APR helps young PR pro take career to the next level

By Don Klein (@donklein99), director at large, PRSA Southeastern WisconsinSaige Smith

Saige Smith (@Saige_Smith), PR leader at GE Healthcare, is definitely making her mark as a young PR pro. Agency experience? Check. Corporate? Got it. Strategy chops? All day.

But with only five professional years under her belt, she thought of a way to take her career to the next level: Become APR.

If you’re not familiar with those three letters, APR stands for Accredited in Public Relations. It recognizes professionals who have mastered the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to develop and deliver strategic communications. The APR process involves an initial screen to test for qualifications; a readiness review presentation before a panel of seasoned PR leaders; and a comprehensive knowledge test. From there, it’s an ongoing commitment to professional development and bringing the best skills and thinking to work every day.

Saige was familiar with APR because a client at a former agency called it out as one of the reasons they invited that agency team to the new business table. A former supervisor – who is also APR – encouraged Saige to take a serious look at accreditation.

Finding support
As she got started, Saige and a few other applicants connected with Kelly Savage, APR, (@SF_KellySavage) the accreditation chairperson for the Southeast Wisconsin PRSA chapter.

“Kelly was great. She sat down with us and explained APR in a way that wasn’t intimidating. She helped me believe I could go for it and succeed in it.”

Because Saige didn’t quite have the industry experience that’s typical of an APR applicant, she needed to make her case to PRSA national in New York.

“It was a really casual phone call,” she recalled. “After a few questions they passed me on to the readiness review,” Saige said.

To prepare for the review, Saige dug into a huge campaign she conducted, clearly breaking out the goals, objectives, strategies and tactics she implemented. When it was time for the review, she faced a panel of three prominent Milwaukee area PR leaders.

“It was intimidating, but I welcomed it – it motivated me to really prepare to defend the work I was doing,” Saige said. It also gave her the opportunity to make new connections with these three inspirational PR pros.

Time to study
After passing her readiness review, it was time to prep for the test. She signed up for the online cohort program and highly recommends it but actually ended up doing a lot of studying solo. She was challenged to consider real life situations and apply principles to them. Since she’s worked in health care during her career to date, she found it interesting to consider hypotheticals such as being a PR director for a manufacturer or a governmental PR officer.

“It definitely forced me out of my comfort zone,” Saige said.

She passed and was thrilled. From start to finish, the process took about a year and a half. She was recognized at the February PRSA luncheon with her APR pin, a lasting sign of her accomplishment.  She’s also begun to spread the word about the value of APR to her colleagues at GE Healthcare and with college students she encounters.

Looking back
Saige said the process made her think about her career goals and where she wants to go.

“It forces you to do some serious career introspection.” It also demonstrated she was already doing a lot of the right things.

Overall, Saige feels the APR is a great confidence boost. She urges other PR pros – even those with only a few years of solid experience – to consider accreditation.

“I think people are afraid of it,” she said candidly. “We have busy lives, we’re working, we don’t get paid to go off and get these letters behind our names,” Saige said. “But it isn’t the time commitment you might think it is.”

It is, however, an investment you make in yourself today that pays off tomorrow.

To learn more about APR, contact Kelly Savage at kelly.savage.lvv0@statefarm.com.

Top 3 PR Articles of the Week: Friday, March 6, 2015

Happy daylight savings time weekend! There’s only two more weeks until spring officially begins and it’s not going to be dark when we leave work anymore (if we’re lucky) so hang in there! Aside from me daydreaming of warmer weather, my favorite PR related articles of this week covered a variety to topics; millenials, fake news and social media tools. Enjoy!

Study shows secret to managing millennials can be summed up in one word Read>>>

How fake news goes viral, and why it will happen less Read>>>

Social Media Today
These 10 tools will boost the productivity of your social media campaign Read>>>

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

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

Happy Friday! Hope everyone managed to stay warm this week. We’re all about the infographics in this week’s Top 3 PR Articles of the Week. Enjoy! Perfect elevator speech infographic

The anatomy of a compelling elevator speech: http://bit.ly/1DZrytu

Customers want to talk to brands, why aren’t they listening? http://bit.ly/18ulUEk

The best ways to pump up your Instagram strategy: http://bit.ly/1MYAaVA

Recap of “The Bucks: A Fresh Start” luncheon

By Lauren GonnPRSA bucks luncheon feb2015

Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin, and Senior Vice President Jake Suski spoke at PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin’s Feb. 18 luncheon to share the Bucks’ approach to marketing and public relations.

Feigin and Suski explained their goals and challenges with the Bucks organization and how they want to transform and re-develop the organization. They see public relations as a big piece of their messaging strategy, with their greatest asset being the actual basketball players. Their goals include establishing more partnerships in the community, and using social media to increase engagement among fans.

