Milwaukee’s PR professionals shine at 2015 Paragon Awards

The Public Relations Society of America Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter held its annual Paragon Awards banquet on May 21, 2015 at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. The awards program celebrated high-level work in public relations and honored accomplishments of over 10 local agencies and companies in 16 categories, including media relations, social media, integrated communications and community relations among others.

Larry O'Brien of Bader Rutter

Larry O’Brien of Bader Rutter

Bader Rutter of Brookfield, Wis. received the coveted Best of Show award for its work with Zoetis on the Hoof-Tec New Product Introduction. The creative “Too Much Metal” campaign introduced a new footbath product to dairy farmers and veterinarians used for bathing cow hooves. The product uses up to 40 percent less copper sulfate. Results included an increased awareness of 50 percent in just nine months after the campaign and increased product sales. Print and online placements attracted nearly 1.5 million impressions. The launch news release received 447,848 impressions, and this was the most-clicked story of the March Inside Dairy Wellness e-newsletter.

Other Best of Show finalists included Bader Rutter for its work for Sauder, BVK for its work with Weddings by Funjet and Hawai’i Health Connector, and Celtic, Inc. for its work with Edvest.

This year’s entries were judged by the Greater Kansas PRSA Chapter and were evaluated based on five criteria: objectives, research and planning, execution, budgets and results.

Chapter president Bill Bussler

Chapter president Bill Bussler

“It’s wonderful to see the volume of great public relations work produced right here in Southeastern Wisconsin,” said Bill Bussler, chapter president. “Our members are creative, resourceful and savvy. The work featured at the Paragon Awards gets better each year, and we look forward to continuing to see the outstanding work our members produce.”

Stephanie Klett, recipient of the Communicator of the Year award

Stephanie Klett, recipient of the Communicator of the Year award

The events also recognized two established professionals for their admirable work in the local community. The Communicator of the Year award was presented to Stephanie Klett, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. Under her leadership, the Department of Tourism has earned an unprecedented 65 regional, national and international awards.

Carol Weber, recipient of the Dorothy Thomas Black award

Carol Weber, recipient of the Dorothy Thomas Black award

The Dorothy Thomas Black award was presented to Carol Seeger Weber, APR, director of communications and marketing at the Wisconsin Dental Association. Carol is a member of the board of directors for the chapter, serving as director-at-large. She also is a past president of the chapter.

The PRSA Paragon Awards were created in 1983 to honor public relations professionals on their exceptional work. A complete list of winners is included below.

You can view event photos on our Facebook page:



  1. Communicator of the Year Award: Stephanie Klett, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism
  1. Dorothy Thomas Black Award: Carol Seeger Weber, APR, director of communications and marketing at the Wisconsin Dental Association
  1. Best of Show:
  • Winner:
    • Bader Rutter – Zoetis, Hoof-Tec New Product Introduction
  • Finalists:
    • BVK – Weddings by Funjet Launch
    • BVK – Hawai’i Health Connector
    • Bader Rutter – Sauder Social Media Program
    • Celtic, Inc. – Edvests’ Big Apple Giveaway
  1. Social Media Campaigns:
  • Award of Merit
    • BVK – Guitars for Vets
    • BVK – Foresters
    • BVK – Funjet Vacations, The Funjet Insider
    • BVK – Mystik Lubricants
  • Award of Excellence
    • BVK – CITGO Fueling Good
    • BVK – Hawai’i Health Connector
    • Bader Rutter – Sauder Woodworking
    • BVK – Weddings by Funjet
  1. Community Relations:
  • Award of Merit
    • State Farm – Neighborhood Assist
  1. Public Service:
  • Award of Merit
    • State Farm – Celebrate My Drive
  1. Integrated Communications – Government/Nonprofit:
  • Award of Merit
    • Laughlin Constable – 2014 Wisconsin Department of Tourism Campaign
    • Bethesda – Peoria Community Engagement Campaign
  1. Integrated Communications – Business/Industry:
  • Award of Merit
    • American Transmission Co. – Helps Landowners to Grow Smart Campaign
    • Wisconsin Dental Association – “Own Your Smile” Oral Health Literacy, Public Awareness Campaign
  • Award of Excellence
    • Bader Rutter – Zoetis, 2014 Honoring Caregivers Program
    • Bethesda – Peoria Community Engagement Campaign
    • Celtic, Inc. – Edvest’s Big Apple Giveaway
    • Bader Rutter – Zoetis, Hoof-Tec Product Introduction
  1. PR Tactic (Media Relations) – Release/Other:
  • Award of Merit:
    • Laughlin Constable – Wisconsin Association of Nurses on behalf of Pfizer, School Nurses Vaccination Effort – No Shots, No School!
    • Bader Rutter – Case IH, Media Event/Farm Progress Show
  • Award of Excellence:
    • KOHLER Engines – Trade Editor’s Conference
  1. PR Tactic (Media Relations) – Press Kit; Services/Events:
  • Award of Merit:
    • Laughlin Constable – Wisconsin Tourism Media Kit
  • Award of Excellence:
    • Cramer-Krasselt – Appvion, Inc., Alpha Free Multimedia News Release
  1. Poster:
  • Award of Merit:
    • Cramer-Krasselt – Evinrude, The Power to Choose
  1. Newsletter:
  • Award of Excellence:
    • Laughlin Constable – Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association, Spreading the Word e-newsletter
  1. Special Events
  • Award of Merit:
    • Cramer-Krasselt – Evinrude, Club Evinrude
  1. Brochure
  • Award of Excellence:
    • Carroll University – General Brochure
  1. Social Media Tactic
  • Award of Merit:
    • Cramer-Krasselt – TIKI Brand Outdoor Entertaining Blogger Program
  1. Online E-news
  • Award of Excellence
    • Bader Rutter – National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council,

