CHAPTER SPOTLIGHT: What does Alzheimer’s awareness, the business case for media training and Peyton Manning have in common?

April 10, 2014

No, they are not components of an elaborate integrated campaign…they each had a role in the first three professional development luncheons hosted by PRSA Nebraska in 2014!

In January we kicked off the year with Albers Communications Group and Home Instead sharing how their integrated communications campaign elevated Alzheimer’s awareness and services, winning them PRSA Nebraska Paper Anvil Best in Show Award and a Silver Anvil Award of Excellence from PRSA National. Our February luncheon was led by Joan Lukas, president and owner of Lukas Partners, and Kara Neuverth, director of media relations at Boys Town. The duo shared valuable information to help make the case for media training on any budget. On March 4, we explored how a Denver Broncos’ quarterback’s play calls referencing Nebraska’s largest city led to a national “Omaha! Omaha!” awareness effort. A discussion led by Universal Information Services with panelists from Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Greater Omaha Chamber and Omaha Steaks provided local PR professionals with information on how to apply the lessons learned to build a similar campaign of their own. Attendance and engagement at these first three programs is evidence that we are off to a great start this year.

Excellent programming and optimal networking opportunities are just two of the ways we strive to  “advance the professional and the profession” here in Nebraska. We have begun putting our 2014 strategic plans in motion to elevate our chapter to even higher standards. Our Board of Directors have set goals for this year in the areas of membership, accreditation, community service, sponsorship, communications, support and connections with the PRSSA chapters we sponsor and our annual Paper Anvil Awards and Gala. In addition, our team has selected several key areas where we would like to enhance the operations of our chapter this year.

PRSA Nebraska Board of Director Goals for 2014:

  • Develop and implement a formalized process for recruiting and measuring volunteer efforts

◦     Create recruitment documents outlining all volunteer opportunities including a description of positions, time commitment and frequency/schedule of meetings

◦     Track volunteer hours

  • Create and distribute a simple annual report at year-end

◦     Showcase what our chapter provides to our members and communities

◦     Share and celebrate our successes

  • Strengthen relationships with our members

◦     Create a culture where it is understood that the Board of Directors’ purpose is to serve the membership

◦     Discover what they want/need through surveys and personal contacts, and do our best to deliver it to them

We feel confident we are in a position to exceed expectations in 2014. PRSA Nebraska has had the benefit of exceptional leadership and this year’s volunteer Board of Directors is no exception.

We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with our fellow Midwest District chapters. Have an idea or project we could work on together? Let’s connect!

Davina Leezer
PRSA Nebraska President






March 11, 2014


Given that the polar vortex has made this winter one for the record books, it comes as no surprise that Midwesterners already are booking their summers with fun vacations.

things to do in springfield mo
Springfield, Mo.

Before the summer schedule fills up, I would encourage public relations professionals to register for the PRSA Midwest District Conference.

There are several reasons to attend the conference, which takes place June 18-20 in Springfield, Mo.

  1. You’ll get to hear excellent programming sessions. Jim Lukaszewski, APR, Fellow PRSA, also known as “America’s Crisis Guru,” will deliver the conference keynote. Joseph E. Cohen, APR, this year’s PRSA National chair, will be speaking as well. In addition, there are tons of breakout sessions covering various topics.
  2. Connect with other public relations professionals. The PRSA Midwest District covers chapters from eight states, so you’re bound to meet someone new. In addition, I connected with other public relations professionals from my home chapter when I attended the last two PRSA Midwest District Conferences.
  3. Develop your PRSA leadership skills. On June 18, the conference starts with a QuickStart program, which is an educational and motivational networking event designed to help attendees learn what it takes to succeed as a PRSA leader.
  4. See a new city. I’m looking forward to visiting Springfield for the first time. For those interested in touring Branson, it’s less than an hour’s drive away.

By the time you’re in Springfield this summer, the polar vortex will be a distant memory. 

Connect ’14 is like déjà vu

March 11, 2014

Guest post from Jim Streed, APR
2012 MW District Chair & Secretary, Employee Communications Section

When I left the District board, I was able to spend more time supporting my other PRSA priority: the Employee Communications Section. I’ve been a Section member for a long time and part of the executive committee for about three years.

The Section has sponsored an annual conference – called “Connect” – with the idea to give employee communications professionals an opportunity to focus on their PR niche. Employee communicators often say they’re frustrated with the content of many conferences. It’s too basic, they say, or it’s too focused on big-budget tactics, or doesn’t translate to the not-for-profit world.

Working as a member of the planning team for Connect ’14 ( took me back to 2012 when we planned our first District conference in about a decade. We’re back in Chicago this year (May 20–21) and at Loyola’s Water Tower campus, once again. I feel like Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day!

