Launch of the Influencer Marketing Association

In 2018, Adweek reported that Influencer marketing is predicted to be a 10 billion dollar industry by the year 2020.  Realizing that there was no trade organization devoted to the ethics of influencer marketing, CAPRSA member, Danica Kombol, CEO of Everywhere Agency joined forces with some of the earliest industry pioneers in to launch the Influencer Marketing Association.  

The goal of the organization is to set industry benchmarks, establish best practices and protect the ethics of influencer marketing.  In launching the organization, Kombol says, “We convened some of the best and the brightest industry pros from brands to agency to help inform the direction of the organization. There’s tremendous growth in the influencer industry, but marketers are still at odds about how to source influencers, measure effectively and follow ethics around disclosure.” 



The nonprofit is currently overseen by a board of directors from companies including Weber Shandwick, 360PR+, Hunter PR, Best Buy and Unilever.  The organization is open to membership by agencies and brands and will offer both the resources and tools needed to practice effectively and ethically. 

Kombol, who’s been practicing in the influencer marketing space for over 10 years says of the organization, “We’re focused on the human-centric nature of influencer marketing. At its core, influencer marketing is word of mouth marketing. Bots, pods, influencer fraud have no place there. I’m honored to join forces with the industry titans to help set guidelines and inform all agency and brand practitioners.  Influencer marketing is an exciting industry that gives the power to consumers to tell the stories of brands they love.”

More information on the Influencer Marketing Association can be found here.

Exclusive Holmes Report article on the organization here.

To become a member of the Influencer Marketing Association, click here.

"What Makes a Silver Anvil Award-Winning Entry?" Counselors Academy Executive Committee Member Brenda Jones Barwick Provides Pointers in PRSA's Strategies & Tactics

Brenda Jones Barwick, APR, president and CEO of Jones PR in Oklahoma City, and a member of the Counselors Academy executive committee recently shared insights into this question in Strategies & Tactics, PRSA’s flagship monthly publication.

2019 Silver Anvil judging [prsa]

2019 Silver Anvil judging [prsa]

In her article, titled 2 Silver Anvil Judges on Creating Award-Winning Entries, Brenda picks the brains of two experienced Silver Anvil judges about what they look for in an award-winning competition entry. And Brenda reminds us that while the deadline for the 2020 Silver Anvil Awards will be in February 2020, it’s never too early to put these tips into practice!

PRSA members can read the full article here.

Counselors Academy Member Ashley Lowe Discusses 6 Ways to Create Compelling Content About Your Destination

Counselors Academy member Ashley Lowe, founder and principal of Betty Ashley Public Relations, a Colorado-based agency which focuses on travel, economic development and real estate, was recently published in Strategies & Tactics, PRSA’s flagship monthly publication.

Her article, titled Trip Tips: 6 Ways to Create Compelling Content About Your Destination, encourages PR professionals in travel, tourism and destination-marketing to evaluate their print strategy – and perhaps buck the digital-only trend. Lowe contends that printed visitor guides are an ideal fit for today’s travelers, many of whom are visiting American towns looking for the charm of times gone by.

PRSA members can read the full article here.

[destination madison]

[destination madison]

Strategies & Tactics is a monthly publication of PRSA, available in print and online, that highlights the strategic and the tactical aspects of the profession — featuring hands-on, how-to articles and magazine-style pieces in a multifaceted visual package.

Ashley Lowe is the founder and principal of Betty Ashley Public Relations, where she leads a team of experts with 50 years of travel, economic development and real estate experience. Betty Ashley PR received the 2017 Colorado Governor’s Award for Outstanding Marketing Program for its work with the Town of Silverthorne.

Counselors Academy Member Lorraine Schuchart Explores the Power of Storytelling in PRSA's Strategies & Tactics

Lorraine Schuchart, APR, founder and CEO of Prosper for Purpose, a Cleveland-based firm focused on social and environmental impact, was recently published in Strategies & Tactics, PRSA’s flagship monthly publication.

Her article, titled The Power of Stories: Words That Make People Listen, Care and Act, discusses how stories have the power to make people listen, care and act — and how brands can employ storytelling to be perceived as more authentic and human, and to make emotional connections with their audiences. Schuchart also details what she considers the four essential ingredients for impactful brand storytelling.

PRSA members can read the full article here.


Strategies & Tactics is a monthly publication of PRSA, available in print and online, that highlighs the strategic and the tactical aspects of the profession — featuring hands-on, how-to articles and magazine-style pieces in a multifaceted visual package.

