How Volunteering Can Boost Resumes And Even Launch Businesses

How Volunteering Can Boost Resumes And Even Launch Businesses

Three Professional Volunteer Ideas That Will Add Skills And Increase Connections 

You may have heard recent notions from leaders in the small business community nudging people who have lost their jobs towards volunteer work. When I first heard this idea I was taken aback because I thought maybe that was an insensitive comment for those that were likely scrambling to find new work or make some extra money any way they know how. 

But then I remembered that volunteer work is how I started my own company, Veracity. I’m not talking about the typical type of volunteer work you think of, like walking dogs or unpacking boxes at a food bank. I am talking about volunteer work that will not only keep your skills sharp but also possibly bring new skills, such as through these three avenues listed below.


3 Professional Volunteering Ideas:


#1: The Red Cross

The Red Cross website has a volunteering section that allows you to search by your expertise and interest area. Communicators can scroll down to “Use Your Communication Skills” where opportunities surrounding areas like grant writing, speaking, and public affairs are listed. 

The disaster volunteers section of the website directly states that there are many work-from-home opportunities during the COVID-19 outbreak. I have always been interested in the crisis PR side of this volunteer opportunity. I believe you can learn crisis communication skills if you volunteer in this capacity. 


#2: Crisis Text Line

The Crisis Text Line is a nonprofit that provides free, 24/7 support to anyone experiencing an emotional crisis. The distraught can text the line to eventually be connected with a trained crisis counselor. But what happens during this in-between-time of texting? Volunteers answering the texts are trained to help. Anyone could put their empathetic skills to use through texting. Oftentimes the best way to get through tough times is to help others during their time of need. You can sign up here to become a volunteer.


#3: The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA)

The AICPA is the world’s largest member association representing the accounting profession.  Licensed CPAs can volunteer through this group to provide volunteer consultation. However, this opportunity might be more at director level.  

In general, volunteering can provide important virtual networking during isolating times. The work could definitely be added to your resume or LinkedIn profile to show that you are solution-oriented and in-action no matter what’s happening around you. It could even provide some interesting social media content as you work towards transitioning those profiles to more professional facades. 

But the best case scenario is that possibly volunteering could be the beginning of an exciting new chapter–the addition of your first client to your book of business, which is the beginning to creating a contracting business or being self-employed. Just because you are doing this work for free is no reason to shy away from bragging on LinkedIn or other channels you might use to start your business. In most professional volunteering cases you do have to be “accepted” to offer the help so in essence, this first volunteering acceptance is your first client.

In the second episode of Fika Talk I discuss how I started my company through volunteering for the professional trade group, SEMpdx (Search Engine Marketing Association of Portland). This volunteer work led to SEMpdx being my first paying client and a great future referral source and a network of connections I am proud to call my friends.

Watch this episode of Fika Talk

Listen to this episode on the PR Talk Podcast

Podcast: COVID-19: Marvin Stockwell: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Podcast: COVID-19: Marvin Stockwell: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Coronavirus PR Management & Insights into Science PR 

A Special Episode with Marvin Stockwell, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Only another PR person would drop what they are doing to help other PR people during what must be a very busy time. That’s why I love our community of giving, helpful PR friends around the globe. Today I got on the phone with Marvin Stockwell, Director of Media Relations at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

You might remember him from my PRSA ICON episode where I recapped a few of the sessions in a series of mini interviews. In his portion, Marvin recounted his experience participating in Pitch Tank, the PR person’s version of Shark Tank, where he pitched three PR ideas to a panel of media judges to land on St. Jude’s new nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer as the winning PR idea.  


Managing Covid-19 PR

But before catching up with him on how his spectrometer pitching has been going, we handled the most important order of business for many PR people: management of coronavirus communications whether that is handling unwanted media inquiries around the topic or leveraging the illness as a proactive PR opportunity. 

After giving an update on what’s happening within his media markets with Covid-19, Marvin filled us in on how his team is approaching the epidemic and offers advice for PR professionals. For those of us who fall under the eager, maximizer category, Marvin’s advice may take you by surprise. You may have to operate out of your comfort zone and slooooow way down.

