We’ve Moved


Capelin Communications – pioneers in public relations for professional service firms and still the leader after nearly 30 years – has moved to new offices in the DeVinne Press Building at 23 East 4th Street [at Lafayette Street].

The company specializes in strategies and public relations for the design, construction, and real estate industries. Joan Capelin, president of the 29-year-old firm, is a much-honored consultant, author, lecturer, and coach. She points out that “Everything else is changing – in our clients’ work, in our field, in the economy, and, very pertinently, in New York real estate. This downtown move suits our creative side and our upbeat approach.”

PRSA College of Fellows Honors Joan Capelin with its First-Ever Award for Outstanding Leadership

Capelin Communications is honored to announce that Joan Capelin has been named the first recipient of the Public Relations Society of America [PRSA] College of Fellows’ Outstanding Leadership Award.

Joan was admitted in 1993 to the College of Fellows, an honorary organization within PRSA comprised of senior practitioners and educators, who go through a rigorous screening by their peers.  She later served as the Chair of the college in 1999.  She established its motto of “Leadership and Legacy” and created the “GoodFellows,” a program that identifies and coaches candidates to the College through the application process, and has over the last decade formalized the policies and procedures for the selection process – in essence, setting the standards for acceptance.

“I’ve got a close-in understanding of Colleges, what they look for in candidates, and how they operate – particularly AIA’s as much as PRSA’s,” Joan remarks.  “Fellows usually have garnered all the awards around.  It’s so rare that a College creates an award all its own, I was totally taken by surprise.”

The award was presented to her by Michael L. Herman, 2009 Chair of the College, at the annual dinner for new Fellows last November in San Diego. Referring to Joan as the “College’s Godmother,” Herman remarked that, “Not only is she a unique personality, [she] travels her own road and speaks her mind. She deserves a place in the cadre of the Grand Dames of Pubic Relations.”

Joan Explains How to Write Trustworthy Letters of Reference in Marketer

Letter writing is an essential business skill, but not everyone understands the basics of writing reference letters, such as those that introduce a job candidate or nominate someone for a specific honor.  In her February 2010 column for the SMPS Marketer“Please, Mr. Postman…,”  Joan Capelin provides hints for both letter writers and seekers.  “You will need the right people to write for you,” she insists, “but they must also advise how they know you.”

Joan discusses how to set the context and tone for a letter of reference as well as basic formatting rules that many people tend to forget.  She suggests including personal anecdotes that strengthen the message of the letter but warns about regurgitating the candidate’s resume.  

Joan recommends that letter seekers follow up with their writers to stay on target for the due date. “There is no harm in moving it up a week or two,” she remarks.

Marketing Blog Quotes Joan’s Advice on Distributing Press Releases

On his website Help Everybody Everyday: New Marketing Approaches for the A/E/C Industry, marketing professional Matt Handal quoted Joan Capelin in a post titled, “Press Release Services.” 

Handal had asked the Society of Marketing Professional Services’ [SMPS] listserve whether it is preferable to use these services or internally produce a release.  Joan pointed out that none of these media services, however robust, focus on the A/E/C industry and offers her take: “If someone in-house can’t pull together a press list, then I counsel them to hire people who understand…what to do before and after the release is distributed, crucial strategy that your question evades.”  She also emphasizes the importance of researching targeted publications and becoming known to specific editors.

Design and construction firms usually don’t have the time to cultivate media relationships and maintain a press list; that’s the scope of a public relations consultant.  She addresses the topic in further detail in her chapter, “The Great Publicity Quest,” in the latest SMPS Marketing Handbook for the Design and Construction Professional.

“Last Writes: The Challenges of Communicating the Executive Obituary” Appears in PR Monthly

At some point, nearly every PR professional faces the daunting task of writing an obituary for an organization’s executive. Joan Capelin wrote a wryly entitled article, “Last Writes,” for the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) monthly publication Tactics to address this sensitive subject.

“An obituary is more than just an announcement,” Joan writes; it is also a way to “remember the life and communicate the deep sense of loss for both those who hardly knew the deceased to those who knew him or her intimately.”  The writer must consider the remaining family members, professional legacies, philanthropic connections, and – a critical focus – the viability of the organization left behind.

Joan offers many obituary-writing suggestions, including how to quickly research the salient information and why to alert key members of the media as soon as you can.  “This will avoid the publication of incorrect accounts, particularly since, once posted on the Internet, errors proliferate,” she explains.

Perkins + Will’s Harrison Shows How to Become a Leader in Sustainability

Phil Harrison, AIA

Philip Harrison, AIA

Joan Capelin interviewed Philip Harrison, President and Chief Executive Officer of Perkins + Will, for the 19th interview of the “Sound Advice” series.

The podcast provides Phil’s theory about the benefit of diversification; his take on what the future will look like, including the “new frugality”; descriptions of Perkins + Will’s approach to sustainability and how he remains optimistic in the face of the recession.

Phil Harrison joined the firm in 1993, working with science + technology, healthcare, and corporate clients.  He has served as the firm’s President, a member of the firm’s Board of Directors, and Managing Director of one of the largest regional practices in the firm. 

As President & CEO he leads firmwide initiatives and implements overall fiscal, marketing and strategic plans.  In addition, he maintains hands-on involvement with ongoing projects as a Principal-in-Charge. 

Perkins + Will [www.perkinswill.com], founded 74 years ago, is a Top-10 international [21 offices around the world] design firm that became the AIA Firm of the Year in 1999.  Architect magazine named Perkins + Will No. 1 most sustainable design firm in 2009; certainly, it has more LEED-Accredited Professionals than any other firm. 

Phil holds a Harvard College Bachelor of Arts degree and a Harvard Graduate School of Design Master of Architecture degree “With Distinction.”  A member of the American Institute of Architects, he has been or remains a Commissioner on the Atlanta Urban Design Commission, a member of the Board of both the National Building Museum and of the Museum of Design Atlanta, a member of Leadership Atlanta, a member of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy [CECP], and a member of the Executive Committee of the AIA’s Large Firm Roundtable.

Click here to listen to Phil’s interview.  Visit our “Sound Advice” page to hear other podcasts in the series.