Lorraine Schuchart, APR, is founder and CEO of Prosper for Purpose, a Cleveland-based firm focused on social and environmental impact. She is a Counselors Academy member, a graduate of Bowling Green State University and was named among Business 2 Community’s “48 PR Pros You Should Follow on Twitter That Aren’t Internet Famous.” Follow her: @rainewrites.

Chuck Norman To Lead PRSA's Counselors Academy

Five new members named to 2019 Executive Committee and Officers Announced

Chuck Norman, APR, owner and principal of S&A Communications in Raleigh, N.C., will serve as the 2019 Chair of Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Counselors Academy, the section focused on the business of public relations agencies. In addition, the group named five new members to its Executive Committee and announced its 2019 officers.

The new members joining Norman on the Executive Committee are Kate Snyder, APR, owner and principal strategist of Piper & Gold Public Relations in Lansing, Mich.; Darolyn Davis, principal-in-charge of Davis & Associates Communications, Inc., in San Francisco, Calif.; LaTricia Woods, APR, president and owner of Mahogany Xan Communications, LLC in Phoenix, Ariz.; Rory Carlton, principal of Arketi Group in Atlanta, Ga.; and Janet Tyler, president and founder of True Depth in Detroit, Mich.

Norman has been active in Counselors Academy since 2008 and joined the Executive Committee in 2013. In 2015, he chaired Counselors Academy Spring Conference in Laguna Hills, Calif. Norman has held leadership roles within PRSA, the PRSA North Carolina Chapter and the Raleigh Public Relations Society.

“As an agency leader, involvement in Counselors Academy serves as an essential resource while advancing through agency management,” said Norman. “The Academy helps build real relationships with fellow industry leaders, and I look forward to continuing the growth of the Counselors Academy with this dynamic executive committee.”

The 2019 officers for Counselors Academy are:

  • Chuck Norman, APR, owner and principal of S&A Communications in Raleigh, N.C., as Chair.

  • Dana Phelps, CEO of Clairemont Communications in Raleigh, N.C., as Past-Chair.

  • Alison King, president of Media Profile in Toronto, as Chair-Elect.

  • Jon Goldberg, CEO of Reputation Architects, Inc., in Roseland, N.J., as Secretary/Treasurer.

Serving as Members-at-Large on the 2019 Executive Committee for Counselors Academy are:

  • Greg Abel president of Abel Communications in Baltimore, Md., and 2019 Spring Conference Co-Chair

  • Brenda Jones Barwick, APR, president and CEO of Jones PR in Oklahoma City, Okla.

  • Rory Carlton, principal of Arketi Group in Atlanta, Ga.

  • Darolyn Davis, principal-in-charge of Davis & Associates Communications, Inc., in San Francisco, Calif.

  • Filomena Fanelli, CEO and founder of Impact PR & Communications in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

  • Kate Finley, CEO and founder of Belle Communication in Columbus, Ohio

  • Natalie Ghidotti, APR, principal of Ghidotti Communications in Little Rock, Ark.

  • Rebecca Mosley, founding partner of Kiterocket in Seattle, Wash.

  • Kate Snyder, APR, owner and principal strategist of Piper & Gold Public Relations in Lansing, Mich.

  • Jennifer Thompson, president of Thompson & Co. PR, in Anchorage, Alaska, and 2019 Spring Conference Chair

  • Janet Tyler, president and founder of True Depth in Detroit, Mich., and ex-officio member

  • LaTricia Woods, APR, president and owner of Mahogany Xan Communications, LLC in Phoenix, Ariz.

The Counselors Academy was founded in 1960 and is PRSA’s first professional Interest Section that is dedicated to helping PRSA members succeed through access to collaborative peer relationships, meaningful professional development and education programs. The Academy focuses on the business of agency PR. Its entrepreneurial members are owners or senior managers of leading independent firms in the U.S. and Canada. Counselors Academy’s programs foster networking, mentoring and learning.

Call for Nominations: Counselors Academy 2019 Executive Committee

The Counselors Academy is pleased to announce the call for nominations for the 2019 Executive Committee.  

The Call for Nominations is now open and we are seeking candidates for three open positions of Member-At-Large.

The purpose of the Public Relations Society of America Counselors Academy (CAPRSA) is to advance the professional status and interests of senior-level public relations counselors and to increase their knowledge and proficiency through professional development programs and activities of special interest to the field of public relations.

Service on the CAPRSA Executive Committee (ExComm) is an opportunity to guide the organization and provide thought leadership for the public relations industry.


Service on the executive committee provides a chance to grow personally and professionally, to develop skills, gain unique experience and make lasting connections with a team of other passionate and motivated professionals. The Public Relations Society of America provides support from qualified and exceptional staff in New York, New York, who make the executive committee’s job as fulfilling as possible. 

