Member Spotlight: Abby Richter

This month, we spotlight new member Abby Richter.

Employer: Rising Above with John O’Leary

Title: Marketing & Media Manager

Social Media: Linked In -

Abby Richter PhotoWhat do you like most about your job?

Working for an entrepreneurial company – growing from inspirational speaking into a lifestyle organization offering multi-day events, online coaching programs, books and more – is thrilling! The opportunities are endless, the energy is high and the hats I wear are many! But what I love MOST is our mission – which we live and breathe and share with every client, partner and community member we encounter: “take back your life, ignite your possibility and change your world.”

For a girl who has been described her whole life as an “eternal optimist” – helping others find the silver lining and then thriving into their best life is absolutely where I am meant to be for the long haul.

What piece of advice would you give to someone studying communication? 

I have two tips.

First, get as much diverse internship experience as you can! If you start internships early on in college, you will get to see what aspects of communication you like and which you don’t - which will really help you focus on the right opportunities when you begin your job search. You’ll also have made lots of professional connections, which are critical when looking for your first job. Finally – never underestimate the power of the informational interview! Know a company you’d like to work for? A person whose career you admire? Ask for an informational interview to learn more about the company / industry / his career path and come armed with questions. This is a great way to learn from experienced professionals, network and get comfortable with interviewing in a low pressure setting. Also, when you land interviews, informational or otherwise: practice, practice, practice and create a portfolio of all the work from your internships.

Second, if you can: move away from your regional comfort zone for your first job. I moved to California for my first job out of college and I would not change my two years on the coast working for Girls Inc. of Alameda County for anything! The experience, independence and memories you make will make you a better person and professional candidate no matter where you land after.

What does life’s next chapter hold for you?

I just got married to my best friend in November, so this chapter is pretty unbeatable! My job at Rising Above is deeply rewarding, I love my team members and I feel professionally challenged. My family has their health. I’d say I’m hoping I can just extend this chapter for a while!

How has IABC St. Louis helped your career?

As a one-person marketing “department” I joined IABC in January to keep up on industry trends and build community / network with other small marketing departments. I actually organized a small sub-group that is going to meet monthly so we can share best practices, troubleshoot, brainstorm etc. if you are interested in joining – shoot me an

Branding a Spin Off: How Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals Successfully Branded Itself for an Exciting Future

Thursday, April 24, 2014
11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Maggiano’s Little Italy

Register Here

On July 1, 2013, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals successfully spun off of its former parent company, Covidien. Before Mallinckrodt’s independence could be celebrated, the Corporate Communications team had only 18 months to strategically rebrand the new company for future innovation and growth while honoring its 145-year heritage in St. Louis. Highlights of the presentation include:

  • How market research can provide valuable data to help drive a branding effort
  • What it takes to globally launch a new brand to internal and external audiences
  • Valuable lessons learned by the Mallinckrodt team during the project

About the Presenters

Patrick Hastings: Patrick is the Corporate Brand Manager at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and a member of the Corporate Communications team. He oversees global corporate brand management for the Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals brand, including corporate marketing and advertising. His previous experience includes consumer marketing with a new market entrant for Women’s Health under the POISE brand and new product innovation at Kimberly Clark, direct-to-consumer marketing and digital marketing for all orthopedic businesses at DePuy Orthopedics (a Johnson & Johnson Company), Health Management program development at Express Scripts, and market management for Nuclear Medicine products at Mallinckrodt Inc.

Annie Haarmann: Annie is the Manager, Web & Digital Media at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and a member of the Corporate Communications team. She oversees internal and external web and digital communications projects, including Her previous experience includes digital and social media strategy for nonprofit, business-to-business and business-to-consumer target audiences. She is a member of IABC, a St. Louis Quill Award recipient (Award of Merit, Writing), a CORO Women in Leadership graduate through FOCUS St. Louis and a St. Louis Business Journal “30 Under 30” award recipient.

