From simply looking at the outside of Haworth, I knew the tour was going to be great. The architecture of the building is beautiful inside and out, and the people who gave us the tour were extremely helpful. A furniture company didn’t sound the most appealing at first, but it was awesome to learn about the trade shows they attended and how fashion is an essential part of the furniture industry. It was interesting to learn about the company, how it began in someone’s garage, and has now turned into a powerhouse in the furniture industry in West Michigan, nationally and globally.
Aside from the building (offices and showrooms) looking like an IKEA, the PR team was really dynamic and eager to assist us with any questions we had. Since we had a small group of Chapter members attend, each of us essentially had one PR professional to ourselves so we could pick their brains. I had a lot of questions answered one-on-one; Lem and Angela truly seemed interested in everything we were doing and had to say or ask. It was a different kind of corporate setting than I ever imagined, and I would love to work for a corporate company if it was designed anything like Haworth!
Blog post written by GV PRSSA Chapter member Valerie Pesonen.
GV PRSSA’s next agency visit will be Friday, November 18, 1:00pm at Revel Marketing in Grand Rapids.
This past Friday, November 4, the Grand Valley PRSSA Chapter was joined by members of the Wayne State and U of M Dearborn Chapters to embark on some insightful agency tours in Detroit. The morning started with a gathering at Starbucks in the Renaissance Center (that is once everyone fought through Detroit traffic and a confusing design layout).
View from the 29th Floor in the RenCen courtesy of @wsuprssa
Our first tour was with General Motors (GM). Although GM is not an agency, it gave us a great feel for corporate PR and also how corporate integrates the use of agencies. GM talked a lot about how their communication department is organized; that includes everything from product communication to retiree communication. While walking around the department we stumbled upon GV PRSSA’s former presidents, Stephanie Rice, desk. This is where agency comes into play with corporate. Stephanie is actually an employee of Weber Shandwick. Corporate communication departments will work with a particular agency and integrate their professionals into their daily PR tasks. Oftentimes, the company does not have enough staff to cover everything so they use an agency. They search for a particular agency that specializes in a particular need so they will use those professionals. Stephanie is working onsite at GM doing PR for the numerous auto-shows that happen during the year. After learning about GM and how their communication department works, they talked to us about their internship program. They only take the best of the best and they hire very early for their summer internship program (had completed hiring by Nov 2011 for summer 2012).
The second agency tour we went on was at Lovio-George. This is a small agency in Mid-Town Detroit. The agency is in an old, three-story house, creating a beautiful environment and a homey feel. There were between 7-10 employees and one intern. Although the agency is rather small, they work(ed) on some very large accounts, some of which include the Parade Company, River Days and the 2006 Superbowl. One of the most enthralling things about this agency was their true love for Detroit. The owner, Christina Lovio-George, gave us one of the most inspirational pep talks about Detroit I have ever heard. Knowing their true love for the city really gave us an idea about the type of work and time they put into their clients.
After a brief, but yummy, lunch at Panera, we headed to Weber Shandwick in Birmingham. This tour was much different than the first two because they essentially let us run it. They gave us a tour of their building which was very cool. It used to be an old department store so it was an open layout with lots of natural light. After the tour, we sat with a few of the agency professionals and asked them numerous questions ranging from tips for graduating seniors to information about their clients. At Weber Shandwick, we grew a better understanding of the integration of agency employee’s into corporate offices. Weber Shandwick does a lot of work with GM and has a few people on-site with them. It was interesting to see the agency side of working with corporate after hearing about it from the corporate perspective earlier that morning with GM. Although we probably could have talked for another hour, we had to get back to the Renissance Center to tour one last agency, Franco PR Group.
Franco PR Group attracted all of our attention by sitting us at a table that was full of candy. Like Lovio-George, Franco does a lot of work with only a small number of people (17). Each member of their team works on numerous accounts and some of those accounts are full campaigns, not just special needs. The team at Franco really gave a sense of family and devotion to their work. We learned that to intern at this agency, one must have prior internship experience. Even if your experience wasn’t as challenging or exciting as you would have liked, Franco likes to see that you simply have had the experience and are still striving to learn more.
