Tag Archives: Detroit PR firm

Eighty Days of Red Kettle

All PR professionals have that one client project that seems to take over everything.

It means long hours at the office, lack of sleep (which leads to copious amounts of caffeine), around the clock emails and being on your feet for hours at a time.

For those of us who work on The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit account, our crunch time is Red Kettle season. This Christmas season’s fundraising campaign aimed to raise more than $8 million dollars in 80 days…



To achieve our goals in that timeframe, events needed to be planned and attended, media materials written and distributed, and interviews coordinated.  And that’s just scratching the surface.

With such a huge task it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the stress, but somehow we always manage to have fun with it. Here are some of our favorite moments from this past season as we reflect on our 80 day PR campaign.

“This was my fourth Red Kettle Campaign and I continue to find myself amazed every January with the mysterious moment each year when “the holidays being a long way off” suddenly shifts to “the holidays are here” and our entire team is off and running . . . and then it’s over in a flash. Armed with the Red Kettle plans we strategize year ‘round, we navigate the frenzy of announcements, events and the occasional Krugerrand donation, adjusting our approach with each new opportunity.”

Pat Adanti-Joy, vice president

Roary and PAWS are always big hits at Red Kettle events. Peek-a-boo is a fan favorite and Andrea and Pat never pass up an opportunity to pose with the beloved team mascots.

PAJ ---- All at Royal Park

The team posing with The Salvation Army gingerbread house at Royal Park Hotel. Visitors were invited to sponsor “mittens” to help provide warm clothing items for families and their children served by The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit.

“I was hired at the very start of the Red Kettle campaign. I had little time to get to know The Salvation Army before diving head-first into its most busy time of the year. But now, looking back at those 80 days, I know I could not have asked for a better and more exciting start to my professional PR career. I especially enjoyed working at events while taking photos for The Salvation Army’s social media pages. It was so much fun speaking with event attendees and hearing how The Salvation Army has impacted their life.”

Mary Parkinson, assistant account executive


Mary Parkinson (right) snapping a photo of WXYZ’s Glenda Lewis (middle) and Major Russ Sjögren (left), general secretary and metro Detroit area commander for The Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division for The Army’s social media page.

“This is my fourth Red Kettle season so it’s difficult to choose a favorite Salvation Army event. There are so many! I love being involved with the annual Royal Park Hotel gingerbread house event. The side benefit of coordinating this mini PR campaign? You get to eat amazing, delicious desserts prepared by executive pastry chef, Mark Slessor.”

Andrea Kenski, senior account executive

AK ---- _CBRD with Brooke Allen

Selfies are a must for Celebrity Bell Ringing Day 2015. Andrea found time amidst the fun and snapped one with WWJ Newsradio 950’s Brooke Allen and volunteers from The Salvation Army of Warren. Brooke and other local celebs from television, radio and print media helped raise more than $6,000 in two hours!

AK ----_SR Santa PAWS

We get to meet tons of celebrities this time of year! Detroit Tigers mascot, Santa PAWS joined the Red Kettle action by recording a #RingOrSing video encouraging metro Detroiters to sign up as Salvation Army volunteer bell ringers.

“I had mentally prepared to be crazy busy during the campaign. What I hadn’t planned for was the amount of fun we would have during the season. My favorite memory comes from Red Wings for Red Kettles. I grew up a Red Wings fan and have spent countless nights at The Joe cheering them on. So, meeting Riley Sheahan, Dylan Larkin and Luke Glendenning  while they had fun competing to raise money for The Salvation Army was an experience I’ll never forget.”

Sasha Reeves, assistant account executive


The Red Kettle Campaign is truly a learning experience. With its disproportionate shape, carrying a heavy kettle stand is not an easy task. So we adapt.

SR----Red Wings photo

We celebrated 10 years of partnership between The Salvation Army and the Detroit Red Wings. Each year Red Wings players and staff compete for bragging rights to see which group can raise the most money as part of Red Wings for Red Kettles. Pat was on location with Head Coach Jeff Blashill and General Manager Ken Holland ringing bells with Major Russ Sjögren. Meanwhile, Sasha contained her inner fan girl as she joined Riley Sheahan, Dylan Larkin and Luke Glendenning.

What’s your “Red Kettle” project? Share it in the comments.

Tales of an Event Planner: Wedding Planning the PR Way

On December 25, 2013, my client list got a little bigger. It wasn’t a nonprofit organization or corporation. It was a bridal client, and that person was me. When Joshua and I first started dating, he told me a story about penguins. When a male penguin wants to spend the rest of his life with a female penguin, he finds a perfect pebble and gives it to her. That Christmas morning, in front of his family, Joshua got down on one knee, handed me a pebble and asked me to marry him.

#love on #mackinacisland #mackinacwedding #mackinacislandwedding #lanasphoto @detroitcitygrrl

A photo posted by LANA TRAYSER PHOTOGRAPHY (@lanasphoto) on

After the initial shock of the proposal wore off, I began doing what every good event planner does. I purchased a binder and a flash drive, and set off to develop my spreadsheets.

 “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

Wedding planning is no different than planning an event for a client. My husband-to-be and I set a modest budget. That helped us determine venue, save the date cards, invitations, photographer, food and drink, wedding attire, and décor. (It’s important to note that every good event planner has a line item in his or her budget for contingency. You never know when an unexpected cost will arise and you’re unable to pay for it.) We researched vendors and requested quotes. From there, we were able to decide on the most romantic wedding destination in the world – Mackinac Island.

