Tag Archives: Franco Public Relations Group

What’s your AP Stylebook Pet Peeve?

As PR professionals, we have been taught and follow the rules of the Associated Press Stylebook. The AP Stylebook is the PR professional’s bible. And occasionally there are individuals who break the rules. Sometimes by mistake and others simply may not know what the Associated Press has to say about it.

I’m on a mission to call out some common AP Stylebook mistakes because I see them too often.

My AP Style pet peeve is when people refer to a one-page informational document as a flyer. According to the AP, flier is the preferred term for an aviator or handbill; It irritates me because flyer is the proper name of some trains and buses.

I’ve asked my fellow Franconians to describe their biggest AP Stylebook pet peeve and here’s what they had to say:

“Major cities1 stand alone in datelines: Detroit is one of them that doesn’t need the state included.”

Joe F AP Stylebook

Joe Ferlito, account manager

“My biggest AP Stylebook pet peeve is capitalizing job titles. Unless you’re the President of the United States or the Pope, your job title should not be capitalized2.”

AMF AP Stylebook

Ann Marie Fortunate, account supervisor

“Irregardless: it’s not a word! According to AP Stylebook, “irregardless is a double negative. Regardless is correct.”

MP AP Stylebook

Mary Parkinson, assistant account executive

“When people refer to a page(s) on the web as a ‘web site’ (two words), I mentally glare at them. We’re in 2016, but some people still don’t know the difference between the place a spider weaves its web and an internet3 page. AP Style says, when referring to the internet ‘website’ is one word. Sorry Charlotte.”

RC AP Stylebook online

Rene Cizio, account manager

Last, but not least, we had a few people in the office who had plenty to say about the Oxford comma. Here are their thoughts:

“My biggest pet peeve is the Oxford comma… I used to love it and was taught to use it through high school, so I was very surprised to learn that it’s not proper AP Style. Now I always notice when someone uses it.”


Jennifer Spears, assistant account executive

“I hate the Oxford comma! It is just unnecessary punctuation.”


Erica Swoish, senior account executive

Do you have anything to add to the list of AP Stylebook pet peeves? Leave yours in the comments below.

1Note: AP Stylebook lists the following domestic cities that stand alone in datelines: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington.

2Note: AP Stylebook recommends capitalizing formal titles when they are used immediately before one or more names.

3Note: Prior to June 1, 2016, internet was capitalized. The entry has since been changed to lowercase the word.

Andrea Kenski is an account supervisor at Franco Public Relations Group and insists everyone spell flier with an “i” when referring to a handbill. You can reach her at (313) 567-5092 or kenski@franco.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @detroitcitygrrl and connect on LinkedIn.

Kayaks on the Rouge River

An inside look at the Rouge River

Ever wonder what happens to your water after it goes down the drain or runs off into the sewers? If you answered, “It makes its way to the river,” you’d be correct. But do you know which river or watershed your area drains into? I bet you do, but it’s something most of us don’t think about very often and we should because everything we do – from fertilizing to laundry to washing your car – has an impact on our watershed. I live in the Rouge River watershed and through our work to support the 30th anniversary of Friends of the Rouge and its annual Rouge Rescue event, I recently got an education about the Rouge, its history, its challenges and Friends of the Rouge’s vision for its future.

History of the Rouge River

Boblo boat

First, the Rouge River is Michigan’s most urbanized watershed – and it’s bigger than you might think. It drains 466 square miles of land in three counties – Wayne, Oakland and Washtenaw – and contains more than 400 lakes, impoundments and ponds and 570 miles of river, streams and creeks.

According to Friends of the Rouge, the Rouge River once was the most polluted river in the country. It was so poorly treated and neglected that it even caught fire twice. But Friends of the Rouge has been working hard for 30 years to improve its health, and in my opinion, they’ve done a great job.

Each spring Friends of the Rouge partners with volunteers from across the Rouge watershed to improve the Rouge River. Here Cyndi Ross, river restoration program manager for Friends of the Rouge, explains how Friends of the Rouge manages wood for the health of the stream.

Opportunities on the river

Kayaks near the Rouge River

I’ll admit, my perception of the Rouge was a very dirty, polluted river that shouldn’t be recreated in, but after seeing it first hand, I was wrong. As an outdoorsman and river fisherman, I’ve seen a lot of rivers; when I visited the Rouge River in Southfield, it looked as healthy as the Clinton River or any other river in southeast Michigan. It even holds sensitive fish species like brown trout, which is amazing to me considering that a fish survey in 1991 didn’t find any fish at all.

