Archive | PRSSA Happenings RSS for this section

Gopher Athletes Help to Make First Annual “Move It Day” a Hit

Great job, Bateman team! Below is a press release about the Move It MPLS campaign that our Bateman committee has been working on.

Move It MPLS hosted its first annual “Move It Day” at the North Minneapolis YMCA on February 29. The purpose of the day was to challenge kids from a low-income community to learn about nutrition, physical activity, and healthy living. More than 100 children aged four to 17 participated.

The children were divided into groups by age and then guided through five different stations. All groups began in the gym and listened to a motivational talk given by two Gopher football players, Anthony Jacobs and Brandon Kirksey. The speakers led the kids through an activity that simulated the effects of smoking, and stressed to them the importance in healthy living and responsible decision making.

Students were then led through four additional stations where they were able to make their own trail mix, play nutrition related games, and participate in team building challenges. Approximately ten athletes from the University of Minnesota track and field team, tennis team, and ultimate Frisbee club team also participated with students as they rotated through each station.

Rodger Ross, program manager at the YMCA, was beyond impressed with the day’s activities. “I have never seen these kids so excited and engaged in nutrition before. I can only hope that we can continue working with Move It MPLS to host more events like this.”

Move It MPLS is a team of students from the University of Minnesota who are working to raise awareness about childhood obesity in Minneapolis. The team formed in November, 2011 and is continuing to educate and empower Minneapolis citizens to make healthy lifestyle decisions.


This press release was written by Erika VanRiper (@Vanri010) and posted by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).


Our Philanthropy Team Meets with The Twins

The Philanthropy team had the wonderful opportunity to meet with the Director of Community Relations for the Minnesota Twins last month. Bryan Donaldson took some time out of his busy schedule and gave them a tour of the ballpark and shared what he does on a daily basis. Like some of us at PRSSA, Bryan studied Strategic Communications here at the University of Minnesota. He attained an internship his with the Twins his junior year and eventually landed a permanent job with the team a few years later.

Many of Bryan’s responsibilities include player branding, fan development, and enhancing the overall company brand. The Twins are heavily involved in the community and are always hosting benefits to raise money for great causes. Being a community ambassador, Bryan is constantly seeking ways to create hype for the Twins and his creative ability and commitment to his career has proven to be a success for the Minnesota Twins!

This is Twins Territory!  GO TWINS!

This post was written by Laura Jollie (@LauraSOJollie) and edited by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).

Minnesota Timberwolves: More Than Just Sports

On Wednesday, February 8th, the Philanthropy Committee had Sarah Haugen of the Minnesota Timberwolves come in as a guest speaker. A Pennsylvania native with a passion for sports, Sarah is the Community Relations Manager for the Timberwolves. As Community Relations Manager, Sarah raises funds through multiple means for the FastBreak Foundation, a Minnesota Timberwolves foundation that supports over 2000 non-profits annually. From the start of our meeting it was obvious that there is a lot more to the professional sports world than just the games themselves.

Sarah helps coordinate the Timberwolves players and staff members to volunteer over 3000 hours annually through the many projects that the FastBreak Foundation puts on and supports. The FastBreak Foundation has a different theme each month that helps a different area of the community. Sarah says her favorite theme is the “Season of Giving” in December. During this time each Timberwolves player takes a foster kid on a $500 Christmas shopping spree. The player’s excitement to help the kids shop sometimes even leads them to spend any amount the kids want, the most spent as been as high as $2500.  Sarah fundraises relentlessly throughout the year to put on these charity events.

One of the biggest fundraisers put on is called “Taste of the Timberwolves”, which will be held March 6th this year. This exclusive event invites anyone who can afford a seat or table an opportunity for a night of fun, food, and prizes with the players and coaches, and its all for a great cause. This year in particular Sarah says the event has nearly an additional hundred people going. She believes “the team doing better seems to correlate with the more seats bought.” Sarah even gave our Philanthropy Committee an opportunity to help with the event, inviting anyone who was interested to procure auction items. She added, much to our committee’s excitement, that lower seat tickets and an autographed picture from the team would be potential rewards for whoever could procure the highest valued items.

