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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., May 23, 2019 - The West Michigan Public Relations Society of America (WMPRSA) recognized national-caliber, award-winning people, programs, and initiatives on Wednesday night at their 34th annual PRoof Awards at Clearwater Place with emcee, Marvis Herring from WOOD TV-8 at the helm. The PRoof Awards recognizes practitioners who successfully used skill, creativity, and resourcefulness to address a communications challenge in 2018. The awards competition is open to public relations, communications, and marketing professionals who work in West Michigan.
In 2018, WMPRSA restructured West Michigan PRoof Award categories to align with those of the parent organization Public Relations Society of America national awards, the Silver and Bronze Anvils. In 2019, PRoof committee members Sarah Pazdziora, Amy LeFebre, Roberta King, Morgan Shaffer and Amanda Hume raised the stakes again and instead of simply awarding Gold and Silver to the top two point-earners in each category, established a minimum of 80 in a 100-point scale in order to qualify for an award. This is consistent with other national awards programs and the chapter’s continuous effort to raise the bar of excellence.WMPRSA received a record 131 entries which were judged by a reciprocal PRSA chapter, located in San Diego, California.
“The team really focused on improving the judging criteria for this year’s award ceremony,” said Sarah Pazdziora, communications & PR specialist at Trace3 and WMPRSA PRoof Award chairperson. “We felt that it was important to align our point system with the standards of other PRSA national award programs so that award recipients could easily submit their winning campaign or tactic to any of PRSA’s most prestigious award shows.”
WMPRSA President, Andrea Finnigan added, “This year’s record number of entries showed some serious talent from West Michigan public relations pros and highlighted excellent and creative work being done in our community.”
Following please find: individual award winners, campaign winners and tactics winners.
INDIVIDUAL AWARD WINNERS
2019 Communicator of the Year Award
This award honors a community leader - not a PRSA member or communicator by trade - for his or her outstanding contributions to West Michigan.
Winner: Cheryl Schuch of Family Promise Grand Rapids (nominated by board member, Abbey Sladick)
2019 Public Relations Professional of the Year
Honoring the best in public relations in 2018. This person's contribution to a program or the profession stand out as an outstanding example of the relationship between an organization and the public it represents.
Winner: Dr. Adrienne Wallace, Grand Valley State University (nominated by board member, Amy LeFebre)
2019 Media Person of the Year
This honor is given to a deserving journalist, editor or publisher for their outstanding contributions to the field of journalism in West Michigan.
Winner: Nick Manes of the Michigan Advance (nominated by board member, Roberta King)
2019 Student of the Year
This award honors a PRSSA student demonstrating leadership in and out of the classroom.
Winner: Trevor Bryan, Grand Valley State University, 2018 President GVPRSSA, (nominated by board member, Adrienne Wallace)
2019 Newcomer of the Year
This award is given to a professional who has less than three years of experience in the PR profession and has demonstrated the potential for becoming an outstanding practitioner.
Winner: Sean Billisitz, GVSU AdPR Alumni, associate account executive at Truscott Rossman (nominated by Tim Dye)
2019 BEST OF SHOW
Spectrum Health, “The Next Us” – Wave 2 of the Nexus Journey. Spectrum Health also won the Best of Show category in 2018.
About the campaign: Spectrum Health’s Nexus journey was the most transformative initiative in the health system’s 20-year history. The first and most critical step was the implementation of Epic, an electronic health record system. This change was so monumental it was split into two waves: Wave 1 in November 2017 and Wave 2 in May 2018. Using lessons learned and economies of scale from Wave 1, Wave 2 involved 8,000 employees across eight regional hospitals and 23 additional locations. Spectrum equipped its leaders to be ambassadors, prepared employees for the change, supported the organization through a successful system switch, leveraged digital tools and came in under budget.
