Member benefit: WMPRSA partners with NewsSpark

Editor’s note: this post was developed with NewsSpark.

We’re happy to share that we’ve secured a free member benefit by partnering with a locally made digital PR tool.

NewsSpark is “the social content hub where creators publish original content through their favorite mediums.”

And it’s made in East Grand Rapids and metro Los Angeles.

The hub is in its early private beta phase and gradually inviting in PR pros, beginning with West Michigan.

The hub will be opened to the public in the foreseeable future.

Member benefit

Any WMPRSA members, and prospective members, who sign up for NewsSpark now during the early private beta (and become active beta testers, publish Sparks — and post a brief review of or reaction to the early private beta to their favorite social channels or blogs with the hashtag #wmprsabenefit) will be given indefinitely free NewsSpark memberships for themselves and any brands they create.

You can then give indefinitely free NewsSpark memberships to your colleagues and their brands by referring them into the early private beta (my account button > invite a friend).

To sign up, use WMPRSA President-Elect Jenny Griffin’s unique referral link, leaving her username in the referrer field (jennygriffin23):

“The social content hub”

NewsSpark features original news, blogs, updates, photos, videos and audio (in development) on every topic — or Sparks — and a catalog of Content Creators, Brands and Groups, according to

Creators “plant their digital content in the open and organized hub to grow their audiences and ignite dialogues.”

Creators also use the hub as “a platform to package, consolidate and digitally share their complete range of content outside of the hub.”

Digital PR benefits

NewsSpark says that “when compared to a pre-NewsSpark baseline,” an active membership in the hub is “designed to potentially deliver multiple near- and long-term digital PR benefits to creators,” as well as “cost + staff savings on managing and sharing digital content.”

  • Increased brand awareness
  • Increased SEO and social search visibility
  • Increased social media audience
  • Increased social media engagement
  • Increased web traffic
  • Increased inbound leads
  • Increased sales

NewsSpark says that it’s “a digital fuel for action.”

Sign up

Skim readers, see the member benefit section of this post to sign up for the hub.

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Job Posting: Brand Manager – Communications Focused

Company is established in the UK and are launching their brand in the US.  In Grand Rapids, they are considered a start-up despite the fact that they firmly established abroad.


The Brand Manager is responsible for managing the overall brand proposition, identity in all media and marketing activity in non-digital media, for the brand in the USA.  The primary focus is to ensure that the marketing plan is delivered to maximize sales and profitability in non-digital channels, although it is critical that the individual works collaboratively alongside the Ecommerce/Online Marketing Manager.

  • Brand Proposition – ensure that the company’s brand is relevant and accurately/ consistently represented (including design/ logos/ copy/ TV) in all media and distribution channels.
  • Brand Plan Development – develop a plan that achieves the customer, sales and profit targets. This includes Advertising, PR, Promotions and activity with key Partner groups.
  • Brand Plan Implementation – manage periodic/ monthly brand activity programs. Own the activity timeline management, budget and program analysis.
  • Market Insight & Analysis – source market & customer data for the brand. Provide insight which enables the business to develop a better understanding of market trends and dynamics
  • Advertising – develop proposals to build brand awareness in non-digital media and implement approved activity.


Education: Bachelor’s degree or MBA in Marketing or equivalent work experience.

Experience Required: Minimum 3 years of related work experience.

  • Energized by an entrepreneurial environment – not afraid to do things themselves to get things done. Comfortable making decisions with limited information and resources. Self-reliant/proactive and has a pioneering spirit. Takes initiative and follows-through on commitments to achieve results.

Qualified and Interested:

Please forward your resume as an attachment coupled with a cover note stating your current and/or most recent compensation (base, bonus, etc.) to:

Jessica Goursolas, VP      

The Creative Network, Inc.

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PR Teaching Opportunity at Davenport

Davenport University is looking for someone to teach an Intro to PR class in the March-April semester. Please contact Margaret Mwenda, Ph.D for more information:

Margaret Mwenda, Ph.D.

Associate Chair & Assistant Professor

Marketing Department
Maine College of Business

Davenport University

6191 Kraft Ave, S.E.

Grand Rapids, MI 49512

616.554.4703 (O)

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The Value of APR; Timeless for any season of practice

APR 50th Anniversary Logo Outlineshogan

By Karen M. Hogan, APR

I hadn’t intentionally put off attaining my APR.  Not at all – in fact, it’s never too late to make a go of it.  It’s just that life happened along the way.

Now, as I embark on my 25th year of public relations practice and reflect on all of its real-world learnings, I can honestly say the value of an APR is not only timeless, but relevant at any age or stage of practice.

What took so long, anyway?

