November 2015  


Drum Roll Please ... The 2015 PRIME Award Winners

During this year’s OctoPRfest was the PRIME Awards Luncheon that recognized and celebrated Central Iowa’s most outstanding PR campaigns and individual projects conducted over the past year.

Congratulations to everyone who entered in this year’s competition and thank you to all those who helped make the ceremony a success!

Individual Awards of Excellence Winners

Outstanding PR Student - Laura Plumb, project manager at Lessing-Flynn
•    Outstanding New Member - Abby Delaney, PR account coordinator at Strategic America
•    Outstanding Chapter Member Winner - Courtney Shaw, senior PR account manager at Strategic America
•    Outstanding PR Professional - Ann Thelen, president of Thelen Public Relations
•    Outstanding Iowa Advocate - Former U.S. Senator Tom Harkin

PRIME Awards of Excellence and PRIME Awards of Merit

Internal Communications Program
•    Excellence Award: Two Rivers Marketing for “Social September”
•    Merit Award: Lessing-Flynn for “Heritage Lace E-Commerce"

•    Merit Award: Lessing-Flynn for “Lessing-Flynn/Kinze Sparks of Innovation E-Newsletter”

•    Merit Award: Lessing-Flynn for “Makin’ Hay”

Feature Writing
•    Excellence Award: Strategic America for “National Small Business Op-Ed Pieces”
•    Merit Award: Blue Compass Interactive for “Orchard Place: A Look at 2014”

Technical Writing
•    Merit Award: Two Rivers Marketing for “Fuel Management 101”

Media Relations Program
•    Excellence Award: Lessing-Flynn for “Lessing-Flynn/Vermeer/Lely Media Event”
•    Merit Award: Hanser & Associates for “Watermark Retirement Communities: A Region-specific Media Relations Program”

Special Event
•    Excellence Award: The Principal Financial Group for “711 High Street Tribute”
•    Merit Award: Lessing- Flynn for “Lessing-Flynn/Kinze 50th Anniversary Events”

Community Champion
•    Excellence Award: Strategic America for “YESS Duck Derby”

Integrated Communications Campaign
•    Excellence Award: Strategic America for “2015 STEM Education Award”
•    Merit Award: Hanser & Associates for “College Students onto the Bus”

•    Excellence Award: Two Rivers Marketing/Sundog Interactive for “Bobcat Million Leaders Contest Winner Video”
•    Merit Award: Lessing-Flynn for “Lessing-Flynn/National Pork Board, WeCare Animated Videos”

•    Excellence Award: The Principal Financial Group for “It’s a whole new”
•    Merit Award: Iowa Credit Union for “ Website Design”

•    Excellence Award: Drake University for “Drake University for Next Course – Team Graves”
•    Merit Award: Drake University for “Drake University for the I Have A Dream Foundation – Team Waggoner”
•    Merit Award: Drake University for “Drake University for Next Course – Team Fishman”

Best of Show
•    Two Rivers Marketing for “Social September”