As it turns out, there are a lot of recreational opportunities along the Rouge, and Friends of the Rouge is working toward more public access to the river. Fishing opportunities can be found in many Rouge lakes and parks along the Johnson Creek, Main Rouge, Upper Rouge, Middle Rouge, Lower Rouge and many other tributaries. (A fishing guide, species list and fish consumption guidelines can be downloaded at www.therouge.org.)

In addition, Friends of the Rouge is working on a Rouge River Water Trail that will eventually include 25 miles of river from Canton to the Detroit River. There are also plans to create a park along the Rouge that would serve as a stopping point along the Iron Belle Trail and be the home of a future kayak launch.

There are currently four areas that can be paddled: Newburgh Lake – Westland, Commerce Court to Goudy Park-Wayne, Ford Field – Dearborn, Melvindale to River Rouge. We had a chance to paddle the lower stretches where we saw some great wildlife including ducks, geese, blue heron, nesting gulls, turtles and fishing jumping.


We also saw some of the river’s challenges, including a combined sewer overflow location at the Detroit Waste Water Treatment Plant, which is one of the watershed’s largest challenges. The plant can treat more than 1.3 trillion gallons of sewage per day, but heavy rain events force untreated water into the river, which can include anything from raw sewage to excess lawn fertilizer that ran off into the drains which can make its way downstream and contribute to algae blooms in Lake Erie.

Problems aside, the paddling tour was a fantastic experience. We learned a lot about Rouge River past including a paddle into the original Rouge River channel, one of the only downstream areas of the Rouge remaining after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers redirected the river and developed a concrete encased river bottom in the lower Rouge, and had a chance to marvel at the former Boblo Boat, the SS Ste Claire, which now resides in the Rouge River awaiting restoration, before finishing our tour at Belanger Park along the Detroit River.

We had a great time and would encourage anyone who likes paddling to try it out. Friends of the Rouge partners with Riverside Kayak Connection for an annual kayak paddle of the lower Rouge each fall.

Joe Ferlito is an account manager at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach him at (313) 567-5031 or ferlito@franco.com.

Franco News: Parkinson and Dupuy Join the Team

Mary Parkinson Hired as Assistant Account Executive

Mary Parkinson, Franco Team

Parkinson will serve a variety of Franco’s health care and nonprofit accounts providing support with media relations and events. Before joining Franco, Parkinson held an internship with Fleishman Hillard in Detroit and gained experience interning with Good Morning America, World News with Diane Sawyer and WXYZ Detroit.


Ashley Dupuy Hired as Designer

Ashley Dupuy, Franco TeamDuPuy will provide graphic design services for a variety of Franco accounts and projects. Prior to Franco, DuPuy served as a design coordinator for Porter One Design in Farmington Hills where she focused on rebranding projects for health care clients. She also held internships with Hour Media and AutoWeek where she created layouts for publication.


Election 2016: The Power of Earned Media

DISCLOSURE: This is not a partisan post, an endorsement for a particular candidate, or a political rant.

This is about the power of PR, more specifically, the power of earned media, something I speak about frequently in my business as president of Franco. We’re often asked to measure the value of media coverage, or to counsel a client on how to most effectively spend their marketing dollars, whether it’s media relations, traditional advertising, digital, events, etc. While we are an integrated agency that does all of the above, our roots are in public relations and good old earned media. And so far, this presidential election is shaping up to be an incredible case study in earned media.

No secret. Donald Trump is spending far less on political advertising than most other candidates. The most recent Ad Age Presidential Campaign Ad Scorecard  tracks him at eighth in ad spending, even behind the failed campaigns of Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. Yet, Trump’s strategy seems to be working, as he continues to lead state after state in primary elections, most recently here in Michigan last night.

Why? Earned Media. The Power of PR.

Donald Trump's campaign is capitalizing on earned media

Donald Trump’s campaign is newsworthy. Media can’t help but cover him. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Media outlets, and not just traditionally conservative ones, are dedicating an unprecedented amount of time to covering Trump and his unique campaign approach because it’s newsworthy. The definition of newsworthiness is fairly subjective, but the bottom line is that it’s making the networks money. Even CBS Exec Les Moonves has admitted that Trump is ‘damn good for business.’