Meeting fees:
$30 – Members

$40 – Non-members
$20 – Students

** No-shows will be billed their registration fee to reflect the per-person meeting costs.

Maggiano’s Little Italy#2 The Boulevard Saint Louis

Richmond Heights, MO 63117-1122

11:30 a.m. – Registration and Networking

12-1:30 p.m. – Program

BuzzFeed: The Superhero of the Email Newsletter

There’s a great scene in the classic comic book Watchmen in which a brainiac superhero gazes at a floor-to-ceiling bank of television sets — each broadcasting a different channel — so that he may occasionally spurt out uncannily oracular predictions about imminent trends in world events. In a way, this scenario is the story of BuzzFeed writ large (and minus the tights): by filtering a myriad of incoming data through a few well-trained and intuitive minds, the site’s crack staff has an almost unsettling ability to tap into the proverbial pulse of the cyberverse.

But things weren’t always like this. A few years before BuzzFeed became the viral cyclone of culture-crunching quizzes a la “Which Putin are You?,” the whole affair was ready to silently fade into the ether.  However, things took a big turnaround at about the same time the site signed up Politico writer Ben Smith as editor-in-chief and Spinmagazine’s Steve Kandell in 2012. The BuzzFeed crew already had solid culture credentials — CEO Jonah Peretti was a co-founder of the Huffington Post — but the addition of Smith and Kandell seemed to have created a tipping point.


There was the team’s move to stir more serious issues and longform formatting into the mix, a decision made when Smith noticed that even the deep stuff was now proliferating via feeds. The staff’s ability to make advertisers happy with BuzzFeed’s seamless fusion of branded content didn’t hurt either. But it was really when BuzzFeed started leaning on the intuitive flashes of its people to go beyond algorithms that the site began regularly producing feeds with shares into the millions. You can feed all the Big Data into a computer you like, but it appears it still takes a spark of human insight to know the world is craving pictures of cats playing with Syrian terrorists.

There are always naysayers of course, and more than a few pundits have chalked up some of BuzzFeed’s buzziness to plain and simple plagiarism in the manner of Peretti’s HuffPost.  But it’s still clear that the guys at BuzzFeed are onto something.

Questions remain, however. Will the site’s template evolve into more sophisticated channels of information, or descend into an ocean of silly meme generators? And will more powerful algorithms catch up with approximating the human factor, or will success always depend on the ghost in the machine?



This is a guest post by Camille McClane. Camille  is a writer and researcher who enjoys creating content on        a range of topics, including tech, social media, marketing and video production. She hopes you enjoy this article, and is honored to be among such great contributors here at IABC St. Louis!

Member Spotlight: Becky Lorentz

Becky1 002

Becky Lorentz is the Marketing Manager in Towers Watson’s St. Louis office.  Her responsibilities include creating marketing opportunities that introduce and reinforce awareness of Towers Watson’s services and capabilities, generating sales lead opportunities, enhancing and fostering relationships with existing clients, and creating internal awareness of key marketing initiatives. In addition to her current role, Becky has held positions in marketing, sales, product and project management. She holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia and an M.B.A. from St. Louis University. She is an avid fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Employer: Towers Watson

Title: Marketing Manager

Social Media: Linked In –

What do you like most about your job?  The people! I work with a lot of amazingly smart and insightful people. Every day I get to come to work and help deliver Towers Watson’s expertise to our clients by connecting my colleagues with the right tools, the right content, and the right communication at the right time.

Favorite quote:  “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  Dr. Seuss

When not working, you could find me: With 3 kids, I spend a lot of time going to soccer games, t-ball games, Cub Scout meetings, or wearing a tiara at princess tea parties. I also spend time perfecting my skills in Lego and fort building.

The most significant experience that shaped your career?  For a few years, I worked in Pharmaceutical Sales.  It was fun and challenging with a lot of successes, but sales is also very humbling.  The fantastic thing about sales is that both success and rejection are blatant.  I quickly learned that everyone communicates differently and in order to be successful, you need to tailor your approach and delivery on every call for that specific client – just because you want to talk about something, doesn’t mean that’s what the client is interested in hearing about.  I learned while some sales come easily, others require patience.  The amazing thing about building your sales and communication skills is that no matter what you do with your career, you will ALWAYS be selling someone on an idea, a viewpoint, an initiative, etc.  

