March Bulletin 2011


Detroit Chapter Public Relations Society of America  |  March 2011


Changes, We’ve got Changes!

This month’s Bulletin includes a new feature, “Member Profile.” Kicking off the monthly feature is a Q-and-A with Lisa Olney of Detroit’s VA Medical Center. She’s a thoughtful, inspiring PR pro who you surely will want to meet.

Also planned for 2011 are opportunities to write guest articles. If you have a burning desire to write about a PR-related issue, cover one of PRSA-Detroit’s events, or explore another suitable topic for Bulletin readers, contact Co-Editors Jared Bryan and Ilene Wolff.

And, current chapter President Susan Ferraro, APR, is breaking with tradition and offering her “President’s Column” some months to other board members. Look for a guest column in April.

Upcoming Event – ‘Mother Knows Best: Meet the Mommy Media’

Plans are still being finalized for the “Mother Knows Best: Meet the Mommy Media” event mentioned in the January/February edition of the Bulletin. Keep an eye on your e-mail inbox and the PRSA-Detroit calendar for details. In the meantime, check out this mommy blogger article from the Feb. 23 edition of the New York Times Magazine.

Member Profile – Meet Lisa Olney

PRSA President Susan Ferraro, APRName: Lisa Olney

Position/Employer: Public affairs officer/John D. Dingell VA Medical Center

How did you get the job? Applied, interviewed and hired.

How long have you been in PR/marketing/communications/advertising? Why did you choose this field? A little more than two years. I wanted to enhance the communication within our medical center with the veterans, staff and stakeholders.

What’s your dream job in our field? Attending the National Veterans games, and being able to write stories that highlight veterans.

Not including your current position, what was another favorite job or career highlight of yours and why? Being a mediator within the federal system, I am able to help parties settle disagreements (e.g., for equal employment opportunity issues, non-promotion, etc.) by assisting them in being heard and then coming up with a plan to move forward.

If you weren’t in the pr/marketing/communications/advertising field, what would you be doing? Mediator

If you could accomplish one professional goal in 2011, what would it be? To be able to make communication more user-friendly and available to all persons within our medical center and to the public.

What/who has been the biggest influence on your career? The U.S. veterans: I want to be able to tell their stories and make sure that they have the information needed to make their visit to our medical center productive. (Editor’s note: Olney is a U.S. Air Force veteran and her uncle served in the Vietnam War.)

What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in our field? Enjoy what you do and listen well – everyone has something interesting to say!

If you could have coffee or drinks with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why? Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki: I would like to sit with him to ask how I can help meet his goal to end veteran homelessness in five years.

Let’s get Social

By Jared Bryan

As public relations professionals with varying talents and experience, we have much to learn from one another. Whether it’s sharing tips at a PRSA-Detroit event, connecting with professionals from other chapters at the state conference, or traveling to the annual international conference to network, we all are seeking ways to stay current in our industry. There’s one thing that all of these things have in common: making connections.

What if you could take your networking to the next level? Instead of meeting once a month, or once a year – how about staying in touch with your closest connections every day? And while you’re at it, why not connect with your PRSA-Detroit chapter as well?

The power of social media offers you just this opportunity! Next time you are at a PRSA-Detroit event, don’t just exchange a business card, or handshake, but connect with those you meet online. Think of it as an opportunity to keep your initial connections vibrant, even when you aren’t sitting down to breakfast, drinks or dinner together.

In addition to being able to connect with colleagues, did you know you also can connect with our chapter? Our highly dedicated Social Media Committee keeps our channels up-to-date, and they always welcome connecting with our members. If you aren’t already, join the conversation by connecting with PRSA-Detroit on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Not only would we enjoy your input, but you might even find that learning and networking just got a little easier. Next time you are online, send us a tweet, share a photo of a recent event or offer your colleagues your perspective on something you read.

Whatever you do, let’s make it a goal to stay connected!

From the President’s Desk


Susan Ferraro, APR

PRSA President Susan Ferraro, APR

“Susan, what do you do for your job?” This sweet and innocent question came from my 10-year-old neighbor John. His interest stemmed from a question from his teacher about what he “wants to be” when he grows up. Because John isn’t sure of his future career calling (Who is at 10 years old?!), he started asking the grownups he knew what they did for a living. But before I could answer John’s question, his father (a lawyer!) chimed in, “Oh, John, Susan is one of those public relations people who make their clients look good even when they do bad things – they don’t call them ‘spin doctors’ for nothing! I bet Charlie Sheen has called her several times by now.” Before I could defend my profession against my neighbor’s completely inaccurate representation of the work of public relations professionals, I recalled a conversation with my cousin who insists my job rivals that of the character Samantha in Sex and the City. “I always see you dressed up fancy and going to parties – like the one they have every year at the auto show and show on television,” she once told me. I had to tell my cousin that in no way did my job (or personal life!) resemble that of the FICTIONAL character Samantha – and that every time I’m all dressed up for an event – it’s all work and no play.

