September Bulletin 2010


Detroit Chapter Public Relations Society of America  |  September 2010


Sept. 28 Ethics from three angles: Being mindful in every situation

Tuesday, September 28, 2010
7:30 – 9:30 a.m. Panel discussion following breakfast and networking
The Engineering Society of Detroit
20700 Civic Center Drive, Suite 450


The Public Relations Society of America is celebrating Ethics Month in September. In addition to PRSA-Detroit’s new Honors Code program, the chapter is hosting a panel discussion to address policy, philosophical approaches, and examples of ethical conduct and misconduct across public relations, corporations/the board room and media.


  • John Bailey, managing director, Lambert, Edwards & Associates and founder, John Bailey & Associates; will address ethics in PR
  • Harold Gardner, senior vice president and assistant to the chairman at DTE Energy; will address ethics in employee issues and in the board room/corporation setting
  • Kevin Dietz, reporter, Local 4 Defenders, WDIV; will address ethics in the media

The program will be moderated by Linda Hagan, Ph.D., APR, director, Doctor of Management in Executive Leadership Program; and professor, Business Communication at Walsh College.

Hope Brown, APR, director, Lambert, Edwards & Associates will also speak briefly about PRSA-Detroit’s Honors Code program.

Cost is $10 for PRSA/PRSSA members and $20 for nonmembers. Make your reservation, via PayPal, at You do not need an account to use PayPal.

Send questions to Nancy Skidmore or 248-545-6499.

From the President’s Desk

By Rich Donley, APR

Photo of Rich Donley Summer is passing, but the heat is on – from leaving a legacy to helping decide tomorrow’s leaders.

It’s that time of year again. Summer is winding down. The temperature is getting cooler. The kids are back to school. Well, despite the change of seasons and routines, PRSA-Detroit is heating up for an exciting last few months of 2010, and plans are already in motion for nominating your 2011 leadership team and determining the future of PRSA National’s Board of Directors (with or without APR?).


In the remaining months, you can count on:

  • Solid monthly programs, including an ethics program panel on Sept. 28 and a Toyota in Crisis communications program Oct. 21 with member Curt McAllister, Midwest Public Relations Manager at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.;
  • Our pilot Ethics Honors Code program that is nearing completion – the committee will recognize companies that made the time investment and committed to ethics;
  • The PRSA 2010 International Conference, “Powering Progress,” in Washington, D.C. Oct. 17-19, along with what will sure be an interesting Assembly Oct. 16 to debate if APR should be required to join the National Board (see article regarding PRSA-Detroit’s APR survey results);
  • Our annual meeting Nov. 11 at the Townsend Hotel (sponsor of the chapter) where honorees will be recognized and tomorrow’s leaders empowered; and Other events still in the works.

I’m beginning to sound like my parents and older generations when I say, “Time sure flies” and “The kids are growing up so fast.” I must be that generation now! You don’t realize it until you experience it for yourself. The last few years, and especially this year, have certainly flown by for me. So, as 2010 begins to wind down, the heat is on to make good on promises for the year, to leave a legacy.

My platform this year has been to engage. I feel we have made some great strides in engaging – with members with various levels of experience, sponsors, prospects, media, companies and our community. There’s certainly more to do, but we’ve come a long way.

Despite the downturn, our chapter has made remarkable strides in 2009 and 2010 thanks to a stellar group of chairs, committees and members who I am fortunate to lead. We have been able to offer valuable programs at a fraction of the cost. We held a successful and educational PRSA 2010 Michigan Conference in the spring. Thanks to the leadership of our Sponsorships/Fundraising Chair Jennifer Flowers, APR, have secured well above our target for 2010-2011 sponsors (thank you, sponsors), so we are on our way toward rebuilding a strong, profitable chapter.

Because of this success, I am proud to showcase our chapter at the 2010 East Central District PRSA Quick Start Conference, Sept. 25, that will be attended by incoming PRSA chapter presidents from throughout the region. I have been invited to speak on, “The Challenge of Leading your Chapter in Challenging Times.”

While there’s always more to be done, I’m reminded often to slow down and to enjoy the journey, rather than hurrying through just seeking the destination. So let’s enjoy the ride. Are you part of the journey? We welcome you to join us. After all, time sure flies!

