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Lessons from an Entrepreneur: Using basic PR principles to grow your business

Robin Schell, APR, Fellow PRSA, is Senior Counsel and Partner at Jackson Jackson & Wagner, a behavioral public relations and management consulting firm; recently shared five great lessons to use when growing your business.

Lessons from an Entrepreneur: Using basic PR principles to grow your business

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ICYMI: Podcasting 101 Recording is Available

Thank you to Southern NH University Instructor Jon Boroshok for hosting an informative Professional Development session on podcasting!

Jon covered a lot of ground that you’ll want to know before trying your own podcast. But the bottom line – it’s a PR no-brainer and it’s easier than you think!


Presentation Slides

Watch the Event Here

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How Did Delta Reach A 95% Vaccination Rate With Employees?

Insights From Gina Laughlin, Managing Director of Employee Communications at Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines was on top of the world at the start of 2020, with a workforce that was 90,000 people strong.  They were winning awards for customer experience and paying out $1.6 billion in profit-sharing to employees.

Six weeks later, COVID gut-punched the entire airline industry — along with many other industries – and Delta Air Lines had to simultaneously figure out how to continue doing business while keeping employees and customers safe, all in a constantly-changing environment of rules and regulations, while adjusting to a harsh new financial reality that saw business and leisure travel come to, effectively, a screeching halt.

Gina Laughlin, Managing Director of Employee Communications at Delta Air Lines, described the strategies the company took to get through their 3 Phases of COVID-19:

  1. Phase I:  Crisis Mode (March 2020 – Sept. 2020).  This included working with HR to downsize the workforce without involuntary furloughs, offering unpaid leaves of absence and retirement packages and communicating daily to employees as the CDC and World Health Organization issued rapidly-changing operation guidelines for the airline industry.  Fortunately, Delta had built a culture of open, two-way communication – and they found employees were hungry for as much information as possible during this uncertain time.   They ran weekly town hall meetings with CEO Ed Bastian and other key leadership team members; brought in medical expert partners for updates and sent out daily emails in support of the Stop The Spread-Save Lives campaign.  All communications could be accessed after the fact – key for a 24/7 traveling workforce.  All messaging revolved around 3 basic tenets:  Take Care of Delta Employees; Take Care of Customers and Preserve the Liquidity of the Company.  Communication professionals listened to employee feedback via a quarterly Pulse survey and adjusted any communication that would make Delta appear “tone deaf” in this new environment.
  2. Phase II: Adjusting To The New Normal (Oct. 2020 – Oct. 2021).  As spring/summer travel started to come back, Delta focused on the best way to accommodate the increase while hammering home messages on what to do to keep employees and customers safe, which included cleaning protocols, providing free testing and, when the vaccine became available, getting employees vaccinated.  They adjusted communication frequency to “pre-COVID levels”, and laid the groundwork early with vaccination messaging in a highly-targeted campaign that rolled out state-by-state.  They partnered with state officials and CVS on the distribution of vaccines and worked with the community to make them as accessible as possible under the “Connected Together-Protected Together” campaign.  Because the culture of rewarding employees for making responsible health choices already existed (e.g. earning Delta health rewards for actions like getting physicals and flu shots), they were able to get 50% of employees vaccinated (1 dose plus) by April 2021 – an impressive number.  They then focused on removing all barriers to getting the vaccine, including offering it in the airport, via “vaccine trucks” on the ramp and in employee parking lots, offering personal paid time off to recover from any vaccine side-effects and allowing employees to bring family members to get vaccinated with them.  To get to the goal of 75% (considered at the time to be the herd immunity benchmark), they used an incentive drawing with cash and travel prizes, spotlighting the role models by sharing footage of the winners in their communications.  Important point:  although leadership was clear they wanted everyone to get vaccinated, they made a promise not to mandate it – so no employee would lose their job as a result of not getting the vaccine. Instead, they gave employees a choice – they could get vaccinated, or pay a healthcare surcharge.  They talked openly about this decision in town hall meetings, sharing the “why” behind the decision and providing a two-way forum for employees to ask questions and give feedback. This open communication platform was important for employees to both agree and disagree with Delta’s decision.
  3. Phase III: Living With The Changing Face of COVID.  (Nov. 2021 – Present).  This is where “optimism meets reality” as new strains of the virus appear, and regulations are issued (e.g. Federal mask mandate).  With more than 95% of the workforce vaccinated, Delta is now focused on reinforcing key messages delivered by trusted leadership and making testing as convenient as possible (Delta employees are able to order boxes of 6 online and also can be tested weekly at work).  Another strategy:  Delta is leveraging the compliments they get from customers by sharing them with all employees, building pride and morale.  Finally, a simple piece of advice that costs nothing – recognize and thank employees often for a job well done in difficult circumstances!