With a long day behind us, it was time to say goodbye to Detroit (for now). The day was filled with excitement and learning, and I was glad I was able to be a part of this opportunity. Each agency had something new to teach us and I think by the end of the day, our group was even more excited to be in PR than we were before the day began.
Blog post written by GV PRSSA Chapter member Allison Golan.
GV PRSSA’s next agency visit will be Friday, November 11, 1:00pm at Haworth, Inc in Holland.
We had 12 members attend this year’s PRSSA National Conference in sunny Orlando, Florida. We wanted to recap our favorite experiences, speakers and lessons with our Chapter!
Back Row L to R: Breann Andersen, Paige Fagen, Stacey Nardozzi, Andrea Filter, Allison Root, Sam Bourque, Katlynn Downey, Kelsey Schultz. Front Row L to R: Danielle Morabito, Shelby Schwarzkoff, Taylor Heggen, Kristina Green
Danielle Morabito: The ideas, advice, and networking tips I learned were countless. I truly enjoyed how every day was different and how we were able to meet so many different PR professionals. By having such a diverse selection of sessions, it makes you think about what you want to do for your career. In addition, Orlando was an amazing place. Having the hot weather and fun attractions around made free time totally worth it. You learn a lot about yourself and what you want for your future – that is probably the most beneficial aspect I took back home with me.
Allison Root: Attending National Conference has prompted me to consider career paths I haven’t before. I was inspired by many of the speakers to go out and continue to better myself as a future professional. I particularly enjoyed the session on creativity with speakers Jeffrey Ory and Gary Buchanan. Keynote Speaker Rick Leventhal of Fox News gave great advice on how to pitch journalists and reporters effectively, even going so far as to show examples of good and bad pitches he has received. National Conference was a surreal learning experience and allowed me to bond with other members.
Sam Bourque: I loved being able to travel with members of our chapter and meet so many other PR students and professionals from around the country. It was an amazing experience to listen to such a wide range of speakers and professionals. I left Orlando feeling more prepared for graduation, while also being extremely excited for the year to come!
Kelsey Schultz: Many topics were discussed at the 2011 PRSSA National Conference, but this one particularly made me think the most. A public relations subject that is not fully explained in the classroom setting is crisis communications. As a student in the public relations field, the majority of my work is geared towards campaigns for building awareness for positive public interest. But what happens when a brand or individual suddenly has a negative image or reputation? How do public relations students like myself use skills to build back credibility? Richard Levick, President and CEO of Levick Strategic Communications, gave a better understanding of how to accomplish this sort of ordeal. Levick explained that in crisis communications, you never know what is going to come next. One must be transparent, take action, and have leadership skills to effectively make it known to the public you are trying to make an improvement. Levick stated that there is a greater cost in crisis communication if one does nothing compared to putting a positive effort forth. When an effort is put forth though, it must be done rather fast. The longer time waits, the more likely individuals will leak information. This is the the start of rumors, lies and people making their own perceptions of a situation. If I could take away one thought from Richard Levick’s session it would be ”When you make a promise, you fulfill it.” These words from Levick are ones I wish to carry with me through out my career, no matter if it is a crisis situation or not. Richard Levick was one of the most knowledgeable speakers at the 2011 PRSSA National Conference and I would like to thank him for his time and wonderful insights.
Shelby Schwarzkoff: National Conference was one of the best experiences of my PR career thus far! I gained new knowledge about the industry from keynote speakers and professionals in the field. By attending the sessions, I have a better understanding of what kind of PR I’d like to do; which for me is corporate PR. Also, I loved learning about what other chapters have been doing, fundraising ideas, and other ways on how to improve our own Chapter. In addition, networking with young professionals from around the nation and PR professionals in the industry was invaluable. Overall, I would not trade this experience for the world, and look forward to attending National Conference again next year!
