April 2015  

Upcoming Events

Register Now for the April 9 PR Tour

Ever wondered what it is like to work for an agency, corporation or do PR for higher education? Or, maybe you do already, but are curious about what your industry friends are up to across town! Take a peek inside. Join us Thursday, April 9!

Attend the 2015 PRSA Central Iowa Business Tour where you’ll visit and network with other attendees and team members at Lessing-Flynn, Wellmark and Drake University Marketing and Communications. During these visits, you’ll tour each organization and be able to ask a few employees a variety of questions about what they do, how they work, what clients they serve, etc. We'll wrap up the evening with a social and more networking at Americana.

Date: Thursday, April 9

Cost: $20.00 Non-member; $10.00 Student; $15.00 PRSA Central Iowa Chapter Member

Time: 4:30-8:00 p.m.

4:30-5:15 – Lessing-Flynn. 3106 Ingersoll Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312
5:30-6:15 – Wellmark. 1331 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50309
6:30-7:15 – Drake University Office of Marketing and Communications. 1229 25th Street, Des Moines, IA 50311
7:30-8:00 – Networking at Americana. 1312 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309


NOTE: Participants are responsible for their own transportation. Carpooling is highly recommended. Parking information and directions will be shared with participants leading up to the event.

For more information, please contact Abby Delaney at or 515-453-2083.

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PRSSA Regional Conference

Just announced: New one-day registration for PRSSA Regional Conference

Be sure to register for the Drake PRSSA Regional Conference sponsored for the first time ever by Drake PRSSA. Students at Drake have been working hard to bring together some of the top PR and communications specialists in the country and have just announced a one day professional pass to the conference. For just $50, Des Moines area communication professionals will be able to experience the whole schedule of events on Friday, April 10.

Register using promo code PROF50 for this great rate. But take advantage of this great opportunity soon, as there are a limited number of these passes available and registration closes Wednesday night, April 8. Visit for more information and visit to register now using promo code PROF50. Drake PRSSA looks forward to hosting you at the conference. 

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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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Featured Member

Member Spotlight: Jarad Bernstein

Recently named to the Business Record's "Forty Under 40" list, Central Iowa PRSA member Jarad Bernstein has had quite a journey to his current destination as Drake University's Director of Public Relations and Media Management.

Bernstein, a native of California, traded the coastlines for the country when he came to Iowa in 2006. In 2007, he joined the Central Iowa PRSA chapter after taking his first job in public relations. He would go on to serve as the treasurer elect the next year and chapter treasurer from 2009-11.

Jarad's experiences - in a short time - have spanned from consulting for the Blue Ribbon Bacon Fest to operating the Israeli government’s media relations efforts for the Pacific Northwest. When asked to describe moments that have stood out to him, he is quick to highlight experiences that bring attention to the dynamic culture in Des Moines.   

"I’ve loved being a part of organizations with such clearly defined and very different goals and missions. An experience I hope to replicate over the coming months was working with media in preparation for the 2012 Iowa caucuses. I was able to secure amazing coverage for Drake’s faculty and students, and arranged for some extra special students to be featured in publications all over the world."

For a person with a degree in global studies, Jarad has embraced the world of public relations. He said having a mentor, especially for those new the field, is invaluable to navigating a successful career.

"Experienced mentors can help you understand the peculiarities of various reporters, or tell you who the most reliable equipment rental company in town is for your next event. More importantly, they can give you an outsider’s perspective on your career trajectory when you start to question what it is, exactly, you are doing. I’ve been lucky enough to have several mentors in my career and look forward to providing similar advice to others as I continue to figure out my own role."

Congratulations on your honor, Jarad!


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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 individual who will celebrate an anniversary this month:

10 years

Katie Lynn Guess, APR


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New Members


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

Heidi Farmer, Corporate PR Manager, Pella Corp.