The meeting with Sarah was a great experience in which our committee was able to take a closer look at the nonprofit communications and event planning angle of public relations. We greatly appreciated her taking the time to come meet with us and giving us an exciting opportunity to help with the Taste of the Timberwolves charity event.

Thank you, Sarah, for coming to talk to our chapter! You can follow Sarah on Twitter at @TWolves_CR.

For more information about the Minnesota Timberwolves FastBreak Foundation visit:

This post was written by Camille Blechinger (@_CamilleMae) and edited by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).

The Keys to Communicating with Professional Journalists

One of those relationships we will inevitably have to build as public relations professionals is with news reporters and journalists. They may hold the power to get our stories, events, and clients in the press, but we have influence over the ever important brand. Business columnist Eric Wieffering talked to our PRSSA group about the best practices for a relationship between publicists and journalists. Eric has spent the last 25 years in journalism, with 14 of those being at the Star Tribune. Essentially, there are two situations where you will have to interact with reporters: when a writer calls you for information about a crisis or feature story and when you go to the reporter to promote a story. Eric gave guidelines to professionally navigate both situations.

Crisis Management

  • Be available – When there is a crisis or breaking news at your company, the best thing the spokesperson can do is answer the phone. Journalists are under tight deadlines; if you don’t talk to the reporter, you may not have a chance to get your side of the story to the public. Responding to the reporter’s needs is appreciated and critical. Eric also mentioned that it is generally best to give some sort of statement on the given situation opposed to saying “no comment”.
  • Be prepared – Part of the journalist’s job is to get accurate facts in a compelling manner. They may not always want to talk to the company’s spokesperson and may push to speak with a principal of the company.  Try your best to get the information they want to avoid negative images of the company.
  • “Become a counsel to your client. Figure out the risks and opportunities.” – In addition to being prepared, if a reporter comes to you looking for quotes or photographs, know what they are writing about. Don’t assume the story is going to be positive for the company; be proactive and aware. It is the publicist’s job to know what the story is and the possible repercussions.

Pitching Stories 

  • Know your reporter – For important stories, try to tailor your pitches to the specific reporter. Investigate what they like and what they typically write about. Of course, you can’t know exactly what everybody wants, but try to do your research.
  • Pitch new, fresh stories – A reporter is not going to write about ‘old news’. Pick the outlet you want most and try to offer some “exclusivity” with your big stories.
  • Keep it short – Between investigating, writing, blogging, and tweeting, the demand for a journalist’s time is a struggle. Many times, press releases go to the bottom of their to-do list. Be sure to include contact info so if there is interest, the writer can reach out to you for more information. “A good pitch is not a story. The pitch is going to sell the reporter, not the media kit.”
  • Write well – Creativity and originality are key to your press releases.  Even though your pitch may be short, spice it up with compelling writing.
  • “Be persistent, not overbearing.” – Be patient when waiting for a response. Reach out to the journalist a couple days after you e-mail them your press release. Don’t e-mail them at 6 p.m. on a Wednesday and call them Thursday morning expecting a response.

Thank you, Eric!!

This post was written by Brooke Ahlers (@blahlers) and edited by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).

The Next Big Thing: Red Frog Events


For you lucky members heading to Chicago in December prepare yourself to tour Red Frog Events, a local event planning company that’s starting to boom in the Chicago area! For those of you hoping to network and possibly gain a job out of this trip expect to put all your skills out on the table. They receive around 2,000 resumes EACH MONTH! Once someone is accepted into the company they are fortunate enough to call themselves one of the “Frog Army” members and become part of the office family.

Red Frog puts on events like the Warrior Dash, The Great Urban Race scavenger hunt, Beach Palooza and Red Frog Bar Crawl! Check out Red Frog’s website (linked above) and make sure to follow them on Twitter at @RedFrogEvents before you arrive in Chicago. Have questions ready for Red Frog and make sure you bring your ‘A GAME!’