Significant professional lesson learned:  I have found that the world is a small place.  St. Louis is smaller.  Never close a door. Never burn a bridge. The people you encounter – managers, clients, coworkers, perhaps fellow IABC members – you cross paths with again. Be smart. Be kind. Be the kind of person they want to remember.


Sharpen Your Pencil: Communication Measurement & Management Seminar

IABC Spring SeminarThursday, March 27, 2014
a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Frontenac Hilton

Register Here

Communicating without measuring? You’ve been there. Making sense of your social media metrics? You’ve probably done that. Managing content, budgets and communication plans? It’s all of our jobs! Attend this full-day conference to hear our industry’s leading communicators share principles and best practices on communication measurement and management.

IABC St. Louis Spring 2014 Seminar Program

Sessions and presenters will include:

• How Crisis Strategy Strengthens Day-to-Day Reputation Management
  Kim Link, Arch Coal, Inc.

• These Are A Few Of My Favorite… Social Media and Digital Marketing Reports
  Danielle Hohmeier, Atomic dust

• Engaging Employees to DRIVE Doe Run: A Business Strategy Launch Campaign
  Tammy Stankey, The Doe Run Company

• The Lindenwood Case Study: How Communications and Advanced Analytics Improved Its Customer Base
  Dr. Julie Turner, Lindenwood University and Don Bruns, The Survey Institute

• The Evolution of Brand: Mercy’s Experience
  Barb Meyer, Mercy

• Adapting for the Seismic Changes in our Business
  Christopher Barger, Author of “The Social Media Strategist”

Meeting fees:
$50 – Students
$125 – Members
$175 – Non-members

$30 – Breakfast-Only Option (Christopher Barger Keynote)

JOIN AND GO: Plus, if you join IABC in March, you can attend the seminar at the member rate and your application fee will be waived – that’s a savings of $90!

- Simply join at, then register as a member for the Seminar.

** No-shows will be billed their registration fee to reflect the per-person meeting costs.

Frontenac St. Louis Hilton
1335 S Lindbergh Blvd, St Louis, MO 63131

Complimentary parking is provided.

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors:

TSI New Final Logo





Member Spotlight: Jim Phelan

Phelan head shot

Jim Phelan is the Director of Global Public Relations for the product lifecycle management (PLM) software business of Siemens, a global engineering conglomerate. In addition to his current role, Jim has held positions in media relations, marketing, sales and engineering during his 34-year career. He was born and raised in St. Louis where he has spent most of his life. Jim has three grown children, ages 24, 22 and 20, all living in St. Louis.

What made you choose communications as a career?

I sort of backed into it. I actually consider communications to be my third attempt at a career. My first career was as a mechanical engineer for McDonnell Douglas where I got some experience using computer-aided design (CAD) software. My second career was selling CAD software for IBM and my current company. Then, a little over 15 year ago I decided to get out of sales because I wanted to stop traveling so much. So I started talking to several executives inside my company trying to find a place where I might fit. The head of Marketing at the time was looking to replace his outside PR agency with someone internally. He asked me to write a sample press release as a test, which I apparently passed and got the job. I think I’ve written or edited about a million press releases since then.

Are there any common threads that tie your diverse jobs together?

The common threads are engineering software technology and communications. I learned engineering in college and gained experience with CAD software in my first job. I always had somewhat of a knack for verbal communication, which prompted me to take a job selling the type of software I was using to other engineers. My transition into PR at an engineering software company was a natural fit because I used my technical background, sales experience and written communication skills to develop press releases and “sell” story ideas to editors.

What piece of advice would you give to someone considering a career in communication?