Just last night, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News networks all aired Trump’s press conference live without interruption, while completely ignoring Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s speech which occurred at the same time. Trump didn’t have to spend millions on advertising last night; he just set the stage, and the media flocked to it.

At Franco, we counsel our clients on what’s newsworthy. We tell them to do things differently (a press conference on a plane?!), use big gestures and colorful language (note: we DO NOT endorse insults), display energy and passion, examine a topic from a different angle, etc. Like it or not, Donald Trump is doing many of these things, and the media can’t help but cover him. He has consistently received a disproportionate amount of airtime from the major networks. Last month alone, Trump had 35 appearances on Fox News and received more than six hours of airtime on that single network, the most airtime any candidate has received in any month since Media Matters began tracking appearances in May 2015. And according to media monitoring service IQ media, the value of earned media from Fox News alone from May-December 2015 was nearly $30 million.

And according to many accounts, this was his plan all along. An excerpt from a Feb. 1 POLITICO article “How Trump Did It” by Eli Stokols and Ben Schreckinger

Notoriously frugal, Trump insisted he wouldn’t need to spend much money on paid advertising, drawing disbelief from the professionals gathered around his table.

“You can’t run for president on earned media,” one attendee recalled telling Trump.

The billionaire looked up, and paused for a long moment. “I think you’re wrong,” Trump said.

“I’m going to get in and all the polls are going to go crazy. I’m going to suck all the oxygen out of the room. I know how to work the media in a way that they will never take the lights off of me.”

Earlier this year, POLITICO calculated the value of Donald Trump’s earned media. I can only imagine it’s skyrocketed since January.

The Power of PR. The value of earned media.

The most interesting primary election season in recent memory.

As to who wins the White House, we endorse a candidate who shares Franco’s core values of Courage, Integrity and Balance.

Tina Kozak is president of Franco Public Relations Group. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter @tinakozak. Connect with Franco PR Group on Facebook and Twitter @FrancoPRGroup.

Franco on the Town – February Edition


February – networking, silly selfies and good food.

Some of the Franco crew getting a taste of the new Granite City Food & Brewery Detroit with lunch during mock service.

Franco at Granite City Food & Brewery Detroit


Franco team member and IABC Detroit President Elect, Andrea Kenski, grabs a selfie with a neat Mayan statue during the International Association of Business Communicators Leadership Institute in Los Angeles.

Andrea Kenski IABC President


Joe Ferlito (back row center) at a private event for STEM-students at the Michigan Science Center to discuss STEM-related careers in racing and promote Comerica Bank Free Prix Day.

Joe Ferlito Michigan Science Center STEM Presentation


Sasha, Sarah, Ashley, Lori, Joe and Marie grab a quick lunch at the new Granite City Food & Brewery Detroit.

Franco Team at Granite City Detroit


Ann Marie (left corner) represents Franco at the Wayne State PRSSA LinkedIn/resume building panel discussion and workshop.

Ann Marie Fortunate Wayne State PRSSA Resume Workshop

Photo credit: Christiana Lumaj, Wayne State PRSSA

Dear Franco, We Love You


Franco Love Poem

“I love working at Franco because of the interesting design opportunities it gives me. I work with such a wide variety of clients that each day is different and unique.”

Ashley Dupuy, designer

“I love our account mix because it provides such a variety of opportunities and allows us to keep up on a wide-range of skills on a daily basis. And of course I love the people and working with a group of such talented team members.”

Joe Ferlito, account manager

View from Franco PR office in GMRENCEN

“I love seeing the Detroit River from our 10th floor GMRENCEN offices. The way it sparkles in the sunshine is magical. And it’s so impressive at sunrise and sunset.”

Pat Adanti-Joy, vice president

“My job rocks! I work with amazing clients, especially my non-profit clients. I love being able to go home after a long day of work knowing that I’m making a difference in the lives of others.”

Andrea Kenski, senior account executive

“I love Franco because of the great clients we get to work with – especially the ones with strong, local roots that allow us to support other exciting organizations in Detroit. For example, Buddy’s Pizza’s recent Motown Fridays campaign with Motown Museum, another Detroit original. Or the Belle Isle Conservancy’s work with the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.”

Sarah Kornacki, assistant account executive

“I love that it’s very easy to make tough decisions at Franco — you do the right thing. Not the easiest thing or the most profitable thing or what’s best for you or the agency, but the right thing.”

John C. Mozena, account director

Mary Parkinson and her Cheez-Its

“I love working at Franco because the office is ALWAYS stuffed with snacks. With early morning interviews or evening client events, food can be a lifesaver to keeping our energy up. Cheez-it anyone?”