Science PR’s Special Nuances 

We then segwayed into the general topic of science PR. Along with being a hospital helping countless children and families, St. Jude is a research institution that pushes out tons of fascinating findings and data.

Marvin discussed the challenges of positioning scientific research, seemingly only meant for the trades, to mainstream consumer press offering key advice on how to go about it. We touched on how science can get lost behind the more compelling fundraising messaging, including how and why to get around this. We also learned how his team uncovers the wealth of information from his researchers and faculty, managing information-overload with a media relations department structured into “beats” the same way journalists are organized.

Overall, it appears that we truly are in the “long game” when it comes to science PR, with the discoveries of today possibly curing illnesses years, maybe decades, into the future. That’s why keeping our eye on news coming out of St. Jude years down the road will be facincating.

About the guest: Marvin Stockwell

As the director of media relations at St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, Marvin Stockwell is at his best when making a case for causes he believes in and collaborating with others in his beloved hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Connect and follow Marvin on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Podcast: Tom Fuller & Dave Thompson: the APR

Podcast: Tom Fuller & Dave Thompson: the APR

Would You Like Fries With That Press Release?


An APR jumpstart transforms service-providers into C-suite advisers


A total geek by nature, I have always been intrigued with the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), or the “good housekeeping seal of approval” as Dave Thompson, APR, likes to call it. I sat down with Dave and his former boss Tom Fuller, APR, Communications Manager of Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to learn all about the APR. Not only did we talk about the process of getting an APR, which entails more than just filling out the bubbles on a sheet of test paper, but we explored how the addition of an APR has changed both of their lives inside and outside of work.

Dave, who listeners might remember from a previous episode where he outlined the job functions of a public information officer (PIO), recently left his post as ODOT’s public affairs program manager to serve as an independent contractor providing media training and lecturing. Yet he drew on past ODOT examples, such as the communication management of storms, to provide a clear before-and-after picture of what the APR learning meant to his job. While Tom, who spent 20 years in TV before coming over to the dark side, offers concrete examples of how the APR helped his team plan, execute and measure an effective campaign to address the new flight travel identification regulations.

Listen to the episode for insight into the working lives of both leaders and glean some insider knowledge on what it’s like to actually get an APR. To remain the ever helpful PR person, below is a quick guide to the APR facts.


What is the APR?

Both Tom and Dave said that PR people love to jump right into tactics. But this can be futile without really knowing your audiences nor setting out measurable objectives at the front end of a campaign to help you understand if what you’re doing is actually working. The detailed process of getting an APR through the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) brings professionals up to this level of strategic thinking, helping them gain confidence for future leadership.


The APR Process

The first readiness class (Feb. 15) should cover all of this but it’s my understanding that after signing up, candidates need to study the coursebook, “Cutlip and Center’s Effective Public Relations” (11th Edition), to prepare for the presentation candidates give in front of a small panel of judges to show their knowledge of the material.

During the presentation, candidates draw on a past campaign to present a “would’a, should’a, could’a”, as Dave likes to call it, before and if-only-in-a-perfect-world after scenario to the campaign that takes into account this new knowledge and what could have been done differently if the stars had aligned perfectly (budget, approvals, etc.).

After demonstrating their readiness, candidates dig deeper into the book to pass the proctored computer test. Studying with new friends from the readiness class or with a mentor, candidates walk away with not just the skills needed to pass a test but a richer understanding of our field, ultimately altering how the job is approached. 


Fees & Stipulations 

The cost for the APR is $385, excluding the textbook cost which could run you $40+ to rent through Amazon to $145 new. HOWEVER, there may be some extensive rebates offered through PRSA upon completion of the computer examination. 

Any PRSA member can apply for accreditation but it’s recommended that candidates hold previous PR experience (a couple of years according to Dave and Tom but the PRSA Oregon website suggests five years) in order to properly address the presentation portion of the process. 


Next Steps

Still unsure? At least attend the first accreditation class on Saturday, February 15, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at The Gathering Place (12950 SW Pacific Highway, Suite 125) in Tigard. The classes will be held each Saturday through roughly April 11. The first few classes will be held at the Gathering Place but the location could change thereafter. Due to the time commitment required, candidates are not expected to attend every class but get so much out of it when they do. 

