Tag Archives: Stephanie Angelyn Casola

Giant Turkeys and Lukken’s – Here’s How Franco Does the Holidays

Each family celebrates the holidays in their own, unique (sometimes out-there) way. Here’s how some of our Franco team rings in the yuletide season with their loved ones.

Stephanie Angelyn Casola, Account Manager

Pasta! Is that a tradition? It was if you grew up in the Casola household. The holiday didn’t matter, one thing was certain: there would be pasta. Sure, we had a giant turkey, my mom’s mashed potatoes, cranberries shaped like a can. But even better? My Sicilian born-and-raised father made sure there was also a pot-full of fresh tomato sauce bubbling on the stove to top his cannelloni or spaghetti. If he had time, we started the meal with homemade meatball soup (my sisters and I would battle over who-got-how-many-meatballs). Every holiday morning I dream of waking up to those smells of him cooking in the kitchen.

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Note the caption!

Pat Adanti-Joy, Vice President

There was a local department store in Dearborn by the name of Muirhead’s that had a wonderful, elaborate Christmas exhibit every year. It was a tradition for our family to see Santa there every year.

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If you’re wondering, Pat’s riding shotgun.

Lauren Connor, Assistant Account Executive

When we are sitting around the table after we have finished our meal my dad will put some random item in a box and put it on the table. No one can see inside it and we then go around in a circle asking yes or no questions trying to guess what it is. The items are very random like a pen or a baseball but once someone has figured it out, they get a prize – usually money or a gift card. Last year, it was a gift card to get your car detailed. (I didn’t win and I was super bummed because my car needed it.)

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Mary Parkinson, Assistant Account Executive

A recent tradition my family has started is traveling around the holidays. We have been to New Zealand, Salt Lake City and this year we are heading to Dubai!

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Salt Lake City, 2014

Marie Stawasz, Senior Account Executive

I’m Polish. Polish people love tradition. Pierogi, kielbasa and zupa grzybowa are all part of my family’s Christmas, but another tradition that holds a close place in my heart are my Mimi’s Santa Cookies. These decorated treats are made using Aunt Chick’s cookie cutters, a vintage cutter that my grandma purchased at Hudson’s many years ago. Perfectly decorated with red granulated sugar and fluffy icing, these retro-inspired cookies are always a hit during the holidays – and it’s not hard to see why!

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Notice the fu manchu and unibrow? Mine and my sister’s take on making the cookies more unique. We get our sense of humor from Mimi.

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Joe Ferlito, Account Manager

My uncle raises a turkey each year specifically for Thanksgiving Day. It’s funny because a few years ago, we had a 40 pound bird and it barely fit in the oven… and took forever to cook.

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Sasha Reeves, Assistant Account Executive

The past few Christmases, I’ve prepared some sort of sweet treat, packaged them up in a cute holiday themed tin and delivered them to our police and fire stations for those on duty on Christmas. It’s also nice being able to hand deliver it and thank them for their service that pulls them away from their own families in order to protect our community.

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Alex Fulbright, Digital Marketing Specialist

Each year my parents make me and my siblings wait at the top of our steps as they “see what Santa brought” (We now know that means make coffee, and turn on the 24-7 fireplace channel.) To get a glimpse of the Christmas cheer that exploded in our living room the night before, we would have to ask permission to descend a step. Yes, one step at a time. Sometimes – if we were lucky – we’d get the okay to move down two! Making it to the landing was always an accomplishment, and by then our eagerness usually takes on a new form – frustration. “Can we go down two more stairs, Dad?” we’d yell down. “I don’t know ask your Mom” or the ever-popular “I saw you peeking, move up two stairs” certainly takes its toll on a kid. But it’s all worth it when we get that first glimpse of the tree. Deep gasps all around.

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Note: Yes, even though my sister and I are in our early twenties and my brother is old enough to drive we still have to start at the top step and work our way down. We’ve grown to love it (not to mention almost out-grown the steps between the three of us!) and plan on keeping the tradition alive!

Lori Cook, Office Manager

In my family, every Christmas, we make a Belgian cookie called Lukken.  These cookies look like and taste quite a bit like sugar ice cream cones but are flat discs made one at a time on a metal iron that sits on the stove. It’s a daylong event that begins around 9 a.m. with Grandma Pat, my daughter Michelle, nieces Chris, Sarah, Tracy and Rachel all working together to turn three big bowls of dough into quarter-sized balls that will then be cooked individually.  During the six or so hours it will take we all take turns manning the two irons that have been passed down from my grandparents to my parents. My dad started making these cookies as a boy with his dad.  We take this very seriously and if anyone burns a cookie it comes out of their allotment at the end!

