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On the Case With…

Each month, as part of “The Business Case for Public Relations,” PRSA asks an industry leader to reflect on his or her career and make a “business case” for public relations.

More from “On the Case With…”

On the Case with Marianne Spampinato, APR

January 2, 2013

Marianne Spampinato, APR, is the communications manager for the American Red Cross, Greater Alleghenies Region Blood Services in Johnstown, Pa. She joined the American Red Cross in 1981 as a public information specialist and holds a B.A. in journalism from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and an M.L.L.S. from Duquesne University. She also enjoys volunteering with her church and other community organizations.
As January is National Blood Donor Month, the Red Cross recognizes the nearly 11 million people who donate annually, and encourages others to do so in the New Year too.

“Through the experiences of family, friends and blood recipients I’ve spoken with, I know that ‘every two seconds in the U.S., someone needs a blood transfusion’ is more than a talking point,” Spampinato says. “Blood and platelet donors sustain life, helping accident victims, cancer patients, sickle cell patients, premature babies and others. About 38 percent of us can donate, yet only 8 percent of those eligible donate each year.”

Name: Marianne Spampinato, APR

Childhood ambition:
My parents may have taken photos of me playing nurse and teacher, but I loved to read and write. I developed holiday newsletters featuring articles and puzzles.

I was in high school during Watergate, so the power of words and images to make a difference — and maybe even change the course of history — further influenced me.

Current livelihood:
One of two communications managers in the 100-county Greater Alleghenies Region, which serves blood and platelet donors, blood drive sponsors, patients and hospitals in portions of six states

What changed (i.e. how you became interested in public relations):
I realized I wasn’t cut out to be an investigative reporter. I was fortunate to obtain a PR job in my hometown less than two months after graduating from Pitt.

First public relations job: 
I worked in the classified advertising department of the local newspaper during summers in college. And yes, we needed PR skills!

What you know now that you wish you’d known then:
I underwent treatment for Stage 1 Ovarian Cancer, an experience that alters perspective and priorities. I’m blessed to have been in remission for 11 years. Work, as defining who I am, has moved down the list, although I still give 100 percent.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received:
If you can laugh at it, then you can live with it; lead by example; and Emerson’s “Success”

Greatest professional accomplishment:
Contributing to a team that helped our service area grow from 28 to 100 counties

If you weren’t in public relations, you would be:
A freelance writer or blogger, a chef, working in my neighborhood Hallmark store — or all three

Desired legacy:
That my work makes a positive difference in helping donors, sponsors and patients; and that hosting dozens of interns has contributed to their professional development and career success, and that they pay it forward

Make a “business case” for public relations:
At our best, we’re the intersection where an organization’s interests and the public’s interest meet.


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