Affinity Call Recap: Volunteer Recognition

July 16, 2014

By Brant Skogrand, APR, MBC

Skogrand PR Solutions, LLC

Immediate Past Chair, PRSA Midwest District

The strength of a PRSA chapter rests upon the shoulders of its volunteers. With all the heavy lifting, however, it can be easy for volunteers to burn out.

On the most recent PRSA Midwest District affinity call, chapter representatives shared best practices as well as challenges regarding volunteer recognition.

Chapters use several approaches to recognize volunteers, including:

  • An annual peer-nominated “Volunteer of the Year” award,
  • Summer potluck picnics,
  • A winter holiday party combined with the chapter’s annual meeting, and
  • Acknowledgement of individuals at chapter programming events.

Certain chapter committees naturally attract volunteers, such as the student relations committee. Perhaps that’s because professionals are eager to help the next generation of public relations practitioners.

For several chapters, “business community outreach” committees have trouble gaining momentum. In addition, probably because of all the work involved, awards ceremony committees have challenges keeping volunteers.

What do Miley Cyrus and PR have in common?

July 14, 2014

By Revee White – Mid-Missouri PRSA President-Elect

It’s not twerking. It’s the story that was told to us repeatedly at the June PRSA Midwest District Conference about the blurred lines between public relations, marketing and advertising. It’s one that hit close to home for me.

My company is going through a major transformation and is putting a huge focus on marketing. As the manager of the Communications Department, our Chief Financial Officer came to me.

“I want to change your department to the Marketing Department. Your background is in journalism and communications, right? Do you know anything about marketing?”

I know nothing about marketing. And everything. But it took me awhile to come to both of these conclusions.

Joe Cohen, National PRSA President, presented twice during the conference on the new direction of public relations. That new direction includes three big focuses:
Integrated marketing;
Data and analytics; and
Business literacy.

Cohen also drove home a very important point for me: PR has skin in the game of owned, paid earned and social media. We must step up to the plate and think like a marketer.

I took the challenge. My department changed from the Communications Department to the Marketing Department, and I am now the Director of Marketing. I’m no Babe Ruth, but I hope I hit this one out of the park.

Revee White
Mid-Missouri PRSA President-Elect

Twitter: @reveew

Crowdsourcing with a Purpose

July 11, 2014

By: Lewis Pryor, assistant vice president – Public Affairs at State Farm in Bloomington, Ill.

It seems there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t hear about the latest and greatest public relations campaign talks about the power of “crowdsourcing.” The idea is where a “crowd” can provide ongoing feedback on projects, teach and – in the case of public relations – be an active part of a campaign. Some practitioners will talk about this recent phenomenon as a threat, but I believe it produces enormous opportunity for PR professionals when crowdsourcing is done with a clear purpose.

The very core of PR is about engaging various publics. And, the foundation of any successful campaign employs those publics to become aware, behave or act in a certain way. Crowdsourcing is, by its very nature, a moving organization where people participate based on their own beliefs and passions. The key for PR professionals is to create campaigns that align with your organization’s mission while striking a chord with groups who can act.

State Farm looked for new, more relevant ways to engage with consumers regarding their philanthropic donations, and launched Neighborhood Assist (NA) which empowered people to identify issues in their community via Facebook. Then the program connected them with a local nonprofit that can help solve the problem, and provided an opportunity to receive $25,000 in funding support. Causes were submitted via Facebook to the State Farm Youth Advisory Board (YAB). The YAB includes 30 students, 17-20, across North America who run a $5 million-a-year grant program where they review the submissions and selected 100 finalists. Then communities rallied behind their cause by voting on the State Farm Facebook page for three weeks. The 40 top vote receiving causes each won $25,000.

The result? 38,000 people took to Facebook and cast more than 1.2 M votes in three weeks. The 40 winning organizations came from 22 states and the top five voting-receivers came from cities with populations less than 275,000.The CAE website had 418K unique visitors while the Facebook site had 22K socials shares. In addition, nearly 200 unique media placements were garnered. However, the most impressive result was winning a 2013 Silver Anvil Award.

This program provides helpful lessons and tips into effective crowdsourcing:
Be transparent. Every rule and step must be very transparent. Any program that appears it isn’t above board because of lack of transparency will turn people away.
Keep it simple. The process to become engaged must be very simple. Multi-step processes and involved entries will greatly reduce conversion rates.

Engaging your publics. This is easier said than done, but the program has to engage audiences and then keep them engaged throughout the campaign.
Be Unique. Create a program that is different than other programs.

