Eulogy for our Dear Colette Bleistine

Below is my eulogy for Rowan University public relations major Colette Bleistine. I am honored and humble that Nancee and George Bleistine asked that I speak at Colette’s funeral. [To comment:]

Where do I start? Like all of you, I am heart broken and devastated – and have been for weeks. I am an optimist and continue to be – because our Colette is in a better place.

So…where do I start? How about at the beginning? My memory of meeting Colette is as vivid as if it were yesterday. As is my routine, I started that particular day going to my mailbox near our Advisement Coordinator’s office. There – like so many other students before and after her – was this beautiful, blonde, young lady with a contagious smile. Esther Mummert quickly told me we had a Star in our midst – a New Jersey Stars Scholar … to be exact. I soon discovered, I was in the presence of a super star.

With a firm handshake, the new student told me she was Colette Bleistine and was excited to be transferring into Rowan’s outstanding Public Relations program. My immediate thought: I was looking at a “TastyKake” [PAUSE] All the good things wrapped up in one.

Naturally, I told her … I’m available for anything she might need. And … as is the norm, Esther asked if I would take Colette on … as her academic advisor. I told her I would be honored.

During our first discussion, we discovered we had something in common. Colette graduated from Washington Township High School and I, too, am an alumnusof sorts. I was once public information director and told her I took blame for that darn high school building being as BIG as it is. As I chuckled, Collette flashed that incredible smile … that so often lit up every room she entered.

As we were selecting courses – Colette told me about her challenges and gave me an education about Cystic Fibrosis. As I quickly learned, she expected NO special treatment. I assured her we were all here for her and … whenever she needed treatments or had a doctor’s appointment …not to worry.

Let me take a moment to tell you something you already know. When it came to responsibility, Colette set the benchmark.

In one of my classes – Impact of Public Relations on the News – an intense, rigorous course … reserved only for the best… Colette had – shall I say – a bad couple of weeks – not once, but twice. BUT…and this is key…every assignment was completed on time … and both of her oral presentations were as good as any … ever. These were her grades for the 14 assignments we had in that class: Five A- minuses, Six A’s and … a rarity in my classes …YES, three A+’s. Can you imagine? … a final average of 94-point-eight …second best in the class by only one point … Can you imagine?

Not long ago, actress Sigourney Weaver was interviewed on “CBS Sunday Morning.” She was asked if she had advice for aspiring young performers … and Sigourney Weaver offered advice to everyone looking for that first job. Paraphrasing, she said, not only is it important that the icing on the cake or the package on the product be appealing and sizzling, but once you get below the icing or open the package, it should remind you of a fine steak. Our Colette was both … the sizzle and the steak.

I once asked Rowan’s former president, Dr. Donald Farish if there were anything that kept him awake at night and without hesitation he said, “The passing of a student.” He reminded me, students are our surrogate children. How right he is.

Using the words of my long-time friend and now colleague Professor David Hackney, “Colette certainly touched a lot of people at Rowan through her classes and her extracurricular work.

“She made such a difference in the world in her short life. She would have made an even greater difference had she been granted the gift of time.”

Just two weeks ago, Colette’s inspiration and enthusiasm were evident as she planned the PRSSA Graduation Dinner from her hospital bed. I got e-mails from her almost every day … and sometimes several a day … as she dotted every I and crossed every T. The dinner was flawless.

Back in 2002, PRSSA included among its TonyS, the Outstanding Student Awards, a “Most Courageous Student.” I know we all agree, this year, that Award goes to Colette.

Last night at the viewing we heard two words over and over that best described this extraordinary young woman – inspirational and exceptional. And, let’s add – totally amazing.

As her mother Nancee says: “She used all of her challenges to make the world better. G-d sent her into this world to be a light for him.”

Might I go so far as to say, G-d gave us all Colette to be the light for us. Quite a legacy.

For my wife Nancy and me … Colette will forever be … a Blessed memory.

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SEPTA’s Richard Maloney inducted into Rowan University [Professional] Public Relations Hall of Fame

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On May 6, Rowan University welcomed Richard maloney, director / public affairs and marketing– Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), into its hall of fame. Below is my intro:

Introducing Rowan University’s newest inductee into our Professional… Public Relations…Hall of Fame is a special honor. We have known each other for more than 30 years.

Richard Maloney … probably doesn’t even realize… he has impacted my life more than once.  I am forever indebted to him and have often taken two of those life-changing experiences into the classroom.

Richard’s detailed bio is in “Dinner Bell” so allow me to share how Richard was an award-winning reporter at KYW Newsradio and has carried that skill into his public affairs career.