Andrea used her experience as an event planner to plan her own dream Mackinac Island wedding. Photo courtesy of Lana Trayser Photography

Andrea used her experience as an event planner to plan her own dream Mackinac Island wedding. Photo courtesy of Lana Trayser Photography

My advice to any bride-to-be doing their own wedding planning, or even a client, is to research other major events taking place on or around your wedding date. For our wedding, we happened to choose a date in the middle of Mackinac Island’s Lilac Festival on Friday, June 12. And, of course, springtime is highly desirable to have a Mackinac Island wedding. Because of those factors, we booked our venue and reserved our hotel block as soon as possible expecting an increase in tourism AND other bridal parties to contend with.

We also created a backup plan. We chose to have an outdoor wedding located at the beautiful Somewhere in Time gazebo; however we had an indoor location in case of rain. I also purchased a golf umbrella to keep us dry during our wedding photography session. I’ll get to the weather in a moment.

“Oh, what fun, I can’t wait ‘til the future gets here.” Ben Folds

As with client event planning, a to-do list should be created with date and notes columns. This will help keep you on track and meet deadlines. The time will go by quickly and you don’t want to scramble at the last minute to get things done. Since I had 18 months to plan for my wedding, I was able to pace myself and keep my sanity.

My wedding planning came down to the very last detail:

  • Photographer’s shot list
  • Welcome bag contents (including Mackinac Island-themed gifts, tourist guide and timeline)
  • Menu (chicken, fish and pasta dishes)
  • Bouquet flowers (roses, peonies, lisianthus and ranunculus)
  • Wedding favors (personalized boxes of fudge)
  • Wedding ceremony
  • Run of show (down to the minute)
  • Wedding vows

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller

My wedding day finally arrived. I was able to execute my wedding plans and marry my best friend. That morning’s weather forecast did not look favorable. Instead of worrying about it, I chose to embrace what was predicted because we had a backup plan… and an umbrella. I was all set to walk down the aisle. Fortunately for us, we didn’t have to use the indoor location because the sky cleared up, the sun came out and the temperature was a perfect 68 degrees.

Your big day will be everything you wished for if you stay organized, maintain a budget and stay on track while wedding planning. Photo courtesy of Lana Trayser Photography

Your big day will be everything you wished for if you stay organized, maintain a budget and stay on track while wedding planning. Photo courtesy of Lana Trayser Photography

On the day of my wedding, I was lucky to have the assistance of my matron of honor and an amazing co-worker who also happens to know a thing or two about event planning. I would not have been able to enjoy my day without their help. They ensured tasks got done and vendors were paid.

I gave myself the difficult task of being the executive producer, director and lead actress of my wedding, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I didn’t sweat the small stuff and in the end, I planned my perfect wedding. I wish I could relive that day, but I have awesome photos that serve as a reminder of the best day of my life.

Did you recently plan your own wedding? Share your wedding planning tips and tricks in the comments below.

Andrea Kenski is a senior account executive at Franco Public Relations Group.  While she’s not planning to quit her day job, she is contemplating moonlighting as a wedding planner. You can reach her at (313) 567-5092 or kenski@franco.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @detroitcitygrrl and connect on LinkedIn.

What “The Karate Kid” can teach you about public relations

As a child of the 80s, I often relate movies, music and other pop culture references to my daily life. Case in point: During my bi-weekly discussion with our intern, Sarah, we were going through her weekly public relations tasks. My brain scanned the vast 80s trivia knowledge and it dawned on me. I was Mr. Miyagi and she was Daniel-san. This was my chance to impart my useless 80s knowledge as a valuable teaching moment. There is a lot that can be learned about the art of public relations by applying the same principles as “The Karate Kid.”

Public Relations - Karate Kid

Newspapers, books, and “The Karate Kid”? These are all tools PR pros can use to master the craft of public relations.

Wax on, Wax off
Basic media relations knowledge can be learned through media monitoring and clipping placements. By repeating these tasks on a daily basis, you begin to learn about different media outlets, reporter’s names and their beats. So, when it comes time to pitch a reporter about a certain topic, you know who is most likely to cover it. Public relations professionals also can learn about the value of earned media through clipping and placement reports.

“Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything”
Something can be said about the value of patience, concentration and perseverance. Public relations professionals work hard developing and implementing strategic communication plans. A public relations campaign cannot be executed haphazardly. A successful plan is accomplished through careful and thoughtful planning, then carried out with hard work and discipline.

Crane technique
Mr. Miyagi tells his protégé, “Better learn balance. Balance is key.” A good public relations professional knows and understands balance. It’s so important that we’ve chosen it as one of three critical values that drive our work every day. Deadlines, client communications and workload can be balanced through excellent time management skills.

Don’t “sweep the leg”
During the final scene of the movie, Johnny’s sensai instructs him to “sweep the leg” of Daniel-san, and take him out of the competition. This is the exact opposite of what public relations professionals do. A main component of public relations is relationship building, whether it’s with the media or your client’s audience. It’s all about building trust.

My parting thought to public relations students and professionals? Just as Mr. Miyagi says to Daniel-san, “Don’t forget to breathe…important.”

What else can “The Karate Kid” teach you about public relations? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section.

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 and connect on LinkedIn.