Luncheon recap: The “It’s Aaron” Campaign

By Lauren Gonn

Even if you are not from Wisconsin, if you have not heard of Aaron Rodgers then you are living under a rock. Aaron Rodgers is currently the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl MVP (after 2010 season), named the Associated Press Athlete of the Year in 2011, and was also voted MVP for the 2011 and 2014 NFL seasons.

Attorney David Gruber has been practicing law for over 30 years, and has focused mostly on his personal injury law firm. David founded Gruber Law Offices more than 28 years ago, and is a family man with a passion for helping others.

Together, these two incredible men have created a campaign that brings awareness to organizations in Wisconsin, who are changing the world. David Gruber was joined by John Cary, Executive Director of the MACC Fund, for our September 16th PRSA luncheon.

So far, the campaign has worked with G9 (childhood cancer awareness), Milwaukee College Prep (a free K-8 public charter school), and Camp Hometown Heroes (help children who faced the loss of loved ones who were in the U.S. military). So how does this campaign bring awareness? A series of videos were formed for each of these organizations, featuring inspiring children and adults who helped found each group. Aaron Rodgers and David Gruber have also made it a priority to speak publicly whenever they get the chance in order to convey a message/awareness.

As Aaron and David would say, they are “shining a light” on some amazing organizations and bringing attention to 100,000s of people. Their continuous relationships with the families of these organizations show the true compassion they have for everyone involved.

Check out for videos produced specifically to bring awareness, and how you can help out. You may have also seen these videos as previews on television. Currently, there are no plans set in stone for the future of “It’s Aaron,” but David Gruber mentioned that they are always brainstorming and keeping in touch with the local organizations.

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,

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

Update from International PRSA Conference: Membership is up

By Karren Jeske, APR and Ann Peru Knabe, APR+M

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 10.03.38 AM Southeastern Wisconsin PRSA board members Karren Jeske, APR, and Ann Peru Knabe, APR+M, represented the chapter at the 2014 PRSA Assembly in Washington, D.C. The annual meeting is held prior to the international convention. Jeske and Knabe voted on behalf of the chapter on several key issues.

The immediate past chair, Mickey Nall, APR, and current chair, Joe Cohen, APR, presented the state of the society. This was a good news story: PRSA is very healthy from a fiscal perspective, membership is up, and there was an increase in positive sentiment about the organization. National dues will not increase in 2015 and more than 50 webinars (live and on demand) will continue to be offered FREE to members throughout 2015.

The assembly passed two significant bylaw amendments that affect leadership at the national and regional level. The first amendment allows eligible non-APR members to apply for the two at large seats on the board, and the second amendment clarifies that voting members of the PRSA board of directors may not concurrently serve as district or chapter officers. While some assembly delegates expressed concern this may further dilute the value of APR, others said it encouraged inclusiveness in the decision-making process and evolution of the society.

Mark McClennan, APR, was elected as chair elect for 2015, and will assume the role of chair in 2016.  The slate of officers recommended by the nominating committee was also elected.

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 10.04.14 AM Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, was announced as the new CEO.

The assembly also featured a town-hall meeting where delegates could discuss concerns about the society of   interest. Several people voiced concern that PRSA was starting to use “marketing language” in its conversations and  literature. However, others indicated this is the trend for PR – a convergence of PR, marketing and paid media.

The next assembly will be held in Atlanta on Nov. 7 in conjunction with the 2015 International PRSA Conference, Nov. 8-10.


Summer isn’t done group membership promotion

Take advantage of PRSA’s “Summer’s Not Done Group Membership Promotion,” through Oct. 31, 2014. Any new groups joining during this time will have a choice of either:

  • Free Chapter (first year dues) for new members or
  • Free one Professional Interest Section (first year dues) for the entire team, including renewing members.
  • All new members in the group will have waived Initiation fee.

If you’re considering enrolling your team in the Group Membership Program, certain criteriahelp ensure that this program provides the greatest return on investment. PRSA requiresthat a minimum of five employees* join at the same time. Also:

  • All employees must join as the same member type.
  • A Group Member Application for all new members is needed, along with payment.
  • Payments methods accepted are credit card (MasterCard, VISA and Discover) or company check.

The PRSA team is dedicated to ensuring the highest quality customer service. Once you’ve become a PRSA Group, the PRSA process includes:

  • One convenient renewal date for the entire team.
  • One invoice detailing payment for each member, which will be sent to the group contact.
  • The ability for additional members to join the group at any time during the year. Dues will be prorated accordingly.
  • Easily-transferable memberships for when an employee changes departments or leaves your organization.
  • Annual billing for renewals, after the first year.
  • Availability of multi-year memberships at an additional discount.

