March 2020 Newsletter Print

President's Corner

A few months ago, I had the privilege of speaking to a class of communications students (mainly juniors and seniors) at UW Oshkosh. It took only about 20 minutes of my day, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about that experience. Maybe it was because it seems like only yesterday I was in a class like that, listening to real-life professionals talk about their careers and finding it hard to believe I would ever be like them. It all seemed so far away. And now, it’s what I live and breathe every day.

I had a similar experience just last week when we had our first program meeting of the year. As I introduced our fabulous speaker, Lindsay Kalsow, I looked out and saw so many college students among the dozens of attendees. They were bright and engaged…and ready to take the world by storm.

We also tried something new at this meeting – we recorded it so that we could make the content available to the student chapters (PRSSA) in our area. It’s just part of our heightened focus this year on providing resources to the next generation of communications pros.

If you, like me, remember being in their shoes and want to get more involved in our PRSSA efforts, let us know! Going back to the future can be pretty rewarding.

- Erin Elliott, APR
President, PRSA Northeast Wisconsin

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Upcoming Events

Click here to register!

Have you ever had letter envy? You know, a longing to be one of those folks with initials after your name – like our friends who carry CPA, Ph. D or one of the myriad other credentials? Then we have good news for you: PR professionals have our very own distinction, called the APR (accreditation in public relations).

These three little letters change more than just your email signature line, though; they can change your career – and even your life. And the best news of all is that PRSA Northeast Wisconsin has people and resources in place to help YOU become accredited – whenever you’re ready.

But how will you know when is the right time? What is all involved? How does it work? Who is eligible to take it? Why should I even bother? Well, our area’s nine accredited professionals are coming together on April 28 at The Marq in De Pere (11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.) to answer all these questions (and much more!). They’ll also share their personal and professional APR journeys.

Don’t miss this very special event with these very special presenters! No matter where you are in your career, you will glean meaningful insight. And rest assured – there will be NO pressure or expectation to take any other steps. This lunch event is all about listening and learning the basics.

PRSA Northeast Wisconsin APRs Attending:

  • Janet Bonkowski, APR
  • Femi Cole, APR
  • Erin Elliott, APR
  • Casey Fryda, APR
  • Krissy Lillie, APR
  • Megan Mulholland, APR
  • Kristine Nicolini, APR
  • Tom Schoffelman, APR
  • Jim Streed, APR

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Major League Baseball and the Houston Astros have presented us with a PR ethics case study in regards to their sign-stealing scandal dating back to the 2017 season.

For those not familiar, a quick synopsis. In order for the catcher to know the type of pitch the pitcher is going to throw, the catcher will give the pitcher a “sign,” a different number of fingers held down between his legs prior to each pitch: one finger means fastball, two fingers is a curveball, etc. Because of how the catcher squats behind home plate, generally only the pitcher can see this sign. However, through the use of a camera placed beyond the centerfield fence in their home ball park, Astros players in the dugout could see this sign being given, and would then bang a bat on a trash can to alert the hitter of the pitch type.

While the Astros first did this in 2017 (the same year they happened to win the World Series) no one could prove anything until a former Astros player confessed in November 2019. With this confession, and video and audio footage of televised games substantiating the confessor’s claim, MLB acted with suspensions and other penalties against the Astros.

Still, Astros ownership was slow to act from a PR perspective. Waiting until spring training to start, the team’s owner, two players and the new manager stepped to the mic to apologize in a well-rehearsed news conference. But instead of coming clean, they downplayed the impact. “Our opinion is that this didn’t impact the game,” team owner Jim Crane, said in a prepared statement. However, minutes later in the Q&A session he said, “I didn’t say it didn’t impact the game.”

As a Sports Illustrated reporter later pointed out in an article he had written, the Astros handling of the situation was at best “awkward and stilted. At worst, it was much worse.” In that same SI article, former PRSA chair Anthony D’Angelo was interviewed for his reaction to the Astros response. D’Angelo said that in a situation like this there should be a dedication to giving the truth about what happened; a sincere apology; and an explanation of the next steps – all done with a level of sincerity.

