New Member Spotlight: Lisa Rupple, Communications Coordinator
First job: I fluffed trains. My first job was in high school working for a photography studio as an assistant, which primarily meant herding entire extended families together for group wedding photos. At the very last moment I had to fluff the train of the bride's dress so it was picture perfect. It's like putting sheets on a king bed, lots of material and it never falls the way you want it to...and have your mother-in-law supervise.
First Job in PR/communications: I have only recently adopted an official PR/communications role as the communications coordinator for theCommunity Foundation of Lorain County, going on two years now. My background is as a historic preservationist. I worked in some tiny nonprofit groups and government offices with equally tight budgets where one person needs to play many roles. Public relations and communications were always one part of the job.
PR strength: Adaptability. It seems as though every day brings a change in an algorithm, a new social media channel (I am not yet barfing rainbows on Snapchat), or a new tool to help manage content. Being flexible helps with navigating the seemingly infinite variety of options and being willing to try things differently than "what we've always done before."
Favorite aspects of working in PR: I love connecting people with information that could help make the community a better place for all. At the Community Foundation, we have a community of donors, nonprofit grantees, funding partners, and passionate fans of the groups we support through endowments or grants. I feel our role is to share stories about important trends and causes in the community and hopefully inspire donors to support those causes through endowment.
Fun recent/current project: I also work as a writer helping history and historic preservation groups at The Right Raconteuse. Telling the stories of communities rising from literal ruin to be reborn as new and vibrant cities and small towns is inspiring and humbling. Right now, I am working on a blog post about the City of Xenia, Ohio, that was devastated by an F5 tornado in 1974. In the last ten years, Xenia has rocketed back to life through revitalizing its historic downtown. The City just received the only grant awarded in the country to rehabilitate upper-level apartments in its downtown core.
Advice to other PR professionals: Be kind and generous. I have always appreciated fellow communications professionals in sharing new tricks or hacks. Help out your favorite nonprofits by sharing and commenting on their posts. We are empowered with the knowledge of how important those engagement numbers are. I see it as almost like giving them a donation in kind. It helps them and you feel better, too.
Traditional media of choice: I enjoy a good old fashioned print newsletter. Getting them is a rare treat since so many organizations have moved to e-newsletters, including my own. At the Community Foundation, we recently re-introduced a quarterly print newsletter for our donors that do not receive the monthly email newsletter.
Social media of choice - Personally, I enjoy being on Instagram the most. I even won an archival print from a caption contest hosted by the Maryland State Archives on its Instagram account. I'm always on the lookout for history and preservation groups that are telling their story in creative and new ways. For the history world, that means contemporary and modern ways. When you're used to dealing in papyrus and vellum, Facebook can be a complex frontier.
Favorite quote about public relations: My favorite quotes come from Lynne Truss about good grammar and punctuation, essential skills for any PR person (despite the guaranteed mistakes in my own Member Spotlight, this is why I read her stuff!).
"Thurber was asked by a correspondent: "Why did you have a comma in the sentence, 'After dinner, the men went into the living-room'?" And his answer was probably one of the loveliest things ever said about punctuation. "This particular comma," Thurber explained, "was Ross's way of giving the men time to push back their chairs and stand up."
- Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
What would you do if you weren't in PR? I'd be making beehives that help our threatened honeybee population. Actually, I'm getting ready to do both!