Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lambert Named to National '40 Under 40' List

Jeff Lambert, president and managing partner of Lambert, Edwards & Associates, was named to PR Week's list of 40 "early influencers" (subscription required for full article), or practitioners under 40 years old.

Lambert was the only one on the list from Michigan. He and LEA, which serves 100 clients in 11 states, represent West Michigan well on a list that includes some of the biggest agencies and organizations in the world.

West Michigan Man Heads National School PR Group

Ron Koehler, APR, assistant superintendent for organizational and community initiatives at the Kent Intermediate School District, has been named president of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA).

Koehler officially took the reins last month at an NSPRA meeting. You can see his acceptance speech if you wish.

Among Koehler's goals will be to make communication skills a track in education leadership programs at colleges around the country. He also wants to instill the importance of public relations to the management of education at all levels. His article in the Fall 2009 issue of the Journal of School Public Relations presents a local case study to prove his point. "Kent Intermediate School District: From Invisible Agency to Power Player" walks through the steps the ISD took to improve public opinion of public education and understanding of the work of the ISD. The article is nicely organized along the popular RACE process--research, action planning, communication implementation, and evaluation. As he concludes in the article:

Embracing the fundamental components of public relations practice inspired behavioral change in the organization and its stakeholders. Today, Kent ISD enjoys the same two-way dialogue with the broader community that it developed in its close relationship with public schools. This dialogue has created a richer relationship between Kent ISD and other units of government, the business community, and the philanthropic community. It has truly moved Kent ISD from invisible agency to power player within the state and the region.

Koehler is a subject in an instructional DVD about public relations that I will be working on this fall. The point of the DVD is to show PR practitioners in a variety of settings, from agency to in-house, and including business, international, government, non-profit, education, health, sports, travel and other specific settings. His article will be a companion reading for students who see the DVD in class.

Congratulations to Koehler on his success at the ISD and his leadership of the NSPRA this coming year. The West Michigan PR community is fortunate to be represented on the national level by another of our outstanding local practitioners.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Press Health Interest Coincides with PR Specialty Area

Paul Keep's editorial in yesterday's Grand Rapids Press about increasing health care coverage caught my eye.

The Press has covered health with dedicated beat reporters for years. But this increased emphasis in what appears to be a health section is interesting for several reasons. First, as newspapers struggle for survival, this looks to be a good response to providing increased coverage of an important subject that helps readers make informed decisions. That's the essence of the journalism role, not more pandering to fluffy entertainment. Also, the Press is responding to the local health care industry and related topics. As everyone knows, wire stories about basic health information is easy to have from WebMD and numerous other online sources.

The Press emphasis on health care affirms the growth of "health communications" as a speciality practice within PR during the past two decades. GVSU has had an undergraduate health communications major for decades (we are finally ramping it up with a dedicated PhD faculty member this fall), other colleges have master's and PhD programs in health communications, and there are several journals dedicated to research in the subject that ranges from doctor-patient relationships, to public health campaign strategies, to direct-to-consumer drug advertising. Additionally, PRSA has a Health Academy for health care professionals to network and continue their professional development.

So, since the Press and the PR industry have embraced the importance of health care, how will the two work together locally? How might the Press work with local health care organizations to better inform local residents on health topics? It would be interesting if this could go beyond pitching stories. For example, could there be some online linking of objective medical info between the Press at MLive.com and the wealth of health information at Spectrum Health's Web site? The Press could still do objective reporting, but supplement it with the health communications from area professionals. It's a win for the Press, the health organizations, and the public.

It also would be interesting to see the Press do a story on the growth of health communications as a profession of interest to many current and future PR practitioners.