Tag Archives: Salvation Army

Connecting with Franco

“You can only know where you’re going, if you know where you’ve been.” That saying can have different meanings for people in all walks of life, but it also holds true for those embarking on the job and internship search. As any recent hire from our office will tell you, the job market is all about connecting with businesses and networking with other professionals in the field. And there’s no better way to get to know a company than to immerse yourself in their daily routines and connect with the people who already work there. After all, you can’t know which direction you want to take in your career if you haven’t explored it in the past. Luckily for those entering the job market, there are a multitude of ways to find out more about a potential workplace and find the right career path.

Tour our office with a student group

Touring an office with a large student group, whether it’s classmates or fellow PRSSA members, is a great way to get to know a company, their clients, and of course connecting with employees working in various industries.

My first visit to Franco was on a tour of agencies in Detroit with Michigan State’s PRSSA group. The tour gave me great benchmarks for what agencies in the city were looking for in potential candidates. While I didn’t have the experience Franco was looking for at the time, I was able to build my experience and keep the agency in mind when I started my job search after graduation.

These group tours are often the easiest for companies to accommodate and give you maximum exposure in the shortest amount of time. What’s key about these group opportunities is making sure you stand out. Bring your resume, introduce yourself to the presenters and guides after the tour and don’t forget to thank the busy professionals taking time out of their day to show you around.

Senior Account Executive Andrea Kenski talks about a recent Salvation Army campaign with students from Eastern Michigan University PRSSA

Franco Senior Account Executive Andrea Kenski talks about a recent Salvation Army campaign with students from Eastern Michigan University PRSSA

Shadow one of our employees

While job shadows can often be the most difficult for companies to accommodate, they can be a great source for building a strong relationship with an employee at a company you’re interested in. It is also the best way to get an understanding of a company’s culture and the services the agency offers to its clients.

In college, it was my job shadow experiences that helped me gain an understanding of the difference between corporate communications, and working at a public relations agency vs. an advertising agency. I not only had the opportunity to start connecting with people, that to this day I’ve maintained relationships with, but it helped me decide what type of communications internships I wanted to pursue further while in school.

One-on-one meetings

Like most people in the communications industry, I LOVE coffee. And I love nothing more than to share my experiences from school and professional life over a good latte. Whether our allegiance is to the green and white or the maize and blue (or any other school around Michigan), my colleagues all come from different backgrounds and have unique life experiences to share with students new to college or even recent graduates. We love to share our lessons learned, where we’ve been, and how we’ve gotten to where we are today.

Connecting with us at a job fair or networking event

As a company trying to attract top talent from schools around Michigan and beyond, we want students to know who we are, just as much as they want us to know them. A great way to get to know more about a company and the people representing it, is to stop by our booth space at a career fair. Whether you’re a freshman or a graduating senior, it makes our job much easier when we’re able to put a face to a name. Make sure you’ve brushed up on your elevator pitch and don’t be afraid to ask questions and check out these three tips for acing job fairs. And, trust me, we do remember you when you make an effort to get to know us!

Franco Account Executive Erica Swoish connecting with PRSSA students across Michigan at a recent career fair

Franco Account Executive Erica Swoish shows off some client swag at a recent career fair for PRSSA students across Michigan

If you’re interested in visiting us, meeting one of our Franco team members, or just taking a peek around the office, let us know! You can call our main line or reach out to me directly for details.

Erica Swoish is an account executive and the student relations coordinator at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach her at (313) 567-5014 or swoish@franco.com. Follow her on Twitter @eswoish.


2014 – A memorable year

2014 was a big year for us. Not only was it Franco’s 50th anniversary year, but last January, I transitioned into the role of president, succeeding Maria Leonhauser, who retired after more than a decade with the agency. I knew that at times the role of president would be challenging, but anyone who knows me knows that I love a good challenge.

Throughout the year, we worked to reenergize Franco culture, redefine excellent client service, and realign our pro-bono efforts to better support the region we love. And we did this all while achieving more than 20 percent revenue and employment growth.

I couldn’t be any more proud to lead this amazing agency, and more specifically, this amazing team.

The team gathered for a picture at the Belle Isle Conservatory during Franco Fun Day in October.

The team gathered for a picture at the Belle Isle Conservatory during Franco Fun Day in October.

