What Does Diversity & Inclusion Really Look Like in 21st Century America?

Admittedly, a 60-year old white man is probably not the poster child to represent diversity and inclusion. Nonetheless, I have seen and experienced the stares, the finger-pointing, the hushed conversations and condescending treatment of bias towards “different” people.

My father was born with achondroplasia and was only 54 inches tall (we used to call people with this condition “dwarfs”). My mother was only a few inches taller. Complications during birth resulted in an intellectual disability for my youngest brother (we used to call people like this “mentally retarded”).

My parents taught us how to adapt and overcome limitations and that others’ biases were “their problem.”

Having grown up in an all-white suburb, my only interactions with African-Americans and non-Christians were with bus drivers, housekeepers or laborers. It wasn’t until college that I met, worked with and began friendships with people of color. Many of these friendships continue to this day, thanks to social media.

Having “the talk” with my teenage sons was about treating women with respect and being responsible sexually. It didn’t involve responding to others’ comments or what ifs involving the police as illustrated in a video last year by Proctor & Gamble. Nor have I experienced others’ reactions to my physical presence walking down a street or into a store like those in P & G’s follow up video, “The Look.”

As a married Christian man, the issue of equal rights for LBGTQ persons (Queer folk) was strictly an intellectual exercise when Ellen DeGeneres disclosed she is gay. And even when our congregation left the Episcopal Church a few years later, rather than supporting the first openly gay man to lead a mainline denomination, it didn’t affect me.

The issue of workplace protections, equal rights in housing – even the ability to purchase a wedding cake – became real when our younger son came out to me and my wife ten years ago. While my wife had an inkling of this, I was blindsided. Between reading several books on the subject, family counseling, and conversations with my wife and son, it was clear that nothing really had changed – he is my son, whom I love and respect.

What I’ve found is that statements of Queer folk wanting “special treatment” for “a lifestyle choice” ring hollow. Those kinds of statements are a thin veneer covering a hatred of others who are “different.” Substitute the terms “African-American,” “Asian,” “Jew,” “Christian,” “Blonde hair,” “blue-eyed,” or “women” for “gay” or “lesbian” in these kinds of conversations – and if it sounds discriminatory, it is.

About 150 years ago, my great-great grandfather faced ethnic discrimination summed up in signs posted by businesses stating, “No Irish need apply.” A century ago, American women finally won the right to vote. Fifty-five years ago, civil rights laws ensured the rights of African-American voters. Today, it’s Queer folk that is the minority group seeking equality. A common thread is that each marginalized group used or is using public relations tactics to change public opinion and win equal rights and equal protections under the law.

As PR practitioners, our job sometimes involves being the conscience of an organization. We are tasked with identifying and then communicating with a variety of publics. That’s why it’s important that we recognize unconscious bias and proactively work to ensure everyone has an equal place in our community conversations.

Our PRSA chapter has made a conscious decision to seek out speakers and programs that may challenge PR pros’ thinking and help them see and hear different points of view on issues of diversity and inclusion. We’ve done this because diversity is not a black and white issue and much still needs to be done to ensure no group or individuals are marginalized in our society. We are working with a variety of organizations who are dedicated to making Milwaukee and Wisconsin a better place to live and work. We’ve come a long way, but we haven’t completed our journey.

I hope to see you at our after-work social on Wed., August 21 at America’s Black Holocaust Museum at the corner of North Ave. and Vel R. Phillips (formerly North 4th) just north of downtown Milwaukee. You can sign up here.

Patrick McSweeney
Past President of PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter


Top 3 PR Articles of the Week: Friday, April 11, 2014

While watching this year’s March Madness tournament, I heard a number of coaches and players talk about how important it is to do the fundamentals correctly. While the flashy plays are nice to watch, it’s sound fundamental basketball that ultimately wins games. This got me thinking about the fundamentals of PR.

Starting today, I will draft a blog post for each Friday that features three key PR articles from the week. I hope these posts are found to be useful and that is helps everyone sift through the clutter of PR articles that are pushed our way every day.

For the week and in order to stick with my theme, I decided to choose articles that focus on fundamentals that we should all follow to be great PR professionals.

From Ragan’s PR Daily:
Calling a journalist? Avoid making crucial mistakes

From Ragan’s PR Daily:
The evolving distribution and role of press releases

From Ragan’s PR Daily:
The best times to post on social media

Have a great weekend!

