COVID-19 PR Update with Marvin Stockwell [Podcast]

COVID-19 PR Update with Marvin Stockwell [Podcast]

The Power of the Pause

COVID-19 PR Round Two: Marvin Stockwell’s PR Update and Wisdom for Any Situation

Marvin Stockwell comes back to PR Talk to give us an update on COVID-19 PR. We spoke with him way back in March, which feels like ages ago because it was before we even knew how big of an impact COVID-19 was going to make.

Marvin’s update on what he and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have been doing since March further deepens the initial advice he gave when I somewhat surprised him by asking how to handle PR during the early days of the coronavirus. His suggestion then was to slow waaaay down and refrain from overreaching with pitches that aggressively tie into an epidemic when your story or client wouldn’t have an obvious reason to do so.

In round two, Marvin gives us more insight into the necessary pause taken by St. Jude and also outlines how they got back into the PR pitching game upon feeling more comfortable.

Asking and Answering an Important Question

To explain the purpose of the pause, Marvin uses an old PR maxim that can be posed during a crisis:

“What would a reasonable person expect a responsible organization to do in a situation like this?”

In customizing this question for the coronavirus, we can ask:

“How would a reasonable person expect a responsible organization to conduct itself during this pandemic and how can my organization be helpful and useful?”

St. Jude took a necessary pause to ask and answer these questions before moving forward blindly. 


The Advantage of PR’s Flexibility

While believing it was a great strategy, Marvin recognized how hard pausing was for a “swing for the fences PR guy like me,” who is used to making things happen. Even though it was just a few weeks, it felt like ages to him!

In all reality, “PR is the most flexible, nimble and agile sub-disciplines of marketing,” said Marvin, noting that this hallmark strength of PR puts us at an advantage over other marketing categories. For example, the advertising department may have spent bundles on creative for an ad campaign that is no longer relevant.


Getting Back in the Game

Once that comfort level was established, allowing St. Jude to be helpful to the conversation without overstating or conflating their expertise, it was go-time for Marvin and his PR team. He gives us some examples of how he was able to pitch stories that were related to the pandemic. 

Starting with a softer story to ease out of the gate, the PR team pitched a coloring book created by St. Jude that checked all of their boxes in terms of mission and purpose, while also meeting that helpful and useful note for kids, teens — and their parents — during the coronavirus. PR Talk parents can download the Coloring Book here

The next level PR work was releasing St. Jude Global COVID-19 Observatory and Resource Center for Childhood Cancer a global study on how the coronavirus affects children with cancer. 

The highest level of science PR work will be executed when the team gets to reveal what the data is telling experts.


Reflection During Social Crises

When I brought up the social justice uprising, asking how that affects our role as PR practitioners, Marvin responded with the PR framing question again:

“What would a reasonable person expect a responsible organization to do in a situation like this?”

Since I interviewed him right at the brink of the protests, I mentioned the discomfort that so many feel related to the magnitude of companies putting out statements, some sincere, some not. 

“The people who are getting it wrong are the ones that are so keen on rushing a statement out,” Marvin said in response. 

We think this wise advice is a great place to stop and reflect on our actions with the press, with our colleagues and with our clients. In this time when we are hit with two world pandemics, it’s important to think before acting and know that in the end we are just doing our jobs. 

While our jobs as PR professionals are sometimes hard and confusing, PR Talk covers the type of first-world problems that we are privileged to move through.

About the guest: Marvin Stockwell

Marvin Stockwell is the director of media relations at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the creator of his own passion project, Champions of the Lost Causes blog, podcast and soon to be book!

Listen to Marvin’s initial thoughts from March on how to manage COVID-19 PR, along with his general insight on the special nuances that Science PR can bring.

Marvin originally appeared on PR Talk in a compilation of interviews conducted at PRSA’s ICON 2020.

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.

Finding a Job During Coronavirus with Dan Lee [Podcast]

Finding a Job During Coronavirus with Dan Lee [Podcast]

Dan Lee On The Three P’s of Job Hunting

Dan’s career-growth advice applies to more than just active job-seekers.

You may remember Dan Lee with PR Talent from past PR talk episodes. In fact, I enjoy talking with him so much that I’ve actually had him on the podcast multiple times before the Coronavirus storm hit the world. So, of course, I immediately thought of him when I decided to pivot the podcast and talk about the things that are stressing us out during these highly unusual times. The loss of jobs tops the list of current stressors for many of us. 

Dan is a great resource to turn to during this time because his firm is unique. PR Talent specializes in filling communications and PR jobs for both agencies and corporations. But since he’s worked in the field, spending 16 years at Weber Shandwick, before starting PR Talent’s northwest operation, he has a keen understanding of what we do on a daily basis as communicators.

Sectors That Are Hiring & In-Demand Skills

Before getting into Dan’s job seeking tips, we quickly touched on the current state of the job market. Of course, it isn’t all puppies and kittens, with the majority of companies at least temporarily pausing their hiring, but Dan outlined the few sectors that are still hiring, such as education, technology, and legal. He also touched on key skills that companies need right now to give you the cutting-edge, including internal communications, crisis preparations and digital savviness.


The Three P’s of The Job Search

Dan used what he calls his “Three P’s” to provide a framework for discussing the job search process. The Three P’s are: being prepared, proactive and patient.


P #1: Be Prepared

If you’ve listened to Dan’s previous episodes on PR Talk you might already be prepared. Dan has talked before about getting your ducks in a row even when you don’t have the time — for instance, keeping an updated LinkedIn profile and continuously networking with at least one key group — in order to be prepared when the time to make a move comes. 

