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PRSA-NY Spotlight Board Member Profile - Joan Cear

Thursday, June 8, 2017  
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PRSA-NY Spotlight Board Member Profile - Joan Cear

By David M. Graubard

PRSA-NY will shine a well deserved spotlight on its Board member and dear friend, Joan Cear, with the President’s Award for her outstanding service to both the PRSA New York Chapter and the PRSA, at the Big Apple Awards Gala June 12th. Joan’s ability to engage and lift up members at various career levels, inspires. We admire Joan for her consistency, such as her graceful career pointers, explaining to a member their greatest strength in the job market. It’s not uncommon for Joan to have a friend doing just about anything in the communications industry that will grant an informational call or interview to a F.O.J. (Friend of Joan). And the marvelous part is that we just have to show up at a handful PRSA-NY’s fabulous events to become an F.O.J. And very likely Joan will introduce herself and welcome you to the chapter.


Spotlight Q&A:

  1. Why did you feel it was important to join the board and your present committee? What inspires you?

    My mantra is “you never know….”  You never know what opportunities lie ahead or where they might lead. I was introduced to the organization by a friend, Linda Krebs, and soon after, met with incoming chapter President at that time, Henry Feintuch.  I felt that I shared his vision for the Chapter.  I think that professional societies such as PRSA have a critical role in advancing the profession, developing the individuals within it, and showcasing the importance of our work.  Engagement among members at the local (chapter) level is key to a vibrant and thriving organization.

  2.  How long have you been a Board Member?

    I think this is my third year on the Board and with each year, I think I’ve become more effective in my role. In addition, as I get to know more members, I am able to engage them in committee and leadership roles that I hope will help to assure a strong leadership succession for our Chapter.

  3.  What does being a Board member mean to you, both professionally and personally?

    Professionally, it is an honor to serve on the Board of the PRSA-NY Chapter in the communications capital of the world.  I don’t believe in just joining an organization. What does that achieve? Give you a credential on a resume?  If you believe in something enough to join it, then get involved. I have found by getting involved I am constantly making new professional connections, building personal friendships and learning from smart people.

  4.  In your view, how does PRSA/PRSA-NY differ from other industry associations and what makes the Big Apple Awards so special?

    PRSA is great because we are connected by the same profession; we speak the same PR language, face similar challenges and have a shared understanding of how we define success.  The Big Apple Awards are to PR what Broadway is to theater.  The Big Time.  It’s where we celebrate the best PR campaigns as selected by judges of our peers - those who develop and implement public relations in the most creative and competitive PR market in the country.

  5. Are there any anecdotes, interesting challenges you've overcome, or unique experiences (including your Gala experience) that came from being on the Board?

    I had some challenges when I first came on board, understanding the business relationship between the national PRSA organization and our local Chapter -- I guess I might call them “ARRGHH!” moments.   But I’ve got it figured out now.  No worries!

  6.  Would you be willing to share an example of a goal you or your team are reaching for? Have you re-calibrated related goals if this is not your first year on the Board?

    As V.P. of Membership, I oversee a team of dedicated and smart volunteers who lead four committees and four key initiatives for our chapter: (I) member recruitment and retention, (ii) volunteer recruitment and engagement, (III) our mentoring program, and (IV) our engagement with the local PRSSA chapters and students. At the beginning of the year, each committee chair establishes a plan and sets goals.

    One goal is to build larger and more engaged committees within each of these areas to help us get the work done. Those are in place. 

    The membership committee set out to have more touch points with current and lapsed members this year and they have been making individual phone calls to remind people to renew, writing thank you notes and more.

    Mentoring set a goal of hosting two speed mentoring events and we just concluded one, so we’re on track there, too.  Those are just a few examples.  All our committees are doing amazing work - and it’s all done by volunteers.  Want to get something done?  Give it to a busy PR person! 

  7.  What's the win/win for volunteers?

    First, there’s building your network and making new friends through volunteering alongside other smart PR professionals outside of your workplace.  Next, there’s the satisfaction that comes from volunteering - doing work because you want to - not because you have to.  If I could work in my PRSA role full-time, I would do so gladly.  But, there’s this small matter of a paycheck.

Joan Cear
Senior Vice President


Joan develops and implements integrated marketing communications, issues management and crisis communications programs for a wide range of Kellen clients within the consumer, B2B, nonprofit, trade association and professional society sectors. A seasoned PR counselor and former journalist, Joan has worked in both agency and client PR roles and describes her job in three words:  “promote, protect, defend.”

Joan graduated from the State University of New York at Oswego with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, and serves on the university’s advisory board for its School of Communication, Media and the Arts.  She is vice president of membership for the New York Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA-NY), is a past president of New York Women in Communications Foundation (NYWICI), and a former board member of Make-A-Wish Foundation of Metro New York. 

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