Stacey Nardozzi: National Conference was a great learning and networking experience. I was able to listen to multiple public relations professionals speak on a variety of topics from media relations to ethics in the profession. It was great to be able to represent GV PRSSA and present a Chapter Development session with four other Chapter members. I enjoyed the keynote speaker Rick Leventhal, Senior Correspondent for Fox News Channel. He spoke about media relations practices and what a public relations professional should “not” do. Leventhal showed us examples of bad and good email pitches. Overall, conference was a great bonding experience for our Chapter members and I gained valuable contacts and insight into the the profession.
Taylor Heggen: National Conference was a wonderful opportunity for me to network with other PRSSA Chapters from across the nation. It was amazing to see the number of students that are just as passionate about PR as I am, and attending the conference reassured me that I had chosen the right major for me. This was my second year attending National Conference, and I am so happy that I had the opportunity to experience it again. Each session taught me something new, and I loved representing our Chapter during our presentation. We received a lot of positive feedback and I was told that other Chapters look up to us. I couldn’t be more proud of what our Chapter has done in the past year. I am so excited to be planning our Regional Conference in April, it will be a great experience that all of our members will benefit from. Although not many of our members were able to experience National Conference, I highly encourage them to attend the Regional Conference so they can get a taste what National Conference is all about.
Katlynn Downey: Conference exceeded my expectations in every sense. The speakers and professionals provided us with great lectures that informed us of topics we only touch on in class. My two favorite sessions were on crisis communication and agency vs. corporate public relations. Our Chapter also had the opportunity to meet other PRSSA Chapters from across the country as well as professionals from a variety of PR fields. Overall, conference was an awesome experience. For member who could not attend this year, I highly recommend attending next year!
Breann Andersen: National Conference was such an eye-opening experience. Having the opportunity to present helped to establish connections with other Chapters throughout Michigan, and improved my confidence level when speaking in public. I especially loved the keynote speaker, Rick Leventhal. He inspired me to put myself out there and build relationships with as many professionals as possible. Overall, conference was a success, from networking with professionals and students to the positive energy in the atmosphere; everyone had a passion for PR and it was nice to be surrounded by others who share the same desire for the organization and profession.
Kristina Green: Not only was National Conference an opportunity to bond within our own Chapter, but members were able to expand their network with young professionals across the country. I enjoyed getting a closer and more in-depth look at the different areas we are able to practice public relations. It was a great experience to be invited to attend the PRSA General Session featuring Soledad O’Brien of CNN and to get an inside look on what us graduating seniors have to look forward to as being a part of PRSA in the future. I was able to gain a clearer view on what my goals are for the next few months as I prepare to enter the real world. Without the help of PRSSA and National Conference, I don’t think I’d be as ready for graduation as I am now. National Conference is an experience no PRSSA member should miss!
A special thank you to all of our sponsors who supported us in our travels to Florida! We couldn’t have done with without your help.
OSU Regional Activity 2011 Recap by Molly Murray
Last Thursday, eight GVSU PRSSA members headed to Columbus, OH for Regional Activity at Ohio State University. The weekend was filled with tours, networking, speakers, panels and lots of lessons to bring home to Grand Rapids.
We began Friday morning at SBC Advertising, a fully integrated agency that works with clients such as Elmer’s Glue and Bed, Bath & Beyond. We toured its creative, interactive and public relations departments and then sat down with the PR team, who did an excellent job answering our never-ending questions.
Tip from SBC: If you want a job in another city, don’t just send out your resume. Tell them WHY you want to work in that specific city.
After a quick lunch we were off to Paul Werth Associates. Also an integrated firm, Paul Werth works with a variety of clients, most notably in public affairs. We sat down with some of the Paul Werth team and learned more life lessons to help us succeed as young professionals.
Tip from Paul Werth: Always take the meeting. Explore every opportunity, even if it isn’t the best fit for you right now. You never know what connections you’ll make.
Last but not least, we went out to Easton to visit Fahlgren Mortine, yet another integrated agency with an impressive reputation. Fahlgren works with clients in a variety of industries from consumer to healthcare to automotive. Most well known by Michiganders: McDonald’s and Kroger. After a tour, we sat down with the Fahlgren PR team to learn more about the world of agency PR. They were an awesome group and we could see how much they loved their jobs and how important teamwork is in an agency.
