Data Visualization: Get Some Data in Your Life

By Lauren Gonn

CKDY0bKWoAA_ktY.jpg-largeKevin Crowe joined us for our July luncheon, explaining the ins and outs of data visualization. So what is data visualization? It is considered to be the presentation of data in a pictorial or graphical format. In other words: charts, pictures, graphs, video and other tools used to get a point across.

Crowe talked more specifically on data journalism, stating that many people see it as the future of journalism. In reality, it has already been used for centuries in many ways. Basically using statistics, design, computer science and much more to determine an issue and report it to the public.

This scientific approach to reporting combines surveys and analyzes demographics in order to test and draw conclusions. There are different forms of data journalism and different kinds of data. Some of the forms Crowe focused on are “quick-turn dailies,” web applications and months/years investigations. The dailies are open source (free) tools, like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for example, that provide specific information on a subject often. Most data has a documentation on how, when, and where to use it.

CKDa8cbUwAEiVHE.jpg-largeUsing homeowner property as an example, let’s say you want to know how much you are paying in taxes, and how much your home is worth compared to your neighbor. The different kinds of data that would be involved in this topic are: metrics on property assessors, assessed values for different countries, contact info for assessors, data on when different municipalities did property re-evaluations, etc.

Data visualization allows you to break down this information in detail, figure out what it is you are trying to decipher and in a way that appeals to everyone.

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,

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.

Take 5: Carol Weber, APR

Take 5: Carol Weber, APR

Chapter position: Director at large
Current position: Director of communications and marketing at Wisconsin Dental Association (WDA)

What do you find most beneficial about our chapter? I appreciate the opportunity to build my network by getting to know other area PR professionals of all ages and levels of experience. I also enjoy the monthly programs — great “shot in the arm” continuing education.

What do you like best about being a professional communicator? I’m one of those lucky people who has known what she’s wanted to do since sixth grade when I wrote for the only elementary school “newspaper” in the Milwaukee Public School district — I covered the office “beat.” Worked on school papers in junior and senior high and college. Summer college work study job was with the U. S. Forest Service’s Office of Public Information or the other side of the news story. I love being able to provide people — internal and external audiences — with important and beneficial information. Plus, how many other professions do you know pay you to stick your nose in other people’s business (in a respectful way, of course)?

What social media outlets do you use? I am personally on LinkedIn (established Facebook and Twitter profiles so I could be a backup administrator for WDA sites). The WDA is active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest and most recently established a presence on Instagram.

 What do you like to do outside of work? My hobby is volunteering. For many years when my children were small, it was in the schools and with scouts. Now, my focus is on volunteering with the Southeastern Wisconsin PRSA Chapter (a past president, I’m a director at large on the board, board liaison to the Young Pros and a mentor in the YP mentor program). I also volunteer my time and talents to my church (Wauwatosa Avenue United Methodist Church), including publicity, strategic planning, ringing hand bells, baking muffins monthly for the St. James breakfast program in downtown Milwaukee and co-leading our three-times-a-year “Souper Sundays.”

What’s your favorite part about living and working in Southeastern Wisconsin? Believe it or not, I like the weather, because I like having four seasons. We also seem to be spared many of the major weather events pummeling other parts of the country. As a Wauwatosa resident, I’ve got the best of both worlds — small town amenities (e.g., good public schools and library, walkable community with a historic village area, unique local shopping/eateries) and big city benefits (e.g., career options, an easy drive a to wide variety of cultural and entertainment attractions, larger shopping options and world-class health care at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and the Medical College of Wisconsin to name just two).

Take 5 is a recurring set of questions designed to get to know our chapter’s board members.

Take 5: Samantha Andrews, MBA, APR

Samantha Andrews

Chapter position: President
Current position: Public relations associate at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin

What do you like best about being a professional communicator? The ability to use writing and speaking skills to tell stories.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve had to do for work? I arranged a wedding at the Packers Experience (NFL inflatable games) when I worked for an entertainment management company in Green Bay.

Who do you suggest your fellow chapter members follow on Twitter? #prsawis, of course!

What’s your favorite restaurant in Southeastern Wisconsin? I love so many, but I’m partial to Balistreri’s on Bluemound or Le Rêve Patisserie and Café.

