, or staff feel ignored or silenced, their opinions unwelcome?”

How do the guidelines for societal issues differ from those that guide communication surrounding a crisis directly affecting your campus community?

The guidelines are an addendum to our crisis communication plan. The fundamental question no matter the issue is: “How are we responding to the needs of our campus community?”  That’s the start for both; then the processes are entirely different. We recently revamped our crisis communications plan in the form of scenarios. We’ve designed 10 different possible scenarios, which we’ll keep adding to; they include a cyber-attack, a student tragedy, an environmental disaster, an active shooter—all the things that keep us up at night.

You revisited the new guidelines last fall. Why?

When war broke out in the Middle East, Andover’s response did not include a statement. It did include immediate support and resources as the crisis escalated. Our Head of School addressed a campus-wide assembly, and education programming came a few weeks later when a guest scholar explored the history of the conflict and the current political and religious climate. Our challenge, from a communications stance, was that students recalled previous global events when Andover did speak out and wanted to know why we did not issue a statement this time.

We quickly realized we had not done a good enough job to broadly share that our approach to statements had evolved. To increase awareness, we emailed our “Andover Principles” campus-wide and posted them online.

For instance, one of the principles states:

Andover’s mission is to educate high school students. We teach students how to think, not what to think. And we teach them to analyze societal issues through a wide range of perspectives. We are not policymakers or experts in global affairs. Therefore, it is rare that Andover will issue a statement on societal events that do not directly impact the school’s mission.

Why are these guidelines so important?

Having guiding principles helps to create clarity when emotions are running high. Without a framework, you risk making an unanchored ethical decision by weighing the importance of one tragedy against another. In some cases, you are placing value on one group’s needs over another. That’s not sustainable, and it’s certainly not a best practice.

If you develop a pattern of issuing performative statements, you could erode your institution’s reputation. As a strategic communications professional, I see that as an affront to the profession. We are not vending machines for generic quotes. We must offer substance. It is not the statement, but the action that signals care and empathy and compassion.

How to Develop a Co-branded Marketing Strategy

By Marnie Grumbach, Yankee Chapter member and Founder of Fluent IMC (Westbrook, ME)

Co-branding with another organization can be a powerful way to expand your reach — either to new geographic markets or to new audience segments.


Yankee Chapter Members Named to New Hampshire 200 List

Congratulations to five members of Yankee PRSA, who were named to NH Business Review’s 2024 New Hampshire 200 list. The list of leaders for the 2024 edition is a unique group of people who have made their mark on New Hampshire’s economy, business climate and the state as a whole.

Hats off to these five Yankee Chapter members:

Lisa Cramb, Montagne Powers

Clark Dumont, APR, Fellow PRSA, Dumont Communications

Kristen Lestock, Cookson Communications

Laura Simoes, Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications

Jayme Simões, Louis Karno & Company


May President’s Column, Yankee Chapter 2024

From Robin Schell, APR, Fellow PRSA, Yankee Chapter President…

One of the most rewarding parts of serving as President of the Yankee Chapter this year is enjoying the success of our many hard-working committees and vol unteers – it has been so much fun to work with you all and to see the fruits of your labor!  Thank you for all you do.

Our Membership Committee of Mark Elliott, APR (Chair), Clark Dumont, APR, Fellow PRSA, Keri Pappalardo and Mackenzie Kreitler has hosted two successful in-person socials in Concord (March) and Exeter (April).  Thanks to Robin Giampa, APR, Director of Communications at Phillips Exeter Academy for hosting us on April 11th for an informative campus tour and a networking social at the Lamont Art Gallery.  We were amazed at the creativity of the art exhibit – all pieces were submitted by Phillips Exeter Academy employees!    Stay tuned for news of our next membership social, slated for Manchester in September.