For more information, contact:
Pamela R. Weess, CAE
Director, Group Membership and Engagement
Public Relations Society of America
33 Maiden Lane, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10038
(212) 460-1482

Top 10 insights from Aurora Health Care’s intranet pilot program

Aurora Health Care recently launched a pilot intranet program, designed to enhance connectivity among caregivers, foster employee collaboration and, ultimately, to help drive better patient outcomes. Aurora employees Don Klein and Annette Guye-Kordus shared what they learned in the process. Here’s their list of the top 10 takeaways:

1. Make sure you have the right platform for your organization.
2. Put your geek on – make friends with IT!
3. Measure, measure and measure again.
4. Be enthusiastic! Embrace the new way of doing things.
5. Get leadership on board. Position the new system as innovative.
6. You have to become an expert.
7. Customized training for the audience and their tech maturity is worth the effort.
8. Access + content = activation. Encourage community owners to be creative even if it’s not what they do.
9. Assemble a support team to include manager, technical and industry roles.
10. Governance is important. Users will have questions from day one.

Does your company have an internal social networking system? What successes and challenges have you encountered?

Barbara Behling shares crisis communications strategies

Barbara Behling

Barbara Behling of Red Cross

By Kelly Savage, chapter chair of accreditation

It’s always a pleasure to hear about the tremendous  impact the American Red Cross has on our community. I’m so blessed to volunteer for this organization and support its programs through grants on behalf of State Farm®. On Wednesday, May 28th I also had the opportunity to learn from Barbara Behling at a Southeastern Wisconsin PRSA luncheon as she shared details about her role as a PR professional assisting the Red Cross with crisis communications for national and local disasters.

It was fascinating to hear how the Red Cross handles these challenging situations. Barbara has assisted with so many tragedies, from the Sikh Temple shooting to Hurricane Sandy to recent wildfires in California.

One thing that resonated with me was Barbara’s comment that she never forgets the dates of the disasters to which she’s responded. It’s so important for organizations to realize not only that you need dedicated and sympathetic people to handle crisis situations, but also that these situations take a toll on the individuals managing these issues. Since the Red Cross responds daily to tragic events in people’s lives, they luckily have trained professionals to help volunteers and employees through these hard times. I can imagine sometimes organizations might miss how these situations affect the people whose job it is to help others pick up the pieces of their crumbled lives.

The other idea that stood out is that groups shouldn’t join in on a fight that’s not theirs. In other words, stick to the issue at hand. At times the situation isn’t about you or your organization, and if that’s the case, don’t complicate the situation. Stay on the sidelines and do what you do best to contribute. Barbara shared that the Sikh Temple church members wanted to highlight the Red Cross so donations could be made to help the organization continue its great work, but they decided it was best to not take away from the issue at hand. I think that is noble and the public can respect that.

Barbara’s stories help us remember that behind every crisis are individuals and families who have been affected, as well as those who are trying their best to make things better as much as possible in a given situation. As long as transparency, integrity, a prompt response and the consideration of unintended consequences are a part of the process, hopefully everyone involved will be able to move forward quickly and smoothly.

Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) celebrates its golden anniversary

Have you ever contemplated the significance of the three capital letters following the names of some PR professionals? Do you even know what they stand for? What about the value they bring to your employer, client, career and you personally?

The Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) program celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and we see this as the perfect opportunity to briefly reflect on the program and its value to PR professionals.

What is accreditation?
As a brief background, the credential was established in 1964 and is the PR profession’s only national postgraduate certificate program. Administered by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), the program is voluntary and aims to unify and advance the PR profession through recognizing individuals who have demonstrated a high-level of understanding, dedication and experience in the field.

What are the benefits?
Today, more than 5,000 professionals hold the APR designation, and it is a career milestone that many look to achieve as a PR professional. Unlike many professional certifications, the APR is not a requirement, making it more desirable. And while some seek it out for a raise or a better job, many simply just appreciate the title for what it signifies – a commitment to the PR profession.

A few primary reasons for professionals to earn their APR include:

  1. APR is a mark of excellence
  2. APR promotes lifelong learning
  3. APR is a method of career enhancement
  4. APR enhances the PR profession in general
  5. APR demonstrates the desire to succeed

Celebrate the 2014 landmark
As 2014 marks the 50th year for the APR, we invite you to join us at this year’s Paragon Awards to recognize the accomplishments of Milwaukee’s APRs as well as learn more about its value and relevance.

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