And the PRSA-Detroit APR survey says …

By Rich Donley, APR


Thanks to all of those who participated in our chapter survey in June and July regarding accreditation, which was spearheaded by PRSA-Detroit Board Director Kim Eberhardt.

The PRSA-Detroit Board decided to poll its members as a result of the amendment expected to go before the Assembly at the PRSA 2010 International Conference about whether board members should be required to be Accredited in Public Relations (APR).

A petition was started by six PRSA (not PRSA-Detroit) members who formed an ad hoc committee, The Committee for a Democratic PRSA, to advocate for the repeal of a national bylaw requiring that national officers and board members be APR. The committee argues that because 80 percent of PRSA members do not hold APR status, national leadership is not truly representative of the membership.

In evaluating the petition and deciding what position the PRSA-Detroit Board of Directors (officers and directors) should take on this proposal, the board polled its members regarding the APR requirement to serve on the national board. Apparently, we were the only chapter in the country to actually poll its members on this issue. The survey also addressed a number of other issues about APR certification.

A total of 126 members responded to the survey, with some not answering all questions. Those who have been PRSA members for 11-20 years (32.8 percent of respondents) and 6-10 years (24.8 percent) represented the largest segment of membership who participated in the survey.

  • The survey respondents were nearly split on the issue of requiring APR certification to serve on the PRSA national board, with 50.8 percent (62 members) indicating it should not be a requirement and 49.2 percent (60 members) saying it should be.

In reviewing the nearly split results and discussing the issue among the PRSA-Detroit Board members, the board is considering taking a neutral position – to not take a stance to support or not support the petition – to be in line with the membership response. As has been the case since the petition was issued, members could choose to sign or not sign it on their own.

Based on our chapter size, five delegates from the Detroit chapter will be representing local members at the PRSA 2010 International Conference during the assembly Oct. 16 in Washington, D.C.

Other survey results indicated:

  • The overwhelming majority (80.6 percent) do not feel APR should be required for board service at the chapter level (APR is presently required for PRSA-Detroit officers, but not board members);
  • More than 73 percent (92 respondents) “agree” or “strongly agree” that APR accreditation provides value for maintaining consistency, ethics and professionalism among peers;
  • More than 30 percent “agree” that the APR designation is currently or will positively impact their career advancement, with 24.8 percent rating this “neutral” and 18.4 percent indicating “strongly agree.”;
  • While more than 33 percent “agree” that individuals with APR are regarded as industry thought leaders, 28.2 percent are “neutral” and 18.5 percent “disagree”;
  • More than 37 percent “agree” that achieving APR certification influences leadership ability, while 22.4 percent “disagree”;
  • Thirty-one percent “disagree” that APR designation is widely understood and respected within the public relations community, while 27.2 percent also “disagree” that APR accreditation is understood and respected within their company, including professionals outside of the public relations role;
  • Sixty-eight PRSA-Detroit chapter members (54.4 percent) who took the survey indicated they have obtained their APR, while 57 members (45.6 percent) have not;
  • Of the survey respondents who are not currently an APR, more than half (28 members – 51.9 percent) of the 54 members who answered this question do plan to earn their accreditation; and The most significant barriers for non-APRs to pursuing their accreditation are time (61.8 percent) and perceived value (49.1 percent).

The data validates assumptions and anecdotal information heard by the board and accreditation committee. We will use the data as a guideline as we continue to assess, develop and promote the APR program and build our chapter leadership.

Oct. 21 Toyota in crisis – how communications helped an automaker transition from recalls to recovery

Thursday, Oct. 21
8 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
The Baronette Renaissance Detroit-Novi Hotel
27790 Novi Rd., Novi


During the first half of 2010, the crisis facing Toyota dominated headlines and broadcasts around the world. With more than 8 million vehicles recalled globally, the world’s largest automaker saw its sterling reputation – painstakingly built over several decades – diminished in a matter of weeks. A company known for quality and reliability was relegated to punch-line status. Yet, in light of harsh public scrutiny and intense criticism, the car company is still selling vehicles at a solid pace in the U.S.