This year’s core instructors will be: Patti Atkins, APR, Dave Thompson, APR, Chuck Williams, APR, Mara Woloshin, APR, Fellow PRSA, Jean Kempe-Ware, APR, and Stacy Moe-Keen, APR — joined by guest experts Kathy Hubbelll, APR, Fellow PRSA and Doug Levin, APR and more.


Subscribe to PR Talk Podcast

Don’t forget to subscribe to the PR Talk Podcast on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and Spotify. There are more episodes on the way that you won’t want to miss.

About the guest: Tom Fuller

Tom is the Communications Manager at the Oregon Department of Transportaion (ODOT) and has nearly four decades of experience in media, communications and public relations management both in public and private as well as non-profit organizations. Tom is an award winning journalist, writer, producer, voice talent, and nationally known speaker.


Connect and follow Tom on social media:

About the guest: Dave Thompson

Dave Thompson is an accredited public relations professional with nearly 40 years’ experience as team leader/coach, spokesperson, public information officer, corporate communications director and awarding-winning broadcast reporter/anchor.

Connect and follow Dave on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Podcast: Habit Change

Podcast: Habit Change

Tricking Ourselves Into Doing Our New Year’s Resolutions 

We Uncover Our Personal Tendencies from Gretchen Rubin’s Habit Change Quiz 

Already broke your New Year’s resolution? If so you might fall into one of these tendencies discussed in Gretchen Rubin’s habit books: the Questioner (who’s questioning the point of the resolution), the Rebel (who’s always rebelled against resolutions), or the Obliger (who’s Rebel friend didn’t show up for the New Years commitment they made together). If you’re still going strong with your New Year’s resolution, damn you, you annoying Upholder.

With it being the start of a New Year, Mike and I thought it was apropos to dig into this topic, taking advantage of the deliciously blank slate a new decade brings. New commitments, new habits, new ideas. I know you all have them! But rather than throwing around huge resolutions that were made to be broken, we’re learning about our personality types in order to turn our resolutions into actual habits. 

Rubin’s research outlined in the books “The Four Tendencies” or “Better Than Before,” suggests there are four tendencies everyone in the planet falls into when trying to create a habit.

A quick eight-question quiz will tell you what your main tendency is.

In this PR Talk episode, Mike and I uncover our own tendencies, discussing how they relate to each other, while also touching on the other tendencies and how each might approach PR. 

Here’s a cheat-sheet, or my own humorous interpretation, of each tendency.


They will do what they say they’re going to do no matter what, even if they only made a promise to themself. This is what I thought Mike was, listen to hear how wrong I was! 



They need external motivation in the form of people expecting something from them. So they need to meet a friend to workout because they won’t leave that friend hanging. They imagine the client waiting for the document to get it done.



They just can’t do anything! Can’t keep external or internal expectations. Many of them can be successful creatives or entrepreneurs if they have an Upholder or Obliger staff/partner.



They have to ask why and if they like the answer, they will do it. If not, they will move on. They are independent, don’t care what others are expecting or thinking, but they probably spend a lot of time ruminating. 

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Podcast: Steve Strauss: USA Today

Podcast: Steve Strauss: USA Today

Are you ready for Small Business Saturday? 

With Small Business Saturday on the horizon, we think it is a perfect time to rerun our interview with small business expert Steve Strauss.

Pardon the poor audio, it was only episode 30 and be sure to stay tuned (which means subscribe) as we are planning to interview Steve again soon (which will sound much better of course). This episode and blog post orginally ran on April 19, 2018 and has be republished on November 20, 2019.

Two of My Favorite Things with Steve Strauss, USA TODAY & Inc.


Mr.AllBiz Delves into the Intersection of Small Business and PR

Luckily Steve Strauss had just gotten fired from his cushy job as a lawyer twenty years ago when USA TODAY came calling looking for a small business columnist. Apparently, the budding entrepreneur wasn’t the best employee and lacked writing ability. He’s gone on to write an impressive 17 books, including the best-selling Small Business Bible. But it’s the brand he’s built through penning a weekly small business Ask an Expert column for USA TODAY that he credits for his success.