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Sarah Kornacki, Assistant Account Executive

Since my parents always like to buy clothing as Christmas gifts for me and my sisters, every year on Dec. 26, my sisters and I try on and model our new outfits.

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John C. Mozena, Account Director

For us, the holidays involve the kind of organizational planning and negotiations usually associated with a major amphibious invasion. Juggling family, church, school pageants, and work-related events keep my family on their toes. But that makes the time that we do get to spend together (even if it is in the car driving to our next stop) that much more meaningful.

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How does your family celebrate the holidays? Share your traditions in the comments!

Franco by the Hour: PR Pros take on events from Detroit to San Antonio

As public relations professionals we are often misunderstood. It’s a topic we discuss often at Franco Public Relations Group and among our peers. Our family members and friends inquire about what we do all day. They don’t understand our unusual hours. They wonder why we seem to know the names of all of the TV news reporters by heart, and have them on speed dial.

Our parents turn on morning news or read stories at our urging, wondering when they’ll see our names and faces – but almost never do. When it does happen, public relations professionals like ourselves are mentioned for their expertise, because of a job change, or they are quoted about another company experiencing some sort of crisis or celebrating a major milestone. It can be confusing to the outside eye. We don’t design ads, though sometimes we work with designers. We’re not reporters – though some of us are or have been. We may be well-versed in social media, and spend a lot of time online, but not on our own accounts. We understand the confusion and we try our best to explain the work we all do for our clients, the connections we make with the media and the public – and the events where you might catch us behind the scenes.

To share a glimpse of what public relations might look like on a particularly exciting day, we documented what Franco staff members were doing – by-the-moment on Oct. 8, 2015. Our teams were spread across the city and country – managing PR and events from the Belle Isle Conservancy’s annual Polish the Jewel Belle Isle Legacy Luncheon and silent auction to the city’s inspiring TEDxDetroit all across the states to San Antonio, Texas where the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) served as title sponsor of the 2015 Texas Truck Rodeo.

We hope this clears up some of the curiosity associated with our trade:

Dan and Christian TEDxDetroit8:35 a.m. Franco Senior Account Executive Dan Horn and PR Coordinator Christian Harper don’t show a sign of it, but they’ve been working for 2 hours already and are greeting media and providing information and credentials as droves of guests arrive just 30 minutes after doors open at TEDxDetroit 2015.

Sarah and Erica Polish the Jewel11:47 a.m. Franco Assistant Account Executive Sarah Kornacki and Account Executive Erica Swoish make name badges for last-minute guest list changes as part of the event staff for the 2015 Polish the Jewel Belle Isle Legacy Luncheon on Belle Isle, already in attire for the event. Hats or fascinators are encouraged.

Pat11:49 a.m. Franco Vice President Pat Adanti-Joy and President Tina Kozak celebrate the success of a great team, and welcome guests at the 2015 Polish the Jewel Belle Isle Legacy Luncheon on Belle Isle.

Dan Ponder PhotoshootNoon: Franco CEO Dan Ponder poses for the camera. He’ll be featured in an upcoming installment of the GMRENCEN Reflecting a New Detroit selfie ad campaign.

Lauren and Andrea Polish the Jewel1:16 p.m. Franco Assistant Account Executive Lauren Connor and Senior Account Executive Andrea Kenski are deep in focus at the Polish the Jewel auction check-out table on Belle Isle in Detroit.

Alexandria TEDxDetroit1:25 p.m. Franco Digital Marketing Specialist Alexandria Fulbright sneaks a requisite X shot during a rare quiet moment on the TEDxDetroit stage.

Alexandria and Joe TEDxDetroit1:47 p.m. Franco Account Manager Joe Ferlito, Artist Timothy Orikiri, Franco Digital Marketing Specialist Alexandria Fulbright and Visit Detroit Interactive Marketing Manager Dan Fuoco make lasting connections at TEDxDetroit, where art is being created in real time,  above the Grand Staircase at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.