I don’t want to take anything away from the 2014 Midwest District Conference in Springfield (MO). In fact, I’ll be speaking there myself! I’m equally excited – as internal comms guy – that Connect ’14 focuses on employee communication in a special way. First of all, it features some of the best employee communication minds in the business: people like Maril MacDonald, a true pioneer in strategic internal communications as founder of Gagen MacDonald; Linda Dulye of Dulye & Co., whose work on improving managerial communication has been vital; and Tyler Durham, who runs the change practice for Ketchum and helps companies and leaders grow and unleash the potential of their employees and brands. These three are our keynoters this year.

Our theme is “Embracing constant change in the new economy.” The breakout sessions are split into skill-building and case studies. Speakers are drawn from agency and corporate, academic and not-for-profit, all unified under the theme of change, and demonstrating how employee communicators can become empowered to lead change. We’ll cover health care reform, streaming video, reputation management, employee events and much more. It’s a full agenda that will help any internal communications professional build capabilities in this increasingly critical area of corporate communications.

If you’re specializing in employee communications, give Connect ’14 a look. And if you have questions, contact Section Chair Sean Williams or me, Jim Streed, APR. We’d be happy to….wait for it…connect!

Congratulations to New Officers for 2014

November 7, 2013

Midwest District delegates attending the October 27 annual meeting in Philadelphia approved the slate of officers for 2014. Sorry I did not get this posted earlier! Here’s the team:

  • Chair: Lori Marble, APR (Southwest Missouri Chapter)
    Lori is Director of Marketing and Communications for Mercy Hospital in Joplin, and serves as president of the SW Missouri Chapter for 2013.
  • Chair-elect: Kellie Wostrel, APR (Nebraska Chapter)
    Kellie is Public Relations Manager at Swanson Russell in Omaha and serves as president of the Nebraska Chapter for 2013.
  • Treasurer: Jill Alexander, APR, Fellow PRSA (St. Louis Chapter)
    Jill is Senior Director of Corporate Communications for Isle of Capri Casinos in St. Louis. This will be Jill’s second year as treasurer.
  • Secretary: Karen Korsgard, APR (Central Illinois Chapter)
    Karen is Director of Client Services at Hult Marketing in Peoria. This will be Karen’s second year as secretary.
  • Immediate Past-chair: Brant Skogrand, APR, MBC (Minnesota Chapter)
    Brant is principal and Chief Communications Officer for Skogrand PR Solutions in Minneapolis. Brant also served as president of the Minnesota Chapter before moving into leadership at the MW District.
  • PRSA Nominating Committee Representative (Primary): Lewis Pryor, APR (Central Illinois Chapter)
    Lewis is AVP of Public Affairs at State Farm Insurance’s corporate headquarters in Bloomington. He is also president of the Central Illinois Chapter for 2013.
  • PRSA Nominating Committee Representative (Alternate): Herb Ritchell (Chicago Chapter)
    Herb is Director of the Advertising and Public Relations program at Loyola University, where he also oversees internships and teaches advertising and public relations courses. Herb also operates his own consulting practice.

Congratulations once again to the slate, and thank you for your service to your Chapter, the District and the Society!

October 8 Affinity Call: Take your awards program digital!

October 3, 2013

Our October affinity call will focus on what it takes – and what it’s like – to conduct your Chapter awards program digitally. Join your District peers in a discussion about what works, what flops, and where to start.

  • Tuesday, October 8, 2013
  • 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. (Central)
  • Dial: 866-999-1600 / ID: 4335768#

Contact Jim Streed, APR with any questions at

2014 Midwest District Conference site is live!

September 23, 2013

Be among the first in the District to mark your calendars and bookmark this site for the 2014 PRSA Midwest District Conference, June 18-20 in Springfield, MO.

The Southwest Missouri Chapter will be our hosts next year. The planning team is already hard at work, creating an event that has something for everyone at every stage of their professional life.

The site is not open for registration yet, but there is already…

  1. an outline of the schedule (including the Leadership Quick Start that precedes the formal conference);
  2. links to a page of conference events; and
  3. information about the venue and facilities: the Ramada Oasis Hotel & Conference Center.

Kudos to the 2014 Conference planning team for being so far ahead of the curve! Be sure to visit the site regularly for updates. We’ll post them here, too, of course, so come around any time.

See you in Springfield!

Sept. 10 Affinity Call: Membership – What’s working for you?

September 5, 2013

As we head into fall and many chapters resume their “regularly scheduled programs,” we’re wondering what your membership plans are for 2013-14:

  • How do you bring new members into your Chapter?
  • Are the PRSA membership promotions working for you? How do you leverage them?
  • Do you have tried-and-true approaches (or “tried-and-through” ones)?

Let’s chat! Join your District colleagues Tuesday, September 10 from Noon to 1 p.m. (Central) to talk about what has worked for you, what you’d like to try and what brings your members to the Chapter.

Contact Jim Streed, APR [] for call-in details.