Thursday, October 22, 2009

Women Executives Rock

An article in this week's Crain's Detroit Business highlights the recent findings that women are woefully under-represented on corporate boards and among Michigan's highly compensated executive ranks ( Hmm, can't help but wonder if more women are forgoing the big business route and doing their own thing.

I raise the question because of my current seven clients, three of the organizations are owned and/or led by women. A fourth, Plante & Moran, has always ranked highly on lists touting an impressive percentage of women partners among the nation's largest public accounting firms. I've always had a high percentage of women business owners as clients. Part of the reason is that other women often refer business to me. I can see any of my women clients heading up large organizations and serving on corporate boards, but speaking to the former, my guess is they wouldn't trade their current role for the hassles of the corporate world. That's not the point though. Do Michigan's largest companies know what type of dynamic talent they are missing? Or are they content to let good leaders slip away?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Detroit is Hot

It may be late September, with temperatures this week slated for the 60's, but Detroit is hot. Media-wise, I can't recall in my ten + years as an independent PR consultant a time when national media found Detroit even remotely newsworthy. As a matter of fact, pitching Detroit-area stories to national media has been one of my greatest challenges. Perhaps no longer, though.

Detroit is a topic in this week's FORTUNE, a cover story in Time magazine, and the subject of Time's new Detroit House project blog. Time even bought a house in the city to "embed" a reporter there. (Is that a war zone implication?) Further, a lengthy story in Saturday's (9/26) Wall Street Journal on the historical demise of a home in Detroit's Boston Edison District was the most e-mailed article of the day on (Okay - I didn't say these were positive stories about Detroit!) There's a counter to that, though. A few months ago, one of my clients was featured in a piece on "Why I love Detroit." In all, it's a good time to be a Detroit PR guru.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Don't Use That Language with Me!

I'm hip! I'm happening! I'm up-to-date with the lingo. Okay, I better stop now. Still, I was encouraged to learn that I only use two of the twelve tech-based words that have been banned from use at the office for fear that one will appear to be woefully behind the times. But now these two words, used however sparingly by me, must go. They are: web surfing and Intranet. (On a related note, I believe it's important to add here that I have not used "state of the art" in a news release or any marketing collateral piece since 2002.)

Click here to see if you are a tech-word dinosaur.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Passing on the Pope?

Should one pass on the Pope? Swimmer Michael Phelps did, or will, or might, in order to rest up for his next meet. If that's the case, it seems like a PR gaffe to me, or severe egomania, especially if it's true that the Pope is meeting with 100 swimmers. This could be a great teachable moment for the Pope, though. (Hmmm,our leaders are big on teachable moments these days...)Yes, he could be like the shepherd who, despite having nearly his whole flock present, goes to look for the one lost sheep. If he's looking for a wolf in sheep's clothing, here's a hint: he's the one wearing the Speedo.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Linked In and Liking It

I'm back in the fold with long-time client and former employer of 12 years, Plante & Moran ( I can't help but feel smarter because of the association. Why? As I've always said, Plante & Moran does a lot of things right. In helping them tell their stories, I am enriched by and engaged in a corporate culture that stresses putting the client first and offering staff the best professional experience, mentoring and training. Best of all, I learn right along with my P&M colleagues, who bring me up to date on the latest trends in corporate and HR strategies.

It's the latter that I've been working on recently,as I share the message that Plante & Moran has added Linkedin to its formal training program for practice staff. This brilliant idea was the brainchild of Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Antaya. Again, Plante & Moran is leading the way with its HR practices, this time on the web. Guess that's one of the reasons they have been on FORTUNE's 100 Best Places to Work List for the past 11 years.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy to be in the Good News Business

I tell my clients that the media like the following: new, first, controversial and trendy. Most potential stories have to fit into those categories to be deemed newsworthy. Mainly, I avoid the controversial category - unless one of my clients is offering expert advice or insights. Today, I'm in the good news business. Click the link to this story and find out why:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why So Dour?