The organization is led by a set of officers, also, elected by the membership. This includes: Chair, Chair-Elect, Secretary/Treasurer, Past Chair.  Based on the CAPRSA volunteer leadership, ExComm committees drive a number of initiatives including the website, membership and the annual Spring Conference.

Member-at-large candidates must meet a professional standard of excellence by demonstrating the following: 

  • Current member in good standing of PRSA and Counselors Academy
  • Willing to commit to three years of service
  • Participate in monthly ExComm calls and attend a minimum of three in-person meetings (January, May, October).
  • Participate as an active member of ExComm through committee leadership, volunteer recruitment.
  • Provide financial support through Friends of Counselors sponsorship at the annual Spring Conference
  • Uphold the PRSA Code of Ethics (

Self-nominations are allowed.

CAPRSA members interested in being considered, should submit a letter of interest addressing the items in this call for nominations, your contact information and anything else you would like to have considered by the nominating committee.  The letter of interest/nomination should be submitted by Friday, August 10, 2018 to Tom Garrity, Past Chair, Nominating Chair via email Letter of recommendation from current Counselors Academy board members or members at large are welcomed.

Nominees will be contacted via e-mail and phone.

Excomm members at work and play

Stop Chasing Likes and Do More Likable Things

An Interview with Counselors Keynoter Peter Shankman

By Greg Abel

You probably know Peter Shankman from his most famous professional creation, HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, a service that matches reporter’s requests for sources with PR professionals and experts.

Screenshot 2018-05-04 12.26.25.png

But did you know that the New York-based Shankman is also the creative force behind one of the hottest podcasts around, “Faster than Normal,” which features Peter interviewing guests from around the world who embrace the notion that having ADD or ADHD (as he does) is a gift, not a curse. He is also an author and sought-after speaker who will provide the Monday luncheon keynote at Counselors, “The Economy of the Next 50 Years Will be Run by Customer Service.”

Recently I caught up with Peter and a condensed version of our discussion follows:

Greg Abel: Peter, tell us about your keynote discussion and why you place so much value on the customer experience.

Peter Shankman: I’m teaching companies to stop chasing the like and start doing more likable things. That can feel very intimidating when people hear that, but I don’t need you to be awesome, I just need you to be a little better because we have a really bad state of customer service. I don’t need you to be great, I need you to suck a little less.

GA: Can you give an example?

PS: Sure, say you make reservations at a steakhouse for dinner. They ask if you’re celebrating anything and you might say, ‘oh yeah, it’s my wife’s birthday and her name is Rachel.’ And then when you show up, there’s a card at her seat at the table that says, “Happy Birthday Rachel.” She’s going to love that. We don’t need amazing stuff, we need stuff that’s thoughtful, that’s a little better.

GA: How might this philosophy apply to the PR agency world?

PS: Don’t call the client only when you have to sell something; call them to offer an experience. And you should know what they like - maybe it’s bass fishing or going to the theater. People don’t hire businesses, people hire people. A little humanization goes a long way.

GA: What makes you excited for the PR industry?

PS: The agencies who do get it, who do understand that if they do the little things, they are going to win and they are going to be top of mind for the client. You need to be thought of as a trusted partner, not just an agency, so that means being a little better. Focus on being human, not a machine.

GA: Let’s talk about customer service generally. Why do you feel it’s so bad and what can be done about it?

PS: What’s important is for a company to have an online or offline place where the customer feels like they matter and where they have a voice. Almost 70% of people who complain on Twitter don’t want a resolution, they just want to be heard. Because we live in a world where no one is heard. Listening turns people who are angry into people who want to see you succeed because you listened to them and you helped them.

GA: How important is speed when it comes to customer service?

PS: The quicker you respond, the more the client or customer will calm down, and the more they’ll feel like they’ve actually been taken care of. Own your mistakes when you make them and if you’re any good, you’re going to make a lot of them.

GA: Why are mistakes important?

PS: I’m a huge fan of making mistakes because you learn from them. As long as you’re learning, you’re the kind of person I want in my corner. The smartest people in the world are the people who learn from their mistakes.

GA: Looking forward to coming to Counselors?

PS: Very much. One of the best things about coming to a conference like this is not just the speakers, but there’s so much to learn from everyone else who is there. You can learn from everyone you meet. I love this stuff.