Join PRSA Detroit, IABC Detroit and the Automotive Public Relations Council (APRC) for a program featuring Curt McAllister, Midwest public relations manager at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. McAllister will discuss the events involved in this historic corporate crisis and how communications played a pivotal role in reaching out to vital internal and external audiences, at the height of media saturation. He’ll divulge how public relations helped assure the industry’s most loyal customer base, and forge an even tighter bond between dealers and the OEM. McAllister will also discuss how transparency and executive availability played prominent roles in a nationwide media tour that hit dozens of major and secondary markets across America.

In addition, McAllister will talk about ongoing communications tools and tactics that keep employees, dealers and customers apprised of the company’s activities, providing a sense of security and openness they’ve come to expect from Toyota.

Cost is $15 for members (PRSA, IABC or APRC) and $25 for nonmembers. Make your reservation, via PayPal, at – you do not need an account to use PayPal.

For questions, please e-mail Nancy Skidmore or call 248-545-6499.

Practical tips for confronting ethical issues at work

By Jim Burke

Chances are you have faced a situation at work when someone set their scruples aside and their actions not only reflected poorly on them, but on your organization as well. As ethical professionals, we may become upset over the situation and want to do something about it, but may not know what to do.

PRSA provides a process to report questionable ethical performance to the PRSA Board of Ethics & Professional Standards (BEPS). PRSA members, who subscribe to the Code of Ethics, however, may want to address such a situation outside of this process, particularly if the situation is within their own organization. So where do you begin?

Many organizations have a process to allowing such situations to be raised anonymously; a human resources contact usually would know and be able to explain that process. But before calling HR, here’s a bit of advice.

Prepare for consequences

Consider the ramifications of moving full steam ahead. Know where you stand relative to the issue and what you’re willing to do or accept as a consequence of raising the issue. Ask yourself, “Am I comfortable being part of an organization that might condone (by overlooking) such behavior?” “Do I feel so strongly about this, that I am willing to part ways with my organization?” Knowing the answers to these and related questions are important since raising the issue could lead to separation from the organization —voluntarily or involuntarily.

Put organization interests first

Once you have worked through these questions and are ready to move forward, consider how the questionable behavior reflects on the organization and use this understanding as a basis for raising the concern. Doing so can shift the situation from what could be perceived as a personal confrontation to a genuine stakeholder concern for the organization. In other words, bringing the questionable behavior forward is out of concern for the resulting organizational impact should the matter become public.

Resolve the conflict directly

As with any organizational difficulty, avoid the temptation to take it right to the top. Rather, it is best to raise the concern with the individual who is most likely to be able to help resolve the problem. In fact, the appropriate person to contact may be the offending individual himself depending on your relationship with that individual.

Just the facts

In raising a concern, be as direct and as factual as possible. Be able to answer: who, what, when, where and how (the “why” may be elusive). Sharing opinions should be avoided, as should becoming overly emotional. Remember, the objective is to bring an end to the unethical behavior, and you’ll want to do this as professionally as possible.

Don’t expect accolades

Once the concern has been raised or reported, recognize that your work here is done, unless something more is requested of you, and realize that you may not receive any more than a polite “thank you.” Our natural desire is to want to get an answer to the question, “Now what?” Resist the urge to ask, because the likely response would be something along the lines of “we’ll look into this.” You can, however, bask in the satisfaction of knowing that you stood up for your conviction and acted ethically.

September is “Ethics Month,” a time of year when PRSA devotes additional focus to matters relating to ethics. For further guidance, feel free to contact PRSA’s BEPS through the PRSA office in New York at (212) 460-1400 or contact one of the PRSA-Detroit Ethics Committee Co-Chairs: Hope Brown, APR, or John Bailey.

Honors Code program eyes first-year success

Honors Code Committee Members

Earlier this year, PRSA-Detroit launched the Honors Code program – an educational toolkit to enable PR practitioners to further their understanding of ethical matters in the workplace. Practitioners who complete the program will earn certification, which attests to their commitment to ethical communications practices.

Toolkit materials are closely linked to PRSA-National resources and include the PRSA Code of Ethics and Pledge; a PowerPoint overview of ethics as it relates to PRSA and the public relations professional; a guide for confronting an ethical issue in the workplace and an online ethics quiz.