What’s the best vacation you’ve taken? Seeing my favorite band with my friends at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and driving up to Pike’s Peak in Colorado.

To learn more about Samantha, follow her on Twitter: @SamanthaAndrews.

Take 5 is a recurring set of questions designed to get to know our chapter’s board members.

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


Nov. PRSA Meeting Recap: Boelter shares the secrets of Goodwill’s wildly successful “Retro Rendezvous”

Pat Boelter

Pat Boelter

Goodwill’s annual “Retro Rendezvous” is the biggest event held by the organization each year. It continues to grow and hit 800 guests this past year. With so much to plan and so many people to cater to, how exactly do you stage a sold out special event? Pat Boelter, Chief Marketing Officer for Goodwill Industries of SE Wisconsin, presented on this topic on Nov. 7, at the Hilton Hotel in Milwaukee.The Retro Rendezvous started out as an annual themed fashion show ten years ago. As the event grew, so did the entertainment. Goodwill soon added dancers, singers, celebrity guests, and partnered with Boston Store. Eventually the fashion show got nixed all together and it became more of an entertainment show with fundraising at its core. Goodwill also secured a media sponsor and transformed the event from just a “chicken dinner” to an amazing experience.

With the evening growing rapidly in size and impact throughout the years, it was necessary to raise the prices of the sponsorship levels, tables, and ticket costs. The majority of the attendees became corporations and the auction became a silent auction conducted by handheld technology. Goodwill also needed to keep the media hosts fresh as well, selecting new hosts this year.

Toward the end of her presentation, Boelter gave the audience some advice she learned during her many years involved with event planning for Goodwill. She said one of the critical mistakes organizations make is not understanding the real reason for having the event beyond the simple concept of raising money.

Boelter said special events are not the most efficient way to raise money; they take a great deal of people, time, and money to make money. She said special events should be a part of a strategic plan to grow the volunteer, customer, board base, and acquire future donations, as well as to boost the organization’s profile and brand in the community.  They can also create a lot of positive publicity. Not only is pre-event publicity crucial to heighten interest and aid in ticket sales, but post publicity can be just as valuable in building brand awareness and future event growth. For this reason, a media sponsor is a good thing to have. If broadcast personalities are involved, coverage is almost guaranteed.

Boelter said creating an emotional moment within the event allows for sponsors to connect and gives the event meaning beyond the activities. Guests should leave with a better understanding of the organization and more confidence in it then when they came. Messaging should be simple and straight forward and reinforced in different ways using different means throughout the event. Boelter told the audience that event quality matters, have a surprise in store for the guests, and make every part of the event hassle free.

“It is not just about money, but to gain sponsorships for the future, strike while the iron is hot and people are willing to give,” she said. Boelter also stressed that a contingency plan is crucial and people should plan for repeatability and expandability because anything can happen at any given moment. She also recommended evaluation and debriefing after the event, and said organizers should seek out the opinions of guests and staff. Lastly, she said celebrate.

“Celebrate the success of the event and take time to appreciate everyone who helped with it,” said Boelter. “That includes (appreciating and thanking) yourself.”

2013 Paragon Awards–An impressive display of PR Prowess!

The majestic Empire Room at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center was THE place to be on Tuesday, May 21, as we celebrated the 2013 Paragon Awards and more than 50 area communications professionals were honored.


Laughlin Constable was honored with the Best in Show award for the agency’s work with the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (even the Governor tweeted his congratulations). The Best in Show award-winning submission – “Travel Wisconsin Helps Keep Wisconsinites Warm with ‘The Big Bundle Up’” – served to promote the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s annual community relations campaign to collect warm clothing items for needy families. The campaign – spearheaded by Lisa Todd of Laughlin Constable and Danielle Johnson of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism – utilized multiple communications platforms resulting in a 550 percent year-over-year increase in the total number of items collected. Judges, comprised of a panel of PR experts from around the country, were impressed with the project’s excellent results on a relatively small budget and its solid, measurable objectives. 

 “We had many outstanding submissions this year,” said Don Klein, chapter president. “It’s truly a testament to the quality of communications work going on in the region.”

