Tag Archives: Crisis Communications

Leonhauser to Retire in December, Kozak to Succeed Her as President

Franco President Maria Leonhauser will retire at the end of 2013.

I am pleased to announce that after more than a year of planning and transition, Franco President Maria Leonhauser will retire at the end of this year. Franco Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer Tina Kozak will succeed Maria as president effective January 1. Maria will continue as a consultant with Franco, as well as take her words and ideas in another direction—writing mysteries.

Maria joined Franco as president in 2000 after 25 years in journalism and corporate communications.  During her tenure, she focused on diversifying Franco’s client base and imbuing its culture with creativity and passion. She also championed Franco’s social media discipline. Among her awards, Maria was named one of Detroit’s 100 Most Influential Women by Crain’s Detroit Business and a Leader and Innovator by Lawrence Technological University and Grant Thornton.

Tina Kozak, executive vice president and COO for Franco, will succeed Leonhauser as president effective Jan. 1, 2014.

Tina joined Franco in 2007 as an account manager overseeing the firm’s automotive practice. In her most recent role as executive vice president and chief operating officer, she has led client service, talent retention and business development. She counsels a range of clients in the auto/tech, healthcare and professional service industries in areas including corporate positioning, community relations and reputation management. She also consults on brand development, crisis communications and strategic planning.

Franco’s priority has always been service excellence. Maria instilled a new energy and enthusiasm into its delivery. I’m confident that Tina will not only advance our commitment to service excellence, but also identify other relevant initiatives to better serve our clients and employees.

It’s an exciting time at Franco. Please join me in congratulating Tina and in wishing Maria all the best in our comments section below.

Dan Ponder is the CEO at Franco Public Relations Group.


My Life in PR: What retail taught me about public relations

Before working in PR, Andrea Kenski lived a rockstar lifestyle working in retail. Many of the PR principles used in her job today were learned working in retail management.

I’ve officially been working in the field of public relations for about three years. Prior to my “new” career, I worked in retail management for 15 years. The more I thought about my professional life, the more I realized how much of what I do now, I practiced every day in retail for 15 years working at places like the Gap, Target and Wherehouse Music.

Over the years, I learned a lot of public relations. But, I didn’t know it at the time. I attended numerous classes, seminars, and conferences on how to communicate effectively with my team and customers. I also learned how to develop and maintain relationships with those customers and vendors. Other PR principles that you wouldn’t normally associate with retail was also learned: branding, crisis communications, key messaging, and event planning were also performed on a regular basis.

When you walk into a store, what’s the first thing you notice? Is it a display, lighting or clean fitting rooms? Everything I just mentioned (and more) is branding; it’s how a business or organization is perceived by the public. I worked with my team to ensure that everything the company stood for was reflected in its appearance. It was everything from clean windows, to eye-catching displays, to properly placed signage in the correct font.

Working in retail, I encountered customers that sometimes didn’t understand store policies and procedures. It was my job as a manager to ensure I knew the policies backwards and forwards (key messages, if you will) and explain to them in language that they would understand. This would be my first introduction to crisis communications. Little did I know that one day, I would be the one drafting the key messages.

When I reflect on my time working retail, my fondest memories were working midnight sales at the music store. Die-hard fans would arrive at the store around 11:45 p.m. and wait until midnight so they could purchase their favorite artist’s new album. It was my job to coordinate the event. I would plan each event and coordinate details such as scheduling employees, choosing which older album to play (along with the new one, of course) and promoting the event. (I may be showing my age, but this was done in a time before social media and iTunes.) Midnight sales were always busy, but without careful planning, it could have been just me and my employees listening to the new *NSYNC album.

I miss working retail. However, I love where I am now. The work that I’m doing is not much different. I work in an office rather than a storefront. I have a much bigger audience to communicate with.  I absolutely love working in PR, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Have I changed the way you look at PR? Share your thoughts with me in your comments below.

Andrea Kenski is a senior account executive at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach her at (313) 567-5092 or kenski@franco.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @detroitcitygrrl.