March 2015  

Letter from the President

A Letter from our President, Lori Vodraska

Thanks to those of you who recently shared your thoughts and feedback through our member survey. Through it, you told us that learning from your peers and networking are what you value most about your membership. In response, we’re working to develop programming over the next few months that includes more chances to do these two things.

We’re also pleased to promote the sharing of member expertise through this newsletter as we introduce a new monthly column featuring a member. Thank you to Lore McManus Solo for sharing her insights in our debut column below.

Plus, April brings us all a unique opportunity to connect with fellow PR professionals. Our Drake University PRSSA chapter is proud to be hosting one of 10 PRSSA regional conferences right here in Des Moines on April 10-12. There’s more information below on the power-packed speaker line up that’s fit for both the young professional, as well as the experienced expert. Congratulations to the Drake PRSSA chapter for all their work on what’s sure to be an outstanding event!

Again, thanks to all of you who took the time to complete our member survey. More than 60 percent of you felt your membership offered good or excellent value. While we’re glad to hear that, we’re determined to better that benchmark throughout the year.

Thanks for your membership and support of PRSA.

LVodraskaLori Vodraska

2015 Central Iowa chapter president

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PRSA Luncheon

PRSA Central Iowa April 16 Luncheon: Greatness STEMs from Iowans: A PRSA Best of Show Award Case Study

In 2012, Governor Branstad created the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council to raise awareness of and interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education to help keep Iowa kids competitive with others around the world. The Council hired Strategic America in August 2013 to lead its public awareness campaign, raising visibility for the state-wide STEM initiative and programming. In just one year, SA’s integrated communications campaign helped the Council exceed its goals through various PR and media relations strategies.

 As recipients of the Central Iowa 2014 PRSA Best of Show Award, Dawn Buzynski, Emily Abbas and Courtney Shaw will be presenting the Greatness STEMs from Iowans public awareness campaign including overall media objectives, PR strategies and tactics, and campaign evaluation.


April 16, 2015
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM Drake University Old Main - Levitt Hall
2875 University Ave
Des Moines, IA 50311


Bios for PRSA STEM Public Awareness Campaign Presentation

Emily Abbas, APR

Emily Abbas is Chief of Staff at Bankers Trust, a brand new role that was created with her in mind last year.  In this new position, Emily works directly for the Bank’s CEO Suku Radia and supports his community board work, as well as the organization’s charitable giving efforts, strategic plan, executive communications and other projects. Prior to working at Bankers Trust, Emily led the PR Team at Strategic America for one year. She also has a 15-year background in insurance communications, marketing and PR at both Aviva and GuideOne.

Emily serves as President of the Drake University National Alumni Association, and on the board of directors for the Des Moines Community Playhouse and Character Counts in Iowa. She also was appointed to the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council in August of last year. Her work has won more than 30 PRIME Awards from the Central Iowa PRSA Chapter, including Best of Show three times and Outstanding Chapter Member twice. She also has been awarded both Silver and Bronze Anvils at the PRSA National level, and has served in many leadership roles for our chapter, including President.

Courtney Shaw

Offering more than nine years of media writing and project management experience, Courtney Shaw is a public relations account manager at Strategic America responsible for developing and implementing integrated public relations campaigns for clients including the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. With her bachelor’s degree in public relations and master’s degree in mass communication, she prides herself in media campaigns, community relations and special events. Courtney’s previous employment includes marketing director for Digital-Tutors, a computer graphics training company, and PR specialist for several hospitals and in-home senior care companies. When she’s not rooting for the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Courtney can be found giving piggy-back rides and building forts with her two sons.

Dawn Buzynski, APR

Dawn Buzynski leads the award-winning public relations team at Strategic America. She is an accredited public relations practitioner (APR) with nearly 15 years of experience in public relations and marketing. Her expertise encompasses public affairs, media relations and digital communications. Dawn excels in organizational efficiencies, fostering strong business relationships and managing high-level projects. She is a solid record of achieving synergy within environments.

Previous to joining Strategic America, Dawn spent seven years focused on B2B public relations for industrial clients. She literally traveling around the world to organize trade show efforts, prepare media events and orchestrate new product launches. Dawn is also former president of the Iowa chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and continues to serve to enhance the public relations profession.

Although Dawn has traveled nearly everywhere, she has lived in Iowa all her life. She is a graduate of Iowa State University and resides in West Des Moines with her husband and two daughters.



