January, 2020: Yes, there’s been a gap here in the news. Some medical issues had me sidelined for a while, but all is well now. I’m happy and proud to announce that once again I’m serving as the APR co-chair for the Montana Chapter of PRSA, along with Allison Linville, APR, who was one of the first students in the new APR program two years ago. Yes, I still live in Oregon, just east of Portland; and half my heart is still in Montana. I’m so lucky to have called both states home.
Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA
This year (2017), Dianne is the recipient of three major awards:1
- Our own Oregon Chapter’s Ron Schmidt Community Involvement Award honors the outstanding use of public relations to support community improvement and important causes.
- The North Pacific District’s Practitioner of the Year Award, given annually to a PRSA member in the North Pacific District who has worked full-time in public relations for more than five years and demonstrated excellence in public relations knowledge, skills and abilities. It honors those who have excelled professionally and given back to the industry through volunteer contributions to PRSA and mentoring young professionals.
- PRSA’s national Paul M. Lund Public Service Award, given to a PRSA member whose participation as a volunteer in important public activities has increased the common good and reflected credit on the society.
What did she do to deserve all this? Her 20-year background and extensive community service in her hometown of Beaverton, with various health organizations, as well as her strong commitment to PRSA as a board member, an awards judge, a mentor, and more all laid the foundation.
But what put everything over the top was what she did when she fought through several years of colorectal cancer. She had multiple surgeries and chemotherapy and radiation sessions – with some extreme complications requiring more surgery. And she came out of it thinking, “I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I wonder if other cancer patients feel the same way.” She began to envision an event that brought together patients, caregivers, medical professionals, insurance companies, and others who become involved when someone is diagnosed with cancer.
She started talking to people and testing the idea. She started playing around with graphics on her computer and designed a basic web site. She talked with her doctors, with other patients, with hospitals, caregivers, and more, and gradually Answer2Cancer was born. The free, day-long event was held on April 23, 2016.
Patients, for the first time in many of their lives, finally had others to talk with who understood their journey. They had professionals from a range of disciplines who could answer questions. The heard testimonials from caregivers and other cancer patients. They heard from doctors, from an Emmy-award winning journalist who flew in from the east coast, from nurses and palliative care professionals and pharmaceutical companies.
As a PR professional, Dianne put her skills to highly effective use a good year in advance as she started the fundraising process. Look at the sponsors on her home page: Compass Oncology, Regence, Bristol-Myers Squibb – Dianne did that. (http://www.answer2cancer.org) She got every single sponsor herself. In her inimitable way, she simply told people her idea, and not only were they on board, but they generally gave more than she asked. Others stepped forward to provide volunteer work on social media marketing and web site development. Dianne then went on to give media interviews, perhaps her most memorable one taking place with Helen Raptis of KATU’s AM Northwest (https://www.facebook.com/answer2cancerOR/). Raptis had lost her show’s co-host, Dave Anderson, to cancer just months before; Dave and Dianne were friends.
Then she turned around and lined up the speakers, including the journalist, advocate and cancer survivor Suleika Jaouad (pronounced: su-LAKE-uh ja-WAD), who flew out from New York for the event (http://www.answer2cancer.org/announcing…..html).
On April 23, the room was packed. Answer2Cancer did, indeed, use Dianne’s years of experience handling public relations in the health care industry to support community improvement and bring awareness to this very important cause. Fortunately, it hasn’t stopped there. She has since traveled to Arizona and Florida, giving presentations to interested communities in those states who want to emulate or become part of her community-building idea for cancer patients.
If you get to meet Dianne, you’ll notice that as soon as she enters a room, the energy changes to something very positive, very upbeat, and very strong. You’d never know to look at her today that she was ever sick, or that there were times when we were afraid she might lose the battle. But she is cancer-free, and continues to work to help other cancer patients and survivors. She also runs her own agency, PublixNW.
The national award – the Paul M. Lund award – was presented to her at the PRSA International Conference in Boston. The District Award and the Oregon Ron Schmidt Community Involvement award were presented during the Spotlight Awards ceremony held on Oct. 20 at the Willamette Valley Country Club in Canby. Much hollering, many cheers, and standing ovations accompanied all three presentations.
Oregon PRSA Chapter’s Spotlight Awards: Oct. 20 Where do great PR campaigns originate? Here in Oregon the answer is likely from hanging out in your favorite coffee shop or a taking a walk in the forest – suddenly the light goes on inside your head and that terrific creative idea pops up! We’re celebrating those bright ideas, their execution, and the PR professionals behind them — on the evening of October 20. Join us for what surely will be a magical evening.
- Be inspired: get a behind-the-scenes look at the best PR campaigns in Oregon.
- Open your horizons: Deepen and expand your personal network – who knows where that may lead?
- Relax and enjoy: celebrate with your PRSA tribe.
The premiere event for PRSA-Oregon takes place this year at the picturesque Willamette Valley Country Club in Canby, Oregon. Reconnect with old friends and meet new friends as PR professionals from Portland, Eugene and Salem regions are gathering for the first time as one chapter. Join us to celebrate some of our best work last year. Networking begins at 5:30 p.m. Dinner is served at 6:30 p.m.
September, 2017: Our new pubic relations Career Guide has been officially copyrighted, and will be published soon! We’ll put a copy of it here on the site as soon as we can. Our local Portland Metro Chapter of PRSA (now the Oregon Chapter of PRSA) originally tasked me with writing the Career Guide three years ago. Co-writer, editor and researcher Aaron Sewall provided enormous help, and we’re both proud of our efforts. Our national advisory team has been fantastic!
August, 2017: The Montana Chapter of PRSA is alive and well, and is about to reboot with a strong board and great professionals in the group. I had the privilege of taking a long driving tour around Montana this summer to help rejuvenate the chapter, which I’d originally founded in 1996. I am so impressed with the great pros there, who are far more experienced and educated than I ever was back in the day. I’ve rejoined the chapter to serve as APR Chair, and look forward to the announcement at our International Conference in Boston that Montana is back online and doing great!
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