“We’re thrilled to be among the first to take part in the Honors Code program,” said Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, vice president – account services at Bianchi Public Relations. “The program serves as an important reminder of our responsibility to the public and our promise as members to conduct ourselves professionally, with truth, accuracy and fairness.”

Numerous PR professionals are among the first to have completed the Honors Code requirements. To date, these professionals include Bianchi Public Relations, Inc.; Henry Ford Health System; Lambert, Edwards & Associates; Barbara “Bobbie” Lewis of Lutheran Social Services of Michigan; Sean Chinski of Marketwire; and Stratacomm. Another 18 professionals or organizations have requested program materials.

“Participating in the Honors Code program was a rewarding experience for the public relations team at Henry Ford Health System,” noted Jennifer Flowers, APR, senior public relations officer, Henry Ford Health System. “The program helped us reaffirm our team’s core values while supporting our organization’s priorities around greater transparency.”

PR professionals wishing to complete the Honors Code program may request materials by emailing PRSA-Detroit Ethics Committee Co-Chair Hope Brown, APR. Those completing the program requirements and submitting a signed ethics pledge to Brown by Sept. 30, 2010 will be recognized at the annual Detroit chapter meeting in November.

Interested individuals who are unable to meet the September deadline may still submit signed pledges to Brown after September Just as a commitment to ethics should be ongoing, so is the Honors Code program.

“As a committee, we are pleased with the support we have received from PRSA as well as the response from Detroit Chapter members,” said Brown. “Ethics is a challenging topic and can be difficult to garner interest in, so I’m pleased to see so many members embracing the Honors Code program. I hope many more will follow suit to help further our profession’s commitment to and recognition of unwavering ethical practices.”

PRSA-Detroit members interested in becoming involved with the Ethics Committee are encouraged to contact Brown or her co-chair, John Bailey.

Communicating to multicultural audiences (part 1 of 3)

By Jasmin Nadalizadeh

Did you know that one in every three individuals in the United States is a member of a minority group? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 46.9 million Hispanics in the United States, which represents approximately one in six Americans. It is essential now, more than ever, that corporations reach out to these “minority-majority” groups – not only with their messaging, but with genuine actions. Fully understanding the audiences to which you are communicating with is one of the basic fundamentals of public relations. This principle becomes increasingly important when working with diverse, multicultural audiences.

Ana Toro and Katerie Troutman Fleishman-Hillard’s (FH) Ana Toro, APR and Katerie Troutman, co-chairs of FH’s multicultural practice group shared their insights in this three part Q&A on multicultural communications. FH is no stranger to cross-cultural communications, beginning their targeted efforts in the early 90s with Anheuser-Busch.

Q. What is multicultural communications?

A. Multicultural communications is about creating culturally-sensitive strategies for diverse audiences that will have an impact on their attitude and behavior towards a certain company or brand. It’s about recognizing the cultural diversity of the market and adapting the program platform to a different set of values. What we do is develop culturally and linguistically relevant messages to properly reach those audiences. It’s not only about giving away a scholarship, or a donation to a local community-based organization, or developing brochures in Spanish and Mandarin. It’s about establishing a permanent win-win relationship.

Q. How can PR practitioners better prepare for communications with these communities?

A. The opportunity to specialize is more prevalent than ever. There are not enough practitioners serving these markets, leaving a large void for counselors who are specifically specialized in multicultural PR. To better prepare, practitioners should be involved with local organizations, to become the “eyes” of the community. Only through these experiences, can we truly understand diverse audiences and their experiences. Just like any community, they face unemployment, food insufficiency, transportation issues, language barriers, economic issues and social issues. Become a volunteer at a local YMCA or a local clinic, join a non-profit organization, or serve as a board member or communications committee member with any organization serving minority groups, whether they are health-based, community-based or advocacy-oriented. Also, be on the lookout for news and updates related to the particular minority group in which you would like to specialize. Follow multicultural blogs that update data and studies year-round. All of these things matter, therefore talk to others, and learn as much as possible to really understand their culture, values and attitudes toward brands and institutions.