Kristin Rabas
Sr. Public Relations Advisor
Aurora Health Care

A Westerner’s Tales of PR in the Wild, Wild East

Ni hao! Fellow Milwaukee Communicator Matt Wisla has written two articles related to his PR experiences in China for the PRSA national publications The Strategist and Tactics. Check them out here (you’ll need your PRSA membership login & password to log into the national site):



Wisla is a Marquette Journalism graduate and spent some of his early career in Milwaukee at Bader Rutter and Nelson & Schmidt. More recently he worked with Fleishman-Hillard as a vice president at that agency’s Beijing office, and has also served as the vice president of Communications at the American Chamber of Commerce in the People’s Republic of China.

Chinese Dragon

Xie xie (pn. “shay-shay”) for the very interesting articles, Matt! We’re betting you’ve got some great cocktail hour anecdotes about your experiences in China beyond what’s in these articles! Looking forward to hearing more when we see you at PR Palooza in a couple of weeks!

You can contact Matt Wisla at matt.wisla@yahoo.com


International Assembly Update

Cohen to lead PRSA in 2014 with new strategic plan

By Assembly Delegate Ann Peru Knabe, APR+M

The Public Relations Society of America held its annual assembly in Philadelphia on Oct. 26. Hundreds of delegates from around the country voted on numerous issues and a slate of officers. The Southeastern Wisconsin PRSA chapter had 3 votes (based on chapter membership numbers).

This year’s assembly was a little unusual because there weren’t any highly controversial issues.

On the bright side, PRSA is fiscally healthy. This means no dues increase (yeh!). There were also some new initiatives unveiled, to include free webinars for members and other opportunities.

At the end of the assembly, there was a town-hall meeting where people could say what’s on their minds, but nothing stood out as extraordinary, except the recurring discussion of PR Accreditation. The nominating team’s slate of officers, which go through a thorough vetting and in-person interviews in late summer, was unanimously also approved during the assembly. As part of this slate of board members, Joe Cohen is the new chair-elect for PRSA. He is a senior vice president at MWW, a consumer marketing firm based in the New York City area.

Joe Cohen, PRSA chair-elect

Joe Cohen, PRSA chair-elect

On a personal note, I found Cohen a strong listener and visionary. I have met him twice now (at PRSA and the Universal Accreditation Board), and both times I was impressed with his reflective thought-process and listening skills. 

Cohen will lead us into the new PRSA Strategic Plan which paces great emphasis on two goals: Championing the strategic value of ethical PR and the role of PR as a lead discipline in driving organizational strategy, and creating virtual and face-to-face communities where members build relationships to learn, network, and mentor. These goals were discussed in-depth at the assembly, and delegates were asked to give written feedback after breaking into teams. With these new initiatives, PRSA is working to meet the needs of its members and public relations professionals in the ever-changing industry by delivering relevant, lifelong learning opportunities.

The assembly also received a briefing from a research group called OPG. PRSA hired OPG to evaluate the “APR” brand, and identify its strengths and weaknesses, and offer recommendations to increase the “value of APR” in the years to come. This is particularly timely since Accreditation hits its 50 year anniversary in 2014.

A final conference update, more close to home, is that Brian Lee of our sister chapter in Madison is heading up PRSA’s Midwest District. I have known Brian for years since meeting him at a PRSA leadership rally. The Midwest District is planning a regional PRSA conference in June 2014 in Springfield, Mo. The conference might be a more affordable option for Wisconsin members to attend.

In closing, it’s always interesting to get the view from the top-level leaders in PRSA. I am confident they are steering the profession in the right direction, and eager to see Cohen’s strategic plan implemented in 2014.

Show us your Paragons!

The 2013 Paragon Awards are less than two weeks away! As they approach we thought it would be fun to share some winning entries from previous years.

Here’s where you come in.

If you have an award winning case study from a previous year that you are proud of (and why wouldn’t you be) please send it to us and we will share it with the world!

Show everyone what you’ve got and submit your winning case studies to bryangmichaels@gmail.com now!

The Southeastern Wisconsin chapter of PRSA’s annual Paragon Awards luncheon is at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 21 at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center.