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Board Slate

Announcing the nomination slate for the 2016 Board of Directors

The following members have been nominated for the 2016 Central Iowa PRSA Board of Directors:
•    President: Kristin Sunde, APR, Principal Financial Group
•    President-Elect: Ann Thelen, Thelen Public Relations LLC
•    Past President: Lori Vodraska, Principal Financial Group
•    Treasurer: Danielle West, Principal Financial Group
•    Treasurer-Elect: Abby Delaney, Strategic America
•    Secretary: Courtney Shaw, Strategic America
•    Membership: Pat Howard, APR, Iowa State University
•    Programming: Dick Tremain, APR
•    Program-Elect: Laura Sprague, Johnston Community School District
•    Accreditation: Darin Leach, APR, USDA
•    Accreditation-Elect: Jane Keairns, APR, Principal Financial Group
•    Delegate: Jeanine Mixdorf, APR, Affiliates Management Company
•    Delegate/Ethics: Shawne Ungs, APR, Karwoski and Courage
•    Delegate/Public Relations: Teresa Roof, APR, Wellmark
The following members have been appointed as PRSSA liaisons:
•    Drake University: Adam Lackey, Two Rivers Marketing; Matt McConnell, ChildServe
•    Iowa State University: Robert Schweers, APR, Iowa State University; Annette Hacker, Iowa State University
•    Simpson College: Allison Hay, APR, Mercy Medical Center; Jillian Sievel, Simpson College
•    University of Northern Iowa: Jamie Thomassen, AKC Marketing
•    University of Iowa: Morgan Von Ahsen, Cambridge Investment Research, Inc.; Steve Cherry, Cambridge Investment Research, Inc.
•    Wartburg College: Ben Handfelt, Strategic America
The following members have been nominated for non-voting committee chair positions:
•    Awards Chair: Dr. Kelly Bruhn, APR, Drake University
•    Networking/Social Co-Chairs: Lindsay Allen, Hanser & Associates; Katelin Schwarck, Hanser & Associates
•    Technology/Job Bank Chair: Abby Bottenfield, Trilix
•    Newsletter: Ryan Johson, APR, Two Rivers Marketing
•    Sponsorship: Amanda Laverman, Ruan Transportation Management Services
The voting ballot will be sent to all members on Dec. 4. Voting will stay open until Dec. 9. Questions can be directed to Central Iowa chapter president Lori Vodraska.

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PR Professionals Gather for PRSA Central Iowa's OctoPRfest Institute

German folk music and a lineup of exceptional speakers greeted central Iowa public relations professionals at the annual PRSA Central Iowa Chapter’s OctoPRfest Institute October 20. The Oktoberfest-themed event was held at Mercy Medical Center in downtown Des Moines, and more than 100 professionals across the region gathered to network and learn more about the latest happenings in public relations.

Media trainers and executive coaches Alison Gregory Pope and Scott Pope of Pope Communications lead the first presentation of the day. The session, “When Your Crisis Goes Viral,” walked guests through what to expect and how to prepare for when a crisis goes viral. Gail Calhoun of Calhoun Consulting, Inc. was up next and left the audience wanting more with her enthusiastic presentation on “Communicating with Impact and Maximizing Influence.” The third presentation of the morning was from Sheila Streicher of Principal Financial Group and Sara Wille of Wille Communications who talked about Principal Financial Group’s Silver Anvil-winning case study, "Movin’ It With Campus Blueprint."

Switching things up this year, the PRIME awards ceremony was held over lunch, and following the ceremony, a group of local media experts hosted the panel, “Making the Most Out of Media Relationships.” The panel answered audience questions and walked them through the best ways to pitch to the media. The panel included Rod Peterson, news director for WHO; Rob Dillard, correspondent for Iowa Public Radio; Dave Busiek, news director for KCCI; and Amalie Nash, executive editor and VP for news and engagement at The Des Moines Register. Director of Education at the Iowa Hall of Pride, Mark Wills, concluded the festivities with his motivational speech, “Moving Forward.”

PRSA’s Central Iowa Chapter Institute and Awards committees would like to thank all attendees and guest speakers who helped make this year’s Institute a success. We look forward to seeing you all again next year!

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PRSA Luncheon

PRSA Central Iowa November 19 Luncheon: From Reporting to Pitching

This month's luncheon will feature Emily Price discussing how she works with the media as a Communications Director for the City of Johnston, and how her background in journalism has aided her in working with reporters today. Please note: This month's luncheon will be held at the Des Moines Central Library.

November 19, 2015
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
NEW LOCATION! Central Library, Wells Fargo Room, Meeting Room #1
1000 Grand Ave
Des Moines, IA 50309
Presented by Emily Price, Communications Director for the City of Johnston

$20.00 Member Ticket
$25.00 after 11:45 pm November 13

$30.00 Guest Ticket
$35.00 after 11:45 pm November 13

$15.00 Student Ticket
$20.00 after 11:45 pm November 13


About Emily Price

Emily Price is an Emmy award-winning journalist who spent 11 years covering everything from presidential candidates to violent tornadoes for KCCI Television in Des Moines.  She left journalism in 2013 to become the Communications Director for the City of Johnston.  In her new role she covers everything from crisis communication and social media to rebranding and media relations.  Price has found great satisfaction in city life, informing people about how their tax dollars are being spent and helping communicate the many wonderful things happening in the great city of Johnston.