For those who want to do a road trip to Freeport, ME — on Wed. May 8th, the Maine PR Council is hosting a member social from 5-7 p.m. at the Maine Beer Company entitled “Doing Good Through Great Beer”.  This is a nice chance to meet our neighbors to the north (with a side benefit of getting in a little spring shopping at LL Bean!) To register: Maine PR Council Mixer & Social at Maine Beer Company – Yankee PRSA

By the way, we are creeping closer to our goal of 100 Yankee Chapter members … we are at 98 members right now!  If you’re a new member looking to join a committee, please give me a call at 603/770-3607 to discuss the possibilities.  If you’re looking for find out more about PRSA and Yankee Chapter membership, contact our chair, Mark Elliott, APR at

Our Professional Development Committee, led by Kristen Lestock and Denise Hutchins, has been meeting weekly with members of the Maine PR Council and the Boston PRSA Chapter to plan our multi-chapter half-day conference, “AI and PR:  Sparking Curiosity, Removing Fear” that will be held May 29th from 8 a.m. – noon at the Nackey S. Loeb School in Manchester.  Thanks to all of our sponsors to date:  Easterseals NH; Northeast Delta Dental; the Nackey S. Loeb School; Jackson Jackson & Wagner and Boston PRSA/President Kelly McFalls.  It’s not too late to become a sponsor, so if your organization is interested, please let me know before May 10th so we can include your logo on our website and in conference materials.  For those who haven’t yet registered, here is the link:  AI and PR Half-Day Workshop: Sparking Curiosity and Removing Fear – Yankee PRSA

If you are going to be in the Manchester area the night before the conference, on Tuesday, May 28th, we’re pulling together an informal dinner at Diz’s Café at 6:30 p.m. Diz’s Cafe: Restaurant on Elm Street in Downtown Manchester, NH (  Please let me know by May 24th if you’d like to attend (cost is not included in the conference registration price).

Thanks to our Accreditation Committee, led by Mark Elliott, APR and Joe Gallagher, APR for coordinating the multi-chapter panel discussion on “Starting Your Accreditation Journey” on April 9th.  We had a nice turnout for the live program.  Thanks to our moderator Brad Belote, APR and panelists Cristal Steur, APR from the PRSA Greater Worcester Chapter; Greg Glynn, APR from Maine PR Council and Thomasena Shaw, APR from the PRSA Boston Chapter for sharing their insights.  If you missed it, check out the recording:

Our Bylaws Committee, led by Jane Law, APR has put together a number of recommendations for updating our Bylaws – we will be discussing these at our next Board meeting on May 8th at 3 p.m.

Thanks to Donna Eason, APR and new Yankee Chapter member Mary Flowers for their work on the PRSSA Grants and Scholarships Committee – they have put together a proposal for our Board to discuss that involves transitioning our scholarship funds so we can support more PRSSA events and help graduating PRSSA students with scholarships to continue their membership and involvement in PRSA when they graduate.

Why Do PR Practitioners Need To Develop A Relationship With AI?  Word of Wisdom From Tony D’Angelo, APR, Fellow PRSA

As we prepare for our upcoming half-day conference on “AI and PR”, we’ll be sharing insights from a variety of practitioners… the blog below captures the highlights from an interview with Tony D’Angelo, APR, Fellow PRSA, Professor of Practice at Syracuse University and Shelly Goldman, host of “Let’s Talk PR” on the impact of generative AI on the PR profession.

Why PR Practitioners Need to Develop a Relationship with AI – Yankee PRSA

New Member Spotlight On Tara Bishop

Want to get to know our new members better?  Be sure to visit the “Meet A New Member” section of our website!  This week, the new member spotlight is on Tara Bishop, Communications Director for the Diocese of Manchester, who is currently serving on the Communications Committee:

PRSA’s DEI Initiatives

In April, PRSA ran a very informative presentation focused on inclusion of the Deaf community.  Here is the link to the recording:

On May 16th, from 5-6 p.m. you can learn more about the issue of ageism in the program, “Diverse Dialogues:  Shifting Perspectives – Age Is Just A Number”.  To register:

Diverse Dialogues: Shifting Perspectives: Debunking ´Age Is Just a Number’ | PRSA