The Bucks players love Milwaukee and once basketball season is over, the Bucks are hoping more and more players will want to settle down in the area; instead of leaving till the next season. The organization continues to work on expanding their audience – which gets easier as they continue to play well! The Bucks are doing a fantastic job at identifying what they need to do; and developing the right strategy to accomplish their goals.

Top 3 PR Articles of the Week: Friday, February 20, 2015

After a bitterly cold week in southeastern Wisconsin, all I can say is TGIF! As I looked back on this week and some of my favorite articles from the past few days, I recognized a common theme; Twitter. Social media is always a hot topic in the world of PR so before you head out in the cold to start your weekend, check out some light reading about a Twitter PR nightmare, the connection between Twitter and website traffic, and how your style impacts the success of your Twitter account. Enjoy!

Bloomberg Business
Fashion company tweets about its interns; PR nightmare ensues Read>>>

This tool could make your tweets more popular Read>>>

The Atlantic
The unbearable lightness of tweeting Read>>>

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

PRSA now serving Repairers of the Breach

Providing public relations and marketing expertise to nonprofits serving our community has been a longstanding tradition of PRSA of Southeastern Wisconsin. We’re excited to add to that tradition as we have partnered with Repairers of the Breach, Milwaukee’s daytime warming shelter for the homeless.

Repairers serves a real need in the community. Not only does the shelter provide meals and a place to stay, but, when the weather is extremely cold overnight, it stays open to accommodate guests who might otherwise end up in a life-threatening situation.

Repairers works in partnership with other organizations that have similar missions. For example, shelters that specifically serve women and children. It also offers valuable educational and job training opportunities that have demonstrated results.

To date, the PRSA committee has begun to conduct media outreach on behalf of Repairers and is creating a comprehensive communications plan for 2015 that includes media relations, grant writing and stakeholder engagement.

If you’re interested in joining the committee, and in enhancing your skills while serving a worthy cause, please contact Don Klein at donklein99@wi.rr.com. You can also help by bringing needed items when you attend the monthly luncheon. We started at our Feb. 18 luncheon with paper products (toilet paper, paper towels or Kleenex). We’re collecting 40-50 gallon garbage bags at our next luncheon on March 18.Watch for more details soon!

Paper product donations


Top 3 PR Articles of the Week: Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Friday! At some point in our careers, we’ve probably all heard the phrase, “all PR is good PR.” Well….I could definitely argue that this is not always true. While a good PR person may have the ability to turn bad news into a gain, there are some reputations that once tarnished, have a difficult time bouncing back. Therefore, the top 3 articles from this week are all about reputation management. Enjoy!

USA Today
Brian Williams’ unmitigated disaster Read>>>

Fast Company
What Uber needs to do to fix its reputation Read>>>

Bloomberg Business
Harvard lures a record 37,000 applicants by milking social media Read>>>

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

Top 3 PR Articles of the Week: Friday, February 6, 2015

Happy Friday! One of the biggest media events of the year took place this past weekend and unless you’ve been living under a rock I’m sure you’ve heard some sort of news about the Super Bowl. Since my beloved Green Bay Packers weren’t participating this year, like many others, I tuned into the game for the sole purposes of watching the commercials. As PR folks, there are countless lessons to be learned from these advertisements. Below are just a few articles to guide us. Enjoy!

Marketing Land
Super Bowl commercials with hashtags slipped to 50% In 2015 Read>>>

Business Insider
Nationwide was the most mentioned Super Bowl advertiser on social media — but not for the right reasons Read>>>

The Atlantic
The selling of the avocado Read>>>

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

Top 3 PR Articles of the Week: Friday, January 30, 2015

Here we are with the first month of the year already behind us. Hopefully all of you have successfully implemented your PR plans for 2015, are well on your way or at least started thinking about it. The top articles of this week might be a little premature when it comes to social media planning for 2016 but we also examine Target’s exit from Canada and how to make sure social media fits in your business strategy. Enjoy!

Target Canada: A lesson in brand marketing? Read>>>

How to properly use social media to fit your business strategy Read>>>

Social Media Today
Where will social media users go in 2016? Read>>>

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

Top 3 PR Articles of the Week: Friday, January 23, 2015

Believe it or not, we made it through another work week (even though it was especially painful with the way the Packers lost last Sunday). This week, the media was buzzing about the State of the Union Address (#SOTU) and the upcoming Super Bowl. Check out the Top 3 PR Articles of the Week below to learn more about the #SOTU and ways Facebook is targeting users during the Super Bowl. Enjoy!

CNN Money
Obama’s #SOTU press strategy: all of the above Read>>>

The 11 best social media moments at the State of the Union address Read>>>

Ad Age
Facebook packages own Super Bowl audience for ad dollars Read>>>

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