Know your audience! If you can understand and empathize with the various challenges that your audience faces, as well as the objectives they are trying to achieve, you can communicate to them on their terms and in their language. This will make your communication much more effective. Too many forms of business communication are developed from the point of view of the source, rather than that of the audience. After you write something, read it as if you were the target audience and ask yourself if you would take the action that the communication is trying to get you to take.

Has IABC played a significant role in your career?

Yes. In fact, just last year I won an IABC Gold Quill Award of Excellence for a global communications campaign I worked on with NASA, describing how they used our software to design, simulate and manufacture the Curiosity Rover that landed on Mars in 2012. It was very gratifying to receive that recognition and it helps validate all the hard work that went into the campaign.

How have you benefited from being an IABC St. Louis member?

Networking and knowledge. Even though I am a lifelong St. Louis resident, none of my jobs have connected me to other St. Louis companies and professionals. Other than the people I have worked with at my various employers, most of my connections have been outside the St. Louis area. IABC St. Louis gives me the opportunity to network with other St. Louis-based professional communicators and to learn from them.


5 Reasons to Add Video to Your PR Campaign


By Steve Turner, Solomon/Turner Multimedia Public Relations

Video is one of the hottest marketing and public relations trends.

The visual medium presents a huge opportunity to build brand, generate more web hits and add credibility to any marketing or public relations campaign.

In fact it has become a must-have part of the marketing toolbox for 2014. Here’s why…

1. Video is a great match for the growing need for short, “snackable” information. The growing use of mobile devices is creating a demand for messages that are brief, informative and entertaining. According to Pew Internet research¹, as of May 2013, 51% of U.S. adults owned a smartphone. In addition, as of September 2013, 35% of Americans age 16 and older owned a tablet computer. That number is expected to rise, providing marketers an excellent opportunity to tailor messages easily consumed by the mobile marketplace. Nothing works better for that than video.

2. Video helps elevate your company on search engines making it easier to find potential customers. Many companies create videos and post them solely on their website. However, that should be just the beginning of your video marketing. For example, YouTube² boasts some 1 billion user visits each month and six billion hours of video are watched every 30 days. According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more U.S. adults, age 18-34, than any cable network. The growth of YouTube has essentially made it the #2 “search engine” after Google. And, by the way, Google owns You Tube. Therefore each video should be posted on YouTube. In addition, other video sites such as Daily Motion and Veho offer opportunities to post videos and increase viewership. These sites also offer analytics to make your efforts measurable against your targeted audience.

3. Video is ideal for connecting with your customers through social media. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social sites provide an outstanding opportunity for businesses to connect with clients and prospects by linking videos to their posts. The links provide an easy way for clients to view your content. As viewership increases so will the elevation of your brand as you generate more website hits.

 4. Video helps increase open rates with email newsletters. Studies have shown that placing videos within email newsletters helps to increase open rates by as much as 60 percent. Clients and prospects are more inclined to watch a video than read an elongated report or whitepaper. The use of video should be a key part of any email newsletter strategy.

 5. Video humanizes your company and makes it real. The use of video can showcase your company and tell your story in a whole new way. The video can include photos of your company history, footage of your current facility, interviews with executives and staff, and even testimonials from customers. You can add music and other production techniques. The goal is to create an emotional bond between your firm and your client as only a video can.




Steve Turner is a Principal with Solomon/Turner Multimedia PR, a St. Louis public relations firm offering media relations as well as video, audio, PowerPoint marketing, and digital marketing. The firm was founded in 1990 and works with clients on a national and local basis. Steve’s blog is The website is He can be reached by email at and by phone at 314-205-0800.


Interested in submitting a guest post to IABC St. Louis? Email us at for Blogger Guidelines.

IABC February Event: How to Herd Cats, Or, Mastering Team Leadership

Thursday, February 27, 2014
11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Maggiano’s Little Italy

Register Here

So, you’re good at what you do.  And you’ve been rewarded with the opportunity to lead a departmental or cross-functional team to complete a visible project.  Or maybe you’re making the leap to the manager, director or vice president level, with new authority and the expectation of producing results through teams.  The trouble is, most of us don’t get to pick our team members.  We work with whoever is in a given position at the time.  And that doesn’t guarantee teamwork – or success.