Tip from Fahlgren: Never underestimate the power of networking. Even if it doesn’t work out the first time around, making the connections is what matters. Keep in touch and don’t be afraid to take someone out for coffee.
After an afternoon of superb shopping, GVSU PRSSA was off to Dave & Buster’s for dinner, networking and fun with local professionals and fellow conference attendees. It was a great event, we caught up with a few of our new friends from Fahlgren and met many more (and I blew everyone out of the water when it came to arcade games… just sayin’).
Saturday was another early morning, this time at Ohio State University for breakfast and a day full of speakers, networking and problem-solving. Everyone (minus our beloved Sarah Myles) stayed loyal to the Mitten State and upheld the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry (respectfully, of course).
Enough about the Buckeyes. Breakfast was followed by our first session with Brandi Hann of SBC Advertising (we were lucky enough to see her again) who spoke to us about interoffice dynamics. Brandi’s presentation was especially helpful to those of us about to start our first job.
Tip: Refill the coffee. Don’t know how to do it? It’s called Google… or use that college brain of yours. You’ll figure it out.
Next we participated in a crisis communications exercise with fellow PRSSA members. The crisis involved a local ice cream shop that had a chemical leak while the owner was away and had to recall weeks worth of product. Serious business. GVSU PRSSA was more than prepared to react: identifying key publics and a spokesperson, communicating with employees and alerting the media, all with poise and transparency.
A quick lunch break followed where we heard from our good friend Nick Lucido, National PRSSA President and recent Michigan State University graduate. Nick had great advice, as always, but lost points with GVSU when he threw Michigan under the bus and sided with the Buckeyes. We’ll forgive him, eventually.
Lastly, we attended two young professional panels: one “recent young professionals” and one “veteran young professionals.” They provided us with tons of tips and shared their experiences as “newbies” in the PR world.
Tips: Ask questions. Be confident. Enjoy the experience of job-hunting. Don’t feel ashamed when you cry upon receiving your first loan bill.
Here is what the rest of the group had to say about Columbus:
“I enjoyed hearing from the recent grads who have successfully started their careers. They gave me more confidence to go out and get a position after school. I really learned a lot from all their tips and suggestions and hearing their stories. I also found myself critically thinking and examining myself, my resume, and how I am branding myself, all of which, I believe, will help me move forward into my career.” – Alex Page
“I enjoyed touring different agencies outside of Michigan to see how their daily operations may differ from what we typically see. The ability to network with professionals and peers was an absolute plus.” – Kristina Green
“I learned the value of a phone call. HR people receive endless amounts of emails and sometimes it is best to just pick up the phone and ask when they are hiring and if you can set up an informational interview. It’s best to call in the early morning or at the end of the agency day. If applying for a position it’s always best to follow up 2-3 days after.” – Sarah Myles
“I really enjoyed connecting with other young professionals while hearing how PR is being taught and used by them.” – Kevin Virant
“I was excited that our chapter had the most members attending the Regional Conference. Our chapter is growing and becoming more involved in national initiatives and this proved to our region that we are involved and will participate in networking opportunities with other PRSSA members.” – Stacey Nardozzi
“I liked the networking and real life examples offered by the professionals. It was helpful to hear from Brandi Haan from SBC Advertising regarding what employers are looking for in a new hire. I learned that experience is key and who you know can be very beneficial since the majority of professionals we heard from had obtained their job through someone in their network… I also learned that GVSU PRSSA has got it goin’ on and we know a LOT compared to other schools… AKA our competition. It was a blast and I met a ton of new people that I plan on keeping in touch with.” - Adrienne Rehm
We had a great weekend and I’m sure the whole group will be more than willing to let you in on some more insider secrets.
With graduation right around the corner (TWELVE DAYS), Sarah, Stephanie, Adrienne and I were constantly reminded of how much we have benefited from PRSSA and our last big event was a great send-off. We encourage all of the underclassmen to take advantage of these opportunities next year and cannot stress enough the value of networking, both with professionals and your peers.
For more updates on the conference, check out the hashtag #PRCapital on Twitter!