National Capital Chapter

December 2021 President’s Message

Dear NCC Members and Colleagues:

This year, despite its challenges, was filled with progress and promise. In June, I shared a detailed message of our successes on behalf of NCC members for the first half of 2021. Reflecting on the entirety of the year, here is an updated look at the milestones our chapter achieved as a result of the passion, resolve and results-driven focus shown by our leaders and volunteers:

  • Conducted a financial health assessment at the start of the year to strategically plan for the ongoing impact of COVID on our chapter operations. As we approach year end, we are exceeding our projected income thanks to sponsorships and membership dues.
  • Hosted more than 40 virtual events, including professional development events, focused on the following topics: APR education and support; algorithms and incentives; a conversation with the editor of the Diversity Style Guide; digital communication strategies to engage policymakers; how to achieve personal and professional outcomes through diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); change communications; how to speak with presence on Zoom; email marketing; Instagram bootcamp; Hispanic leadership in PR; combating misinformation; SEO, Wikipedia and your online reputation; using LinkedIn for PR objectives; measurement and metrics bootcamp; writing for social media; and celebrating women in communications, as well as a series of events designed to elevate discussions and move the needle on DEI. Also increased the number of events that were free for NCC members as well as partnered with PR Summit DC  and Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit, and Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR).
  • Launched monthly virtual coffee chats for members to connect and hosted more than 127 people. These events are intentionally designed to be intimate networking events, with no more than 20 people per event.
  • Implemented “DEI: Amplify Diverse Voices,” which included quarterly DEI Dialogues sessions to uplift the voices of AAPI and Black/African-American PR professionals as well as blog content to celebrate diverse PR professionals.
  • Launched Cvent, an all-in-one comprehensive platform, to provide a seamless way to register for events and e-marketing to capture analytics and demographics.
  • Implemented the chapter’s first-ever partnerships committee as a means to create greater collaboration within the D.C. community. Secured partnerships with the Content Marketing Institute, Hera Hub, the Mid-Atlantic Facilitator Network (MAFN) and the Young Nonprofit Professionals of DC (YNPNdc). Stay tuned for additional opportunities in 2022!
  • Inducted new APRs and continue to serve as the chapter with the highest number of APRs. Conducted an APR outreach campaign as well as virtual boot camps and jumpstarts.
  • Successfully hosted the second-ever virtual PRSA National Capital Excellence in Communication Awards (ECAs) — formerly the Thoth Awards — with an all-volunteer taskforce. The event was hosted on a sophisticated virtual platform, BeSpeake, which is a division of the Matrix Foundation. The event drew more than 130 registrants, and we honored 10 ECA winners, five Certificate of Excellence honorees, and 2021 National Capital PR Hall of Fame inductees Ben Finzel and Kate Perrin. We also inducted this year’s first Pinnacle Award winners, Lori George Billingsley and Lee Woodruff. Additionally, the committee raised $8,500 in revenue thanks to sponsorships for the awards from AARP, Goodwill Industries International, Porter Novelli, Social Driver, and Vanguard Communications, with in-kind support from Urban Emu and Yes She May.
  • Raised $23,000 in revenue for the chapter, exceeding the chapter’s 2021 goal. This was in large part due to nearly doubling the sponsorship revenue goal for this year’s National Capital Excellence in Communication Awards. Another highlight from this year was hosting a sponsored event by Qorvis Communications for the Association and Nonprofit Committee on “Digital Communication Strategies to Engage Policymakers.” We continue to greatly appreciate the support we received this year from our chapter sponsors: ICF Next, pressrelations, The National Press Club, RMK Productions, The George Washington University Strategic Public Relations Program, Propel, Crosby Marketing Communications, Padilla, Raffetto Herman, Cvent, Matrix Group, and Capitol Communicator.
  • Enhanced content offerings by publishing 40 pieces of thought leadership from industry professionals on the PRSA NCC blog. Improved mobile optimization, resulting in more than 37,200 pageviews.
  • Provided $200 in financial assistance to each of the local university PRSSA chapters to support chapter events, activities and student membership scholarships.
  • Published two blog posts featuring outstanding local PRSSA student members and two highlighting professional development and mentorship resources.
  • Conducted regular outreach and built relationships with PRSSA leaders, including sharing updates, events and job/internship opportunities.
  • Shared presentation with Howard University communications students and PRSSA members about the value of PRSA membership and shared PR career tips and resources.
  • Supported American University’s Barbara Harris Scholarship for PRSSA membership.
  • Launched our first Advisory Council, which served as a valuable high-level resource that provides strategic vision for the organization on crucial topics, including potential professional development opportunities and speakers; DEI; membership survey guidance; and good governance practice. Advisors served as chapter ambassadors both online and in person with their professional networks. A special thanks to Charrosé King-Matthews; Jaya Koilpillai, MA, MSMOB, APR, ACC; Jenna DePellegrini; and Samantha Villegas, APR.
  • Improved the PRSA NCC website by completing an overhaul of the main navigation and adding a navigation bar, utilizing Google Analytics to better understand our audience and the actions they take on the site. More DEI imagery was added throughout the site and we improved user experience by clarifying the main actions we want users to take and prioritized those actions accordingly. Additionally, we revamped the DEI and membership pages, separated the news and blog, made the site mobile friendly, and added a dropdown calendar function for a cleaner look.
  • Enhanced our social media communication by launching an Instagram channel as well as more frequent postings across LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook; a better variety of content and improved graphics; and instituted Google analytics, resulting in more than 18,000 unique visitors since March.

None of this would be possible without the volunteers, who stepped forward to dedicate time, energy, expertise, ideas, connections and passion, as well as the dedication of our chapter management firm, RMK Productions. I am grateful to have led alongside these inspiring individuals.

It has been an immensely fulfilling experience to serve as President of the PRSA National Capital Chapter this year, and I am so proud of all that we accomplished despite another challenging year. It will be an honor to serve as Immediate Past President next year and observe another year of evolution and success for the chapter.

Cheers to a happy, healthy holiday season and New Year ahead.

Leading with integrity and passion,

Lauren Lawson-Zilai
PRSA NCC President