Marie, Elizabeth and Tina K TEDxDetroit2:20 p.m. Busy coordinating media interviews, Franco Senior Account Executive Marie Stawasz also welcomes Account Manager Elizabeth Robbins-Sabourin and President Tina Kozak to Hockeytown Café, where crowds are packing in for hands-on demonstrations from places like The Flower House and the Michigan Science Center at TEDxLabs.

Tina S in San Antonio2:23 p.m. Franco Senior Vice President Tina Sullivan checks in with staff, proves that all is well under Southern skies at the Texas Truck Rodeo where she is onsite with client SMDI.

Marie and Stephanie TEDxDetroit5 p.m. Franco Senior Account Executive Marie Stawasz and Account Manager Stephanie Angelyn Casola celebrate truly successful PR efforts supporting TEDxDetroit – and make sure to get a few photos with the iconic red X before crowds file out of the Fox Theatre and into a Comerica Park tour and Hockeytown Café for an afterparty in Detroit.

And that’s a wrap. Are you up to the task? What’s your typical day at the office like? Share it with us in the comments section.

Stephanie Angelyn Casola believes some PR pros are at their best in events-mode. She is an account manager at Franco Public Relations Group. She leads the consumer and social media teams and can be reached at 313-567-5048 or casola@franco.com. Tweet her at @stephcasola.

Sarah Kornacki and Alex Fulbright contributed photos and information to this post.

PR Pros On-The-Go Stay Organized with These Mobile Apps

If you’ve spent much time in PR or social media you know the importance of organization all-too well. Life in PR moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while – your client could miss a great press opportunity.

All apologies to Ferris Bueller, the truth is, staying organized is half the battle in PR. When meetings are scheduled on top of one another, we squeeze them to fit in our fully-synced, cloud-based calendars. As PR professionals we learn how to juggle impossible deadlines and keep everyone smiling. It feels something like the speed of certain superheroes, sans capes.

How do we do it? I’d like to say coffee. It’s more than that.

In the office here at Franco and offsite at client meetings you’ll find me clutching a smart phone, lugging a laptop, likely with an iPad buried in my bag, too. They’re all armed with apps meant to keep me organized and on task.

Account Manager Stephanie Casola knows it takes more than just a great cup of coffee to make it through the day in the busy world of PR. Here are some ways she uses technology to stay organized.

Account Manager Stephanie Casola knows it takes more than just a great cup of coffee to make it through the day in the busy world of PR. Here are some ways she uses technology to stay organized.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to keep the PR work flowing, and save some time to enjoy life, too:

  • On Task – It started with a hard cover planner in high school and the concept is still the same. I jot everything down in one of three calendars – iCal, Google or Exchange – all of which are synced to my phone. Alerts are my everything. This information is all backed up to the cloud so I can see it on my laptop or iPad, just in case. How Type A is that?
  • Taking Note – As a former reporter, I’m apt to grab a pen and flip pad at my desk or for a conversation, but I do enjoy the concept and features of Evernote on-the-go. When you want to remember something or share it – with someone else or yourself – it’s sleek and efficient.
  • Getting there – When running from one meeting to another, some days it feels like I don’t have a chance to think about how to get where I am going before stepping into the car. I am too focused on the exciting ideas our team has come up with, or the results we have to report. That’s when I appreciate driving directions assistance apps likes Waze, Google Maps, even Siri on Apple Maps for assistance. Just plot in your destination and follow along – it’s magic. Add handy parking options once I arrive, like Parkmobile and I can make it on time.
  • Letting it all go – Turning the day off can be just as important as being present, tuning in and focusing on the task at hand. When you need a quick 5 minute reset or rest at the end of a long day, apps like Happify or Headspace make it possible.

What are your ways of working it all out? Share them in the comments.

Stephanie Angelyn Casola is an account manager on the run at Franco Public Relations Group. She leads the consumer and social media teams and can be reached at 313-567-5048 or casola@franco.com. Tweet her at @stephcasola.

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.

Navigate social networks with ease, even when negative comments arise

One of the primary reasons some business owners and entrepreneurs say they are hesitant to dive into social media is that they worry about being exposed to negative feedback on public networks.

When using social networks for business, be sure to create a response system so your social media managers will be prepared to handle negative comments properly.

However, you can protect yourself, your brand and your company from experiencing social media meltdown. How do you address a negative tweet, a Facebook comment that bashes your business or an unflattering blog or vlog mention?