And I always hear my proud mother’s words in the back of my head when she tells people her daughter is in public relations. “Of course, she would be in public relations,” mom often says. “In high school, she was the homecoming queen, a cheerleader, the best all-around girl and always got along with everyone in school since she was in kindergarten. She’s always been (and then she says the words that make me cringe) a ’people person’!”

Of course mothers get special dispensation from comments like that because they mean well!

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you? As I noted in my remarks at the 2010 annual dinner – why do we have to always explain and, even worse, defend our profession? It’s the explanation part that frustrates me – because we are professional communicators for a living, and yet we can’t seem to articulate to others what we do, why we do it and what its relevance is to the business community. What is more important than providing sage communication strategy and counsel to a person or company to protect the most precious of assets – credibility and reputation? And why does our profession always get tarnished with the “ethics” question?

John Bailey passed along a poignant and simple phrase at an ethics program last year. He said, “good ethics begin at home.” My parents taught me right from wrong and the importance of honesty. Their teachings guide every decision I make as a public relations professional. What I want my neighbor John to know about what I and you do as public relations professionals is help people and companies communicate honestly, ethically and with integrity to the audiences they depend on for success. With this approach, good things always come. And sometimes, I have fun in the process – in my fancy dress of course!

PRSA Offers 2 Free Webinars, 1 Featuring Former Chapter President Offering Career Advice

FREE PRSA Webinar:
Accelerate Your Career in Public Relations”
3p.m.-4 p.m.
Thursday, April 28
Featuring Mary Henige, APR, former PRSA-Detroit president

A great benefit of PRSA membership is access to all the tools and information at the national Web site. The events calendar is packed with professional development opportunities, but not everyone knows that it includes free webinars. Learn the art of the open graph during a webinar on Thursday, March 17, and join PRSA-Detroit’s own Mary Henige, APR, and others, on Thursday, April 28 for tips on how to boost your career through accreditation.

The term “social graph,” coined by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, recently resurfaced as the “open graph,” and describes an aggressive initiative to connect the dots between the relationships and associations built on his and other social networking sites. If successful, the implications for the public relations profession could be huge.

Join Steve Momorella, partner and co-founder,TEKgroup International, to explore the open graph, and discover 10 things you can do through your online newsroom to leverage the power of the network. You will learn:

  • what the open graph is and why Facebook is leading the charge
  • how you can use an open graph to tell your corporate story
  • what steps you can take today to leverage your online newsroom as an open graph node
  • how to monitor and track your newsroom content through the open graph

Be sure to click in from 3 p.m.-4 p.m., Thursday, March 17. This webinar is approved for 1.0 APR Accreditation Maintenance Credits.

Sign up for the webinar or get more information here.

Another webinar is directed at you and your career.

Mary Henige, APR, director of Social Media & Digital Communications for General Motors and 2003 PRSA-Detroit president, is one of three speakers for a free webinar entitled “Accelerate Your Career in Public Relations.” Be sure to connect to the PRSA webinar from 3 p.m.-4 p.m., Thursday, April 28.

Also featured will be communications strategist Jenny Schade, moderator, who will discuss how to grow your career in the midst of a dismal economy, highlighting special benefits of becoming accredited. Those who attended Schade’s presentation to PRSA-Detroit in March 2009 may recall her as a dynamic, inspirational speaker.

As a former therapist, Schade interviewed more than 1,000 employees while guiding organizations through turbulent change. From her interviews, she recognized an interesting phenomenon — many employees are not only surviving the chaos, but thriving. Schade will share the core qualities of hardy achievers she recognized across various industries and change situations.

The third speaker is Robert Hastings, APR+M, senior vice president of communications at Bell Helicopter. From 2008–2009, he served as assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, leading a worldwide public affairs community of approximately 3,800 military and civilian personnel.

APR+M signifies accreditation and military service.

Register for this free webinar or read more information here.


Gary Mason’s first name was incorrect in the “Worth Noting” section of the January/February Bulletin. The Bulletin regrets the error.

Save the Dates

Be sure to enter the following calendar-worthy events in your datebooks:

Wayne State University’s Department of Communication will honor PRSA-Detroit President Susan Ferraro, APR, at its annual Public Relations Alumni and Student Recognition Luncheon, 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 13. Ferraro’s achievements in our profession exemplify the characteristics of a leader WSU is proud to recognize. Register here by April 4.