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Networking Event

Join your fellow PR professionals for networking, happy hour and food on November 11

November 11, 2015
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM
Confluence Brewing
1235 Thomas Beck Road, Suite A
Des Moines, IA 50315

$5.00 Central Iowa PRSA Members

$5.00 Non-Members and Students

Connect with new faces and old friends at Central Iowa PRSA's networking happy hour. We'll have Gusto Pizza to go along with Confluence's array of beers. Don't miss our final social event of 2015! 

Register Here

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APR News

Interested in Earning Your APR Credential in 2016?

The Central Iowa PRSA Chapter is currently exploring ways to help members achieve their Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential during the coming year.

The APR program is designed for public relations professionals with more than five years of experience and is a tremendous professional development opportunity offered by the national PRSA organization and the Central Iowa PRSA Chapter.

Our chapter continues to have one of the highest percentages of members who have earned their APR designation in the nation.

Also, if you are planning to take your written APR exam in the coming year there will be some changes starting in January. The new test will include the following subjects and percentages:  

•    33 percent of the questions will focus around research, planning, implementing and evaluating public relations programs;
•    18 percent will test on the public relations function as it relates to business literacy, resource management, organizational structure and resources and problem solving;
•    15 percent will cover managing relationships with key audiences such as media and internal stakeholders, as well as reputation management;
•    13 percent of the questions will be on applying ethics and law to public relations situations;
•    13 percent of the questions will cover managing issues and crisis communications;
•    8 percent will test your knowledge and understanding of communication models, theories and the history of public relations.

If you think this is something you would like to work toward in the coming year please contact Darin Leach, APR, 2016 Accreditation Chair, at or (515) 284-4747.

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Milestone Anniversaries


In each issue of this newsletter, we recognize Central Iowa PRSA Chapter members who are celebrating milestone PRSA anniversaries that month. A special congratulations goes to the following individuals who will celebrate anniversaries this month:

25 years
Susan Flanagan Houser, APR

Elizabeth Stowater, VP Marketing, Iowa State Bank

1 Year
Emily Perry

Colleen Olsen, Iowa State University

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New Members


Kelly Van de Walle, Hanser and Associates

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Meeting Minutes

To access minutes, you must be logged in to the Central Iowa PRSA site. From there, go to the "Member Area" in the upper right corner, then use the left-hand navigation to access "Board Meeting Minutes." It will prompt you to download the minutes.

This is a great way to stay informed of chapter happenings.

View available minutes

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Job Opportunity

A New Career Awaits!

The Central Iowa PRSA Job Bank has new job postings on a regular basis. Find your next opportunity here! Or, share a job with a friend looking for their next adventure.

If your organization is interested in posting a position, rates are $25 for member postings and $50 for non-member postings. Members can also post unlimited jobs for an annual cost of $100. For posting your job or getting Job Bank questions answered, contact Erica Turner.

Communication Specialist/Content Writer - Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Education Program Consultant (PPAR) - Iowa Department of Education - State of Iowa

Communications Director - Iowa Finance Authority


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Upcoming Learning Opportunities

Upcoming Events

10/7: Educators Academy Super Saturday and Pedalogical Poster Session

11/8-10: PRSA International Conference

11/19: Social Media and Public Relations Planning: Strategic Planning to Build Brand Awareness and Advocacy

Upcoming Webinars

11/5: Learning Audience Behavior to Drive Stronger Results: Fine-tune Your Strategies and Tactics

11/17: Get Clicked, Read, Shared, and Liked: Make Your Blog Posts and Social Media Status Updates More Creative


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