As I write this, I am listening to Jim Hiller of Hiller's Market talk in a commercial on WWJ radio about his Hometown First program, noting that his markets purchase Michigan foods and products whenever possible. He adds that "we are all part of the solution" and comments on economic salvation (sorry - I recall the term but not the context.) I applaud Mr. Hiller's efforts to buy Michigan and offer some truly terrific grocery deals for us SE Michigan grocery shoppers. But why so dour, Mr. Hiller? He has a great message and he is showing that he is indeed part of the solution. At the same time, he sounds like he's delivering a death sentence to the state. Cheer up, Mr. Hiller. You are sharing a positive message - let your voice, energy and enthusiasm reflect that!

I fear Hiller's Market ad campaign is heading into the Beaumont doctor domain - the second I hear the now all too familiar gallows music, I switch the station. They are basically saying, if you don't have a Beaumont doctor - you will die!! Is it just me? I'm not a fan of the negative outcome advertising approach.

On a similar note, I heard the editor of the Detroit Free Press say a few weeks back to a crowd of PR professionals that "we are all in this together." I assume he meant to be encouraging, but he was dour. Geez, I can get down on the economy as well as the next guy or gal, but I don't recommend incorporating negative messaging into advertising and public relations opportunities.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I Like Her Already

Please - may no one dig up any dirt on new Supreme Court Justice nominee, Sonia Sotomayer. Listening to President Obama introduce her in a live press conference this morning, I was thrilled that such a worthy and well-rounded candidate had been selected. When Ms. Sotomayer made her remarks, I was sold. She had me at thank you. This is a grateful woman, to be certain. Grateful for every blessing, every good thing, every person, every experience, every baseball game that has made her who she is. I'm a big fan of the gratitude attitude. It takes one far in life and makes the journey a joy.

A first generation American whose father died when she was 8, Ms. Sotomayer has journeyed from a public housing project to Catholic schools to Ivy League schools and to an array of corporate and judicial experiences. She was vetted by two presidents (George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton) prior to today's announcement by President Obama, and the person she admires the most in the world is her mother. ('Nuff said??) Take aside all of her judicial and personal successes and focus for a minute on the fact that Ms. Sotomayer has achieved all of this while battling diabetes since childhood. Add her to my list of most admired women and my inspiration for the day.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

That's Good News! Michigan Athlete Breaks Her Own Records

Following up on my May 8th blog posting, if you want to gain even more confidence in our future, read about another young lady who shows remarkable leadership and discipline. She's my niece, Katie Cezat, one of Michigan's best college athletes. Check out her story at

Friday, May 8, 2009

The (Good) Week in Review

Sometimes, a litany of negatives is easy to compile, although I generally don't roll that way. (Do others "roll" or do we just roll in the D?) The last 7 days of have been filled with a long list of positives, some work-related, some personal, all people-related. Here goes...

On Friday, May 1 and Monday, May 4, the Rochester Community Schools Foundation (I'm a board member) said "Let's Do Lunch," and hosted about 1000 5th graders from Rochester Schools for an inaugural career day event. I served as a table sponsor and was able to share with 11 5th graders over 1/2 a turkey sandwich and macaroni salad (they didn't say "Let's Do a Big Lunch") the exciting world of public relations. I think a few must have been listening because one young lady said, "Your job sounds really fun!" I assured her that it is.

This event required a great deal of community sponsors and I have to give sincere thanks to my client and friend, Ewa Matuszewski (in purple blouse), CEO of Medical Network One (, who agreed without hesitation to be one of two leading corporate sponsors. That's the way Ewa rolls. She is one of the most generous people I know. True generosity - generous of spirit and with her resources.

Saturday was a hole in one for my husband Eric at Brookwood. There is a media connection: Eric was listed in the Detroit Free Press sports section on May 6 under the hole in one headline - a headline I did not know existed until Wednesday.

Tuesday night was a community scholarship celebration of Rochester area high school teens who received college scholarships of varying amounts from local foundations and charities. My anxieties over the future have since eased as I see and hear from these remarkable young people who have combined scholarship, community service, athletics and the arts to make their mark on the world before they even graduate from high school. Our country will be prosperous (for the right reasons) and secure with them at the helm.