Following these easy steps can help your program stand out and produce outstanding results. But, whatever you create it must balance organizational alignment with what the public cares about. That’s crowdsourcing with a purpose!

Lewis Pryor is assistant vice president – Public Affairs at State Farm in Bloomington, Ill. He also currently serves as president of the Central Illinois PRSA Chapter and a board member of the PRSA Midwest District Board

Hello, Springfield!

July 10, 2014

By Brant Skogrand, APR, MBC 

Joe Cohen at 2014 Midwest District Conference

Joe Cohen, APR, the national chair of PRSA, discussed PRSA’s strategic plan, the evolving role of public relations professionals, and the “seven deadly sins of PR.”

Approximately 200 public relations practitioners recently converged in Springfield, Mo., for this year’s PRSA Midwest District Conference. While storms in the Chicago area delayed those flying through O’Hare Airport, travelers persisted and were rewarded with excellent learning and networking opportunities.

The conference, with a tagline of “Firm Foundations/New Horizons,” featured three keynotes:

  • Minnesota’s James Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, spoke on “Gaining Influence: How to Have a More Important, Powerful, Influential and Fulfilling Career.”
  • Joe Cohen, APR, the national chair of PRSA, discussed PRSA’s strategic plan, the evolving role of public relations professionals, and the “seven deadly sins of PR.”
  • Missy Maher of Edelman shared her insights on marketing to the modern family. 

More than 25 breakout sessions provided plenty of choices for attendees. Topics ranged from content marketing to social media measurement to chocolate addiction and beyond.
Approximately 20 PRSA members either already involved or interested in PRSA leadership participated in the conference’s QuickStart session. They learned how to focus their leadership qualities for chapter success from Regina Waters, Ph.D., of Drury University, who discussed best practices from around the Midwest District and heard from Cohen on the role of PRSA National.

Brian Lee at 2014 Midwest District Conference

Brian Lee, APR, instructs attendees how to measure and analyze social media efforts.

While a printed program provided an overview of the conference, attendees also were able to download the Guidebook app to create a personalized schedule and be updated about schedule changes on the fly. The app proved its use when two sessions were scratched due to the cancellation of the speaker’s flight from Chicago. 

In addition to networking opportunities throughout the day, attendees hit downtown Springfield for dinner at a restaurant of their choice and ended the evening with a gathering at Springfield Brewing Company.

The annual Midwest District Platinum Award, the district’s highest individual honor, was given to Debbie Harvey, APR. She was president of the Chicago chapter in 2012 and championed and led development of the 2012 Midwest District Conference in Chicago. Harvey works for the American Medical Association as the vice president of change strategies.

Thanks to the Southwest Missouri PRSA chapter for providing an excellent professional development opportunity!

To see tweets from the conference, search Twitter using the hashtag #prsamdc.

Brant Skogrand, APR, MBC, is the immediate past chair of the PRSA Midwest District, a past president of Minnesota PRSA, chief communications officer of Skogrand PR Solutions, and author of the small business PR book “19 Tips for Successful Public Relations.”

2012 District Conference Dates Announced, Call for Presentations Now Live

December 13, 2011

The PRSA Midwest District is pleased to announce its first District-wide event in many years, the 2012 Midwest District Conference, which will be held July 19-20 at Loyola University in Chicago. All public relations professionals from across the District and beyond are invited to attend the event, which will focus on Reestablishing the Value Proposition: Trust and Transparency in PR.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to connect with colleagues, get new ideas and learn best practices that can immediately be implemented in your day-to-day work, the Midwest District Conference is for you!

Call for Presentations

We are now accepting proposals for keynote and expert presentations from senior public relations practitioners in agency, corporate and non-profit settings, solo practitioners and experts in related fields, such as management, human resources, legal issues and digital communications. If you are interested, please visit our call for presentations.

If you have questions about the conference, please contact Jim Streed, 2012 Midwest District Chair.

Hope to See You in Orlando!

October 10, 2011

The Midwest District will have a couple of activities at Leadership Assembly and International Conference in Orlando, and all Assembly Delegates and conference attendees from the District’s chapters are invited to attend.

We will have a casual dinner on Saturday, Oct. 15, after the Diversity Mixer. We have a reservation at 8:30 at the Big Fin Seafood Kitchen, which is a 10-15 minute drive from the hotel. We will meet in the hotel lobby and take cabs over. If you plan to join us, please let Renee Robinson (district chair) know if you haven’t already.