The Best Investment an Agency Owner Can Make: A Q&A with Steve Cody, Co-Founder of Peppercomm

By Brenda Barwick, APR
Owner and President, Jones PR

A natural comedian, Peppercomm founder Steve Cody has incorporated humor into employee training and pioneered the creation of insights for his agency. He was named one of 50 Game Changers in PR last year by PR News. A long-time leader of Counselors Academy, Steve has shared some of his insights and a sneak preview of Spring Conference in Toronto.

Brenda Barwick: What has Counselors Academy and the Spring Conference meant to you over the years?

Steve: It’s an advanced MBA degree. I have been involved in Counselors Academy Spring Conference for 20+ years. One of earliest memories involved having the privilege of listening and learning from Kathy Cripps and Ken Makovsky. Each had created incredibly successful agencies at a time when I was still trying to figure out how to scale Peppercom from five to 10 people. Each was incredibly transparent in terms of sharing the good, the bad and the ugly of transforming a neophyte agency into an industry force. Like an advanced MBA, Counselors will enable you to learn best practices, how to avoid minefields, how to prevent one client from representing too large a percentage of billings, and discover new, and creative, workplace initiatives. As an entrepreneur, Spring Conference is the best single investment I ever made and has paid for itself multiple times over.

Steve Cody, Peppercomm CEO

Steve Cody, Peppercomm CEO


BB: What is different about Spring Conference from all other conferences?

Steve:  It’s like Vegas. What happens at Counselors Academy, stays at Counselors Academy. The sense of community, collegiality, and intimacy does not exist elsewhere. It’s a safe environment to say, “I have this problem, and what do I do about it?” Everyone is there to help you succeed. Counselors Academy is directly responsible for my having been able to create lifelong relationships with professionals I am honored to now call friends. Thanks to Counselors Academy, I can now call upon a coterie of experts in different fields and regions who can help me deal with an opportunity or challenge. That is priceless.

BB:  As the pioneer of creative insights, what insights will you be sharing in Toronto?

Steve:  I will be sharing research revealing the #1 pain point for Fortune CCOs and CMOs: Taking a stand on societal crises ranging from mass shootings and illegal immigration to environmental rollbacks and tariffs. The findings are a result of a co-branded initiative with the Institute of Public Relations ( in which we conducted real-time qualitative interviews with 25 Fortune 500 CCOs and CMOs from a wide array of industries. Each not only provided best practices for standing up and speaking out on critical societal issues of the day, but also shared insights into the myriad ways in which they are coping with the plague that is fake news.

BB:  You have published a very successful book. Tell us about “What Keeps Your Customers Up at Night.”

Steve:  The book actually helps people to go to sleep (a key benefit in today’s world of uncertainty). I partnered with a top sales organization and combined best practices of media and sales training to better understand how to differentiate and identify breakthroughs in sales meetings. Agency leaders will learn ways to approach (and close) other C-Suite decision-makers within prospect organizations.  The book is flying off the shelf, particularly in Asia (where sleep deprivation is a huge problem), and has been translated into seven languages.

BB:  What excites you about the future of PR?

Steve: The best is yet to come. Competitors in other disciplines do not have the training or acumen to counsel clients through the crises-driven news maelstrom in which we find ourselves. PR counselors are uniquely qualified and better positioned to advise clients on strategy and messaging in today’s environment.

BB: What is PR’s role in today’s integrated marketing environment?

Steve: We should own it.  We understand the sensitivities of the marketplace and the divisiveness in a climate where clients simply want to sell products and services. We also intuitively know when to speak up and when to remain silent. It may seem counterintuitive, but we possess a better sense of where a client should advertise and what they should say than ad agencies do (that’s because the latter are programmed to sell at all costs). We can also better evaluate a client’s supply chain partners and determine if those organizations’ values and purpose are in alignment with that of our client’s. That’s becoming table stakes nowadays.

BB: What is your best tip for agency owners?

Steve:  Resiliency. It’s the hallmark of a great agency owner. Prepare to fail. One has to learn to deal with the loss of a large client, key executive or some other unforeseen crisis and keep going. The best way to do so is to be continually asking, “What’s keeping my prospective client base awake at night?” The answer(s) to that question will continually drive innovation and ensure your resiliency.

BB:  Who inspires you and why?

Steve: CEOs who have the courage to stand up and speak out. There have been multiple examples this year alone, such as when, in the aftermath of the Parkland, Fl. school shootings, Edward Bastian, Delta’s CEO, said his corporation’s values were not for sale (in response to Georgia lawmakers rescinding their incentives).

BB: Thank you, Steve. We will all look forward to the C-suite insights you will provide on fake news in Toronto on Monday afternoon.