PRSA Young Pros – Mentor Program Updates

Following the successful wrap up of the 2014-15 Mentor Program, the upcoming season is well underway! Thank you to Evan Zeppos, APR and Jerry Topczewski, APR for the wonderful insights they shared regarding crisis communications.

This is our 4th year of building mentor/mentee relationships and we’re expecting more participation than ever. As we continue the work and evolve to best serve those involved, there will be a few changes and additions to the coming season.

The first change is within the profile survey to match mentors and mentees. Along with basic information, interests, and areas of expertise, the survey will also compile information about the expectations of the mentor/mentee and the program.

In an attempt to create more opportunities to foster connections, this year there will be four mentor events instead of the previous three. These events are strictly Mentor Program events and are separate from our chapter’s monthly luncheons and Young Pros events.

The biggest change this year is the addition of a newsletter. Every month, mentors and mentees will receive an email compiled with ideas and information, aiding the process of creating a truly mutually beneficial relationship. Included in the newsletter will be potential articles to discuss, webinars to watch, places to meet, and more. Ideas and suggestions on content are always welcome.

The final change is the option to rematch halfway through the program. If you want to network further than your first assigned mentor and grow your network, you will have an option to do so. This will take place between the second and third events.

Please contact Christine Piela with any questions or comments. As Mentor Program Chair I look forward to the upcoming season!


Top 3 PR Articles of the Week: Friday, May 15, 2015

We’re already half way through the month of May and summer is upon us. However, as PR professionals, we can’t let the pending warm weather distract us for too long. So for this week, the Top 3 PR Articles examine struggling iconic brands, Snapchat video ads and changes in TV coverage. Enjoy!

From McDonald’s to Barbie, iconic brands are struggling Read>>>

Snapchat debuts video ads for 2 cents a view Read>>>

Fast Company
How Periscope, Meerkat and Snapchat will change how TV covers news, sports and weather Read>>>


Kristin Rabas (@krabas)
Sr. Public Relations Advisor
Aurora Health Care

Top 3 PR Articles of the Week: Friday, May 8, 2015

It looks like we’ve finally escaped winter! Before you get out and enjoy the beautiful weather, check out this week’s articles about Snapchat, hashtags and why there’s a growing gap between reporters and PR professionals. Enjoy and Happy Mother’s Day this weekend to all our moms out there!

Snapchat shows the power of its platform, hires star CNN reporter Read>>>

PRSA Tactics
Tag, you’re it: How to create a hashtag crisis strategy Read>>>

The Washington Post
Why the PR industry is sucking up Pulitzer winners Read>>>

Kristin Rabas (@krabas)
Sr. Public Relations Advisor
Aurora Health Care

PRSA Young Pros – The Upcoming Year

The PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin Young Pros committee is excited to share plans for the upcoming year. The Young Pros welcomes five brand new committee members including Erica Rasmussen as chair, Nick Herff handling communications and social media, Kate Kazan coordinating events, Greg Brey as treasurer, and Christine Piela taking on the 2015-16 Mentor Program. The committee’s primary focus is to develop the chapter’s young professionals to produce the next generation of successful Public Relations experts.

The Mentor Program is currently wrapping up a successful 2014-2015 season with a networking social on crisis communications that will take place on May 7th. Details can be found on the PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin website.

The 2015-2016 season will provide innovative ways to start conversations and share knowledge. Christine is working with previous mentor program chairs to provide the best mentor/mentee experience possible. Be on the lookout for more details coming soon!

Our first panel discussion on April 23rd was a success! Several PR professionals spoke to the benefits and challenges on receiving their accreditation. Future Young Pros events include panel discussions, networking and socials, some of which will be joined by other Young Pro organizations such as the Milwaukee Press Club, Ad 2 Milwaukee and more.

As always, stay up-to-date by joining our email list at and connecting with via Twitter @PRSAWisYP.