It’s all in the preparation:

  • Develop a response system: Before you begin using networks like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to share news and information about your business, set up a process for responding to various scenarios. For example, if a customer complains online about poor service you should quickly look into the situation, indentify if there were underlying factors and respond back. Apologize, if it’s warranted, and consider offering an incentive to return.
  • Spot the problem: If you diligently monitor your networks, you’ll quickly notice when a customer, follower or fan shares a problem online.
  • Address the comment or post immediately: Even if the problem is more complicated and you can’t give a complete answer right away, let the person know you have seen the post and are looking into the matter. Your customers and followers assume you use social networks to connect with them. If they raise a problem online, respond just as you would in person, swiftly.
  • Decide to keep it public or take it offline: Know the difference between a simple issue you can respond to publicly and one where you’ll need to obtain the person’s phone number or email address to directly address the issue. Then be sure to follow your response system as noted above.
  • Follow up:  Frequently, the person whose negative comment was addressed by you will follow up with a positive comment about the problem being resolved. Not only have you engaged your following and your customers, but you have met their needs and addressed their questions.
  • Look for loyal supporters: The more responsive, honest and transparent you are addressing negative comments, the better the chances you’ll create loyal followers who will back you up. Those words of support go a long way.
  • Know you can’t please everyone: In most situations, it’s possible to address the questions or concerns raised online. However, there are those who post off-topic, unrelated comments online. It’s best to avoid trying to engage with these online “trolls,” who simply complain to complain or share offensive language. You won’t always be able to solve the problem. Networks have blocking features for these situations. Use this solution only in extreme situations.

Do you have an example of an extreme situation you helped solve online? Share it with us in the comments.

Stephanie Angelyn Casola is an account manager and social media strategist at Franco PR Group. Reach out to her at casola@franco.com, @StephCasola on Twitter or Facebook.com/StephanieAngelynCasola. Call 313.567.5048.

Show, don’t tell: How to make media days work for clients

Since I first started working in public relations, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a plethora of culinary experts and promoting some of the most talked-about restaurants, wine bars and breweries in the area. In doing so, I’ve learned a thing or two regarding the best way to go about sharing news and information related to new chefs, brave new menus and drinks that keep customers talking and walking right back into the establishment.

Restaurant PR tends to hinge heavily on showing, rather than telling.

When our consumer clients at Franco Public Relations Group have a major announcement to share, we consider the option of a media day or press event that allows us to highlight all aspects surrounding the venue – whether that means an interior makeover, delicious new food and drinks, a chance to hear about the inspiration behind the restaurant’s concept from managers and chefs, or all of the above.

But there are a few important tips to consider when planning any media day:

(Photo by Jerry Zolynsky | On Location Photography) The team celebrates after a successful media day at Buddy’s Pizza in Detroit. Marie Stawasz, Franco Public Relations Group assistant account executive (from left), Buddy’s Pizza President Robert Jacobs, Franco Account Executive Angela Hernandez, Senior Account Executive Stephanie Casola, Buddy’s Pizza COO Wes Pikula, Marketing Director Michelle Lawton and Franco Account Manager Jim Miller worked together to recognize the first official Buddy’s Pizza Day in Detroit.

Be sure you have plenty to show and tell – A timely, news-oriented reason to host the event is crucial. Be sure to inform the press ahead of time and be prepared to offer enough reasons to convince reporters to make it part of their busy schedules.

Choose your time and day wisely – Keep it short, 1-2 hours tops, and accommodate the type of media you want to attend. Are you aiming for afternoon or evening TV newscasts? What other events are scheduled on the day you’ve chosen. Take all of this into consideration when planning – as it will impact attendance.

Consider the location – Can reporters make it to the location easily? Is there an alternate place to showcase your clients’ goods or services that makes sense or works better? It may or may not be necessary to host the event on site.

Cover all angles – In addition to sending out invitations or advisories to press, plan to photograph and cover the event on your client’s social media networks. Tweet and post on Facebook, Foursquare or Instagram to show and share information. Send photos and a post-event release to media to extend the reach of the media day long after it has ended. You’ll see – the placements and attention will keep on coming.

How do you promote your restaurant and consumer clients to best showcase their efforts, services and abilities?

Stephanie Angelyn Casola knows how to assist consumer clients who crave the spotlight. She is a senior account executive at Franco PR Group. Reach out to her at casola@franco.com, @StephCasola on Twitter or Facebook.com/StephanieAngelynCasola. Call 313.567.5048.