October 2020 Newsletter Print

President's Corner

It’s a reflex: When someone asks you how you are, I bet you reply, “Good!” or “Fine!” 99% of the time. But in 2020, I find myself taking a beat when answering that question. Sometimes I think about answering more honestly. “You know, I’m really tired” or “My head is pounding from all these video meetings.” Yet most of the time, I default to the automatic response because it’s just faster – and time is certainly of the essence these days.

Speaking of time, I’ve been tempted many times in the last few months to schedule a Zoom call with some fellow communications pros – just to hear their war stories from the COVID-19 era and compare notes from the trenches. I’ve been watching so many of you do amazing work, and I want to hear the behind-the-scenes details you’re dealing with every day. Of course, that has fallen to the end of the to-do list.

That’s why I was especially excited when our chapter decided to really shake things up in October with our weekly series: Global Pandemic, Local Impact. Each Tuesday from 12-1 p.m. this month, Northeast Wisconsin PR pros from various industries will share stories and lessons learned over the course of the pandemic – and how they’re moving forward in these crazy times.

More information can be found in this newsletter and on our website, but here are some quick links to learn more and register:

Oct. 6: Focus on Hospitality (with presenters from four area Convention & Visitors Bureaus)

Oct. 13: Focus on Non-profits (featuring Therese Woelfel of the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation)

Oct. 20: Focus on Healthcare (with presenters from Prevea Health/HSHS Wisconsin Hospital)

Oct. 27: Focus on Education (with presenters from NWTC and two local schools districts)

All four will be virtual and free! A huge thank you to our comrades from these four industries for taking some of their precious time to prepare and present about their experiences.

Speaking again of time, I also hope you’ve found a few moments to nominate at least one person for the three very special chapter awards we will be presenting at November’s modified PRemier Awards event:

  • Communicator of the Year
  • Young Professional of the Year
  • Lifetime Achievement Award

The process couldn’t be easier. All we ask is you send us a few short paragraphs that describe the amazing individual(s) and why they deserve to be celebrated. The deadline has been extended to Sunday, Oct. 11! (Check out our PRemier Awards page for more details.)

It’s going to be a busy fall, but here’s hoping we find time for enriching experiences that leave us feeling a notch better than “good” or “fine.”

- Erin Elliott, APR
President, PRSA Northeast Wisconsin

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The PRSA Code of Ethics lists six professional core values that PRSA members and, more broadly, all public relations professionals should follow. These values provide the foundation for the Member Code of Ethics and set the industry standard for the professional practice of public relations. These core values are: Honesty, Advocacy, Expertise, Independence, Loyalty and Fairness.

Over the next several months, I’m examining each of these values in more detail.


We acquire and responsibly use specialized knowledge and experience. We advance the profession through continued professional development, research and education. We build mutual understanding, credibility and relationships among a wide array of institutions and audiences. (PRSA Code of Ethics)

This value requires that we make time for professional development, research and education. While we are expected to have excellent writing, promotion and presentation skills, this value also requires that we continually develop expertise in our specific industries.

Why? To be an excellent leader in public relations, you must know your organization’s business and environment, understand the decision makers and decision-making process in the organization, and be pro-active in the decision-making process.

As a young practitioner early in my career working for a healthcare system, I often described myself as a public relations practitioner who worked in healthcare as opposed to a healthcare public relations practitioner. My rationale was that I wanted to maintain my distance from the lingo associated with healthcare. I was the buffer between the organization and the people we served. While my intent to make sure we were always thinking of our customers was correct, I have come to realize that I needed to be a healthcare public relations practitioner first so that I could be a better advocate for my employer’s business and environment.

There are several ways we can all improve our business and industry expertise, and thus better fulfill our obligation to the Expertise value of our Code of Ethics:

  • Take advantage of PRSA professional development opportunities
  • Pursue the APR
  • Join a professional interest section
  • Obtain an advanced degree
  • Read about your respective industry
  • Leave the comfort of your office and go see the work the people in your organization do

Obviously, there are other things you can do to improve your business literacy and industry expertise. The point is that you need to make it a priority. Before any of us can provide solid ethics counsel, we must understand the implications of our recommendations first.

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Upcoming Events

By now, you’ve heard a lot about how COVID-19 disrupted life on a national - and even global - scale. Now, more than 6 months into the pandemic, we want to take a close-up look at how it has impacted our friends and colleagues here in Northeast Wisconsin. 

Join us for a FREE, weekly webinar series in October focused around local communication in the era of COVID-19. Area PR practitioners in various industries share stories and lessons learned (and lessons they’re still learning!) as they navigate communicating to their stakeholders during a pandemic. 

Speakers will discuss adjustments they had to make when COVID-19 began, how their job and organizations may have changed, creative solutions that were implemented, what they learned about communicating during a global pandemic, and how their organization is adapting and preparing for the future. After each virtual presentation there will be time for questions/answers from participants using the chat feature. 

Don’t miss this weekly opportunity to hear how your comrades in communication are pivoting and adapting to keep their organizations safe, profitable and relevant during COVID-19. 

We have FOUR free events this month, every Tuesday. The first one on Oct. 6 focuses on disruptions to the hospitality industry and features these local pros:

    • Melissa Sabel, Director of Marketing, Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
    • Amanda Schmidt, Marketing Manager, Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau
    • Jon Jarosh, Director of Communications & Public Relations, Door County Visitor Bureau 
    • Beth Knapinski, Director of Marketing Communications, Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau 

Find out more about the series and register for any/all of the events.


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PRemier Awards

Still deciding? Don’t fret! You’ve been granted an extension to cast your vote, er, nomination for our 2020 PRemier Awards.

The deadline for submitting nominations for this year’s modified awards program in the categories of Communicator of the Year, Young Professional of the Year and the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award is Sunday, Oct. 11.

The virtual celebration is planned for Tuesday, Nov. 17, at noon. As a reminder, project-based awards won’t be part of the 11th annual PRemier Awards.

More information about the awards up for grabs and how to nominate deserving colleagues in the region can be found at prsanewis.org/awards.


Questions? Contact the Awards Committee at [email protected].

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Member Anniversaries

Jon Jarosh, Director of Communications & Public Relations of Destination Door County,
PRSA Member since 10/29/2010 –TEN YEARS!

Jennifer Kaminski, Public Relations Senior Manager, Vice President of Associated Banc-Corp,
PRSA Member since 10/10/2011

Holly Wachtendonk, Account Supervisor at Hiebing,
PRSA Member since 10/11/2012

Amanda Schmidt, Marketing Manager at the Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau,
PRSA Member since 10/7/2015 – FIVE YEARS!

Kelly McBride-Moore, Communications Specialist at Bellin Health,
PRSA Member since 10/14/2015 – FIVE YEARS!

Brian Nicol, Director of Communications at Howard-Suamico School District,
PRSA Member since 10/2/2018

Shaina Allen, Marketing Coordinator at Wisconsin Humane Society,
PRSA member since 10/1/2019

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