“What I want to see is someone who is truly contrite and really fired up about fixing this, about winning trust back,” D’Angelo said. “And what I saw was a guy reading with all the emotion of a dial tone, a brief statement, and then handing it off…”

I think its fair to say that as PR practitioners being faced with an ethical situation is never an easy thing. But doing the ethical thing should always be the easy decision. Let me know your thoughts on how you think the Astros and/or MLB handled this situation. Email me at [email protected]

For the full SI article:

Article highlighting Twitter’s reaction to apology:


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Member News

Where do you work? What is the role in your company?
I work for St. Norbert Abbey in De Pere. I began my job on June 2, 2019, two weeks after graduating with my degree! 

St. Norbert Abbey is home to a religious order, the Canons Regular of Premontre, known as the Norbertines. Canons Regular of Saint Norbert Abbey live the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the traditions of Saints Norbert and Augustine. They live a common life “one in mind and heart on the way to God” through celebration of the Eucharist, liturgical prayer and service to the People of God. 

The Norbertines in De Pere are known for having started St. Norbert College, also in De Pere. 

I am the Communications Manager at the Abbey. I handle all communication and marketing efforts for the Abbey, including; media relations, web site management, digital marketing, social media, graphic design, photography, and video!

Please share some of your education/employment background.
I graduated in May 2019 with my bachelor's degree in Public Relations from Our Lady of the Lake University, in San Antonio, TX. 

Describe your typical day.
Having been flexible to the various needs of the staff and community, I don't think I have had a typical day yet! 

What do you hope to get out of PRSA?
Having lived in Wisconsin for less than a year, I hope to network and connect with other PR professionals within the area. In November 2019 I received the Young Professional of the Year Award from PRSA Northeast Wisconsin and was impressed by meeting many members from the chapter and hearing about their work. I hope to continue to learn from them and meet some other members. 

Any hobbies?
Fly Fishing, Cigars, Netflix binge-watching, traveling, meeting new people and learning more about Communications.


Where do you work? What is the role in your company?
I work at Element, a full-service advertising and web development agency. I am the public relations strategist, which means I have the privilege of leading client strategy, creating plans and developing content.

Please share some of your education/employment background.
I have over 15 years of marketing and PR experience in manufacturing, health care and packaging industries. Prior to my role at Element, I was a marketing manager for Network Health and a marketing coordinator for Menasha Packaging, Women’s Care of Wisconsin and RB Royal Industries. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and earned a BBA, with marketing as my major and mass communications – public relations as my minor.

Describe your typical day.
My days are busy, fast-moving and always fun. I’m either developing or executing on a pitch plan that involves both local and national media outlets. I mostly write strategic plans, talking points and press releases but sometimes have the opportunity to write a contributed article or blog. I conduct research on the latest trends, report on story pickups and work with a wide range of people from CMOs to news anchors. 

What do you hope to get out of PRSA?
Last year, I attended two PRSA events as a guest and immediately knew this was the right organization for me to join. The events offered the networking opportunities I’m seeking, and there are many educational resources available that I know will help me approach situations with a new perspective. I’m also excited at the possibility of being able to mentor members that are just starting out in their PR careers. 

Any hobbies?
My two daughters keep me busy as they are very involved in sports and dance. When I get a free moment, I love to read, watch the news, travel, cook, listen to podcasts, explore walking paths in the area and go to concerts with friends.

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Member Anniversaries

3/7 Alicia Kahl of Oshkosh: One Year

3/17 Aaron Popkey of Green Bay Packers: 14 Years

3/23 Hillary Anderson of Associated Bank: Two Years

3/25  Tamera Graf of Elkhart Lake: One Year

3/26 John Giesfeldt of Dürr MEGTEC: TEN YEARS!

3/28 Kimberly Stobb-Bresser of KicknUpDust Communications: 12 Years

3/30 Chad Doran of City of Appleton: Four Years

3/31 Carolyn Schamberger, APR of Geneva: 30 YEARS!

3/31 Jessica Wettstein of Faith Technologies: 13 Years

3/31 Nicole Marr of Leonard & Finco: Four Years

3/31 Katie Hermsen of Green Bay Packers: Three Years

3/31 Tricia Garrison of NEW Water: Seven Years

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