We added an assistant account executive, a manager and a director, as well as two interns, growing our team to just over 20 employees, while further expanding our capabilities to extend past traditional public relations and marketing. With services like content generation, social media and design, we’ve also been able to expand clientele, adding high-profile accounts like Punch Bowl Social, Jolly Pumpkin, Deloitte LLP, the Belle Isle Conservancy and the Steel Market Development Institute.

Sure, the City of Detroit has seen its share of ups and downs throughout history, from economic recessions and a thinning population to the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy; but, through it all Franco has not only remained in the city, the agency has always played a key role in shaping the region’s business and community landscape through our client work and volunteer leadership.

Perhaps best put by our founder, Anthony M. Franco, whose decades-old definition of public relations stands the test of time, “Public relations is the art and science of analyzing trends, predicting consequences, counseling leaders, and implementing professionally planned programs of action which will serve both the organization’s and the public’s interest.”

I’m proud to say that today, we’re still living up to the standards Tony laid down, while building a legacy of our own. 2014 has been a wild ride, and it would not have been possible without our incredible team.

So, in October we decided it was time to celebrate our 50th anniversary and our team during a Franco Fun Day. We took to the city in a sweet ride from the Detroit Bus Company and visited some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. From bell ringing for The Salvation Army in Campus Martius and visiting Belle Isle Aquarium to enjoying lunch at the home of Detroit’s original square pizza and a celebratory “cheers” at Two James Spirits, we made our way around the D for one fun-filled day with the Franconians.

And like any good year, our nonprofit and automotive teams kicked it in high gear in November and December, pulling long days and long nights to support the red kettle campaign and North American International Auto Show, among others. And now that the NAIAS media days have come to a close, it’s safe to say we’ve had another successful year with our great team.

So, as we reflect on 2014, we raise a Jolly Pumpkin sour beer to toast the past 50 years – let’s take the next 50 by a storm!

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 looks back at the 2003 Blackout in Detroit

Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the 2003 Blackout that caused 50 million people across eight states and part of Canada to lose power. Here at Franco Public Relations Group, the significance of this date got us thinking about where we were at that time ­- and how far our power grid has come since then. Not only did the blackout affect all of us personally, Franco played a key role in communicating the cause of the blackout through our work with our client, ITCTransmission.

A picture of the U.S. taken by satellite shows what the Blackout of 2003 looked like from space. The circled area is the region effected by the Blackout of 2003.

At the time of the blackout, ITC was emerging as the nation’s first independent electric transmission provider. Moments after the lights went out, Franco sprung into action. As ITC researched the cause of the blackout, Franco worked around the clock developing a communications plan and reaching out to local and national media, as well as state and federal regulators.

As the first company to provide an accurate account of how the blackout began, ITC’s research has played a vital role in developing regulations for utilities that have helped increase the reliability of the grid and prevent future blackouts from occurring. In the past 10 years, ITC has made significant investments within its footprint to improve the technology and infrastructure of the grid. Its transmission lines are among the most reliable in the United States, consistently performing in the top decile.

Even without power, metro Detroiters came together as a community in ways they never had before. Our Franco staff members took a look back at those days in August 2003 to reflect on how the event shaped where they were and how far we’ve come:

  • I was working with the Walter P. Chrysler Museum 10 years ago and getting ready for an auto enthusiast event.  It was way too coincidental that just as I was plugging equipment into the exterior outlet on the Museum’s back patio, everything went dead inside the Museum. A co-worker ran down, demanding to know what I had done.  I was speechless until we realized the full extent of the blackout. But, nothing keeps a PR person – or auto enthusiast – down.  We shifted our now acoustic program to the front lawn in time to welcome a steady stream of cruisers that pulled into our parking lot. –Pat Adanti-Joy, vice president


  • The business owners in downtown Ferndale really taught me something memorable about the importance of community. The convenience store kept its doors opened and, without use of a cash register, accepted personal checks to sell goods like bottled water to those in need – like me. The local coffee shop offered free coffee and friendly conversation as many visitors had no access to cash without the use of ATMs.As a journalist at the time, I found feel-good stories human interest in abundance. Looking back those business owners understood all it takes to keep moving forward, and keeping customers in good standing, no matter what the circumstances may be. I have always remembered and appreciated their goodwill and it informs the way I advise my consumer clients even today.  – Stephanie Angelyn Casola, account manager