For more information about DEI initiatives, please contact our Yankee Chapter DEI Representative Jill Kimball, APR, Marketing Manager for Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital, at


Meet a New Member: Tara Bishop


Tara Bishop

Originally From:

Manchester, NH

Currently Live In:

Manchester, NH – I couldn’t leave my close-knit family and hometown 😊

Current PR Title/Organization:

Communications Director, Diocese of Manchester (the Roman Catholic Church in New Hampshire)

LinkedIn Profile:

Work History:

I interned at several PR and marketing firms during college and finally at the Archdiocese of Boston. I worked there after graduation, moved on to a PR firm and then transitioned to marketing roles at nonprofit organizations. Eventually I became a freelance writer and publicist for a roster of marketing firms, nonprofits, and corporate clients while my children were small. After 14 years of freelancing, my career came full circle when I returned to working for the Church in my current role.

History of Yankee Chapter/PRSA involvement:

I recently joined the Chapter and PRSA and am assisting with social media management for the Chapter.

Most Challenging PR Situation:

Navigating the changing media landscape with the influence of social media content and the ever-dwindling attention span of target audiences.

Bucket List Trip/Activity:

Taking my four children to Ireland where I studied abroad and honeymooned to see where my great-grandparents lived.

Hobbies and Interests:

Spending time at the lake with my family and chauffeuring my kids to all their activities (I look forward to having some different hobbies when they’re older!).

Why PR Practitioners Need to Develop a Relationship with AI

By Robin Schell, APR, Fellow PRSA, Yankee Chapter PRSA President


Shelly Goldman, host of “Let’s Talk PR” recently interviewed Tony D’Angelo, APR, Fellow PRSA, Professor of Practice at Syracuse University, asking for his thoughts on the impact generative AI will have on the PR profession.  D’Angelo says he is “cautiously optimistic” about AI and urges PR practitioners to learn to use AI responsibly and ethically.

“AI is both fascinating and scary,” says D’Angelo.  “There will always be a need for PR practitioners to know how to write.  They will always have to know the fundamentals of strategy.  But AI can also make our lives easier.”  He gave an example of using AI to cut the length of a 500-word document in half.  “It still needs to be checked, but AI editing will be faster than human editing.”

What Does Research Tell Us About the Profession Embracing AI?

According to a poll by the PR Council last summer, 58% of PR professionals are currently using generative AI to write.  Muckrack’s “State of PR & AI” report found that AI adoption has doubled in the last 8 months.  74% of those practitioners who use it say their quality of work has improved and 89% say their efficiency has gotten better. The State of AI in PR 2023 (

What Are The Dangers Of AI for Practitioners?

“It is the responsibility of PR professionals to understand the ethical use of AI,” says D’Angelo, citing misinformation and disinformation, hijacking of intellectual property and opportunities for bad actors to corrupt communication channels as potential issues.  Goldman asks the question, “Will everyone recognize an AI-generated image that has been copywrite-protected?”   D’Angelo adds, “a professional communicator might, but how about the consuming public?  Using AI will require a higher level of media literacy.  Practitioners will need to get familiar with algorithms and machine learning.”  It will be the role of professional associations like the PR Council and PRSA to be the voice for responsible use. PRSA Releases Guidance on Artificial Intelligence | PRSA

Are PR Practitioners Going To Be Replaced By AI?

“While a company might think, ‘I don’t have to pay a PR person, I can do this myself’ – I don’t recommend that,” says D’Angelo.  “There has to be an oversight function.  And you still need someone who can think strategically.”  He recommends the website, “There’s an AI for that” as practitioners look for ways to educate themselves about the tools that are out there and how to use them.  There’s An AI For That (TAAFT) – The #1 AI Aggregator (

If you’d like to learn more about AI and PR, join the Yankee, Boston and Worcester chapters of PRSA, as well as the Maine PR Council, for a half-day AI workshop on May 29th from 8 a.m. – noon at the Nackey S. Loeb school in Manchester, NH.