Mary Parkinson, assistant account executive

“I love Franco for being right in the heart of Detroit. And Lori Cook.”

Sasha Reeves, assistant account executive

“The culture: After coming back to Franco for a second time, I can sincerely say that working here is like nothing else I’ve experienced. We empower our team to make decisions and everyone is incredibly supportive. I’ve been surrounded by wonderful mentors both times I’ve worked at Franco.”

Elizabeth Robbins-Sabourin, account manager

“Why do I love Franco? Franco has been my home for the last five years. During my time here, I’ve worked with some of the industry’s most talented professionals and picked up skills I couldn’t learn anywhere else. Through it all, good, bad and ugly, team Franco supports itself. We’re there for each other. Through and through, we work together to make it happen, whatever it may be at any given time. It’s been an honor to be a part of this team, and I’m looking forward to all the exciting things to come. AND…we love our Lori. Everyone needs an office mom, and ours is the best!”

Marie Stawasz, senior account executive

Marie, Erica and Sasha with their blankets

Marie, Erica and Sasha aka the “Office Blanket People”

“My Franco family doesn’t judge me (most of the time) for the bajillion blankets I keep at my desk and am often seen bundled in at various locations around the office.”

Erica Swoish, account executive

Franco Heart

Franco Hat Day

Hat n. a shaped covering for the head that often has a brim and a rounded or flat top

<it’s National Hat Day, so we wore hats>

Hat Day


Ashley Dupuy, Designer



Joe Ferlito, Account Manager

“No surprise here. Franco’s ‘outdoors guy’ is wearing a hunting hat. This is my favorite hunting hat that’s not orange or camo.”



Alex Fulbright, Digital Marketing Specialist

“I’ve got crazy love for this city. That Detroit buzz everyone talks about – it’s  real.”


Detroit Hustles Harder


Christian Harper, Public Relations Coordinator

“I love winter hats! This hat came from Bed, Bath & Beyond… random right? My bestfriend’s little sister bought it while she was here visiting from Florida and I loved it, so I went and got one to match!”



Andrea Kenski, Senior Account Executive

“When I wear my old English D hat, it reminds me of my favorite childhood memories involving my dad and of course, the Detroit Tigers. As a child, my father would take me and my brothers to games at Tigers Stadium. As an adult, my Father’s Day gift to him was Tigers baseball tickets for him and his daughter. Go Tigers!”



Sarah Kornacki, Assistant Account Executive

“My hat is a homemade creation by my sister Frances, modeled after the hat worn by Princess Anna in Disney’s “Frozen”. Mostly, people don’t question it, but sometimes I get compliments from little children who recognize the design.”



John Mozena, Account Director

“While I’ve got a number of Red Cross hats, this is the only one clean enough to wear to the Franco office. The others all have soot and water stains and other crud on them from doing local fire response as a Red Cross disaster team leader.”



Sasha Reeves, Assistant Account Executive

“I love my hat because it represents two of my favorite things – Detroit and CMU. Fire up, Chips!”


Marie Stawasz, Senior Account Executive

“I like beer, and I like Jolly Pumpkin.”



Who wore it best? Cast your vote in the comments.

Media Tips for Small Businesses

While marketing and public relations can be beneficial to businesses of all sizes, sometimes smaller businesses and startups aren’t quite sure where to start. We’ve all been there and you have to start somewhere, right?


Franco account manager, Joe Ferlito holds the microphone during a television interview with NextEnergy President and CEO, Jean Redfield.

Recently NextEnergy – one of the nation’s leading accelerators of advanced energy and transportation technologies, businesses and industries – reached out to me to contribute a guest blog offering tips about getting started with media relations for small businesses.

The full blog can be found here.

Joe Ferlito is an account manager at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach him at (313) 567-5031 or ferlito@franco.com.

NAIAS Survival Checklist: Must-Haves For Working The Event

There’s lots of great articles out there with tips on attending the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), but what if you’re not an attendee but working it for a client? Our Franco auto team is no stranger to the behemoth auto exhibit, so we asked them what they have on their must-bring lists for 2016.

Here you have it.

NAIAS Checklist

□ Comfortable shoes/Dr. Scholl’s – COBO Center spans 723,000 square feet, and you’ll probably cover all of it. Twice.

