Sabo PR Blog Post: Don't Create Your Own Crisis

By Mary Ann Sabo From

I’ve handled a fair number of crises in my time, but two of the most impactful started with holidays cards.

Now, these companies didn’t offend because they said Merry Christmas rather than Happy Holidays or used religious imagery when they should have opted for winter white.  No, these two companies got into boatloads of trouble simply by trying – and failing – to make a statement.

Their efforts cost each a few clients – as well as some sleepless nights, internal distraction and general unease.

So when we started thinking about our holiday card and present this year, both of these instances were front and center.  Kristin Lynn had come up with another of her creative brainstorms: A circus-themed basket that would include gourmet caramel corn and peanuts, cotton candy, fudge and a clown nose.  We’d round it out with a circus-labeled bottle of wine and use the tag line: When life brings you a circus, let us be your ringmaster.

Perfect.  Great tone, fun theme that showcases one of our strengths, gifts that could be shared with the office.

All that was really missing was a whip.

<To read the rest, click here>

WMPRSA Announces New Board Members and Officers for 2016

The West Michigan Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (WMPRSA) is pleased to announce new board members and officers for 2016. The WMPRSA Board meets monthly to plan educational programs and special events for public relations practitioners, as well as serve the community through the “PRforGood” program. It also sponsors the annual PRoof Awards that recognize the year’s best PR programs, projects and people in West Michigan. The board works to advocate for public relations in West Michigan and promote WMPRSA’s mission to “help public relations professionals develop and sustain the essential knowledge, skills and standards that will reinforce their integral role in the effective management of organizations.”

BOARD OFFICERS (elected to serve a one-year term beginning in January 2016)

  • President: Rick Jensen, Spectrum Health
  • President Elect: Adam Russo, COM616
  • Secretary: Adam Russo, COM616
  • Treasurer: Bradley Gordon, Holland Hospital

NEW BOARD MEMBERS (elected to serve a three-year term beginning in January 2016)

  • Karen Hogan Kirchenbauer, APR, SeyferthPR
  • Kim Skeltis, APR, Blue Blaze PR
  • Sarah Pazdziora, SeyferthPR
  • Andrea Wolschleger, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Also continuing to serve on the 2016 WMPRSA board are Carl Apple (Aquinas College), Katie Halloran, APR (Mercy Health Saint Mary’s), Jane Kreha (ACSET), Amy LeFebre (Truscott Rossman), Austin Langlois (Amway), Leah Twilley (Grand Valley State University), Lyndsie Post (Davenport University), Sasha Wolff (Priority Health) and Heather Halligan (Hungerford Nichols). Jennifer Griffin (Steelcase) will serve as immediate past president.

9 valuable tips when pitching to the media

According to numbers released by the U.S. Department of Labor last year, PR professionals outnumber reporters 4.6 to 1. It’s more important than ever before to do your research and craft a concise pitch that will be of interest to the reporter and their readers. During our March Meet the Media event, we sat down with a few journalists to hear their tips on what PR pros should think about when crafting a pitch.

  1. “Find a local angle, and ask, ‘why would you care?’”
  2. “Know what you want to pitch, and to whom you are pitching.”
  3. “Cut to the chase.”
  4. “Don’t forget to follow up a week out, a day out and the day of the event/news; otherwise it might get lost in the inbox.”
  5. “Know your reporter’s beat.”
  6. “Send to the group email (e.g.,; it’s the best way ensure that someone will see your email.”
  7. “Be prepared when you pitch – you’re the expert.”
  8. “Know the outlet’s deadline and editorial calendar.”
  9. “If you get your story picked up, make the most of it (e.g., share it on Twitter). It will make it much easier to pitch a story the next time.”

You’ve most likely heard most of them before, but they serve a great reminder, saving time and effort for both PR pros and our journalist friends.

A big thank you to all the media participants: Diana Willsie and Dan Boers (WOOD TV 8); Marty Primeau (Grand Rapids Magazine); Leigh Ann Towne, Andrea Shaner and Amanda Stevenson (FOX 17); Anya Zentmeyer (Rapid Growth); Claire Fodell (Newsradio WOOD 1300); Jennifer Pascua and Peter Ross (WZZM TV 13); Shandra Martinez (MLive Media Group); Amy Charles (West Michigan Woman); Josh Depenbrok (; Hilary Farrell (WGVU Radio); Tim Gortsema and Chris Ehrlich (Grand Rapids Business Journal); Rich Tupica (REVUE Magazine); and Molly Rizor (REVUE Magazine).

Don’t miss April’s hot event, The Art of Executive Communications and Speechwriting, to hear from industry experts on writing for executives, from the boardroom to the White House and everywhere in between. [April 16, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at Eve Lounge at The B.O.B.]

Miss the PRoof Awards early entry deadline? Don't miss late entry deadline of 2/27!

proof The West Michigan Public Relations Society of America invites you to submit entries for the 2014 PRoof Awards!

Thursday, April 24, 2014 The Ballroom at CityFlatsHotel, Downtown Grand Rapids

Each year West Michigan public relations professionals, agencies and corporate communications teams are invited to enter their best work into the WMPRSA PRoof Awards. It’s that time again. On Thursday, April 24, 2014 during the 29th Annual PRoof Gala we will celebrate the hard work and acknowledge the accomplishments of all winners with a fun evening of food, networking and an awards presentation.

Entry Deadlines Late: Entries submitted at or before noon on Feb. 27, 2014


CAMPAIGNS Per-Entry Fee by noon on Feb. 27, 2014: $75 PRSA Member / $100 Non-Member

TACTICS Per-Entry Fee by noon on Feb. 27, 2014: $75 PRSA Member / $100 Non-Member

2014 PRoof Entry Guidelines (includes directions to upload entries and pay online)