As a Michigan State University J-school grad with a magazine editing emphasis, my transition to PR happened by osmosis. I was thrilled to land a job with the Chevrolet-Pontiac-Canada Group (CPC) of General Motors Co., editing the company’s “magapaper.”  My office was tucked away inside CPC’s PR department.  When magazine deadlines were met, I found time to learn about my PR co-workers’ doings – from writing executive speeches to exploring new ways to inform employees of breaking news (yes, way before the birth of social media!).

A few years and several magazines later, I made a personal move to Grand Rapids, joining a fast-growing PR agency, SeyferthPR, founded by Ginny Seyferth, APR.  It was my first employ as an account executive, and forever halted my journalist identity.

Those early PR agency years were a wonderful baptism by fire, as a degree in PR was few and far between.  “What is this `APR’ you speak of?,” I often asked.  I knew those three letters had significance, but my interests were elsewhere, as I was taking graduate courses at Grand Valley State University working toward a Master’s Degree in Communications.

All this would change with my first pregnancy.  I paused on my studies and full-time agency work and instead opted for a 13-year journey as a home-based freelance writer, contracting with SeyferthPR, Amway and a host of other clients.  As life would have it, my eldest son developed Type 1/juvenile diabetes, so a home-based business became a necessity.

Life happens.

As my two sons morphed into young adults and other changes were afoot, it was time to return to the workforce, and what better landing than SeyferthPR.  In 1996, I rejoined, jumping in with gusto.  My work included helping to open the American Cancer Society’s new Hope Lodge. I did NOT know at the time that a cancer of its own was growing inside me.

Fast forward another few years, and I am currently celebrating 6 ½ years cancer-free.  My illness has been an incredible teacher of humility and adversity; I bask in my social justice/non-profit PR work.  After reaching the all-important 5-year cancer-free milestone in 2012, and even receiving a promotion to vice president along the way to recovery, it was time to set some new personal and professional goals, including attaining that coveted APR.

In 2012, I became a partner in the firm and in 2013, I went after my APR and also laced up for an extensive training program to complete a personal goal – my first half-marathon.  Much like the steps of a successful PR program, all goals – personal or professional – require upfront research, planning, and constant monitoring and adjustment for the best results.  While you may not hit home runs on everything, the first step is finding the courage to get into the game.

With a New Year of possibilities in front of each of us, consider attaining your APR as a realistic professional goal.   You will not regret it; this I promise.  Because Life Indeed Happens.

Now about that Master’s degree….oh wait, that will have to come after my fall 2015 WEDDING!

With one year of APR certification under my belt, its value has not gone unnoticed among colleagues, clients, and others.  It has given me a new sense of confidence and level of leadership in my work and support of the PRSA community.  Earlier this year, the tables were turned with ME as one of three judges assessing a local candidates’ APR exam readiness, and in January, I will begin mentoring a local group of APR candidates as they commit to the APR journey in 2015.  Consider joining us!  Send me an email at

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FOX 17’s Tim Doty to anchor in Indianapolis


13-year FOX 17 news personality Tim Doty has officially anchored his last broadcast in Grand Rapids. Tim will be the morning and noon anchor at WTTV in Indianapolis when the station launches as the CBS affiliate January 1. He took to Facebook to say goodbye to his longtime fans- “I have made some amazing friends in west Michigan over the years and had some truly memorable experiences, now it’s time for a new chapter for my family and me. Thanks to all, and remember, the Circle City is just a few hours away so we’ll definitely cross paths again!” We wish Tim Doty well as he begins this next chapter of his broadcasting career.

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Vote for PR and Advertising students in Ford Motor Company video competition

Students from Grand Valley State University and Calvin College that are WMPRSSA and ADclub members have entries in a competition to find people that “go further” – Ford’s new tagline. It’s meant to create fresh, student-generated social media content for Ford.

It’s a great learning opportunity for these talented students. The contest is based on views, so vote for GVSU here and Calvin here.

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Volunteer opportunity! Help the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Great Lakes West Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is looking for PR Volunteers.

The JDRF Michigan Great Lakes West Chapter Communications Committee is seeking PR, marketing and advertising professionals/students interested in volunteering to support the non-profit organization’s communications efforts in the fight to cure Type 1 Diabetes. Committee members will be asked to support a variety of communications tactics, including: writing and distributing press releases, PSAs and media pitches; developing digital media/social media content; creating and designing ads; etc. Requirements include participating in a monthly conference call meeting (one hour) and assisting with the aforementioned tactics. The Chapter’s geographical coverage area ranges from Kalamazoo to Traverse City, so this is an excellent opportunity for students and new professionals to strengthen skills, develop new contacts and network with key voices across West Michigan. If interested, please contact Joe DiBenedetto, Communications Committee Chair:

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