ALL 2019 PRoof Award Winners - Campaigns & Tactics
Strategic Public Relations Campaigns
Silver - Lambert & Co., West Ottawa Public Schools “IB AP Week” Campaign
Gold - Priority Health, “Champions” Campaign
Silver - Spectrum Health, Health Beat
Silver - Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Meijer Gardens Corpse Flower Bloom
Gold - Priority Health, “Reasons” Member Stories Campaign
Corporate Social Responsibility Campaigns
Silver - Grand Rapids Community College, “Raising Awareness of New Laptop Vending Machines” campaign
Gold - SeyferthPR, Sawyer Products/Sawyer International campaign
Gold - Sabo PR for PFAS Contamination in Plainfield Township campaign
Events and Observances (more than 7 days)
Silver - Sabo PR for its Legacy Trust Award Collection campaign
Silver - 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications for its Sartori ArtPrize campaign
Gold - GVPRSSA’s Grand PR for its Sawyers Day campaign
Gold - SeyferthPR for its West Michigan Prostate Health Alliance Launch campaign
Gold - Lambert for its JSJ 100th Anniversary campaign
Gold - GVPRSSA’s Grand PR for its Timeless Ten campaign
Events and Observances (fewer than 7 days)
Silver - Sabo PR for its Greater Wyoming Community Resource Alliance 10th Anniversary Breakfast
Gold - BISSELL Pet Foundation for its BISSELL Blocktail Party
Gold - 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications for its Tarana Burke event
Influencer Marketing - Macro-influencers (10,000 to 1 million followers)
Silver - 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications for its Cirrus North America Launch
Gold - Grand Traverse Resort and Spa for its Women Writers Weekend
Influencer Marketing - Micro-Influencer campaigns (500 to 10,000 followers)
Gold - 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications for its Woodhouse Day Spa Influencer campaign
Silver - Spectrum Health for its 2018 President & CEO Announcement
Silver - Mel Trotter Ministries for its “There's More to My Story” campaign
Gold - Sabo PR for its FloraCraft CEO Gift
Silver - Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital for its “With a Mary Heart” Employee Giving campaign
Gold - Spectrum Health for its “The Next Us” - Wave 2”of Spectrum Health’s Nexus Journey campaign
Silver - Priority Health for its Small Group satisFACTion campaign
Gold - Priority Health for its Digital Member Onboarding 1.0
Most Effective Campaign on a Shoestring Budget
Silver - BISSELL Pet Foundation for its BISSELL Pet Foundation's #GivingTuesday Campaign
Gold - Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation for its #VoteForMiracles campaign
Gold - Truscott Rossman for its Lucerne Steel Tariffs campaign
Silver - Grand Rapids Community Foundation for its “Unlocking OUR Potential: 2017-2018 Annual Report”
Silver - SeyferthPR for its Sawyer Products/Sawyer International campaign
Gold - 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications for its ACLU LGBT Aging Initiative
Reputation / Brand Management
Gold - Grand Rapids Community College for its Ford Fieldhouse Legacy Murals campaign
Gold - Lambert & Co for its Bethany Christian Services / Zero Tolerance communications support
Silver - Sabo PR for the Woodland Mall Redevelopment
Gold - Zondervan Publishing for “Kind is the New Classy”
Gold - Priority Health for “Wellbeing Makes Headlines”
Silver - SeyferthPR for its “Sister Larraine Lauter Water with Blessings” article
Gold - Sabo PR for its Grand Rapids Press features on Emmanuel Hospice
Gold - SeyferthPR for its John Kennedy Op-Ed
Silver - Spectrum Health for its President and CEO announcement
Gold - Blue Blaze PR for its Manistee Historic Sites Tour Launch with Toni Trucks
Gold - Spectrum Health for its President and CEO announcement media kit
Public Service Announcement
Silver - Sabo PR for its “Mission Read” PSA
Gold - SeyferthPR for its “Just Talk to Me” PSA
Gold - GVSU PRSSA “Empowering Students” the PR Hangover Podcast
Silver - Diocese of Grand Rapids for its website redesign
Gold - Spectrum Health for the Spectrum Health Beat website
Silver - The Right Place Inc, for West Michigan Life Instagram
Gold - Priority Health for Wellbeing 2018
Gold - Experience Grand Rapids for its Beer City Brewsader App
Silver - SeyferthPR for Talent 2025 Early Childhood Literacy
Gold - Western Michigan University College of Arts and Sciences for its 2018 College of Arts and Sciences Giving day video
Silver - SeyferthPR for its “Archways to Opportunity: High School Graduation” video
Gold - Rick Chambers & Associates for “Journeys United: Visually Telling Personal Stories of Impact” video
Silver - SeyferthPR for Bang the Gong - “Waking Up” bedding trade show media
Gold - Priority Health for its Cost Estimator Employer Toolkit
Silver - Council of Michigan Foundations for its “Weekly Download” newsletter
Silver - Spectrum Health for its Spectrum Health Beat newsletter
Gold - Priority Health for its Employee Insider Newsletter 2018
Silver - SeyferthPR for I-CAR's "Collision Reporter"
Gold - Diocese of Grand Rapids for its “FAITH Grand Rapids” magazine
Gold - Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park for its “Seasons” magazine
Silver - Rick Chambers & Associates for “Our Impact: Sharing the Measure of Transformed Lives”
Silver - Priority Health for “Understanding Health Savings Accounts”
Gold - Diocese of Grand Rapids for its Diocesan Annual Report
Advertorials (Native Advertising)
Gold - SeyferthPR for its McDonald’s Helps to Lead Detroit’s Neighborhood Rebirth
Program Sponsors for the 2019 PRoof Awards were Spectrum Health and Priority Health; Table Sponsors were 8ThirtyFour Integrated Communications, Lambert, Sabo PR and SeyferthPR and the Refreshments Sponsor was Truscott Rossman.
