September Bulletin 2011


Detroit Chapter Public Relations Society of America  |  September 2011


Wednesday, Sept. 21
8 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Holocaust Memorial Museum
28123 Orchard Lake Road Farmington Hills

Sept. 21 Ethics workshop co-sponsored by chapter, Moreover Technologies

It’s an exciting time in PRSA ethics, as the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards, with an eye toward our evolving field, has revised and will soon post new PRSA case studies. The Detroit chapter will be one of the first chapters to offer the new case studies to its members.

Presented by the PRSA Detroit Ethics Committee, with the generous support of Moreover Technologies, this interactive ethics experience will feature special guest Dr. Patricia Whalen and lively, group discussions focusing on these newly constructed ethics.

A Chicago-based public relations and marketing communication consultant and educator, and member of the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards, Whalen will present opening remarks that tease the new case studies while summarizing the five values and five principles of the PRSA Code of Ethics.

PRSA Detroit is thrilled to host Whalen, who as part of the team that authored the new case studies is a great link from Detroit to PRSA national headquarters. Her comments will be followed by six concurrent roundtables, each utilizing one of the case studies and facilitated by PRSA Detroit Ethics Committee or Senior Council members. Whalen will moderate a wrap-up group discussion and Q-and-A session about the ethics topics discussed by each roundtable team.

We will conclude the program with an overview of the PRSA Detroit Ethics Honor Code. Members are encouraged to enroll today and join the 137 other members who earned certifications in 2010. Those PRSA members with 2010 certifications can renew by participating in this ethics workshop. The deadline for 2011 renewals or first-time registration is September 30.

PRSA Detroit is pleased to invite the Detroit Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists to attend at the member rate, or $10 for PRSA/PRSSA members. Nonmember rate is $20. Make your reservation, via PayPal, at . You don’t need an account to use PayPal.

Contact Nancy Skidmore via email or at 248-545-6499 with questions.

Submit your best work for East Central District Diamond Awards

6 tips to craft a winning awards entry

So, you want to write a winning awards entry but are not sure where to start. Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Many PR professionals struggle to boil down their efforts into a concise, thorough summary with supporting documents.

With East Central District’s Diamond Awards season upon us, read these six tips to crafting a winning awards entry before you even hit “save as” on your summary Word doc. The early bird entry date is Sept.19 and final entry date is Sept. 26.

1. Think Metrics – Without metrics, how is success defined? Strong entries start by identifying measurable goals and objectives and end by demonstrating their wins and shortfalls. Judges need to clearly understand what you set out to do (e.g., improve readership by 10 percent; raise $25,000; sell 1,500 more tickets; increase Facebook followers by 20 percent in three weeks) compared to what was achieved.

While qualitative data is acceptable, hard numbers demonstrate this best. Stating that you “received several emails saying how great the music was at the event” frankly won’t cut it. If you must use qualitative results, do what you can to show how this was purposefully – even scientifically – gathered (e.g., fill-in-the-blank evaluations).

2. Don’t Assume – Keep in mind the judges do not have any history about your entry topic. Do not assume they will fill in the blanks. When writing, pretend you are explaining your logic – why you did what you did – to a stranger on the street. Keep it pithy and to-the-point; like a 30-second elevator pitch. Double check that your explanation does not have any gaps by asking a colleague (preferably not from your organization) to poke holes in your entry.

3. Share your Challenges – Don’t count out your entry if your project did not reach the set objectives. Rarely is there a clear path to any goal. In fact, the twists and turns along the way often create heart in an entry. Take advantage of explaining the challenges, showing how you adapted to changing circumstances and re-directed your project to accommodate them.

4. Enter the Correct Category – While it may seem simple, all too often excellent entries are entered in the wrong category. To avoid this embarrassing blunder, write your entry to make a case for achieving the category objective. For instance, Brand Management entries should demonstrate how your campaign helped your organization or client manage his brand. If you are not clear on the correct category, seek advice from the chapter or committee organizing the awards.

Also, be careful to enter into the correct division: for-profit, non-profit, government, etc. While you may work for an agency, if your entry is on behalf of a non-profit client, make sure you enter in the non-profit division.