After getting the corporate boot, Steve started his own law practice, eventually carving out an interesting niche between three disciplines: law, small business and writing. He has since left the law behind to focus on regular columns for USA TODAY, Huff Po. and Inc. — check out this recent piece for Inc.: “Why Most PR Pitches Stand Out (and How to Make Yours Stand Out).”

You’re wrong if you think Steve couldn’t get any busier. More can be found about how he serves as the small business spokesperson for companies like Bank of America and Verizon on Mr.AllBiz. His team creates written and visual content focusing on the small business community underneath The Strauss Group. And to top it off, Steve’s Web portal, The SelfEmployed, pays special attention not just to entrepreneurs seeking world domination, but also to freelancers and the gig economy, aka the “side hustle.”

Steve’s work could serve as a resource for employed marketers looking to dip their toes into the small business pool through freelancing or side hustling. Most interestingly, we both shared personal stories of how we journeyed into the abyss of the self-employed. Steve’s firing could have been viewed as a failure but instead it led to a much broader, but different, type of success than he ever expected. And although I didn’t know it at the time, saying yes to volunteer work was the beginning of Veracity.


This episode of PR Talk covers:

  • How to get in Steve’s USA TODAY column, or the other three notable columns he writes on a monthly basis, and other general PR tips and pet peeves.
  • How and why small businesses should embrace PR.
  • How marketers can start their own companies through freelancing and picking up “side hustles” first.
  • The differences between small marketing shops and large firms.

About the guest: Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss is often called “the country’s leading small business expert.” A best-selling author, and USA TODAY small business columnist, Steve is a global speaker, corporate spokesperson, entrepreneur, and author of 17 books including the best-selling Small Business Bible.

Connect and follow Steve on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

Podcast: Mark Knowles: So Much More Than Swivel

Podcast: Mark Knowles: So Much More Than Swivel

Mark Knowles On So Much More Than Swivel

Two secrets to Mark Knowles’ success, both personally and professionally, are to always be curious, and to fail fast and learn from those failures.

I interviewed Mark for Episode 70 of the PR Talk podcast. We had a candid conversation about a range of topics that went beyond the upcoming marketing conference he’s organizing in Bend called Swivel and delved into float planes, intention setting, serial entrepreneurialism and more.

Besides organizing Swivel, Mark is a principal at Smartz (digital marketing) and The Growler Guys (craft beer), and is the CEO of Pixelsilk (an SEO-friendly CMS). At the end of the interview we learned about how his entrepreneurship began with the proverbial lemonade stand.

Swivel is September 16-17 in BendSwivel Conference

Entering its 12th year, Swivel will be held September 16-17 in Bend, Ore. This year’s event includes well-known speakers, including: Wil Reynolds, Cari Twitchell, Blake Denman and even yours truly will have a stint onstage discussing digital PR.

Swivel also includes an Unconference on the second day, as well as two workshops on customer feedback and content marketing.

Mark’s goal for the conference is bringing together all of marketing’s parts—from creative to technical SEO—and learning how they each work independently and cooperatively.


Traveling Brings Greater Perspective

One of Mark’s passions is travelling. He recently returned from a trip to a remote river near Bristol Bay in Alaska where the only way to access it was via a float plane. Sharing about 1.5 million acres with only a dozen other people gave him perspective, he said, especially when compared to the times his day is dictated by his inbox.

All of that just goes away when you’re out in the wild and looking at all that nature, he said. A little bit hungover from the trip, he said he’ll eventually respond to those emails that are piling up in his inbox. Or maybe he won’t.


The Secrets to Mark’s Success

Listen to the podcast to learn how Mark embraces failure rather than running from it. He also is always curious and learning new things. He said both failing fast (and learning from that failure) and continuing on a learning journey have shaped his professional life.

He also shared his “1-2-3 practice” with us. Each morning he identifies the top three things he can do to make that day a success and sets out to accomplish them as soon as possible.

About the guest: Mark Knowles

Mark Knowles is a serial entrepreneur, including being a principal at Smartz, The Growler Guys and CEO at Pixelsilk. He is an advisory board member for the Search Engine Marketers of Portland (SEMpdx) and organizer of the Swivel conference in Bend. 

Connect and follow Mark on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.