For further questions, Gina Laughlin can be reached at gina.p.laughlin@delta.comTo read more about Delta Air Lines and CEO Ed Bastian, view the recent article from PRSA Issues and Trends

For information about Yankee Chapter PRSA Membership, visit



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Beyond COVID-19 Issue Anticipation for 2022

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2021 Yankee Chapter Annual Meeting! Our panel presentation (Beyond COVID-19 – Issue Anticipation for 2022) was a valuable tool for communicators looking to identify challenges and opportunities in a post-pandemic world.

In case you missed it, a recording of the panel discussion and presentation are available here:

Beyond COVID-19 – Issue Anticipation for 2022 PDF Presentation:

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Annual Meeting & Panel Discussion

Beyond COVID-19 – Issue Anticipation for 2022

The Yankee Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America will host an online workshop via Zoom webinar entitled: Beyond COVID-19 – Issue Anticipation for 2022, on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 at 9:30 a.m.

Join the partners of Jackson Jackson & Wagner, Stacey Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA and Robin Schell, APR, Fellow PRSA, as they share JJ&W’s model for issue anticipation and facilitate a discussion with panelists representing a variety of industries on “what’s next” for their organizations in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While none of us have a crystal ball, part of our value as public relations practitioners is the ability to anticipate issues that can impact our organizations – sometimes to be response-ready in the event of a crisis, and other times, to proactively seize opportunities that present themselves based on the environment in which we are now operating.
Speakers include:

  • Vanessa Stafford, Director of Communications, NH Hospital Association
  • Jayme Simões, President, Louis Karno & Co.
  • Rosalynne Whitaker-Heck, Ed.D., APR, Professor and Associate Provost, Champlain College, Burlington, VT

Yankee Chapter members are invited to stay on the call after the panel discussion to attend the 2021 YPRSA Annual Meeting.

The fee is $10 for PRSA members and $15 for Not-Yet Members.

The Yankee Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America represents public relations and communications professionals in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Register today!

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Voices4Everyone supports a national conversation building mutual understanding, trust, and civic engagement through more inclusive civil discourse

Voices4Everyone (V4E) underscores the role, value, and power of public relations and professional communicators in advancing the public good by:

  • Empowering thought leadership and serving as a catalyst for change.
  • Harnessing collective expertise and insight.
  • Supporting a healthy information environment.
  • Fostering meaningful dialogue for informed decision-making.
  • Advancing a free, civil, and democratic society.
  • Positioning PRSA and PR professionals as influencers and active change agents.

Leveraging expertise, creativity, and the collective voice of the profession, Voices4Everyone is a forum for improving the abilities of our public relations community and those we serve through:

  • Strategic plan alignment
  • Ongoing professional development
  • Curated content on critical matters
  • Data-driven information
  • Essential tools and resources

Looking for more information and to connect with your peers leading critical conversations on these timely topics? PRSA links you to a network of more than 20,000 professionals, students, academics and thought leaders in public relations and communications, through chapters, and professional interest sections, and events and programs.

Learn more

Registration is now open for ICON 2021!

If you cannot attend ICON 2021 in Orlando Oct. 17-19, there’s an exciting option this year for you to attend the online ICON 2021 companion event. You’ll experience valuable education programs, compelling conversations with colleagues and thought leaders, and fun networking activities — without the expense or time commitment that travel requires.

The schedule is now available for this virtual program. It will kick off the week of Oct. 4 with breakout sessions, topical deep dive ICONversations, student-geared offerings and more! It’ll continue through the week of Oct. 12 with timely skill- and knowledge-building content designed to inform and enlighten as you connect with friends and colleagues.

And the virtual program runs during the week of Oct.17-19 as registrants for the virtual program will access livestream delivery of the General Session keynote speakers, including award-winning broadcast journalist Yamiche Alcindor, the host of PBS’s “Washington Week.” Registrants will also be able to tune in to wrap-up discussions from the PRSA studio team following each day’s general session.

But that’s not all. Recorded virtual program content will be available, on demand, through the remainder of 2021, allowing you to learn at your convenience and derive the greatest value from your investment.

ICON 2021 virtual content will also be available to in-person ICON registrants as a bonus!

Saver Rates are now in effect for ICON 2021 registration — sign up now to take advantage of these discounted rates!

People attending the in-person program can book their ICON 2021 hotel room at the Orlando World Center Marriott with special ICON 2021 group rates, exclusively available here.