High achievers often are rewarded with leadership roles only to find the skills they used to excel on their own aren’t the ones they need to succeed as a team leader.  Understanding your preferred leadership style, and learning to accurately assess others’ preferences in a team context, is key to leading productive teams.  This meeting will help you:

  • Understand the different types of teams,
  • Adjust your leadership style accordingly,
  • Make your team productive, and
  • Deal with common dysfunctions.

There are different types of teams and different types of leadership.  Whatever hand you are dealt, you can make the most of it by understanding team members and dynamics; what you can and can’t influence; and how to encourage productivity and defuse conflict – skills that will make you shine as a team leader.

About Our Speaker

Thomas A. BrowdyOur speaker is Thomas A. Browdy, PhD, a professor and consultant with more than 25 years of experience in project management, organizational behavior, leadership and related topics. He currently is director of the Master of Project Management (MPM) and Graduate Certificate in Project Management programs at Washington University in St. Louis, where he is also an affiliate professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.  Dr. Browdy holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, a master’s degree in Information Management, and a doctorate in Organizational Behavior and Psychology.  He has authored two books on project management, and published numerous professional and academic articles.

Meeting fees:
$30 – Members
$40 – Non-members
$20 – Students

** No-shows will be billed their registration fee to reflect the per-person meeting costs.

Maggiano’s Little Italy#2 The Boulevard Saint Louis
Richmond Heights, MO 63117-1122

11:30 a.m. – Registration and Networking
12-1:30 p.m. – Program

IABC January Event with PRSA: Content Creation and the New Communications Model for 2014 and Beyond

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
BJC Learning Institute

Free Parking: In the garage behind the BJC Learning Institute. Take the elevator to the pedestrian bridge and follow the signs.

Register Here

Join PRSA and IABC for our annual joint meeting on January 22nd. The ubiquity of information vying for our attention, and increased accessibility and addictive nature of it via mobile devices, will require big leaps forward in how organizations think about communications and work to break through the clutter and confusion. Dave Collett and Jason Wellcome from Weber Shandwick will discuss how this transformation is taking place – and give some great examples of businesses and organizations that are gaining traction.  They will also call out some new themes and other emerging factors to consider for 2014 and beyond as our communications landscape continues to evolve.


Jason WellcomeJason Wellcome
EVP, General Manager of Mediaco
Weber Shandwick

Jason Wellcome heads up Mediaco, Weber Shandwick’s content creation and distribution unit focused on delivering a comprehensive approach to brand publishing. The new unit builds on the firm’s pioneering work in the space and combines first-rate editorial planning and production, emerging technology and paid media in support of distribution and discovery of content. Today, Mediaco includes 100+ specialists spanning a range of disciplines required to deliver a full service content offer including: brand planners, editors, user experience designers, writers, SEO experts, media planners, producers and more.

Jason also continues to co-lead one of Weber Shandwick’s largest digital teams, a group he founded and helped grow into one of the firm’s thriving digital centers, encompassing digital strategy, experience design, content strategy and orchestration, social campaigns, community management, and more. He has spent more than a decade managing strategic communications, social media campaigns and integrated marketing efforts for Fortune 500 and multinational clients, including PepsiCo, Microsoft, Unilever, Samsung and Verizon Wireless.

Jason previously oversaw the firm’s Digital Entertainment practice, managing clients in the converging world of entertainment and consumer technology. His work spanned the dawn of online music services and the launch of numerous digital media offerings, from audio and video codecs to rights management software and high definition video standards.

With a strong technical acumen and experience exploring new opportunities with the social web, Jason has gained a unique perspective helping clients embrace the virtues of digital storytelling, brand building through engagement and tapping into audience advocacy.

Dave CollettDave Collett
EVP, General Manager
Weber Shandwick

As executive vice president and general manager of the St. Louis office, Dave Collett counsels clients such as Anheuser-Busch InBev, Ameren, FedEx and others on strategic integrated communications – and how content can be used as a catalyst of conversations to engage key constituency groups.