Joe Scherrman, Owner, DreamCatcher Productions

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Save the Date: May 21 PRSA Luncheon in Ames

PRSA Central Iowa May 21 Luncheon in Ames: The PR Behind Record Growth at Iowa State

A panel of three Iowa State representatives will discuss the enrollment growth of the University over the past eight years and the public relations work associated with the many issues tied to this record growth.

This exciting program will be held on Iowa State's campus in Ames, Iowa.

Parking will be available in the Memorial Union ramp, which is located on the east side of the building. You can enter the ramp off Lincolnway, one of the main east-west roads in Ames, or from Union Drive, on the north side of Memorial Union.

May 21, 2015
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM Iowa State Memorial Union, Campanile Room
2229 Lincoln Way
Ames, IA 50011



Presenter Bios

John F. McCarroll, APR

Executive Director, Office of University Relations

McCarroll joined Iowa State in April 1997 after more than seven years at MidAmerican Energy Co. Prior to that, he worked for the Iowa Association of Business & Industry, Gov. Robert D. Ray, Cedar Rapids Gazette and KRNT and KFRU (Columbia, Mo.) radio stations.

He reports to the president of Iowa State and serves on the President’s Cabinet. University Relations is Iowa State’s central communications office with a staff of 15 persons involved in media relations, internal communications, issues management, strategic communications planning, photography and videography.

McCarroll joined PRSA in 1983 and received his accreditation in 1993. He served as Central Iowa Chapter president in 1992-93. He is a 1972 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Rob Schweers

Schweers, director of communications in the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost, joined Iowa State University in 2011. He served as director of Engineering College Relations before taking his current position in 2012.

Schweers holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa, and a master’s in public relations and organizational communication from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. His career includes leadership positions at Wellmark, Principal Financial Group, Iowa Heart Center, and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute.

Schweers joined the Public Relations Society of America in 1993, and earned accreditation from the Society (APR) in 1997. He served as president of the president of the Central Iowa chapter in 2003, and currently serves as a professional liaison to Iowa State’s PRSSA chapter.

Annette Hacker

Annette Hacker is director of Iowa State University News Service, the university's primary media relations unit and central source for ISU news and information. Previously, she served as senior vice president of West Des Moines-based Hanser & Associates. She also has worked for Strategic America, the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives and as a print and broadcast reporter.
Hacker received a B.A. in journalism and mass communication (broadcast emphasis) from Iowa State in 1990. She earned a master's in public administration (MPA) from ISU in 2008.
A 20-year PRSA member, Hacker serves on the university’s Critical Incident Response Team, among other roles. She has received more than two dozen awards for writing and communication excellence.

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Regional News

Registration now open for Midwest District Conference

Just as American pioneers came to the “Gateway to the West” to acquire necessities, PR trailblazers will come to expand their knowledge base and discover emerging communications trends at Gateway to the Best, the 2015 PRSA Midwest District Conference. Registration is now open.

Earlybird Registration Rates 
*before April 16th
PRSA Member: $225     |     Non-Member: $295

Regular Registration Rates
PRSA Member: $275     |     Non-Member: $325

Student Registration Rate
Current Student: $75  *must be full-time student at time of registration and provide proof upon request

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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 "Downloads." When you get on the Downloads page, scroll all the way to the bottom to view the minutes in a Word Document.

January 2015 Minutes

February 2015 Minutes


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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  March 2015

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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Upcoming Learning Opportunities

Upcoming Events

4/8-9:     PR Bootcamp

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

4/15-17: Counselors to Higher Education Senior Summit

4/16-19: APR Bootcamp

4/21-22: Catch Your Readers Master Class with Ann Wylie

4/23-24: PRSA 2015 Strategic Collaboration Conference

4/23-24: Ragen's Visual Communications and Infographic Summit

4/29-30: Social Media Manager's Workshop

4/30: How to Pitch Yourself to an Employer Without Striking Out

Upcoming Webinars

4/14: Google Analytics for PR Pros

4/16: Integrating Social Media Into Your Campaign (interactive discussion)

4/21: Updating the APR Examination

4/28: Building Quality Community Relationships

4/30: The Power of Brand Journalism





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