This post was written and edited by Kelsey Darnall ( KelseyJDarnall).

The Importance of “You, Inc.”

We all work, or will work with brands.  That is what we do in public relations.  In order to understand the goals of our client, we must first understand who they are, what they represent and use these characteristics to craft a goal reflective of that brand’s identity.  But as we all begin to enter the professional workplace, some of us—myself included—seem to have forgotten what may be the most important brand we will ever work with: YOU.  What separates you, as a brand, from the person competing with you for your ideal, picturesque job?

Last week we had the pleasure of having Ryan May, Principal of RDM Consulting and Editor of the Minnesota Public Relations blog, join our weekly PRSSA meeting to give us invaluable insight to the world of public relations.  Ryan is a seasoned veteran of the public relations industry, having served as Vice President for Risdall McKinney Public relations—now Risdall Public Relations—along with other very notable entities in public relations.  On a side note, if you are on the hunt for a job in public relations you should definitely follow Ryan’s blog, MNPR for frequent updates on job openings and internship opportunities!

If you were not at the meeting last Wednesday I urge you to listen to Ryan speak.  He has an air of confidence, not because he is conceited or feels that he is above students, but because he knows who he is, what is important to him and why we should listen to what he has to say.  In my opinion, I feel that this poise is uncommon in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication because we are all trying so hard to prove what we have done to employers and have forgotten to include who we are, what makes us special.  Ryan stressed the need to be yourself, to stand up for your beliefs and before all else, think about the traits that make your brand unique and above the rest.

One of the most interesting points Ryan discussed in his presentation is the question, “What makes you who you are?”  If you were sitting on an airplane and a complete stranger asked you, how would you answer?  He said to choose five traits, five things that distinguish you and practice how to present these points in a speech.  What worked best for Ryan was to create an acronym highlighting what makes “Ryan Inc.” a brand different from the rest.  LUCKI.

L representing leadership.

U representing unity.

C representing communication.

K representing knowledge.

I representing integrity.

So what would make up your acronym?  How would you describe yourself?  What I cannot emphasize enough is the need to be real.  Be real to yourself, be real to others.

People recognize that.

Ryan May can be contacted through his Twitter account @MNPR.

This post was written by Jens R. Heig (@JensRHeig) and edited by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).

PRSSA Has Lunch with John Puckett

On Friday, October 7 a few members from the Philanthropy Committee had the opportunity to meet and have lunch with business extraordinaire John Puckett. Not quite sure who he is? Ever heard of Caribou Coffee? Of course you have! He and his wife, Kim, founded the company back in 1992 with their first shop right here in Edina. They then sold their interest in the late 90’s.

Now he is co-owner of Punch Pizza, where our group was treated to delicious Neapolitan-style pizzas and listened to John discuss his thoughts on life and business. He talked to us about the idea that you “should love what you’re doing because life’s too short.” He decided to follow his dreams with his wife in creating Caribou. By the time they sold their interest in the company they were already loyal patrons to Punch and friendly with its creator, John Sorrano. The two Johns became partners in 2001 and opened Punch’s second restaurant in 2002 and he hasn’t looked back since.

John discussed his ideal that every business needs a focus on detail and commitment before it’s created in order to succeed. For Punch, that meant focusing on the product – which is quite different from our mainstream processed pizzas – and the business side, where John shined in placing the eatery just right.

Punch now has seven metro area locations. While expansion is in mind, they would much rather have a smaller and extremely loyal fan base than global ambition. This is what makes a great business versus a good one.

Meeting John Puckett was an amazing experience. He is down-to-earth, welcoming and was eager to share with us his experiences which have lead him down an amazingly successful road. PRSSA is so excited to be working with John and Punch Pizza this year!

For more information on Punch Pizza check out their website:

This post was written by StacyFahey (@StacyKFahey) and edited by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).