Please follow up in October’s bulletin for more insight, tips and tricks on multicultural communications from these industry experts. For more information on PRSA-National’s diversity initiatives visit

PRSSA Leadership Rally

By Ashleigh Chatel

This year, I was able to attend Leadership Rally an annual, two-day event in Scottsdale, Ariz., thanks to contributions from PRSA-Detroit. The event is held for chapter presidents and other elected leaders to discuss core issues facing each chapter. In addition, sessions were held to strengthen leadership skills and expose students to opportunities available at the national level.

Representing my chapter, school and the metro-Detroit professional community was incredibly rewarding both professionally and personally. As Wayne State University’s chapter president, I had a rare opportunity to spend 48 hours among my fellow PRSSA leaders, as well as a few professionals vital to the organization’s success. The attendees represented approximately one-third of the chapters that are working to sustain the national mission to: advance the profession and future professional.

The experience was invaluable to planning a successful year at WSU. I networked with roughly 100 chapter leaders, national board members, and key professionals who manage PRSSA nationally. The rally helped me realize how many relationships are forged by one-on-one interactions. The camaraderie among attendees led to continuous communication with members across the nation. Through those connections, I feel I have helped our chapter gain strength and confidence to connect with other chapters, and create stronger relations with area professionals.

While most of the rally was geared toward chapter development and understanding how to better communicate with our members, it also showed me that professionals understand student needs and are more than willing to help. Because of PRSA-Detroit’s donation, our chapter is better equipped to sustain a helpful environment and growing network of professional connections. We recognize that our chapter is fortunate to have our parent chapter working alongside us to advance public relations!

Chapter Scene

Take me out to the ball game: PRSA-Detroit Members take to the field at Comerica Park

Inside Detroit Tigers Comerica Park morning

Inside Detroit Tigers Press box speaker and field
Top of Ron Talking photo
3 women getting their photo taken Ron Speaking
Ron Speaking

Photos from Perfect Pitch (Photos courtesy of Bill Kerans)

Worth Noting

Patricia Radice, president, Radice Communications, graduated from Wayne State University in May with a Master of Arts in Organizational Communication and Public Relations.

Melanie Davis was named executive director of the Adcraft Club. Davis was most recently president of the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce and prior to that she served in a variety of positions at the Detroit Regional Chamber, including vice president of marketing communications.

ASG Renaissance, full-service marketing communications agency, has received four IABC Detroit Renaissance Awards, including the Award of Excellence in the Communications Management Division for THINK North America’s Media Relations Campaign; the Award of Merit in the Multi-Audience Communications category for the Business of Plugging In Conference; the Award of Excellence in the Direct Response Business of Plugging In Conference direct mail brochure and an Award of Merit in Publication Design for its THINK brochure.

Pushtwentytwo has brought Philip McAvoy on as digital creative director. He will be responsible for supervising all creative activities, including digital and print media, for the agency’s diverse list of clients. McAvoy was most recently at Berline in Bloomfield Hills, where he served as the company’s digital creative director. Prior to that, he spent 14 years at the former Troy offices of BBDO.

The Quell Group has added the Clean Energy Coalition to its client roster. The company will provide branding and strategic communications services, including public relations, marketing, graphic and web design. The Clean Energy Coalition (CEC) is involved in clean energy projects across the state.

New members

Ken Kettenbeil
U of M Dearborn

Anne Osmer
Community Housing Network

William Tennant
Mental Health Assoc. in Michigan

Susannah Wesley

Ad Video Library Monitoring Michigan's Media.

Calendar of Events

Oct. 13 – Adcraft Club of Detroit, Breakfast with Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, Breakfast 8 a.m., Program 9:00 a.m., San Marino Club, 1685 E. Big Beaver, Troy. Tickets are $25 for members, $35 for non-members.

Oct. 21 – Toyota in crisis – How communications helped the automaker transition from recalls to recovery, 8 – 9:30 a.m., The Baronette Renaissance, 27790 Novi Road, Novi

Nov. 11 – PRSA Detroit Annual Meeting, 6 p.m., dinner meeting and program, The Townsend Hotel, Birmingham. Tickets are $45.