We also will have a District breakfast/business meeting on Sunday, Oct. 16, from 8:30 to 10 a.m. in Palazzo Salon D/E. A continental breakfast will be provided.

Hope to see you there!

Listen up! Network. Get engaged.

August 24, 2011

It’s a new era for PR and marketing professionals. Learn from the best at the 2011 professional development conference presented by the Southwest Missouri chapter of PRSA. The conference will be held 8:30 am to 3 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 20, at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, 202 S. JQ Hammons Parkway, Springfield, Mo.

Members of PRSA enjoy a discounted registration fee: $75 until Sept. 9. After that, the fee is $85. Register at

Speakers include David Grossman, APR, Fellow PRSA, and CEO of The Grossman Group, Chicago. He is one of America’s foremost authorities on communication and engagement inside organizations. Mike Koehler, president and chief strategist of Smirk New Media, Oklahoma City, will share new trends in online brand monitoring through social media. Etiquette for business professionals, online and in professional settings, is the topic for Sheri Hawkins, owner of 2balance, a Springfield (Mo.) PR and communications agency.

For more information, contact PRSA member Claire Faucett, or 417-862-5567. She is chair of the conference planning committee.

PRSA Suburban Chicago Chapter Presents APR JumpStart Workshop, Feb. 26

January 27, 2011

Accreditation in Public Relations

Have you been thinking about taking the APR Examination? Not sure if you’re ready or experienced enough to start the process yet? Interested in learning more about the process and how becoming Accredited can help you achieve your professional goals? Then join PRSA’s Suburban Chicago Chapter for a one-day workshop that will teach you how to prepare for the Accreditation Exam.

Saturday, Feb. 26, 8:30 am – 3:30 pm

Sheraton Suites

121 Northwest Pointe Boulevard

Elk Grove Village, IL  60007

Cost: $70, including continental breakfast, a boxed lunch, and all program materials.


The hotel is located just off I-90/Northwest Tollway at the Arlington Heights Road Exit. If you are arriving by air, the nearest airport is O’Hare International (12 miles). Rooms are available for $109 per night plus tax. Reservations can be made at


For more information and to RSVP for the course, contact Debra Bethard-Caplick, 773-445-4353, or go to

Northeast Wisconsin Chapter to Host 10th Anniversary Annual Meeting Oct. 26

August 26, 2010

Peter Shankman Event

Peter Shankman Event Details

Event will feature Peter Shankman, founder of Help a Reporter Out (HARO)

The Northeast Wisconsin Chapter of Public Relations Society of America will hold its 10th Anniversary Annual Meeting featuring PR Celebrity Peter Shankman at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 26, at Brett Favre Steakhouse, Green Bay, WI. The event is open to all communication professionals.

Shankman’s 90-minute speech will focus on how companies, agencies and others can use social media to generate revenue.

Shankman is a former journalist, turned public relations professional, turned entrepreneur who is recognized worldwide for his new ways of thinking about social media, public relations, marketing, advertising, creativity and customer service. He is most well-known for founding Help A Reporter Out (HARO), which connects thousands of journalists to sources around the world looking to be quoted in the media. According to his website, HARO is currently the largest free source repository in the world, sending out more than 1,200 queries from worldwide media each week. HARO’s tagline, “Everyone is an Expert at Something,” proves over and over again to be true, as thousands of new members join at each week. The site currently connects 102,829 active sources with 29,478 journalists.

Shankman is also the founder of The Geek Factory, a boutique Marketing and PR Strategy firm located in New York City. Peter is the author of “Can We Do That? Outrageous PR Stunts That Work — and Why Your Company Needs Them” (Wiley and Sons 2006) and a keynote speaker at events worldwide including The Affiliate Summit, South By Southwest, The Public Relations Society of America, The International Association of Business Communicators, Mobile Marketing Asia, and the Direct Marketing Association. He was also named one of PR Week Magazine’s “30 under 30 to Watch”.

  • 2:30 p.m.: Shankman Presentation
  • 4:30 p.m.: Q&A & Networking
  • 5:30 p.m.: Dinner, 10th Anniversary Celebration and 1st Annual Premier Awards

Fee and registration information is available at the PRSA-Northeast Wisconsin website!

The first annual PRSA Northeast Wisconsin PRemier Awards will recognize the exceptional practice of public relations by professionals throughout Northeast Wisconsin. For more information or to submit an entry, visit: www.