The Public Relations Society of America West Michigan (WMPRSA) Chapter (http://wmprsa.org/) is comprised of more than 130 PRSA members located within the western half of the lower peninsula of Michigan, from Benton Harbor to Traverse City. WMPRSA hosts educational programs and special events for public relations practitioners, including the annual PRoof Awards. For more about PRoof visit: http://wmprsa.org/proof
When storytelling in healthcare is done well, movements can be created. For instance, a person can become injured and know exactly which facility they should seek care from, simply because they remembered a tactic or campaign. On April 18th, four panelists joined WMPRSA members and guests to help unpack the process behind creating a powerful and long-lasting message in the industry.
The panelists included Tonita Chetham, Group Director of Communications at Detroit Medical Center; Adam Barr, freelance copywriter at Copy By Adam; Jen VanSkiver, Chief Communications Officer & Director of External Affairs at North Ottowa Community Health System; and Tiffany Aldrich, Director of Communications at Cherry Health.
The Story Within The Story
Testimonials are a go-to for many professionals in the healthcare field. The panelists agreed that patient testimonials are essential, but that they need to be used correctly within a campaign. As a freelance copywriter, Adam has had his fair share of experiences helping healthcare companies find the story within the story. He says that testimonials should be used in collaboration with one another, building up a broader and more powerful story. Adam says that the best testimonials are genuine and unsolicited - they will generate themselves when good work is accomplished.
When dealing with patient testimonials, the panelists insisted that professionals need to recognize the sensitivity surrounding their stories. They must remember that there are real feelings and human emotions tied with the work they are doing, and that people should always come first.
It’s All About Timing
The panelists agreed that timing is vital for the success of a campaign, especially when it includes storytelling. Jen said that the most successful stories tie into something relevant within the community or tie into a broader topic. As in every industry, professionals must know their audience and what they’re looking for – and when they’re looking for it.
Tonita shared insights about the Detroit Medical Center’s recent campaign, “Community Built on Care,” that was implemented after they experienced a lot of negative publicity. Tonita and her team wanted to return to the essence of who they are, including the community in that process. She says that this campaign was pushed at the right time in order to build trust back into their brand.
Successful Storytelling Tips
Keep your stories relevant and timely. Tie them into something going on more broadly that people can relate to.
Remember your audience. Break down complicated topics and use terminology your audience will understand.
Tailor stories to what journalists are interested in, more than just their beat. Know your reporter.
The community is a healthcare companies biggest ambassador. When community members tell the story of an organization, they drive authentic results
Understand the difference between your administration’s expectations and the public’s, and find ways to meet both needs.
by Allison Canter and Brooklyn Wilson
GVSU’s student-run public relations firm, GrandPR, celebrated their first decade as a nationally-affiliated firm this past March. Not only are they one of the only nationally-affiliated student-run firms in the country, but they are award-winning for their work.
To celebrate this achievement, GrandPR hosted an event called Timeless Ten at the Grand Rapids-based PR firm, 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications, on March 29. This event not only celebrated the current members of GrandPR and their achievements, but staff members from previous years were also invited to join in the commemoration. Additionally, students and faculty from Grand Valley’s advertising and public relations program, as well as many PR professionals from around the Midwest, attended to make for a wonderful night of networking.
The night began with a cocktail hour of networking and reuniting with old friends while grazing on delicious food catered by Kangaroo Kitchen. The stuffed mushrooms were a hit. Opening remarks were given by Sabrina Antcliff, CEO of GrandPR, followed by speeches from professors and distinguished graduates that played a crucial role in the growth of GrandPR. Retired professor Frank Blossom and retiring professor Peggy Howard were also recognized for their invaluable contribution to the firm and program as a whole.
To properly honor the contributions that Frank Blossom made to the program during his 10 years there, a formal announcement of the “Frank Fund” was delivered at the event. This fund serves to aid students via scholarships and will be given out to students who show dedication in advancing in their careers and professional development. If you’d like to donate to this fund, visit the GVSU giving page.
During Timeless Ten, winners of the annual Superior Awards were also honored, named after the School of Communications building “Lake Superior Hall,” basically a second home to nearly every advertising and PR student. These winners were chosen based on extraordinary class work that exceeded professors’ expectations.
