Monday, November 18, 2013

Leading Minneapolis-St. Paul PR pros reflect on careers

It's not a typical evening when six veteran public relations executives serve on a panel together. That
fleishman hillard
Moderator Doug Spong quizzes panelists at the event.
was the case, however, when the Minnesota chapter of the Public Relations Society of America hosted its "PR with the Pros" event at the Cambria Gallery on 7th in downtown Minneapolis on Nov. 13.

"If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to yourself?" asked Doug Spong APR, Fellow PRSA, moderator of the event and the president and founder of Carmichael Lynch Spong.

"Don't be afraid to take risks and make mistakes," replied David Hakensen, APR, the senior vice president and general manager of the FleishmanHillard Minneapolis-St. Paul office.

Other panel participants included:
  • Diana Harvey, University of Minnesota Chief Communications Officer and Deputy Chief of Staff to President Eric Kaler;
  • Rose McKinney, APR, Founder and CEO of Pineapple Reputation Management;
  • Jeff Shelman, Senior Manager of Corporate Public Relations at Best Buy;
  • Jason Thunstrom, Vice President of Corporate Communications at Life Time Fitness; and
  • Greg Zimprich, APR, Senior Vice President of Agency Operations and Strategic Insights at Kohnstamm Communications.
In addition to taking risks, both Shelman and Thunstrom emphasized the importance of understanding business, and accounting in particular, to succeed in public relations.

Thunstrom said that "the challenge and the thrill of what's coming tomorrow" keeps him excited about public relations. He shared a story about former WCCO-TV reporter Dave Moore and his professionalism. "There used to be a commitment to balance, and that has gone by the wayside," said Thunstrom.

Panelists reflected on the Minneapolis-St. Paul market as a creative hub, the strength of the Minnesota PRSA chapter and the "coopetition" among agencies. "There are tons of opportunities for creative partnerships. Many great companies and brands call this place home," said Zimprich.

Two of the panelists, Hakensen and Spong, were recognized at the beginning of the event for their recent, highly prestigious industry honors.

best buy public relations
Jason Thunstrom and Jeff Shelman meet with attendees.
Hakensen received the inaugural PRSA Midwest District Platinum Award for his contributions to the organization at the national, regional and local levels.

Spong recently was inducted into the PRSA College of Fellows and received PRSA's highest
individual honor, the Gold Anvil Award, for lifetime achievement in public relations.

After the panel discussion, attendees broke out into smaller groups and panelists visited each group to provide one-on-one interaction. 

For a collection of more public relations tips, insights and reflections, buy the book "19 Tips for Successful Public Relations: Insights on Media Relations and Reputation Management" from!
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