PR, the Pyramid Scheme and the Meanwhile - July 17, 2014

Tami VandenBerg The past few years have seen a renaissance in Grand Rapids of food, spirits and live entertainment. From being named “Beer City USA,” to being ranked on a raft of Top Ten lists, the city has come into its own as a cultural destination – shaking off the stereotype of a sleepy furniture manufacturing town.

Hear how public relations helped local entrepreneur (and 2014 WMPRSA Communicator of the Year Award recipient) Tami VandenBerg build the brands of two unique Grand Rapids bars – the Meanwhile and the Pyramid Scheme. Find out what it takes to stand out and be successful in a crowded field of competition in the hospitality industry, and to attract big-name talent to a Grand Rapids venue. Learn why VandenBerg is committed to the issue of homelessness and how her involvement with the Well House enhances her professional life and connection to the community.

About Tami VandenBerg Tami VandenBerg wears many hats; among them - entrepreneur, advocate, and executive director. She is the co-owner of The Meanwhile bar and The Pyramid Scheme (a live music venue), as well as the Executive Director of The Well House (a nonprofit helping the homeless while promoting sustainable and healthy living). Her passion and innovative spirit have firmly established herself as a leader in both the business and civic communities.

When Thursday, July 17, 2014 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM Please RSVP by 5 PM, 7/14/14

Where The Pyramid Scheme 68 Commerce Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Fees Member $25.00 Nonmember $35.00 Student $20.00 Please note: there will be an additional $5 fee for day-of or walk-in registration. 

Click here to register!


Program Recap: "How to Get Hired" - Myths, Tips, and How it Really Works

by Audra Hartges ( WMPRSA Program: "How to Get Hired"

The job market can be confusing whether you are looking for your first professional position, hoping to transition from your current position, or trying to re-enter the workforce.

At “How to Get Hired” Steve Groenink, Managing Director at Lambert Edwards & Associates, Jim D’Amico, Director of Talent Acquisition for Spectrum Health, and David Dart, Vice President of Global Human Resources at BISSELL Homecare, Inc. explained how the hiring process really works and discussed how to navigate applying and interviewing for a position. Below are highlights from their panel discussion, including three myths they dispelled and some tips to help you land the job.

Myth 1: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

  • Truth is, the company or organization you are dying to work for won’t hire you just because you went to middle school with one of their VP’s. Who you know might help bring your resume to the top of the pile, but isn’t the most important factor.
  • Your personality and how you would fit in the organization is what they are really hiring for and what an interview helps them determine. All three panelists said that before they hire you, they have to like you.

Myth 2: A flawless cover letter detailing your passion and talent will land you an interview.

  • Cover letters almost never get read. Yes, they said it. If there is a hiring manager who will ultimately decide your fate… he or she won’t read it, either.
  • Improve your resume, which does get look at, by making your experience quantifiable. How much money did you make or save your company? How many media impressions did you earn?
  • Students: make your resume stand out by being a leader on campus or by gaining a diverse set of experiences through cultural groups or study abroad.
  • Even if they don’t look at your cover letter, someone hiring you might check your LinkedIn profile. Keep it up to date, especially since some employers (including Spectrum Health this summer) are accepting applications through LinkedIn.

Myth 3: “The hiring process is simple-if they like you, they hire you!”

  • If your interviewer is just “checking boxes” they don’t have any power in the hiring process-you’re just being screened and will be passed on to a hiring manager who will decide to hire you or not.
  • If an HR representative thinks you are a candidate for the position (after a first or second interview) they will become your advocate, attaching their name and credibility to your utter brilliance. They want to help you get the job, so be transparent with them about things like your salary needs.

P.S. Making a move up that ladder? Expect a 10-20% earnings increase in a new position.

Be extraordinary tips.

Most people won’t do these things. You should.

  • Craft a stand-out answer to an experiential interview question by following the plan, do, check model. Tell how you planned for success, what you did, and how you checked or evaluated the success.
  • Follow up, even if you don’t get the job. Both Groenink and D’Amico add their contact information to rejection emails and are willing to discuss with applicants why they weren’t hired. Learn from your mistakes and get ready to blow away the competition next time.