Top 3 PR Articles of the Week: Friday, April 24, 2015

Yay for Friday! This week, the top three PR articles of the week are all about two powerhouse companies and how they’re influencing the worlds of advertising and news. Check out the stories below about Google’s changes to how you search on your phone and how the Washington Post is using Amazon as a role model for ad targeting. Enjoy!

The Washington Post takes an Amazon-inspired approach to native ad targeting Read>>>

The Washington Post
Google is about to dramatically change how search works on your phone Read>>>

USA Today
5 things to know about ‘Mobilegeddon’ Read>>>

Kristin Rabas (@krabas)
Sr. Public Relations Advisor
Aurora Health Care

Unleash the Power of Storytelling: Luncheon recap

rob-biesenbachBy Lauren Gonn

One of the most powerful forms of communication is storytelling. 2014 is considered “the year of the story,” according to Entrepreneur. Rob Biesenbach explained at Friday’s luncheon that 63 percent of members in an audience remember stories, compared to 5 percent who remember statistics.

Stories can help accomplish many things when told correctly, including the ability to tap into peoples’ emotions, put a face on issues, connect us, humanize us with what we stand for and raise the stakes in a situation.

The proper structure of a story usually consists of a character(s) in pursuit of a goal while encountering an obstacle.

When telling a story, think about how your audience will react and what you want your audience to know, feel and do after they hear the story. Try to use your own personal experience and feelings to try and connect the audience with what you are expressing. And remember that less is more. Keep your stories concise and to the point.

With that, I will leave you with some tips from Rob Biesenbach:

  • Passion and emotion sell
  • Be original with what you are telling
  • Always be looking for new topics to discuss with others
  • Get personal with your audience

Top 3 PR Articles of the Week: Friday, April 10, 2015

As a female millennial, I frequently find myself as the target audience for consumer marketing campaigns and market research. From health care to grocery stores, many consumer brands are trying to figure out the millennial generation and how to communicate with them. Therefore, for this week I chose a few articles about my awesome generation and added in a little advice on public speaking from one of my favorite TV shows, House of Cards. Enjoy!

Survey: Facebook is becoming a primary news source for millennials Read>>>

5 public speaking lessons from ‘House of Cards’ Read>>>

Advertising Age
How marketers can reach mobile-obsessed multicultural millennials Read>>>

Kristin Rabas (@krabas)
Sr. Public Relations Advisor
Aurora Health Care

Top 3 PR Articles of the Week: Friday, March 27, 2015

It’s all about Facebook and social media! This week, Facebook announces a plan to host news sites’ content, best practices of the top brands on social media and how users feel when it comes to interacting with businesses on Facebook. Enjoy!

New York Times
Facebook may host news sites’ content Read>>>

Social Media Today
8 winning habits of social media’s top brands Read>>>

Do Facebook users really want to chat with businesses? Read>>>

Kristin Rabas (@krabas)
Sr. Public Relations Advisor
Aurora Health Care

“Generation C”- luncheon recap

By Lauren GonnPRSA Southeastern Wisconsin - Generation C luncheon

What is Generation C? Why should we care, and who is involved in this group? A collection of people from Bader Rutter gave an eye-opening discussion at PRSA’s March luncheon.

Generation C has no defined definition, but rather determined by one’s behavior. There are four “Cs” that define this group of people: connection, creation, communication and change.

Those considered a part of Generation C are three times more likely to attend live events, influence $500 billion of product/service purchases annually and have a huge purchasing power. Forget about age, these people are passionate brand advocates growing on both ends of the age spectrum. Their views are shaped by personal connections.

In fact, 85 percent rely on their peers’ approvals for buying decisions. They need to be constantly connected with the world and their peers, mostly through social media and always have their personal and business lives intertwined. For example, they may be checking their Facebook or Twitter accounts while on the way to a meeting; or reading emails when with a client. Bringing us back to those “Cs”-connection and communication.

So what motivates these brand advocates? They want to “show and tell.” Once they find a product and/or service they love, Generation C members will want to share this information with their peers. It’s only natural after finding something you love to want to share it with others. Specifically, they are looking to support brands with a shared purpose.

Going back to the idea of staying connected, these people want to be advocates for brands who have not only good products/services, but who are doing something more with them. Generation C members are our influencers of the world, bringing attention to brands through many ways of technology and word of mouth.

Now, let’s look at the last two “Cs”- creation and change. Being so connected, these individuals create a lot of content every day that’s put out there for everyone to see. Statistics show that more than 216,000 photos are loaded to Instagram every 60 seconds, and 2,460,000 pieces of content are placed on Facebook every day. That’s quite a large amount of content!

Generation C seeks content and experiences worth sharing, changing the way marketers look at their audience. It’s about the whole brand experience, not just the content itself. Brands need to keep their messaging authentic and entertaining, and embrace the fact that they don’t own the conversation- their audience, including members of Generation C does.

Generation C members want a brand that is unique and original, offering real value, and those who get on a more personal level with its consumers. In other words, companies need to “start, guide and change” their brands based on its consumers and Generation C.