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Eye on Psi Chi: Winter 2008

Put the Spotlight
on Your Chapter

Virginia Andreoli Mathie, PhD, Psi Chi Executive Officer

At this point in the academic year your chapter has probably sponsored several successful programs, or one of your chapter members might have received a Psi Chi grant or award. Be proactive in sharing your chapter’s achievements with your university and local communities by publicizing your upcoming events, successful programs and service activities, members’ awards and grants, and chapter awards and recognitions.

Many chapters send emails or post announcements in the department about upcoming Psi Chi events. Don’t forget to follow up the event with announcements that describe your successful programs. People are attracted to and pay more attention to thriving organizations, so take the opportunity to inform others about your chapter’s successful programs as well as awards or recognitions. You might consider a variety of methods to publicize your chapter. For example, in addition to emails and posters, consider distributing bookmarks that list upcoming events for the semester on one side and awards or recognitions on the other side. Your chapter could also work with your student newspaper to print a monthly Psi Chi column or announcement. Press releases that highlight special achievements are also effective public relations tools. Sending press releases to hometown newspapers is a particularly nice way to recognize your members’ outstanding Psi Chi achievements. Here are some tips for effective press releases that are based on strategies used by public relations experts (R. Farberman, personal communication, September 16, 2005; Lee & Steele, 2007; Smulson, 2005). These lists are also available on the Psi Chi website (

General Tips for Successful Press Releases
  1. Target your school’s newspaper, your school’s local community newspaper, and members’ hometown daily or weekly newspapers. These are likely to be the most productive outlets for chapter publicity.
  2. Build a relationship with your school’s public relations office so the staff can help your chapter prepare press releases and announcements for alumni newsletters and magazines and faculty newsletters as well as local and hometown newspapers.
  3. Check your school’s library or public relations office for a copy of Bacon’s Newspaper/Magazine Directory (2008) to get the name and email address of the person to whom you should send the press release. This publication contains a comprehensive listing of all U.S. daily and community newspapers. If this directory is not available, ask your members or use the Internet to track down information about the newspapers in members’ hometowns.
  4. Send the press release by email. Use the Subject line to catch the person’s attention.
  5. Target the typically slow days: weekends, Monday, and holidays.
  6. Be persistent but not pushy or demanding. If you don’t get the first press release published, keep trying.
Writing the Press Release
The most effective press releases are short focused pieces that include only essential information. Keep the list below in mind as you write your press release.
  1. Include at the top of the press release the date, the name of your chapter, the email address and phone number for your chapter’s contact person, and a title that will capture the readers’ attention.
  2. Write professionally and in language readers will understand. Proofread your copy carefully to avoid spelling and grammatical errors.
  3. Address who, what, where, why, and how in the press release.
  4. Put the most important information at the beginning.
  5. Write the first two sentences so they capture the readers’ attention by establishing the link between the community and the content of the press release and showing why this information is important to that community.
  6. Keep the text short, simple, and focused on the event/accomplishment you want to publicize.
  7. The hometown angle is important with hometown newspapers so be sure to make the link between the award winner and the local area (e.g., local high school attended).
  8. Try to tie activities to current news events where appropriate (e.g., recent news story, time of year these events typically take place).
  9. Do not exaggerate; be accurate.
  10. Include information about Psi Chi at the end of the press release. An example of such a summary is available on the Psi Chi press release website.
Your chapter is an important contributor to the education community so put the spotlight on your chapter!


Bacon’s newspaper/magazine directory. (2008). Chicago: Cision. Lee, B., & Steele, S. (2007, February). PR 101: How to get desired results. Presentation at the annual meeting of the Association of College Honor Societies, Tampa, FL.

Smulson, E. (2005, September). Messages in and messages out: How congressional members utilize the news media. In N. Levitt (Chair), Importance of effective communications: Using the news media to advance psychology within your community and on the hill. Symposium conducted at the American Psychological Association Education Directorate’s Education Leadership Conference, Washington, DC.

Ever since her childhood in Toronto, Canada, Virginia (Ginny) Andreoli Mathie, PhD wanted to be a teacher. As the eldest of five daughters born to Thomas and Julia Andreoli, Ginny spent many summer days playing "teacher" in a make-believe classroom, with her sisters Dolores, Frances, Marion, and Donna playing the role of students. During high school Ginny wanted to be a mathematics teacher so in 1967 she entered the mathematics and computer science program at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. She soon became hooked on psychology as well and after completing her BMath and BA in Psychology degrees, she entered the social psychology program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she completed her MA and PhD degrees under the mentorship of John Thibaut.

In 1975, Ginny joined the psychology faculty at what is now James Madison University (JMU) in Virginia. During her 29 years at JMU she taught a variety of courses including introductory psychology, social psychology, research methods, and statistics. Given her love of teaching, she was honored to receive the 1981 JMU Distinguished Teacher Award and to be named the 2000 American Psychological Association (APA) Harry Kirke Wolfe Lecturer. Ginny's research with students and colleagues investigated topics such as factors related to family violence, differences between acknowledged and unacknowledged rape victims, and the effectiveness of instructional technology. Her publications and presentations address these topics as well as issues related to teaching and professional service. Ginny served eight years as coordinator of the JMU undergraduate program and the general psychology master's program and four years as department head. A very special highlight of her JMU career was her recent induction into the JMU Psi Chi chapter!

Among the many leadership positions she has held in professional organizations, Ginny served as a member of the Virginia Psychological Association (VPA) Board of Directors, as the VPA Secretary, and as founding president of the VPA's Virginia Academy of Academic Psychologists. She served on the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP; APA Division 2) Executive Committee for several years, was the 1995-1996 STP President, and currently represents STP on the APA Council of Represent-atives. Ginny was awarded APA Fellow status in STP in 1996. She also served on the APA Board of Educational Affairs (BEA) from 1997 through 2000 and chaired the BEA Technology Working Group, the 1999 and 2000 BEA convention programs on technology and education, and the APA Education Leadership Conference Technology Group. She was a member of the BEA Executive Committee, the BEA Education and Training Awards Committee, the APA Board of Directors Technology Applications Advisory Group, and the APA Com-mittee for Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS). One of the highlights of her career was chairing the Psychology Partnerships Project: Academic Partnerships to Meet the Teaching and Learning Needs of the 21st Century (P3), a five-year BEA project conceived by Ginny, Randy Ernst, a former chair of TOPSS, and Jill Reich, the former Executive Director of the APA Education Directorate. P3 produced many new partnerships between psychology teachers in high schools, community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and research universities as well as a variety of new resources to enhance psychology education. In recognition of her work on P3, Ginny received the APA 2002 Distinguished Contributions to Applications of Psychology to Education and Training Award.

In addition to her professional life, Ginny enjoys the special times she spends with her husband Jim, daughters Jennifer, Shannon, and Allison, son-in-law Ingmar, and grandchildren Mi Mi, Marieke, and Kees.

Copyright 2008 (Volume 12, Issue 2) by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology


Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

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