5. Know the Criteria – The devil truly is in the details. Make sure you understand and follow the limitations and restrictions for things such as font size, page count, and supporting materials. It might seem tedious, but the last thing you want is to get disqualified for a silly oversight. Take the time to triple check your entry before shipping it for judging.

6. Check out the Competition – One of the best ways to improve your summary is to get inspired by reading past winning entries. Model their flow and format, modified to meet your unique entry. Like when you are conducting research for a new project, learn what the judges liked in past years and adapt those characteristics into your piece. Ask colleagues if you can read their winning award entries, or check out Anvil winners on PRSA’s Web site.

Many of these ideas were adapted from PRSA’s Anvil Podcast series. For more information, download or stream the shows on PRSA’s Web site.

Adviser opportunity available at U-M Dearborn

The University of Michigan Dearborn is looking for a professional adviser for its Public Relations Society Student America chapter. If you’re interested, contact Communications faculty member Susan Sheth,

Saturday, Oct. 1
8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Henry Ford Health System Gilmour Center
One Ford Place, Detroit (map)

On Oct. 1, PRSA Detroit to commit random acts … of kindness!!

“A random act of kindness is a selfless act performed by a person or persons wishing to either assist or cheer up an individual. There will generally be no reason other than to make people smile, or be happier. Either spontaneous or planned in advance, they are encouraged by various online and offline communities.” – Wikipedia

As part of PRSA Detroit’s community service, the chapter and Wayne State University’s Public Relations Student Society of America members, among others, will take to the streets on Saturday, Oct. 1 to commit random acts of kindness in downtown Detroit.

Participants will meet at 8:30 a.m. to register at Henry Ford Health System’s Gilmour Center, One Ford Place, Detroit (map). Then they’ll fan out throughout downtown streets from 9 a.m. – noon. Participants will reconvene from noon – 1:30 p.m. at Henry Ford to eat lunch and share stories and feedback about their time in the community. Registration is $15 and includes breakfast and lunch. Registration fees will be used for the random acts of kindness.

Ideally, each team will capture video of its activities to share with others when they reconvene.

Register as an individual or as a team of up to four participants by Sept. 26 via PayPal, at PRSA Detroit. You not need a PayPal account to use its registration service. Contact Nancy Skidmore via email or at 248-545-6499 with questions.

Random acts of kindness can be as simple as buying someone a cup of coffee, paying for someone’s parking, or even dropping off sandwiches to the local fire or police station.

This event could make a great teambuilding event for public relations departments.

This event is inspired by the efforts of many other organizations, including the Michigan State University and Wayne State University chapters of PRSSA.

Member Profile: Karyn Donyell Nelson

Karen Donyelln Nelson

Karyn Donyell Nelson

Owner, Karson Communications LLC

How did you get the job?
I formed the company because Frankie Darcell asked me to handle her publicity. Once I started as her publicist I absolutely loved it and I knew I had to represent clients professionally.

How long have you been in pr/marketing/communications/advertising? Why did you choose this field?
Well, I graduated several years ago from Michigan State University with a B.A. in Communications. I have always loved anything media related. All of my professional jobs have highlighted my oral and written communication skills. It has just been a natural progression for me to own a media relations company where I showcase the talents and skills of my clients to media outlets.

What’s your dream job in our field?
Is to be a successful publicist for my clients. Ensuring their needs are met and their goals are accomplished.

Not including your current position, what was another favorite job or career highlight of yours?
My favorite job was as a pro bono producer of the Talk of the Town Sunday show with Frankie Darcell at Clear Channel Radio Detroit.

If you weren’t in the pr/marketing/communications/advertising field, what would you be doing?
I would be a high school English teacher, molding the minds of our youth. Ensuring good grammar, no double negatives and “I” before “E” except after “C.”

What was your biggest success in 2010?
My biggest success in 2010 was graduating from Specs Howard Media Arts. I have wanted to attend this school for more than 20 years. The timing was finally right.

What do you wish you could do over from 2010?
I have no regrets from 2010. Changing anything would prevent me from being in this space right now. I am thrilled to have my company and my clients and I look forward to their individual success.