  • Ever since I can remember, my dad has preached the practice of always having gas in your car. Years before I could even drive, I remember him going on about it. The Blackout of 2003 was proof that you never know what’s going to happen. Working in public relations, this couldn’t be more true. You never know when the phone will ring and you’ll need to leave immediately because of a client crisis. These are the moments that mean the most, so always be prepared and don’t forget, always have gas in your car! – Cayce Karpinski, assistant account executive


  • On August 14, 2003, I was working as an assistant manager at Panera Bread when the blackout happened. Since the power knocked everything out, including registers, we decided to give our customers a free pastry from the bake shop. This was my first experience in community relations. Little did I know that 10 years later, I would be doing this as my full-time career. I enjoy working with clients such as The Salvation Army, helping feed and shelter people on a daily basis. Can you say, “fate?” – Andrea Kenski, account executive


  • My parents were fortunate enough to own a generator so we were one of very few families who had some source of electricity at our house. I recall running extension cords to two of our neighbors’ houses to keep their refrigerators running. People we had never met before stopped by to ask if we would allow them to charge their cell phones. In total, it was a nice experience to get to know our community better and building neighborly bonds. – Richard Kuhn, public relations coordinator


  • As the sales representative began to swipe my mother’s credit card, all the lights went out in the Marshall Fields at the Westland Shopping Center.  My 17-year-old sister began to panic as thoughts of losing her dream Homecoming dress filled her mind. Luckily, the kind sales representative was able to put her gown on hold, and we later picked it up when the power was up-and-running.  I didn’t realize it then, but 14-year-old me had just witnessed excellence in customer service and community relations – a quality that would become the core of my professional career. – Marie Stawasz, assistant account executive


  • At the time, I was a communications major at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. During the summer, I worked for the admissions office as an orientation leader for incoming students. I realized that traffic was backing up on Evergreen Road because traffic signals were out. Then, I heard the news on the radio. Fortunately, the outage happened at the end of orientation and all of the incoming students had completed their online registration for classes. The impact to me was minimal. It took me over an hour to get home, which was only 15 miles away. I was lucky to receive power back at home in less than 24 hours. – Tim Trunzo, senior account executive

Stephanie Casola and Dan Horn contributed to this entry. Casola is an account manager. Horn is an assistant account executive at Franco Public Relations Group. You can contact them at casola@franco.com or horn@franco.com.


Making it permanent – My experiences transitioning from intern to employee

Coming to Franco last September as an intern, I was happy to hit the ground running. Just after the Labor Day weekend, I was introduced to my colleagues as they hurried around the office, catching up from the weekend and running through their to-do lists. After getting set up and acquainted with the office and the maze of the GM Renaissance Center, I was pulled in to learn about a few projects that I would be supporting throughout my internship.

The first week was just how I imagined life in a PR agency: busy, fast-paced and exciting. I was so happy to be a part of Franco, working on projects that have such a huge impact on the metro Detroit community. The 2012 Comerica Hatch Detroit competition was coming to a close with a fury of media attention, and The Salvation Army’s 2012 Red Kettle Campaign was in the planning stages, preparing for its November kick off.

Working on these projects, I learned valuable lessons that I use every day at Franco. Although today I work with a different client list,
many in different industries, my experience as an intern influences the way I approach every task. From improving time management to building on my writing and networking skills, I finished my internship ready for increased responsibilities and excited to officially join the amazing Franco family.

The Salvation Army Red KettleCampaign was among the first assignments I assisted with as an intern atFranco. Former Red Wing Kirk Maltby and announcer Ken Kal helped out during abell ringing competition with other Red Wings alumni and staff.

Today, long after both Hatch and the Red Kettle campaign have passed (and are approaching once again), I am working as an assistant account executive and still learning new ways to better serve our clients. So much has changed in my nine months at Franco: my title, clients, tasks and a few desks. But, I can say that one thing has remained the same, my excitement to arrive every day to something new at a company that strives for excellence on all fronts, from our client work to our company culture.

Dan Horn is an assistant account executive at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach him at (313) 567-5008 or horn@franco.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @DanHorn90.