This year’s Communicator of the Year is Jeff Sherman, president and co-owner of A vital part of since 2000, Jeff uses his love of sports, community building and all things Milwaukee to bring colorful stories and content to the site, which has become a Wisconsin institution over the last 15 years.

This year’s winner of the Dorothy Thomas Black award is Dale Brown, APR. Dale led the firm Brown and Martin for more than 30 years before his recent retirement. His use of ventriloquism as a serious communications tool has gained him national attention. Dale is a past president of the chapter and brought out his dummy for a truly memorable acceptance speech.

So who else received awards for their hard work? Lots of people, lots of agencies. Far too many to name here (you don’t want to read a blog post that long, trust me)! 

Congratulations to ALL the award winners. We’re so proud of the Chapter’s members’ accomplishments. And a special thank you to all those who worked diligently behind the scenes to get this event happen. Excellent job! 

We’re looking for event planners to help with next year’s Paragon Awards–great experience and a terrific way to give back to the Chapter. If you’re interested, please contact President-Elect Samantha Andrews, APR at

See a few photos from the event in the PRSA Facebook gallery.

Want Your Videos to Go Viral? The Packard Brothers Show You How

Getting Viral With The Packard Brothers

Getting Viral With The Packard Brothers

On an unassuming Wednesday afternoon in February, two young men stood before a room of PR pros and demonstrated how to use shock, awe, humor and above all, creativity, to help online videos go viral.

Jack and Nick Packard of Packard Brothers, a Milwaukee-area video production agency, shared their knowledge, experience and examples of creating Web videos that get noticed and passed along.

Here are a few takeaways from the presentation:

The most successful videos on the Web tend to be one of these three types:

  • Craft (DIY instruction)
  • Co-op (leveraging existing entities, i.e. making a real-life Angry Birds game)
  • Idiocy (self explanatory)

Successful online videos need:

  • Simple premise
  • Catchy music synched with action
  • Short length (2 min or less is ideal)
  • Relatable format (viewer says “I could have shot that!”)
  • Great editing

Successful videos (for brands) should be built with:
A clear call-to-action (give the viewer something to DO after viewing)

Measuring online videos’ success:

  • YouTube Analytics
  • Google Analytics
  • Unique visitors to the site your video pointed them
  • Offer redemption if the video led to a coupon/promotion

How many views will a successful comedy video have? The Packards believe the number is 100,000. (Real/organic views – not purchased)

Advice to brands/clients/businesses/executives:

  • Be willing to take risks
  • Have patience – success doesn’t come overnight
  • Good creative ideas trump production quality, every time

Everyone hopes their clever videos go viral, but a communications strategy that sounds like “We will produce a viral video …” is absurd and a recipe for disaster. Jack Packard demonstrated that point with perhaps the most salient advice of the presentation by saying, “Calling a video on the web a viral video is like calling anyone with legs a marathoner.”

Videos Will Rule at the Feb. 20 PRSA SEW Meeting

Jack and Nick Packard

These Brothers Know Viral Videos

Have you ever watched an internet video that had gone truly viral and thought to yourself… How do they come up with this stuff? And how did it get so popular? And how can I do that?? Then register to attend the Feb. 20, 2013 PRSA Southeast Wisconsin Chapter’s next luncheon to learn the secrets of creating and marketing viral videos (

Coming up with a great video involves more than just thinking you are funny or have a clever idea. It is all about how it is shot, when it is released, quality of the content, and most importantly: What does the video give the viewer?

As business professionals we see these seemingly simple videos get millions of views and want to translate that into views to our companies. Unfortunately it isn’t that simple. The two biggest reasons why is because, 1. Viewers are smart and can spot a commercial a mile away. 2. Businesses are afraid to take risks and want to follow brand guidelines.

The Packard Brothers are Milwaukee-based writers and video producers that specialize in Viral Marketing. They are the creative force behind numerous viral video hits and have grown an international audience because of their out of the box ideas and ability to connect with their audience.

See their work:

Each of the brothers has their unique expertise, one in Business and Marketing and the other in Internet and Video. They are hosting this special PRSA lunch to talk about Viral Videos, how to make them, how to market them, and how to not look stupid… by looking stupid. High Five! 

Register now, or regret it later!