Among these winners were the firm’s own associates, Teagan Epley, Emily Gagnon and Allyssa Murphy, who received third place in the nationally competitive Arthur W. Page Society Case Study Competition. Their case study elaborated on the sexual harassment allegations made against Google, which inevitably triggered a walkout that was participated in by over 20,000 Google employees in November of 2018.
Leading up to this event, GrandPR participated in ten firm-wide acts of service throughout the winter semester as a thank-you for the continuous support they have received from the community over the past 10 years. These acts include:
Donating and making a meal for HQ Grand Rapids
Assembling sack suppers with Kid’s Food Basket
The Humane Society’s Paws, Claws, and Corks
Curating an archive with GROW
Decorating for Samaritas Senior Living’s Valentine’s Day event
Collecting and repackaging feminine hygiene products for Be A Rose
Aiding in strategy for Grand Valley’s throwback, faux back event Sawyer Day
Participating in GVSU’s Community Outreach Week
Writing visitor blogs
Creating five full campaigns for Grand Rapids non-profit organizations in less than 24 hours during CreateAthon
These ten acts of service created a sense of community for the firm, but also gave the firm a legitimate place in the community. They displayed the sincere sense of gratitude that GrandPR has for the community that has invested in it for 10 years now. In fact, many of the service acts that they hosted exceeded the goals of the firm. For instance, the goal for the Be A Rose campaign was to raise $250 to collect 1,000 feminine hygiene products, and by the end the firm has raised over $550. In just a few months, GrandPR was able to make a great impact on the greater Grand Rapids area through these 10 acts of service that celebrated their decade as a firm.
It was a night of celebration, recognition and anticipation for the future of GrandPR. A special thank you to Adrienne Wallace, Derek DeVries, Tim Penning, Frank Blossom, Peggy Howard and all past and current staff members who have made GrandPR what it is today. We look forward to the growth and success of the firm in the years to come.
On March 21st, WMPRSA members gathered to learn about how to connect with niche West Michigan publications. The panelists included Lauren Carlson, Managing Editor at Rapid Growth; Angie Morales, Executive Director at La Mejor; George Wietor, New Media Planner at The Rapidian and Rick Pulliam, Editorial Assistant to the Editor at The Grand Rapids Times. Each panelist contributed valuable information detailing ways in which PR professionals can better work with local resources and contribute to community news.
The Story of Community
Positive, community-based coverage is key. Traditional media outlets can become depressing with articles covering topics that spark controversy and frustration. That’s why these share reliable local news that reflects a positive community-based message. Each publication brings a different story to the West Michigan area, but each contribute to the community as a whole.
The Rapidian elevates the voices of local individuals and nonprofits, and individuals can publish articles themselves. Rapid Growth Media provides longer, in depth pieces that cover the heart of a topic or trend. They focus their stories on real change makers in the community and serve a “loyal, diverse” audience. Similarly, The Grand Rapids Times depicts culture and diversity in their stories as the only black publication in the area. La Mejor is a publication aimed for sharing good news in Michigan’s Hispanic community.
The panelists agree that consumer trust has dwindled surrounding fake news accusations in traditional media. However, they argue that their publications provide true and accurate information that their audiences can rely on. They each cover real news, reaching out to different markets and creating a positive narrative for the community.
Mutually Beneficial Relationships
Working with niche publications and citizen journalists is similar to corresponding with traditional media. So, how do these local publications want to be reached? The phrase “mutually beneficial” was thrown around numerous times during this event, proving that these panelists want to build relationships with PR professionals and create thriving partnerships. Ultimately, they wish local professionals knew more about each of their publications and what they offer the community.
When asked what they can provide to public relations professionals, each speaker agreed that their niche provides a deeper story of community, proving them more impact than their traditional media competitors.
Hitting the Right Pitch
Some pitching pet peeves were uncovered when asked what they wish PR professionals knew. They’ll accept a pitch or press release if it aligns with stories they’d typically share and also make it easy for the journalist. Some general tips are:
· Send a fully formed pitch, but customize it to the publication you’re sending it to.
· Don’t attach a press release to an email, actually put it in the body so it’s easily accessible.
· Get to know the journalist. Send them an email and ask what they like to cover.
Recap by Courtney Fogle: Courtney Fogle is a senior studying Advertising and Public Relations at Grand Valley State University. She’s an active member of GV PRSSA and hosts their podcast, PR Hangover. In her spare time you can find her prepping for her future career in entertainment PR as the Public Relations Intern at River City Studios.