Learn more and register


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PRSA Northeast District Conference Tickets on Sale

2021 Road Map: Directions for a New Journey

The Yankee Chapter is hosting this year’s new-look virtual Northeast District Conference on Thursday, June 17 from 1 to 5 p.m. EST and Friday, June 18 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EST.

Register Today!

Stop. Go. Yield. Detour Ahead!

New communications tools are introduced so fast that it can be difficult even for trained communicators to know which way is up. Many of us barely finished getting our communications plans integrated smoothly with what the last decade brought: social media, digital advertising, targeted ads, smart apps, live news feeds, teleconferencing and more.

With the pandemic, you now must reinvent the delivery of communication and find new ways to engage technology. If you can’t use these existing and new tools to effectively voice your message, someone else will — and your organization will get lost in traffic. What you need is a good map and a guide to point you in the right direction. During this virtual conference, you will be part of focused conversations about strategies to help every communicator stay ahead of the curve and forge a clear path to success.

Learn from expert guest speakers about the best new communications methods, technologies and consumer expectations. Change happens fast — but it’s never too late to find your way. Join us, to map out the next leg of your communications journey for yourself, and you’ll arrive ahead of the others — because you’ll know what’s coming and how you’ll plan to get there.

Keynote Speakers

Thursday, June 17

The 5 Ways Artificial Intelligence Has Changed Public Relations

Christopher Penn, Futurist
Christopher S. Penn is an authority on analytics, digital marketing, marketing technology, data science, and machine learning. A recognized thought leader, best-selling author, and keynote speaker, he has shaped five key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, modern email marketing, marketing data science, and artificial intelligence/machine learning in marketing. As co-founder and Chief Data Scientist of Trust Insights, he is responsible for the creation of products and services, creation and maintenance of all code and intellectual property, technology and marketing strategy, brand awareness, and research & development.

Friday, June 18

A Vision For Now

Christal Brown, Mother, Artist, Educator, Disciple, Coach
Christal Brown is the Founder of INSPIRIT, Project: BECOMING, the creator of the Liquid Strength training module for dance and the Chair of Dance at Middlebury College. Brown obtained her BFA in Dance with a minor in Business from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her MFA in New Media Art and Performance from Long Island University. Brown is a native of Kinston, North Carolina, where she remembers cleaning up on Saturday mornings as a child to the music of the Chi-Lites, Marvin Gaye, and Shirley Caesar. These rituals innately produced a strong desire in her to make all work melodic, sensual, meaningful and set to music. Brown has danced since she was released from the confines of piano lessons at age 9. By navigating her way through narrow corridors of segregated understandings onto the stages of beautiful theaters, community centers, churches, classrooms, and cultural epiphanies, Brown has found the true meaning of grace.

Learn more about the breakout session speakers and view the conference program.

* Please note that all sessions are recorded and will be made available to all attendees following the conference. 

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Early Bird Registration is Open for June’s Northeast District Conference

This year’s new-look virtual district conference hosted by the Yankee Chapter is Thursday, June 17 from 1 to 5 p.m. and Friday, June 18 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The theme of the conference is 2021 Road Map: Directions for a New Journey. New communications tools get introduced so fast that it can make it difficult even for a trained communications and PR expert to know which way is up. Many of us have barely finished getting our communications plans integrated smoothly with what the last decade brought: social media, digital advertising, targeted ads, smart apps, live news feeds, teleconferencing, and more. If you can’t use these existing channels effectively to voice your message, someone else will—and your organization gets lost in traffic. What you need is a good map, and a guide to point you in the right direction.

Our conference will feature an array of focused conversations about strategies to help every communicator stay ahead of the curve and forge a clear path to success. We will learn from expert guest speakers about the best communications methods, technologies, and consumer expectations heading into the next decade.

Register today!

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Congratulations to Our Incoming Slate of Officers

Our Chapter recently surveyed our membership online who approved nominations for President-Elect, Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, and two Directors.

They will join our existing Board members who will lead our Chapter in 2020:

President: Stefanie Breton, City of Concord

President-elect: Amber Bedi, APR, Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center

Past President: Andy Morse, Concord Regional VNA

Secretary: Vacant

Treasurer: Seth Wheeler, APR, NH Electric Cooperative

Assistant Treasurer: Susan Geier, Citizens Count

Director: Roz Whitaker-Heck, APR, Champlain College

Director: AnnMarie French, NH Fiscal Policy Institute

Director: Lloyd Ziel, American Red Cross

Director: Mary Ellen Hettinger, APR, Breathe NH

Director: Michelle Dunn, Southern NH University

Director: Kristen Lestock, NH Motor Speedway

Director: Audra Burns, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center