Strikes for Scholarships will host a very special Cinco de Mayo-themed bowling fundraiser for PRSA-Detroit scholarships at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, at the Garden Bowl in Detroit. Cost is $25 per bowler or $100 for a team of five. Details soon!

Media Outlet Publishes Hyper-Local News

By Ilene Wolff

One of the latest trends in news media is hyper-local news, with stories focusing on what’s going on in a specific community, even a neighborhood. Patch, an online publication of AOL, publishes hyper-local news in Metro Detroit, and “definitely” welcomes pitches from PR professionals. Patch also features online calendars on which you can post events for clients.

Regional Editor Teresa Mask, formerly of the Detroit Free Press, offers the following advice: “All pitches should be local to the Patch. If you are pitching to Birmingham (Patch) … for instance, the event or issue should be about Birmingham, in Birmingham or about people with ties to the city.”

If you have a pitch that includes more than one community, Mask suggests pitching to her or one of two other regional editors, Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey and Nancy Hanus. Learn more about the regional editors on Patch or on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Patch welcomes your art with a story pitch, as long as the images are high-quality and include cutlines.

The publication currently has about 25 community-centered editions in Michigan, with others in the Midwest, on the Eastern Seaboard, West Coast and Florida. For specific editions, click on a location on Patch’s homepage map.

Patch has already set up publications in nearly 800 communities, and by 2012 expects to be in 1,000, according to a January 16 article in the New York Times.

Marketing & Sales Group Welcomes PRSA/PRSSA at Upcoming Event

PRSA-Detroit continues its efforts to partner with Metro Detroit’s professional associations and supplement its programs with events that look at the communications process, and all business practices, from fresh perspectives.

Marketing & Sales Executives of Detroit is hosting local entrepreneur and author Josh Linkner, founder and chairman of ePrize, to talk about his new, best-selling book, Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System for Breakthrough Creativity. The event is 5 p.m.-8 p.m., Thursday, March, 24, at The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham.

Enormous strategic opportunities are emerging as we stand at the intersection of increasing globalization, rapid technology changes and new lifestyles choices. Innovation has become the major differentiator in the competitive race, and those who have used creativity in their business practices have emerged from this latest recession better than ever by rewriting the rules of the game through a series of innovative strategies.

Disciplined Dreaming introduces a five-part process that promises to transform organizations – or careers – into a nonstop creativity juggernaut.

MSED offers PRSA/PRSSA members its member rate of $45 for this special event. Visit MSED’s events page to register. (PRSA/PRSSA members must set up a profile as part of the registration process.) Contact Cheryl Dry at (248) 643-6590 with registration questions.

Worth Noting

Jennifer L. Greenfelder is the new manager, communications – automotive market, for the Steel Market Development Institute in Southfield. She previously was senior account executive at Bianchi Public Relations Inc. in Troy.

Franco Public Relations made two recent hires. Stephanie Casola is a senior account executive. Previously, she was director of public relations and marketing for Urbane Camp. Genna Young is an assistant account executive. She is a 2010 graduate of Central Michigan University with a bachelor of applied arts in integrative public relations and a minor in business administration.

New members

Ashley Areeda
Dow Automotive Systems

Linda Arogundade

Tom Ersin

Kathleen Kvasnak
St. Joseph Mercy Oakland

Derine McCrory
The Children’s Center of Wayne County

Sheila McKean

Gray Reynolds
Thomson Reuters

Lynne Schreiber
Your People LLC

Sheryl Walsh


Calendar of Events

TBD – “Mother Knows Best: Meet the Mommy Media.” The Program Committee is wrapping up final details for this event. Keep an eye on your inbox or check the PRSA-Detroit calendar.

March 17 – Learn about the open graph and how to use it to leverage your social network during a free PRSA webinar: “Leverage the Power of the Social Graph – Use Your Social Media Relationships to Tell Your Corporate Story.” See related article in this issue.

March 24 – Join the Marketing & Sales Executives of Detroit to hear guest speaker Josh Linkner, founder and CEO of ePrize, talk about fostering your creativity. See related article in this issue.

April 13 – Wayne State University’s Department of Communication will honor PRSA-Detroit President Susan Ferraro, APR, at its annual PR Luncheon. See related article in this issue.

April 28 – Mary Henige, APR, director of Social Media & Digital Communications for General Motors and 2003 PRSA-Detroit president, is one of three speakers for a free PRSA webinar entitled “Accelerate Your Career in Public Relations.” See related article in this issue.

May 5 – Strikes for Scholarships will host a very special Cinco de Mayo-themed bowling fundraiser for PRSA-Detroit scholarships at 6 p.m. at the Garden Bowl in Detroit. Cost is $25 per bowler or $100 for a team of five. Details soon!