Previously, Dave was a global client relationship leader (CRL) for a major Weber Shandwick account, responsible for setting overarching communications strategy and ensuring the performance of all Weber Shandwick teams and work-streams across more than 40 countries, while serving as a strategic advisor for the company’s communications leadership in its corporate headquarters.

Prior to joining Weber Shandwick in April 2004, Dave served a variety of Fortune 100 accounts during his seven-year tenure at another major agency, ultimately holding the title of vice president. There, he directed major national communications campaigns and became well versed in developing strategies for forging relationships with media, analysts and other influencers at all levels. Dave also brings a wealth of experience in corporate communications, C-suite executive speechwriting, crisis communications, and merger and acquisition communications.

Prior to that, Dave was at the corporate communications department of McDonnell-Douglas, which at the time was one of the nation’s largest defense contractors and is now a part of Boeing. At McDonnell Douglas, Dave specialized in internal communications, product communications, and communications supporting the company’s merger with Boeing.

Dave has written for the Associated Press and Wired Magazine. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Truman State University, with an emphasis in journalism and a minor in English. An avid musician, he is married and has three children.

Students: $25
Members: $35
Non-Members: $45
*Price includes buffet dinner & beer/wine/soda

Chicken Marsala
2nd Entree (Fish, Beef, Vegetarian, Pork)
Green Beans with Garlic Roasted Almonds
Rice Pilaf
Garden Salad
Assorted Dessert

Member Spotlight: Mary C. Foshage

Mary C. Foshage works in communications for SSM Health Care, a Catholic, non-profit health system that spans four states: Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, with its headquarters here in St. Louis. For more than three years she worked in public relations and marketing at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center and for SSM Maternity Care. Outside of work Mary enjoys time with her family, playing sports, learning the violin and volunteering which she does for a few different organizations, including IABC St. Louis.

What do you like most about your job?

New challenges. SSM has never shied away from challenging people to accomplish new and better things. And in communications there are always new strategies to explore, new media to test out, new relationships to cultivate and new obstacles to think through and overcome.

What is the most significant experience that shaped your career?

A few years ago my boss and mentor left for a position at another organization. This was a good move for him, but it came at a hard time. We weren’t aware of his changing jobs and were in the middle of an international media craze. It was sad, exciting but even nerve-racking all at the same time. In the end my colleague and I pulled together (with help from other co-workers) and got through the month-long media hurricane.

It was a few more months before another team member was hired so the craziness didn’t cease right away. Still, that time was a great learning and growing experience. I learned a lot about working under stress and that at the end of the media crazy day there is still work on your desk that has to get done. I also learned that a bit of coffee and a lot of laughter can get you through those 12- to 14-hour days on minimal sleep.

How has IABC St. Louis helped your career?

In working on the IABC St. Louis Quill Awards and attending different lunch/lecture series I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with so many great people. Everyone comes from such different backgrounds and brings such unique opinions that it’s really connected me not just to people, but the pulse of “what’s going on.” Building good relationships is key, but staying on top of the latest trends and tools is vital to an organization’s, and a person’s, success.

Why did you volunteer for the 2013 St. Louis Quill awards committee?

Actually, it was suggested that I volunteer before before becoming a full IABC member. The awards committee needed people and I’ve always loved volunteering and event planning so it seemed like a good fit.

Since being with the planning committee, I have become a full member and have even moved into the role as event Chair. The 2014 awards program is going to be a lot of fun. We have some really great changes (and new challenges) that I think will really get people excited about entering their work and coming to the event. Keep an eye for details!

What significant professional challenges have you overcome in the last year?

I’ve had to learn to say “no.” It’s such a small word, but for a person who loves pleasing people and doing a good job, it’s a challenging little word. But no matter a person’s work style, one person, or even one team, cannot do everything, at least not effectively. Saying “no,” or at least “not right now” or “not in that way,” frees up a lot of time and energy for the few things that really need to be done and done well.