Tebow Time for Jockey

When Kenosha-based underwear brand Jockey signed Tim Tebow to be a brand representative, the act was seen as curious and risky.

The controversial Denver Broncos quarterback came loaded with potential … and a seemingly equal number of fans and critics.

Regardless, he was a magnet for attention and Jockey capitalized on that as one of his earliest sponsors. Through a lackluster benchwarming rookie season and half of the next, Jockey stood by its man, successfully using him to launch an innovative new collection’s campaign.

Suddenly everything changed as Tebow was named his team’s starting QB, and through some rather miraculous and thrilling late-game comebacks, began to win hearts and minds across the country and beyond.

As it appeared Tebow might, against all odds, lead his beleaguered Broncos to the Playoffs, Jockey quickly devised a plan led by PR and social media to leverage the opportunity, a plan that netted 600 million impressions in just four weeks.

Join us on Feb. 22 to learn how Jockey did it, and how you can apply tactics and lessons learned from the program to enhance your own PR and social media program. You’ll also hear about how Milwaukee agency Hanson Dodge Creative used social media & PR to promote client Wilson’s footballs.

Register here.

Meet the speakers: 

Mo Moorman – As Director of Public Relations at Jockey International, Inc., Mo Moorman probably knows more about your underwear than you do! He oversees Jockey’s external and internal communications functions, and his department’s duties include media relations, social media marketing, experiential marketing, sports marketing, reputation management, employee communications, cause marketing and brand sponsorships.

Al Krueger – As Partner/Vice President/Director of Marketing at Hanson Dodge Creative, Al is responsible for the oversight and advancement of strategic marketing of the agency. Al focuses his efforts on providing strategic insights that bring brands, such as Wilson Sporting Goods, to life online in new and exciting ways.

Dave Racine – Dave Racine is the Director of the PR + Social Media practice group at Hanson Dodge Creative. Dave is responsible for the overseeing the growth of the team and driving PR and social media strategy for the agency’s clients including Wilson Sporting Goods, Trek, Wolverine, Ragnar Relay and others.

Annual Summer Social Event at Barnacle Buds

Join the PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter and the Young Pros at Barnacle Buds on August 18th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for our annual summer social event.

Take a seat by the Milwaukee River, enjoy a cocktail and some tasty fried food while networking with your fellow PR professionals and aspiring young pros.

Appetizers will be served and the first 40 people will receive a free drink ticket.

RSVP on Facebook.

PRSA Young Pro Happy Hour: Bradford Beach

Hey PR Young Pros!

You’re not experiencing Déjà vu. We got rained out last time so let’s try it again!

The PRSA Young Pros Committee invites you to Bradford Beach on June 28, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. for a Young Pro Happy Hour.

RSVP on Facebook: http://goo.gl/4ipNo

Stick your toes in the sand, breath the fresh air, play some beach volleyball, and relax with some tunes as the sun sets on Lake Michigan, while hanging out with other like-minded professionals.

Did I mention that there will be a bonfire with live music? Bradford Beach is still finalizing the schedule but starting at 6:30 p.m., a local musician will perform until dusk. Three large bonfire pits available f

or public use. All you’ll need is your blanket on the sand.

Happy Hour Specials are available at the Tiki Hut from 5-7pm.
Specials include:
· $10 – iced buckets of Corona or Pabst (4 cans / bucket)
· $5 cocktails- Cuervo Margarita, Smirnoff & Lemonade, Bacardi Mojito, Jeremiah Weed & Lemonade
· $3 Pabst

Purchase a drink on the beach and receive a wristband good for one free drink at one of the following establishments following the musical performances on Thursday evenings:
· BelAir – BelAir Margarita
· Hi Hat Garage – Pint of the Day

Questions? Contact Andrew Wiech (Andrew@CometBranding.com)​ or Megan Sullivan (megans@bvk.com).

PRSA Young Pros offers an outlet for professional development, best practice sharing and niche networking in a social setting for young professional in the Metro-Milwaukee Area.

Volunteer Opportunity: Rock the Green

Rock the Green is a new way to rock! We are the Midwest’s Near- Zero Waste Music Festival, a day-long concert taking place at Veteran’s Park on September 18.

