PR’s Top Pros Talk…Social Justice – Rosemary Ostmann

We live in a time of multiple, evolving crises. It’s different from other crises that we’ve faced in my career, says Rosemary Ostmann, President & CEO at RoseComm. Generally, when tragedy strikes, we scramble to understand what happened and then and we begin to recover.

The most important thing for communicators to do now is to listen to what’s going on around them and be responsive as the situation changes. With so much confusion and potential for misinformation, all brands have a role to play in educating their stakeholders and helping the public navigate through these challenging times. This is especially important for organizations in the health and education fields where she spends much of her time.

PR’s Top Pros Talk…COVID – Ray Day

The most successful organizations will be those that spend most of their time focused on the future, says Ray Day, Vice Chair at the Stagwell Group. COVID digitally transformed and disrupted the world of communications and forced everyone to learn new ways to prosper in the digital era. Ray emphasizes the importance of implementing digital as a strategy not a tactic.

The role of communicators has never been bigger. Organization leaders need to strive for end to end digital transformation in order to thrive in the new normal. Ray urges communications professionals to embrace the mindset that new technologies will help them do their jobs more effectively and effectively, not make their jobs obsolete. A future mindset is the best thing that communicators can bring to their organizations or their clients today.

PR’s Top Pros Talk…COVID – Johna Burke

Organizations need to be using data driven measurement and evaluation in their program every day, says Global Managing Director at AMEC, Johna Burke. Companies that don’t are getting further and further behind.

By leveraging data, organizations can make much smarter and effective decisions when it comes to making cuts and reallocating resources. Johna stresses the importance of evaluating tonality and sentiment among other factors that drive communications strategy. It is important to continually understand and reevaluate priorities on a day to day basis and make changes to your messaging accordingly.

PR’s Top Pros Talk…COVID – Craig Minassian

Nonprofits can help address the COVID19 crisis and advance the social and racial justice movements happening today by taking an additive, supportive, and collaborative approach to communications, says Craig Minassian, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at the Clinton Foundation. This includes sharing stories and content that help foster a better understanding of the issues and needs, fact-based information and resources, and working together with other organizations to develop and amplify purpose-driven campaigns.


The economic uncertainty and scaling back of philanthropic support caused by the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the marketing budgets of many nonprofits. This puts a premium on PR and earned media efforts that help journalists discover stories and ideas to inform broader narratives and bring different human dimensions to the issues.

PR’s Top Pros Talk…COVID – Anna Lingeris

Agencies can work best by listening and being honest and empathetic, says Anna Lingeris, Earned Media & Brand Publicity Lead at the Hershey Company. It is more important than ever to read the news and spend time understanding how to work within the new norms in an empathetic way.

Organizations need to understand how their messages fit into what’s happening around them. These are times where the world needs heartwarming stories that would truly resonate with the audiences and provide relief, not carefully crafted, self-indulgent pieces.

PR’s Top Pros Talk… Social Justice – Donovan Thompson

The time to speak up is now. Executive producer of The Grapevine, Donovan Thompson, breaks down the current state of diversity and racial awareness in the workplace and shares thoughts on the effective ways to implement change.


PRWeek reported that only 13% of the leaders in PR agencies are non-white, even after five years of trying to increase diversity in the industry. This is a trend that goes beyond the PR field; black people are underrepresented in leadership roles across all industries. As a result, there is no one to speak to the diversity and colorism, says Donovan. He encourages that organizations allow diverse people to be experts in diversity, without alienating them. Donovan stresses the importance of empowering black employees with actual leadership roles, instead of just giving them diversity positions.


Diversifying your organizations could be tricky. Should the companies be explicit about their efforts? Donovan emphasizes that they need to be very overt about it, they need to make a real effort. Black employees find it complicated to speak out about systemic racism, fearing that it will follow them throughout their careers and create obstacles along the way. This is why it’s imperative for organizations to lead the way intentionally, allowing black people to take charge and encourage these conversations from the top down.


It’s ok to have awkward conversations, everyone needs to sweat a little bit, says Donovan. For employees, now is the time to speak up, advocate for changes that you’d like to see in the workplace and offer your services. Donovan is convinced that if organizations allow black people to be their full selves, it will revolutionize and promote the business in ways you wouldn’t imagine.

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PR’s Top Pros Talk – Matt Kucharski

Organizations need to get out of the “going back to normal” mentality. Matt shares findings of his team’s ethnography study that tries to understand how the mindset of executives is changing and evolving as a result of COVID-19 and racial unrest. The role of strategic communicators is increasingly becoming more important when it comes to giving advice on not only what to say during these challenging times, but what to do.

Matt also suggests that organizations be honest with their stakeholders and communicate with them, leveraging media, even if they don’t have all the answers. It is essential to acknowledge the issues that we are facing and actively cultivate change.

PR’s Top Pros Talk – Olga Fleming

Communities are stronger than ever. Olga encourages communicators to really take the time and understand what their communities are going through to convey  authentic messaging and show empathy.

She also stresses the importance of taking care of your employees first and then informing your customers on how you’re navigating the new environment on the channels that your audiences engage with. When it comes to social justice, staying silent Is no longer an option. Brands need to define what steps they are taking in the fight for social justice.

PR’s Top Pros Talk COVID – Marvin Stockwell

Marvin reminds us that this is the whole world’s crisis and we all have a role to play. This is a time for brands and non-profits to be flexible and give themselves permission to try new things. He encourages organizations to use television and media to convey how they are being helpful and useful during these challenging times.

Marvin also emphasizes the uptick in the interest and demand in science-related stories among the media. Audiences want to hear these stories now more than ever.

PR’s Top Pros Talk COVID – Gil Bashe

Transparency + Timeliness = Trust. This equation is crucial for businesses and communicators as they transform due to the accelerated change brought on by COVID. Will these changes be permanent? Gil shares his take for communicators and shares insight into the tidal wave of change within our healthcare system.

He also addresses the importance of getting your leadership communicating effectively through the media during these troubled times.