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Upcoming Events

Save the Date: April 9 is the next PR Tour

This year’s PR tour will take you to three Des Moines agencies and corporate communications offices downtown, with networking to finish off the night. Be on the lookout for locations and registration, coming soon!

Date: Thursday, April 9

Time: 4:30-8 p.m.

4:30-5:15 – Tour stop 1
5:30-6:15 – Tour stop 2
6:30-7:15 – Tour stop 3
7:15-8 – Networking

For more information, contact Abby Delaney.

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Drake PRSSA Conference is April 10-12

Drake University’s chapter of PRSSA will be hosting one of 10 PRSSA Regional Conferences on April 10-12. The weekend aims to highlight unexpected brands nationally and in Des Moines. The conference will feature a special track for business professionals with speakers ranging from the National Journal to one of the biggest technology companies in the world.

Featured speakers include:

  • Tamra Strentz, Senior Vice President, Edelman, Acct. Manager of Starbucks
  • Ron Fournier, Senior Political Columnist and Editorial Director, National Journal
  • Tanner Stransky, Senior Editor, HBO
  • Tiffany Shaheen, Acct. Manager & Global Recruitment Manager, The Walt Disney Company
  • Jennifer Mullen, Senior Communications Lead, Uber Technologies
  • Allyson Conklin, Founder and Principal, Allyson Conklin Public Relations


For more information on the conference, including registration and a full list of speakers, visit

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Featured Member

Member Spotlight: Lore McManus Solo, APR

Lore McManus Solo, APR, is no stranger to the PR scene in the state of Iowa. She's worked with WHO broadcasting, the Iowa Department of Human Service, The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, Strategic America, and started her own business, The Solo Consultancy, LLC. Twenty years ago, Lore became a member of the Central Iowa PRSA chapter and was the first state government employee to receive permission and funding to join the Chapter.

When asked to describe some of the biggest changes she's seen in the industry, Lore said, without doubt, the influence of our digital world in how and when we communicate.

Lore's consulting business takes her on new adventures with each client. She encouraged students and those new to the field to experience the same kind of learning with every internship, PRSSA function, and opportunity that comes their way. Gaining experience early on, she said, will help undergrads and new graduates be job-ready/job-worthy as a strategic, organized, creative and dependable communicator and problem-solver.

Thank you for your dedicated service and outstanding membership, Lore!


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Milestone Anniversaries

Member 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 an anniversary this month:

20 years

Annette hacker, Director, News Service, Iowa State University

10 years

Bryan Bjerke, Public Relations Director, Paulsen Marketing

5 years

Kim Pfannebecker, Associate, Two Rivers Marketing

Linda Bowman, Chief Communications Officer, Western Home Communities

1 year

Stephen Pradarelli, Strategic Communications Director, University of Iowa

Andrew Gillman, Public Relations, Performance Marketing

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New Members


We’re happy to welcome these new members to the Central Iowa PRSA chapter!

Vicki Campos-Dimmer, Corporate Communications Manager, Iowa Network Services

Meghan Satterstrom, Employee Communications Specialist, Kemin Industries

Sarah Davelaar, Marketing & Communications Specialist, Wright Service Corp.

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Upcoming Learning Opportunities

Upcoming Events

3/10:   Ragan’s Speechwriters and Executive Communicators Conference

3/12:      Building Media Relationships

3/12:      Ragan's PR Measurement Conference

3/13:      Pitching Bootcamp

4/8-9:     PR Bootcamp

4/10-12: Ragen's PR and Media Relations Summit

Upcoming Webinars

3/12:        How to Develop a Content Strategy - Drive PR, Social Media and Marketing

3/17:        Creating Powerful IMC Strategies and Linked Tactics

3/19:        Health Academy: FDA Communications

3/24:        Eyes on the Prize

4/2:          11 Deadly Presentation Sins

4/14:        Google Analytics for PR Pros




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Job Opportunity

Looking for a New Challenge?

Check out the PRSA job board on our website. The Central Iowa PRSA Job Bank includes a variety of opportunities for PRSA members and other public relations professionals.

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.

New listings as of February and March 2015

Public Relations Supervisor - Two Rivers Marketing

Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications - The Greater Des Moines Partnership

Temporary Communications Specialist - Wellmark

Copywriter - Two Rivers Marketing

Social Media Director - Two Rivers Marketing

Account Executive - Two Rivers Marketing

Videographer/Photo Journalist - Iowa State University College of Human Sciences


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