REGISTER HERE: AI and PR Half-Day Workshop: Sparking Curiosity and Removing Fear – Yankee PRSA

Working with a Legend

What was it like working with a legend?

In this interview, Yankee Chapter President Robin Schell, APR, Fellow PRSA, recounts her years working with Pat Jackson, one of our profession’s most respected and influential figures. Pat was a founder of Jackson Jackson & Wagner, the public relations firm located in Rye, NH, where Robin is Senior Counsel and Partner.


Start Your Accreditation Journey

What You Need To Know

By Mark Elliott, APR, Yankee Chapter Board Member and Accreditation Co-Chair

The Yankee, Boston, and Worcester PRSA chapters, along with the Maine PR Council, have joined forces to host a special professional development session via Zoom on Tuesday, April 9, from 4 to 5 p.m., discussing the value and process of earning accreditation for communications professionals.


Recently accredited PR professionals will discuss the value of accreditation for their careers, the APR process, and where to begin your accreditation journey. You’ll also hear from a panel of professionals with a variety of experience levels on why they decided to pursue accreditation and their experience navigating the accreditation process. The panel will also answer questions on the accreditation experience.

Becoming Accredited in Public Relations (earning your APR) is a mark of professional distinction that sets you apart from communications peers. Earning your APR credential is a milestone career achievement for serious practitioners looking to distinguish their expertise, knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) from their employer, clients, colleagues — and themselves.

Of the more than 20,000 PRSA members, approximately 20% are accredited. The standards are high; that’s why the Yankee Chapter is proud say one-third of our members are accredited. Approximately 15% of Boston Chapter members, 10% of Maine PR Council members, and 18% of Greater Worcester Chapter members are also accredited.

Interested in taking your career up a notch? Visit online.

Meet a New Member!

Member Spotlight: Jeff Weld, Casella Waste Systems, Rutland VT

Originally from Rutland, VT

Job Title and Organization: Director of Communications, Casella Waste Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: CWST)

Work History/Background: I started my career melding two passions—communications and sports—as the first Sports Information Director at my alma mater, Castleton University. For 15 years, I held various roles at the University, culminating as VP of Advancement, overseeing all marketing, communications, fundraising, and development efforts. I joined Casella in 2019 and have worked to help shape community outreach and engagement, government affairs, and communications efforts.

Why I joined Yankee Chapter: I joined to help grow my network, stay connected to others with similar experiences, and eventually help to develop and mentor the next generation of public relations professionals.

PRSA positions I have held or am interested in: I have just begun to engage with the organization and am always open to new opportunities.

Most challenging PR situation: Today’s media complexities pose immense challenges, especially in a highly polarized society and when dealing with the vast complexities of environmental compliance.

Bucket List: I have applied for tickets to the Masters in Augusta every year since 2000. Someday.

Hobbies/Interests: Golf, Gardening, Gourmet Cooking. And, Alliteration.


Meet a New Member!


Name: Laurie Storey-Manseau

Originally From: Born in Portland, Maine, grew up in Syracuse, NY, have lived in NH for the past 40 years.

Currently Live In: Hopkinton, NH

Current PR Title/Organization: Owner/Manager, StoreyManseau, LLC

LinkedIn Profile

Work History: 

  • 2000 to present: StoreyManseau, LLC, founder/owner/manager
  • 1997 to 2000: Dartmouth-Hitchcock (now Dartmouth Health), director of public affairs and marketing
  • 1990 to 1996: Elliot Hospital and Optima Health, media relations manager, and managing director of marketing
  • 1986 to 1990: Boston Globe, general assignment reporter


History of Yankee Chapter/PRSA involvement:

I have served on a panel discussion and have been tangentially involved for many years. Most recently, I asked a few members to critique my public relations class’ group presentations.


Most Challenging PR Situation:

Merger of Elliot Hospital and Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, and City of Lebanon’s attempt to tax the property where Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center is built.


Bucket List Trip/Activity: Hard to say. My life is so busy I rarely take time to think about it.
Hobbies and Interests: Cooking