Monday, April 29, 2013

EAFocus Coordinates Press Conference Featuring Two Entrepreneurial Nuns, Philanthropic CEOs and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder

On the morning of Friday, April 19th Barb Fornasiero and I arrived at St. Luke’s N.E.W. (North End Women’s) Life Center, Inc. – an organization started in the basement of a church in an old north-end neighborhood in Flint as a faith-based program that incorporates education and workplace training to help women become self-sufficient providers for their families. As we walked into the building we were welcomed by a friendly young lady at the front desk. We continued down a long hallway lined with classrooms. The end of the hallway opened to a larger room with a stage, seating, tables and a kitchen in the back.

The kitchen was filled with women of all ages preparing food and making sure the facility looked spic and span for the guests who would be visiting shortly. We were then greeted by Sister Carol Weber and Sister Judy Blake, co-founders of St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center.
But why were we in this church in Flint? Why were these women veering from their daily work routine to host guests? Who were the VIPS they were expecting?  (Hint: not us!)

Simply put, we were gathering for a press conference organized by EAFocus. But this wasn’t any old press conference (is there such a thing??) and it’s not every day you walk into a church and see a “secret service”  agent, so these weren’t just any average Joe’s attending the press conference – Governor Rick Snyder was on the agenda! As Barb and I helped finalize the setup of the room and ensure things were in order for our client Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy (CEO Phil Hagerman is a member of the business advisory council for St. Luke N.E.W. Life Enterprises), we watched the security team from the Governor’s office verify the building was secure.
The room quickly filled with local elected officials, the hard working employees of St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center/ Enterprises, media, Flint area leaders, the business advisory council and other Flint community supporters.

We were then introduced to Governor Rick Snyder’s communications team (very nice folks!) and met in one of the N.E.W. Life Center classrooms with all the press conference speakers: Phil Shaltz, managing partner of Uptown Developments and president of Shaltz Automation, Phil Hagerman, CEO of Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, Srs. Weber and Blake, Michael Finney, CEO and president of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Governor Rick Snyder. As the Governor entered the room, he shook each of our hands and introduced himself.
We all chatted for a few minutes about what a great cause we were gathering for (and I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming! As a young PR professional, it’s not every day you are coordinating a press conference for such influential people). Then it was show time!

We were escorted down the long hallway and took our seats as the press conference began. As I scanned the room, all the seats were filled (75+), media and press filled the back of the room with their cameras and others stood around to hear the investments the sisters, business advisory council, the MEDC and the state were making in Flint. Each speaker gave their remarks, which were inspiring and gave confidence that the business developed by the sisters is a replicable business model that can benefit other cities in addition to Flint. The press conference was filled with applause, standing ovations, laughs and tears. Mike Finney joked with the Governor that state should alter the dress code to allow for workers to wear the scrubs made by N.E.W. Life Enterprises (the room roared with laughter and applause).
What an exciting morning for me! Alas, it was over in the blink of an eye. We saw our weeks of preparation pay off and well deserving individuals receive recognition for their efforts and hard work in bettering their community.

To read more about the details of the press conference and gain a better understanding of St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center/ Enterprises and the business advisory council, please click here.

Friday, April 5, 2013

When a Career Dream Comes True

The real life experience of a young public relations professional

No matter what your profession, you normally have at least one thing you hope you will get to experience in your career. For many public relations professionals that dream may be visiting a TV station for the taping of a client's appearance on the station’s news program. On Tuesday (April 3rd) the dream I had during my four years of studying at Central Michigan University and in the first few years of my career became a reality.

Barbara Fornasiero and I headed to the Fox2 station in Southfield, MI Tuesday evening and as we pulled up to the security gate, I remember having this feeling of “we’re just arriving for another client meeting” and this was no extraordinary experience.

We walked to the front door past the weather “patio” (it’s amazing how different things are on TV versus “behind the scenes”!) and entered into what appeared to be an ordinary office building: waiting room, long hallways and doors that led to what I assumed to be offices. We finally arrived in the “green room” (it is actually painted green too).

After the evening news segment finished, we were greeted by Murray Feldman, Fox2 news anchor. He guided us from the green room to the taping studio. As the doors opened a cold blast of air hit me; as we walked down a short black hallway, it opened up to what I imagine to be a broadcaster’s equivalent to Disneyland.

There were various taping areas for the weather, the “famous” brown couch for more ‘casual’ news stories and the main news anchor desk where Feldman is frequently stationed, all dotted by cameras, teleprompters and other taping equipment. Large spotlights shone from the ceiling and lit the room in all its glory. Barbara and I were then invited to sit at the news anchor desk while they taped the segment. As I took the few steps up the platform, I looked around and thought to myself “well this is pretty cool.”

There was a camera man who gave the directions of what cameras to look at, when graphics would appear on the screen and what the timing of the segment would be. Another gentleman was responsible for getting the microphone set up on our client.  As we waited for everything to get set up I looked around the room and took in as much as I could, from the equipment to the layout and all the people it takes behind the scenes to make a show run smoothly.

When the cameras, teleprompter and rest of the crew were ready, the countdown began until the light on the camera turned red – they were recording. As I sat in the chair I watched our client, attorney Terry Bonnette of Nemeth Burwell, knock the socks off the segment. In five minutes it was a wrap and we were done.

We were escorted out of the studio and to the front door by Mr. Feldman (extremely nice man!) and got into the car to head back to the office. It wasn’t until we were waiting at the gate to exit that the past hour caught up to me.

I was looking at the photo Barbara took of me and couldn’t wait to share this exciting experience with friends and family (and you, our blog readers). And that is when it hit me:. my first career dream came true.

I am sure for most seasoned professionals, you can relate to that first “big moment” in your career. To those just starting out (no matter what your profession), make sure you take in and allow yourself to experience as many different things as possible. You never know when your first big career dream will come true!