On Wednesday night, my client and friend, Patricia Nemeth (pictured on left), an attorney with Nemeth Burwell (,) received a distinguished alumni award from Wayne State, where she received her law degree and master's degree in law. Being in public relations, I attend many awards events but I never tire of them. I sincerely love to see people honored for their accomplishments - and Pat's are numerous. In March, I watched her receive an award as one of Michigan's 25 Leaders in the Law. And on the PR side, thanks to my new part-time staffer Sue Davis who does research and other fun stuff for me, Pat was included in a CNN website feature on 13 people who live in Detroit and love it. Here's the link - Pat's is #6.

On Thursday morning, I attended the Rochester Prayer Breakfast at Oakland University with 900 others to hear the incomparable and beloved Ernie Harwell hit one out of the park with remarks that were funny, sincere, nostalgic and hopeful. Kudos to client and baseball fan extraordinaire Jim Lionas of the Hunter Group (, who served as chairman of this year's prayer breakfast and was responsible for nabbing Ernie as the speaker.

On Thursday afternoon, my son Peter returned home from his freshman year of college as a responsible, maturing young man. He had his old job back within a few hours of being home and was basking in the glow of a freshman year that was memorable for all the right reasons.

Oh yes, one final reason i had such a great former Greek professor and long-time friend Ernie Ament said he enjoyed reading my blog - and that I should write more often. This is for you Ernie. Now you must post a comment to keep me inspired.

Okay, a final final reason: Dave Bing is the new Mayor of Detroit. This is a two for one because interim mayor Ken Cockrel (who I think did his best) now goes back to being city council president and Monica Conyers' (think Shrek, birthday tiaras and chaufered rides to her son's private school) power trip is over.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Detroit PR Takes a Hit

It's a good news/ bad news day for the Detroit PR Guru.

You likely have been reading various negative takes on the Detroit environs as national media swoop in and decide in the course of one junket, "Yep, it's a dinosaur. Forget about it."

Today's Wall Street Journal has an Oakland County freelancer chiming in and, like our economy, it's not pretty. Says this writer, who managed to come up with the most singularly negative piece of journalism about "Detroit" (don't those of us who live in Southeast Michigan consider ourselves Detroiters?) within the context of reporting on Jay Leno's two free comedy shows in Auburn Hills:

“…Detroit has only receded further into its economic and social funk, solidifying its status as the poster child for American urban collapse.”

Huh? He took lemonade - not lemons - and made a grenade. Ouch! Let's hope potential investors in our state will expand their due diligence beyond the Wall Street Journal and include exploration into our water supply, human capital and arsenal of innovation.

Good News? It's personal, kind of. I have the distinction of submitting the most news content to the Detroit Regional Chamber's online news forum, in its first year of existence. Detroit may be a dinosaur to some, but if that were truly the case, how could I come up with mainly positive news content from Detroit area companies each week for the past 52 weeks?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

When Good Discounts Go Bad

I would have loved to sign up for the Wall Street Journal at the new subscriber rate they emailed me today: $119 for one year. Wow, that's terrific, especially when compared to the $299 I already paid for the Journal in December! Apparently, as a ten-year subscriber, I was given the loyalty subscription rate. This really smarts,though, because my husband, Eric, called in to complain in December about the rate (and remained on hold to talk to a supervisor) when it was not only outrageous but had increased $100 since the last renewal. Apparently he called the customer loyalty line rather than than the new customer line.

So why didn't I just cancel? I thought about it for a long-time but two decision factors came into play. 1. I love the Wall Street Journal and 2. I'm in a business that needs media of all sorts to stay in business. In the meantime, blogging about this has lessened the blow. You know what has really irked me through the years, though, now that we're on the topic of customer loyalty? Car ads where the advertised price is for car company employees only. Can you imagine if Macy's advertised their clothes on sale with an asterisk? *All prices will be 20% higher for actual customers. With Macy's and the car companies all on the skids maybe these aren't good examples, but loyalty in general is supposedly not as important of a sales factor as we are led to believe. How do I know that? I read it in the Wall Street Journal. I guess they follow the advice of their experts.