□ Extra pair of shoes – it can help alleviate the pain on your feet, or at least spread it out

Detroit People Mover tokens – it really is the most convenient way to get around the city, and who knows –  you might just get pampered by an exhibitor.

□ Selfie stick – to get that coveted reveal photo over the heads of the seven-foot man sitting in front of you.

□ Bible – filled with all your brand’s messaging, Q&A documents, transportation schedules, runs of show, etc.

Map of the NAIAS show floor – moving from exhibit to exhibit is key for getting a good spot at press conferences and special events.

□ Phone charging battery packs – so you can charge while you’re on the go.

□ Clothes with pockets – to house your fancy map and gadgets.

□ Contact info – for everyone. Co-workers, media, support staff, your hotel, cabs, etc.

Added by others:

□ GoPro – @k5shaw via Twitter


Missing something? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add it!





From the Soccer Goal to the PR Goal – Relating Sports to PR

As far back as I can remember I’ve always been on a sports team. I played basketball, tennis, volleyball, softball, t-ball and track & field but one sport stuck with me most – soccer. I didn’t realize it then, but soccer taught me a lot of little lessons that can be applied to what I do each day as a PR professional. I wanted to share how some of those moments, from conversations I had with my coaches to practicing outside on my own, have influenced my everyday PR life.

I learned a lot from my coaches through the years. I think here, they told me to tuck in my shirt.

I learned a lot from my coaches through the years. I think here, they told me to tuck in my shirt.

Make the team

Tryouts are the first step toward making the team and they are often nerve wrecking. Are you going to make the team? Who will tryout this year? How will new players work within our team chemistry? Tryouts are your time to shine and to prove to the coaches and the players what you are made of. I compare these tryouts to my internship here at Franco Public Relations Group. The internship was my tryout – a tryout to determine if I was a good fit for PR, this company and if both were a fit for me. Now, I work here full time and I’m happy to say I made the team.

One of my prouder soccer moments was making the varsity team as a sophomore and playing on the same team as my sister before she graduated and left for college. (I’m on the right. Ignore the braces.)

One of my prouder soccer moments was making the varsity team as a sophomore and playing on the same team as my sister before she graduated and left for college. (I’m on the right. Ignore the braces.)

Be versatile

In PR and in soccer it’s important to be versatile. I can’t tell you how many times we had hurt players. When our leading scorers or top defenders were injured, we would shift our strategy and move our players around to fill those spots. In PR, we also have to be versatile. Versatile in our skills – PR professionals “play multiple positions” and have to be good at all of them.  Versatile in our mindset and approach – TV segment times may be moved up, clients’ spokespeople may be unavailable, or our team members may need backup as they are on a deadline or planning an event. Things happen and it’s important to adjust in order to get the job done well.

Versatility at its finest. Here’s 10-year-old me playing goalie. Coming from someone who usually had the ball at her feet and not in her hands, this was a major temporary adjustment.

Versatility at its finest. Here’s 10-year-old me playing goalie. Coming from someone who usually had the ball at her feet and not in her hands, this was a major temporary adjustment.

Be a team player

The biggest and most important lesson I learned from playing sports was how to be part of a team. They say “there’s no ‘I’ in team” and it’s 100 percent true. Picture yourself trying to dribble down the soccer field without passing the ball. After you get the ball at your 18, you must pass your opponents’ forwards, midfielders and defenders. You pull out your best moves and tricks to beat them – maybe it’s the scissors or if you are feeling confident the rainbow. By now your coach is screaming, “pass the ball!” your teammates are yelling, “I’m open!” and the crowd is chanting “ball hog, ball hog!” After all that, you still need to take the shot to beat the goalie.

That’s eleven people to beat and it’s nearly impossible without the help of your teammates. In soccer and in PR, you not only have to take ownership of your responsibilities, but have to learn to pass the ball and let your teammates show off their skills.

Practice makes perfect

Okay, maybe not perfect, but continuing to practice on your own will make yourself and your team better. In soccer, I was outside running and practicing – bettering myself and my team. In PR, I’m reading the latest headlines, looking for trends, reviewing best practices and continually brainstorming different ideas to keep our clients ahead.

I retired my number-eight jersey years ago and my goal has shifted from the soccer goal to the PR goal, but one thing has remained the same, I need the help of my team and that team is right here at Franco.

How do you compare those lessons you learned playing sports to your job? Share them with me in the comments below.


Lauren Connor is an assistant account executive for Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach her at 313-567-5017 or connor@franco.com.