"You Can’t Just Be a Dreamer, You Must Have a Strategy"

A Q&A with Elise Mitchell
Founder & Chairman, Mitchell Communications Group
CEO, Dentsu Aegis PR Network

To meet Elise Mitchell is to be inspired -- and perhaps even a bit awed -- by her. This is a woman who is a force in the PR industry and in life, who brings seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm to her endeavors.

Screenshot 2018-04-19 19.32.32.png

Elise built Mitchell Communications from scratch into one of the top 10 fastest-growing firms globally, a two-time Agency of the Year winner and Inc. 500/5000 Fastest Growing Company. These days, Elise, author of “Leading Through the Turn,” is CEO of the Dentsu Aegis PR Network and a highly sought-after speaker and executive coach.

As she has done many times in the past, Elise will be a featured speaker at PRSA Counselors Academy Spring Conference this year in Toronto. Her session, The "It Factor, How to Get Further, Faster," promises to be outstanding and memorable.

I caught up with Elise recently as she was traveling internationally. We chatted about what Counselors has meant to her in her career; and her current passion for executive coaching. A condensed version of the interview follows:

G: Hi Elise, so great to talk to you as always. Let’s start with Counselors; what has the network and spring conference meant to you over the years?

E: Thanks Greg! As you know I love talking about Counselors. Counselors was instrumental in helping me build Mitchell Communications Group. When I was trying to build an agency, the people I met who had success in building their firm before I did were mentors and advisors and acted as a sounding board for me on too many occasions to count.

They were available to me when I had a question. They were willing to share concepts that worked for them and how it worked and why. The network I was able to build was great but then the counseling itself was always the focal point for getting practical content around how to build an agency.

G: What’s different about Counselors vs. other conferences you’ve attended?

E: There’s a lot of different conferences you can go to to get ideas about how to be a better strategist or what are the trends and changes with PR, but no other conference that I went to had the practical aspects of building an agency.

They didn’t just say “oh I built this agency and it’s great.” They said, “OK, let me tell you how to put together an HR model to evaluate people, or recruiting strategies, or how to make more profit.”

G: What are you focused on professionally these days?

E:  I’ve taken a new role as chairman at Mitchell, I am still the CEO of the Dentsu PR Network and I am doing a lot of work around the intersection of neuroscience and leadership.

G: I had the pleasure of reading your book, “Leading Through the Turn,” and it was very influential. Are you continuing to write?

E: Yes, I write regularly on my blog, “In the Turn,” and have a blog post that is really popular about how individuals can transition from “I’m overwhelmed to I’ve Got This!” People desperately want to have some measure of control over their schedule and over the demands of their life. My blog elaborates on a practical approach on how to balance those priorities.  

G: I also understand that you’re doing more work in executive coaching, correct?

E: That’s right. I’ve done a lot of coaching over the years but it was very informal. I wanted the discipline of a process and also an approach to coaching that I felt was very powerful so I am becoming a certified executive coach. I have seen a huge impact on the professionals I am working with right now. I think that is going to become a powerful part of what I do in the future.

G: What I like personally is that you never seem to stay in one place. You built your agency then pivoted to doing more things at an executive level, and now writing and coaching. Why coaching?

E: My greatest passion right now is to help others to live and lead at their best. I am particularly interested in working with executives who are serious about improving, enhancing their own leadership abilities and that of their team. I want to work with people who are really interested in taking things up a notch and getting to the next level. Particularly, leaders who are trying to surpass the toughest challenges that they are facing right now. Those kinds of individuals are highly motivated to grow in a motivated space.

The idea is to create context, then vision, then inspire others. If you only have a great Idea, no one will buy anything from you. You can’t just be a dreamer. You must have a strategy.
— Elise Mitchell

G: What do you hope to bring to these kinds of leaders?

E: I want to help people identify and thoroughly think about their strengths and opportunities. Also, to help them set a framework for achieving their most important goals. I want to combine all my business expertise, experience and many mistakes into one practical approach.

G: What’s a tip that you think most leaders need to hear and remember in our industry.

E:  I think that one of the primary jobs of a leader is to set a context for their employees, clients, and the audience that they serve. The only way to set the context is by connecting the dots yourself and constantly monitoring the environment around you. Also, by identifying the larger forces that impact or could impact what you do, and draw conclusions from that.

G: How would you advise executives to recognize these larger forces?

E: Sometimes, you have to do it on your own. We have to figure out what is important and what do we need to do about it. Leaders have to think about the implementation of the context. Then they need to ask themselves, “Well what does this mean for us?” “How do my clients anticipate, prepare, leverage, identify opportunities?”

The idea is to create context, then vision, then inspire others. If you only have a great idea, no one will buy anything from you. You can’t just be a dreamer. You must have a strategy.