What makes us different? Rock the Green will showcase revolutionary, sustainable event production practices which will include:

  • Powering the festival on clean energy (solar, biodiesel)
  • Replacing all disposable items with their compostable equivalents
  • Running an on-site green team to manage waste recovery / recycling stations
  • RtG will encourage carpooling, public transportation and bicycling to the event
  • A free bike valet service will be available for event attendees
  • Free fresh water stations and sponsored water bottles as opposed to plastic water bottles

We are looking for volunteers to serve as brand ambassadors to promote us at festival events throughout the summer. Are you willing to represent? Contact Kate Clough at Kate@rockthegreen.com for more details and to sign up.

Why do you love PRSA?

The PRSA Social Media committee got together and started to talk about why we are PRSA members. Read their responses below.

Take a look at what our committee loves most about PRSA. It’s interesting to see everyone in this groups finds value in different ways.

Emily Lenard – PR + Social Media Strategist at Hanson Dodge Creative

While there are many benefits to being a PRSA member, I find that I most value the daily Issues & Trends PRSA email newsletters. These daily newsletters include insightful, relevant articles from both industry publications and mainstream media. In the past, I have found blog inspiration and creative solutions for the clients I represent. With countless resources available online, I greatly appreciate being able to go to my PRSA Issues & Trends email to find that the most beneficial, credible articles are at my fingertips.

Jenna Kashou – Development Director at Notre Dame Middle School

PRSA has been a hotbed of ideas and knowledge for me. I moved from the PR to the nonprofit sector, but remain a member of PRSA because of the professional connections I have made and because the programming really gives me an edge in my career. The best benefit – I’ve met great friends through my involvement in PRSA.

Meghan Welch – Marketing Communications at Derse

Why is PRSA awesome? Because of the networking, of course! Whether you’re looking for a new job, another way to get involved in the community or just to meet new people, PRSA can help. The group is comprised of passionate PR pros that span a variety of industries and disciplines, so you’re guaranteed to meet a wide variety of people.

I joined PRSA about four years ago. In that time, I have changed jobs, started volunteering and widened my social circle. Networking through PRSA has helped with all these changes. The experience has been invaluable and the people in PRSA are constantly helping me to reach my goals, both professionally and personally.

Andrew Wiech – PR + Social Media Specialist at Hanson Dodge Creative

I really didn’t know what to expect when I joined PRSA. I was pretty nervous at my first luncheon. It was like freshman year of high school all over again. I walked into the Rouge Ballroom at the Pfister Hotel and thought to myself, “Where do I sit?” But this chapter embraces with open arms and the relationships I’ve formed over my first year of membership have been extremely valuable.

I love how malleable PRSA can be. Personally, I dove in head first and started getting involved and I love the experiences I’ve gained by being a member of the organization. From leading educational sessions on social media tools and strategies for the Social Media committee’s Friday morning training sessions to co-chairing of the Young Professionals committee and setting up events to get our younger PR professionals involved in the chapter, I feel connected to the chapter and love to see it continue to grow and evolve.

Laura Stanelle – Account Executive at Emerald Isle Marketing + PR

What’s so great about a PRSA membership? Is it the trove of resources made available via email, blogs and social media? The monthly luncheons that feature engaging, educational speakers? The delicious desserts that end those valuable luncheons? Yes, yes and definitely yes. For me, though, the things that make joining PRSA a no-brainer are the abundant networking opportunities that exist for members. As a young PR professional, starting out in this industry can be daunting, but talking to that agency founder would be much more difficult had I not sat next to him at last month’s meeting. And getting to know those women at that other PR firm? Much easier now that I’m serving on a committee with them.

Public relations is, by nature, a social profession. What better way to exercise the very tenants of our industry than by meeting and networking with others like you? From helping advance your career to providing insight into new client opportunities to just being really great friends, the people you meet through PRSA prove a membership’s value time and time again.

Mo Moorman – Public Relations Director at Jockey International 

I enjoy being involved with PRSA because it is focused on advancing the PR profession and it provides excellent personal and professional growth opportunities through initiatives like networking events, shared resources and seminars. Sharing suggestions, challenges and opportunities with fellow PR pros brings to light best practices that strengthen my ability to provide excellent service as a PR practitioner. Getting actively involved is key: Serving on PRSA committees; contributing to and sharing association resources; and attending events are just a few of the ways that I find help me maximize my membership with PRSA.

Now it’s your turn! What do you love about PRSA?