This is especially relevant to those who are hanging onto current jobs out of fear or desperation. It’s probably not advisable to move away from a current job right now. But with the extra time you’re saving on not commuting, you could examine what you want from your career and take preparedness steps to get there. Even if you have lost a job, now could be a good time to prepare by examining what lights your fire.


P #2: Be Proactive

This is not the time to “coast” if you are in a current job that you are feeling lukewarm about. While you need to get your work done to the best of your ability, you could still take advantage of this time and reach out to your networks, just to check-in and see how they are doing. This could go a long way in reminding people about you and possibly help you open the door for conversations about new opportunities when you are ready.

If you have lost your job, don’t just sit around eating bonbons or binging on Netflix all day. While indulging in some of that is fine, don’t use the current state of the economy as an excuse to do nothing. Treat your job search as you would a job. For example, actively network with past colleagues by setting up virtual “coffee dates” or “happy hours,” and put what you’re looking for out on the table while reconnecting. 

Dan suggests you network with him as well since he is a matchmaker for current and future job openings and current and future job seekers. This can apply even if you are currently happily employed. Harkening back to the first P, you should always be thinking about the future and voicing your long-term goals to people who can help you.


P #3: Be Patient

Lastly, Dan gives us some grace by reminding us to be patient. This means that you should take the time to enjoy walking outside as the weather gets nicer, practice self-care like meditation and reading, and generally understand that things take time. The best opportunities come to those who aren’t reaching for the next shiny object.

“Challenge brings opportunity,” Dan said, pointing out that now is an excellent time to manage our careers while taking stock of where we are and where we want to be. Again reminding me to pause, reflect and make necessary adjustments.

About the guest: Dan Lee

Dan Lee is a Managing Director at PR Talent and leads the firm’s recruiting efforts in the Northwest region. His career experience includes sports broadcasting, sports marketing, and 16 years with Weber Shandwick, where he was a vice president.

Connect and follow Dan 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.

Sheila Hamilton: Mental Health Advocate [Podcast]

Sheila Hamilton: Mental Health Advocate [Podcast]

First Things First: Taking Care of YOU during Coronavirus

Sheila Hamilton, Kink morning show reporter turned mental health advocate, offers advice on battling the 3 key PR vulnerabilities

You may have noticed that we took a short pause in the typical PR Talk programming. Even though we kept busy with the side-project of Fika Talk — a video series featuring myself and my daughter providing quick self-employment tips the “break” allowed me to reflect and ask myself: What am I doing with this podcast? What is the point?


Help is On the Way

The answer was easy because the point has always been to help my fellow PR people. For no obvious business reason other than this oddly altruistic ideal. I don’t know why I want to help PR people as I am too short-sighted to do any proper planning to tie in my present-day actions with my long-term goals. I just simply want to have fun connecting with guests on the podcast, assist PR people in discovering excellence, and learn a little bit along the way.

Watch the Video Podcast

Mental Health & Loss of Jobs in PR

Remembering that the point of the podcast is to help, I immediately thought of topics that can relate to what my crew is worried about right now. Namely, mental health issues and the loss of jobs. At some point, beyond blind media pitching tips, we’ll get back into how to work with the press during these uncharted times. 


Sheila Hamilton’s Career Pivot 

So in the name of putting our oxygen masks on first, we’re coming back to you with the most fitting guest of all the extraordinary Sheila Hamilton. You may remember Sheila from the 18 years she spent serving as KINK radio’s morning show host, back in the days when we used to drive to the office, and KXL radio’s afternoon show reporter. 

However, unfortunate experiences led her career in a new direction. After writing her first memoir, All the Things We Never Knew, about raising a young child with a mentally ill husband and the aftermath of his eventual suicide, Sheila committed herself to mental health advocacy work full-time by launching Beyond Well Solutions, which offers employers a library of custom branded company podcasts that help employees manage their mental health journeys and increase Employee Assistance Program utilization. She also hosts Beyond Well With Sheila Hamilton, alongside two doctors, to provide tools for emotional agility and psychological flexibility. 


Three Key PR Vulnerabilities

Who better than Sheila to guide us through self-care during these anxiety-provoking times? Throughout the episode, Sheila and I discuss the state of the world along with the state of our minds. We talk through the 3 key vulnerabilities I see many PR people, including myself, holding, with Sheila providing tips on how to overcome them. They are:

1: People pleasing = poor boundaries

Being service-oriented, PR professionals tend to be people-pleasers. How can we avoid being everything to everyone by setting good boundaries during a time when many feel they must over-perform based on fear of losing their jobs or their clients? 

2: Imposter syndrome = low confidence

I’ve witnessed many a PR person exhibit strong signs of imposter syndrome, which means that they don’t have confidence in their abilities. How can we rebuild our confidence while working in what may feel like a black hole at times with media pitches being unanswered on the regular?

3: Excessive news consumption = anxiety overload

We’re supposed to consume the news to be good at our jobs. It helps us strengthen our pitches, change course or fulfill media contact research. How can we still perform this necessary function when the news is so disturbing, tending to bring us towards depression and anxiety? 

About the guest: Sheila Hamilton

Sheila Hamilton is the host of Beyond Well, a five-time Emmy award-winning journalist, radio host, and the author of two mental health-related books, All the Things We Never Knew and a new novel to be released this year. She co-hosted the highly-rated Kink morning show for more than a decade and was voted Portland’s favorite radio personality in 2016. 

Connect and follow Sheila 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.

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

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

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

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.

Tom Fuller & Dave Thompson: the APR [Podcast]

Tom Fuller & Dave Thompson: the APR [Podcast]

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.


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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.