Tag Archives: PR professionals

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.

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.

Holiday season means more media attention for PR professionals, clients

We can all associate the changing seasons to some of our favorite products (pumpkin spice latte, anyone?)  and fondest memories (cider mills and hayrides!).  And while the holidays mean busy social calendars, they also offer the opportunity for businesses to engage consumers, and to land some great media coverage – if they plan ahead.

That’s where the right PR agency can help.

With guidance, businesses can leverage this time of year as an opportunity to engage consumers on a rational and emotional level. For many business owners, pre-holiday sales translate into a big percentage of their bottom line. These become opportunities for a PR professional working with consumer-reaching clients who also knows how to capitalize on the season, in a strategic way.

There are a few key items every business needs to have in place to make the most of this time of year:

Find your spokesperson – From non-profits to small business owners and beyond, do you have a spokesperson who can share his or her expertise on a timely topic related to the holiday season? Place a spotlight on your client and offer him up for interviews. Will fundraising be impacted by the economy this year? Are businesses selling more compared to last year as shoppers’ confidence has improved? If you have just the right person to comment, let the media know.

Get ahead of the story – There are some stories that return each year (Black Friday, anyone?) The best reporters are always looking for a new way to tell them, to make them relevant to an audience. A solid PR professional will see those opportunities coming weeks, months in advance, and provide the content, interviews, photos and videos to make those stories possible – and possibly easier to execute.

The streets of downtown Milford will be filled with holiday cheer soon enough when Christmas Open House comes to the Village. It’s the perfect PR opportunity when planned ahead.

Don’t forget social opportunities – In addition to PR, advise your clients to show the same mindfulness and expertise on the brands’ social networks. Link to the best keywords, stories and images for the season.

Share those community ties – Your clients’ may contribute to charitable causes at any time of year, which can be a reason to connect with organizations and the media. During the holidays these community ties may also be a newsworthy opportunity and should be considered.

Track your success – Once you’ve strategized your way into the holiday season and positioned your clients appropriately, appropriate media coverage will come. Be sure to monitor, collect and track it. Compare it to your success in previous years if you’re working with a long-term client and share your results. It’s sure to show that you have the clients’ best interest in mind.
What other ways do you incorporate the holidays into PR and social media opportunities for your PR clients? Share them with us in the comments section.

Stephanie Angelyn Casola really only enjoys seeing decorated Christmas trees during the month of December, but that doesn’t stop her from pitching holiday stories months in advance whenever a deadline calls. She is a consumer and social media manager at Franco PR Group. Reach out to her at casola@franco.com, @StephCasola on Twitter or Facebook.com/StephanieAngelynCasola. Call 313.567.5048.