Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hanon-McKendry Expects Growth in Coming Year

On the heels of LEA's growth announcement (see earlier post), local firm Hanon-McKendry announces a positive year with anticipation for growth ahead as well. What's notable is a record revenue year--$10 million--and the fact that 50% of the firm's clients are non local.

RapidGrowth has the full story.

The West Michigan ad/PR community seems to be an island of calm prosperity in a sea of economic storms.

Kellogg-Phelps Incident Brand Metrics Faulty

Vanno, a new company that measures brand reputation, claims in a recent Ad Age article  that Kellogg goofed from a brand standpoint for letting Michael Phelps go as a celebrity endorser after his bong hit photo was made public.

The company claims Kellogg fell in stature more for that than the peanut butter recall.

But I wonder about the metrics Vanno uses, which aren't fully transparent in the article. The "users" whose opinions they monitor--are they mothers of young children who purchase Kellogg products and place them on the table in front of their children? Or are they merely average consumers who think pot smoking is no big deal?

The most important brand measurement should have to do with the attitudes and relationships between an organization and its key publics. General public opinion may say Kellogg is too harsh on a young Olympic hero. But Kellogg is wise to take a stand as they say "consistent with company image," especially  when the consider the image it has in the minds of its most important publics--consumers, not to mention stockholders, employees etc. 

Ultimately, of course, the most accurate feedback on Kellogg's decision re: Phelps will be long-term brand perception, sales, and market share.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

GR PR Firm LEA Thrives in Tough Times

Grand Rapids based public and investor relations firm Lambert Edwards and Associates has shown positive growth for a ninth straight year, even though this past year saw economic turmoil in all sectors.

According to a release from the firm, they saw an 18% increase in revenues in 2008, to $4.3 million. In spite of reports of contraction in advertising and PR, LEA added 20 clients and 5 new staffers. The downtown Grand Rapids office space  expanded by 30% to include a studio and equipment for media training as well as podcast production and other new media applications.

The firm, whose services include counseling clients through the M&A process, plans to be involved in its own merger or acquisition with another PR firm this year. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Students in the GVSU PRSSA chapter got creative with t-shirts this year:

Friday, February 13, 2009

Laker Connection on IA Site

In an earlier post I complimented the Image Group for its work on a new International Aid Web site. This was genuine praise, not favoritism towards former students--honest!

But I do have to point out that among the email responses were two from former students involved. Lyndsey Post works for the Image Group, and Jacki Van Hall works in communications at International Aid. 

Good to see Grand Valley State University PR graduates working well, and working together. Go Lakers!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

TV 13's Local Response to WSJ Article on Local TV

I read a WSJ article this morning about the decline of local TV. I shared it with Tim Geraghty, news director at WZZM TV 13 and asked for his thoughts. He shares them on his blog. 
It's an interesting and more positive take on the situation.

Meanwhile, there have been some other interesting articles about the decline of newspapers. I've bookmarked several of them on Delicious (link in social media sidebar at right).

West Michigan PRSA Launches New Site

I was impressed this morning when I got my WMPRSA e-newsletter and clicked on the link to the new site to check it out. Here are things I like (with some thoughts for the hard-working volunteers once they catch their breath):

  • crisp user-oriented design
  • photos
  • social media links (I hope Twitter and maybe a group blog on the site  is coming soon)
  • definition of public relations--the same way I teach my students and taught the APR prep course. This will help the chapter's local efforts to advocate for the profession (it would be good in this context to add a link the to the PRSA Code of Ethics)
  • links to local media and PR firms
  • a student section
I'll definitely be alerting my students to the site (as I have in the past) as another way for them to familiarize themselves with the profession and the PRSA organization.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Image Group Does Nice Job With New Int Aid Site

Earlier this week I saw a tweet from the Image Group, one of the many Ad/PR related people and organizations I follow on Twitter, announcing the launch of a new web site for International Aid.

I @replied to Image Group that I thought their work on the site was great. But I wanted to mention the site here on my blog as well. 

In addition to a gorgeous and inviting design, the site integrates various social media tools that are increasingly a must in Web sites from a PR perspective. There is also a heavy emphasis on storytelling, which many online PR experts tout as the key way to cut through Internet clutter and engage people. I especially like the smart breaking down of IA's "partners" (i.e. publics) as corporations, churches, etc. This way, people migrating to the site can see a specific and relevant way to engage as a donor, volunteer, or project partner.

Much discussion about PR focuses on corporations. But this site shows that nonprofit organizations, even large NGOs like International Aid, can and should look smart and sophisticated.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Michael Phelps Loses West Michigan Endorsement

Some in Michigan were delighted that Olympic swimming phenomenon Michael Phelps had a connection to the state through his training at University of Michigan. Now that connection has turned from pride to embarrassment.

West Michigan company Kellogg has announced it is dropping Phelps as a spokesman. The news is all over the place, including this article in the New York Post, although there is no official mention in the Kellogg online media room. Apparently the Battle Creek company is so upset they want no visible tie at all to Phelps, who is now considered a cereal offender.

I should point out that the dogmatic column in PR Week earlier this week cautioning PR pros not to overreact to the Phelps 'crisis' was a little premature. The column said he had not lost any sponsors or been banned from the sport, and that public attitudes about marijuana have changed. Well, not true any more. He lost a sponsor. And public opinion should not be viewed as a majority rule--some key publics to Kellogg, especially parents of young children, would beg to differ that a bong hit by an athlete is no biggie. He may recover and be redeemed in the public eye after a few more laps in the press pool, but in the short term his image suffers.

We'll have to see if his admission, contrition, and humility--not to mention U.S. and world championships in Indianapolis and Rome in the coming months--return him to positive stature in the public eye. Then it would be interesting to see if Kellogg forgives and invites him back. Or if another sponsor, with a different product line, reaches out.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


In a down economy, in one of the most depressed states, any news of local company expansion is exciting. That's especially true when companies in the PR industry are expanding.

So I was excited to read in the latest Rapid Growth that local PR and IR firm Lambert Edwards & Associates is starting its first satellite office--in Los Angeles. A release from LEA notes that a new director, Christian Sadlier, was named to head the new office on the West Coast.

The move will result in other new hires for the firm's work in Grand Rapids and out West. Word is they are also looking to acquire another company as well in the coming year.