New Member Profile - Nicole Cook of the Humane Society of West Michigan

Nicole Cook, Marketing and Events Coordinator at Humane Society of West Michigan 1. Where do you work and what is your title?

I am the Marketing and Events Coordinator at Humane Society of West Michigan.

2. What is your main objective in that role?

My main objective is to do anything and everything necessary to promote our organization and the animals in our care. Whether it is writing a press release or assisting on a hoarding case, I have done it all :)

3. What PRSA benefit do you find the most value in?

I enjoy the webinars. My job requires a lot of my time so I'm not able to attend the monthly luncheons but the webinars offer a lot of valuable information that I can more easily attend.

4. Why did you join WMPRSA?

I joined WMPRSA to network and learn from more people in the Public Relations field. I am a firm believer of learning what works (and what doesn't work) from other people's experiences. Your peers are an invaluable resource and something that you should reference.

5. If you could have a job anywhere in the world, where and what would it be?

I would love to work at Alison Brod PR in New York City. They are a full-service public relations firm comprised of a staff of 60 women. They specialize in product placement and events and have been highly successful. I would love to work in their high-energy, hardworking office!

6. Name a favorite website and explain why you like it.

I love spending time on! It is a website that allows my creativity to shine and has given me many ideas that are way out of the box! I have found numerous items of inspiration that have allowed me to create bigger and better concept events and/or campaigns for Humane Society of West Michigan.

WMPRSA Program Recap - Lights in the Night - How PR launched lanterns into the ArtPrize Top 5

wmprsaprogramlightsinthenight10-15-12_048 (Large) On November 15, 2012, WMPRSA hosted a panel of four speakers, Dan Johnson, who is the managing partner of Six Voices LLC, Mark Carpenter, an entrepreneur, currently engaged in digital app collaborations with clients across the world, Kim Bode, owner of 834 Design and Marketing, and Adrienne Wallace, a project manager at 834 Design and Marketing. Wallace helped lead the discussion. [Slides From the Presentation Available Here]


The panel discussed how the ArtPrize entry Lights in the Night made it into the Top 5. Dan and Mark spoke about how they developed the idea, while Kim and Adrienne discussed how 834 Design and Marketing handled all of the promotion.

Carpenter explained that before he came up with the “lantern” idea he knew that he wanted to be involved with ArtPrize in some way and participate in the “risk taking roll.” He wanted to show his children that you can start with a small idea and turn it into something larger than you could have ever hoped for. Carpenter also knew that he wanted to involve the community in his entry.

Johnson said that after he and Carpenter decided to enter “Lights in the Night” into ArtPrize, they discussed how they needed to find great advertising and marketing. Thats when they hired 834 Design and Marketing.

Wallace and Bode went on to discuss how 834 led the Lights in the Night campaign:

  • Name selection
  • Descriptive of what the event truly was
  • Content creation
  • PR pitch to local media
  • Weekly blog posts to Facebook notes
  • Postcard (included in Gilmore Collection restaurant checks)
  • Weekly email (2,000 on list)
  • Advertising
  • The Lights in the Night ad on had the highest click through in the history of the website
  • Street teams that passed out post cards, and QR codes to help drive the public to the website
  • Word of mouth- The community had a lot to do with this, they became advocates for Lights in the Night.
  • Instructional video
  • Poster with instructions on how to light a lantern
  • In order to get the media involved and interested in the event it was important to have a mini-launch so they could all see the lanterns first-hand.

Johnson discussed the process they took to receive all of the proper permits with the city and then went on to explain the difficulties they had with the city a week before the lanterns were scheduled to launch. The main issue they had with the city was the fact that they pulled several locations that were scheduled launch spots. They were also give the green light to purchase 20,000 lanterns, but after they were purchased were told they could only launch 2,500. At the end of the event the final count came to 15,000 lanterns that had actually been lit and launched.

Lights in the Night entered the Top 25 within a day, from there it moved to the Top 10, and ultimately into the Top 5. Brian Burch, public relations director at ArtPrize said that he had never seen anything like it before and it was a testament of the community’s engagement.