If you could accomplish one professional goal in 2011, what would it be?
The professional goal I would most like to accomplish in 2010 is to get my client, who is a comedian, on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

What/who has been the biggest influence on your career?
Air personality Frankie Darcell. She has been an awesome mentor, motivator, wealth of information and friend. I owe so much of my success to her.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in our field?
I would say to follow through on any and everything, be it a phone call, writing a letter or attending a meeting, show your clients you are accountable and accessible.

Any professional role models?
Not yet.

If you could have coffee or drinks with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would love to hang out with Cathy Hughes of Radio One. She is an entrepreneur, radio and TV personality and business executive. She is the founder of the media company Radio One, which expanded into TV one. Her rags-to-riches story is so inspiring. She has mastered this male-dominated field. The struggles she has overcome show her tenacity and fortitude. I admire her strength and determination to excel.

There are so many fascinating people in our chapter that we’re sure others would love to get to know better. You’re probably one of them. We’re soliciting business cards at our events from those interested in being profiled. If you’re interested, make sure you pass along your business card to Nancy Skidmore or a member of the Programs Committee at the next event you attend. Or, contact Bulletin co-chairs Ilene Wolff and Jared Bryan. Thank you.

Board Perspective

Board Perspective is a column written by the PRSA Detroit Chapter president or a member of the chapter’s board of directors.

Cast ‘straw vote’ on proposed dues increase

By Susan Ferraro, APR

Susan FerraroIt’s hard to believe, but the carefree days of summer are nearing an end. As we approach the fall season, it means the time is approaching for the annual PRSA International Conference. This year, the conference will be held from Oct. 15-18 in Orlando, Fla.

As president of PRSA Detroit, I will attend the conference and look forward to bringing back as much information as I can to share with our members. According to the conference brochure, attendees can expect to:

  • Gain rich knowledge from industry thought leaders and seasoned practitioners
  • Deepen our understanding of the value of public relations
  • Learn innovative approaches to challenging situations
  • Think more strategically in planning and implementing programs
  • Examine real-world case studies
  • Transform public relations into a more robust presence in the business world
  • Network with colleagues
  • Enhance our professional value.

As many of you know, a key element to this year’s conference is a vote at the PRSA Assembly (held on Oct. 15) on raising dues by $30 per member in 2012. During these difficult economic times, this proposed dues hike has met with some understandable resistance. The current structure now in place dictates that in order to benefit from a PRSA Detroit membership, you must also be a PRSA member. Current national dues are $225 and the chapter dues are $80, for a total of $305.

The Detroit chapter has five delegate votes at the assembly. Representation is determined by the number of members we have in our chapter.

There is a wealth of information about the dues increase and its rationale posted on the PRSA Web site. Please take a look at the information and send me your feedback. It’s understandable that the information is written from the national office’s point of view. Please feel free to challenge any points on which you disagree. Or, perhaps, you feel a good case has been made for the dues increase. Either way, I’d like to hear how you feel about this topic. Your feedback will guide how our delegate votes are cast. If you are planning to attend the conference, please let me know.

I can be reached at Or, feel free to contact me the “old-fashioned” way by calling me at 586-243-9746.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Worth Noting

Lambert, Edwards & Associates, Michigan’s top-ranked public relations agency and the state’s largest investor relations firm, recently appointment Gayle Joseph as partner and managing director in its Troy office.

Welcome new members

Catherine McClary

K.D. Nelson

Lisa Viselli

Calendar of Events

Sept. 19 – East Central District’s Diamond Awards, early bird deadline. Final entry deadline is Sept. 26. See related article in this issue.

Sept. 21 – Ethics Workshop, See related article in this issue.

Oct. 1 – Random Acts of Kindness, See related article in this issue.

Nov. 3 – Annual Meeting, Save the date for the PRSA Detroit Annual Meeting. The event begins at 6 p.m. at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, 32 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Farms. Additional details to follow in future issues of the Bulletin.

Host chapter event, get free publicity

PRSA Detroit has a need for venues for its programs. If you have space at your business that would accommodate up to 60 people, or if you have a suggestion for one, please let Programs Committee co-chairs Jennifer Marsik Friess and Elizabeth Robbins know. If you can make available a meeting room or auditorium where you work, we offer the value-added option of your brief presentation about your business at the start of the event.