During the ’80s at KYW, while we was working on one of our 20-part Regional Affairs  Council series, Richard – a true grammarian and outstanding writer – suggested techniques for turning those recorded interviews into scripts in a more efficient, effective, accurate and quicker manner. Quite simply, it is the art of transcribing the script and then selecting the quotes…or voice cuts…and writing bridges to bring those voice cuts together. It seemed cumbersome and time-consuming. I soon discovered, though, it makes for outstanding reporting and even better writing and I’ve used that approach ever since.

The other life-altering event is when Richard had been offered a position with the U.S. Labor Department and had decided not to accept it. He returned to KYW that day and suggested I meet with regional public affairs director Jack Hord. I did so that very same day, was offered the position on the spot and the rest…as they say…is history.  By the way, one of the contingencies was that I be allowed to continue teaching as an adjunct at Glassboro State College – now Rowan.

Richard, I thank you for that and for all of the wisdom you bestowed upon your KYW Newsradio colleagues…a true team that settled for nothing short of working hard together to accomplish our goal of doing our best as we served more than one million listeners in the Greater Philadelphia Region.

That talent and work ethic served Richard well as he decided it was time to stop chasing accidents, shootings and fires…and made the bold move into public affairs where he continued to excel.

After leaving KYW, Richard has served as Group Vice President/Communications – Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Senior Director Public Relations/Operations – Independence Blue Cross and since 1999, Director / Public Affairs & Marketing– Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)

Where he is responsible for public affairs and marketing at the fourth largest public transit agency in the United States. Soon after arriving – and to this day –  Richard established media credibility for SEPTA and carries that reputation into every communications crises – whether it be labor, budget or an operation crisis.

Richard  is responsible for marketing SEPTA’s New Payment Technology program, a $250 million state-of-the-art fare collection system.

He also serves on the Marketing and Communications Committee of the American Public Transit Association.

Richard Maloney lives by the credo of credibility – Open, Honest, Thorough and Valid. While remaining strategic, he never wavers from the truth.

So, Richard…it is a special honor to induct you into a Hall of Fame that includes Fraser Seidel, Robert Dillenschneider, James Grunig, Anne Barkelow, PRSSA founding advisor Professor Anthony Fulginiti,  Dr. Donald Bagin, your friends and colleaguesJ. William Jones…and our founding professional advisor Anne Sceia Klein and…the mother of PRSSA, the late Betsy Plank.
Please join me as we induct Richard Maloney into the Rowan University Professional Public Relations Hall of Fame.

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Colleen Kebles receives ‘Litwin Family — Rowan University Gold Medallion’

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On May 6, I was honored to present Rowan University Senior Colleen Kebles with the “Litwin Family Gold Medallion for Outstanding Strategic Writing.”  Here is my introduction:

Before making the presentation, I would like to recognize a previous medallion recipient and past PRSSA president, Rosie Braude. In fact, Rosie is our ONLY

two-time medallion winner…one as an undergraduate and one as a graduate student. Rosie chaired National Conference in 2007 and was Outstanding Chapter president in 2008 – truly my right arm in every way.

Nancy, my sisters Janice and Eileen…and I are thrilled to present this year’s Litwin Family Medallion for “Outstanding Strategic Writing” to a student who not only meets all of the criteria but far exceeds them…

Grade Point Average = 3.9

  • She has extensive Community, College and

University service and…

  • “Outstanding, persuasive, strategic and

objective-oriented writing that drives audiences to the desired “Call to Action.”

In a nut graph, this medallion recognizes THEeee “Outstanding Strategic Writer” among all seniors.

It’s worth noting…I did not judge. Those who did…pointed out that while all those considered had excellent credentials, our recipient…to quote the judges…blew everyone else away.

Our recipient…among her other contributions…has been serving as the Disney internship campus rep for the past two years. I have been honored to work with her. So, this is truly a magical moment in her life.

Please join me in congratulating the 2012… Litwin Family Medallion Recipient…Colleen Kebles.

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Social media sites and applying for jobs — Beware

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CareerBuilder’s Debra Auerbach gets into social media in Sunday’s (May 6, 2012) Courier-Post. She says, “Social media have changed the way we connect, learn and interact with one another.”

A new CareerBuilder study finds that 37 percent of companies surveyed use social networking sites to reserach job prospects. When asked which sites they visit most frequently to research employees, companies gave these sites:

  • Facebook = 65 percent
  • Linkedin = 63 percent
  • Twitter = 16 percent

Twelve percent of hiring managers – now called “talent acquisition strategist” say they are using social media to uncover reasons not to hire a candidate. Most say they’re “trying to dig deeper than the traditional interview to find out:

  • Whether the candidate presents him/herself profesionally = 65 percent
  • Whether the candidate is a good fit for the company culture = 51 percent
  • More about the candidate’s qualifications = 45 percent
  • Whether the candidate is well rounded = 35 percent

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