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January luncheon

Date:  Wednesday, Jan. 14 

Topic: When local news goes global:  the exploding news story

Indianapolis Athletic Club,
350 N. Meridian St., 3rd floor

Registration, 11:30 a.m.
Lunch & Program, Noon
Program ends by 1:15 p.m.

Members, $20
Guest, $25
Student, $15

Register at:


Wednesday, Jan. 14

When local news goes global:  the exploding news story

It's a small town and an emotional story.  A long-missing girl is found -- maybe.  The TV satellite trucks converge on Thorntown, Ind.  The mystery appears to be solved.  Reporters from around the world take over the local café.  

Whether you're the official in charge of the investigation, the public relations crisis consultant, or the newsperson assigned to the story, you have a job to do.  How do you work together to get the public what they want, and need, to know in an explosive and ever-changing case like that of the Shannon Sherrill/Donna Walker case?  How do law enforcement and the media balance the public's right to know with a family's loss and a suspect's rights? 

Key law enforcement and media players in the Donna Walker investigation will participate on a panel moderated by crisis consultant David Shank, APR, president of Shank Public Relations Counselors.  First Sgt. Dave Bursten, Indiana State Police public information officer, and Lt. Jeff Heck, the ISP lead investigator, will join the media person who broke the story, WISH-TV's weekend anchor, Ruthanne Gordon.

Join us Wednesday, Jan. 14 for this stimulating discussion on what happens when the news of a long-lost Boone County daughter becomes a global news event.


"Learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century."
-Chaim Perelman

Welcome to 2004 and what looks to be a terrific year for the Hoosier Chapter of PRSA!

Succeeding in the field of public relations and communications means constant learning.  Sound tedious and painful?  It need not!  Learn interesting stories of how a crisis was averted through strong communications ... learn tips and techniques that can be immediately applied to meet a challenge ... learn what college students are seeing and what seasoned professionals are doing ... learn how to handle an ethical dilemma. 

The Hoosier Chapter offers outstanding opportunities for personal professional development.  Join us for monthly luncheon programs, professional development opportunities, Meet the Media breakfasts, Masters or New Professionals get-togethers, Accreditation classes, and more.

To get the most from your PRSA membership, get involved! There are short-term projects and long-term committees that can use your time and talents.  Our 20+ committees have excellent chairpersons and plans for the coming year, so please let us know if you'd like to be a part of it.

Wishing you a prosperous start to the new year!

Jennifer Young Dzwonar, APR
President, Hoosier Chapter PRSA


Next round of accreditation classes begin Jan. 28

The Hoosier Chapter PRSA is preparing to roll out its next round of preparation classes for those members interested in earning Universal Accreditation in Public Relations in 2004. Classes begin Jan. 28 and run for 10 weeks.  Classes meet 6-8 p.m. Wednesdays.  The location is still under consideration, but will be announced by Jan. 9 to those candidates who express interest.  

The new accreditation process includes a Readiness Review (which replaces the previous oral exam) and a multiple choice exam.  The chapter recently completed its first round of accreditation classes with all candidates earning recommendations to proceed to the written exam.

If you would like to participate in accreditation classes, please contact accreditation co-chairs Stephanie McFarland, APR, 276-1747,, or Myra Cocca, APR, 631-6400,


Dick Wolfsie headlines IABC January meeting 

On these dreary winter days, put a little laughter in your life!

Dick Wolfsie will make you smile, giggle, chuckle, and guffaw when he speaks at the Jan. 20 meeting of the Indianapolis IABC.

Please join your communication colleagues at the Marott, corner of Meridian and Fall Creek, at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20 for a delicious meal and a presentation on "what makes us laugh!"  You'll gather a couple of tidbits on how to add humor to your messages. 

Wear your PRSA pin to receive member price for lunch, $23. Make your reservations at or by contacting Dan Millar, 291-1878 or Guy Westermeyer,


Schranz Lectureship marks 25 years with leading PR pros

The 25th anniversary of the nation's first endowed public relations lectureship established at an academic institution was marked Oct. 16 with a presentation on ethics by one of the nation's leading corporate public relations executives and the return of five former distinguished lecturers.

Willard D. Nielsen, corporate vice president of public affairs and corporate communication at Johnson & Johnson, was joined by John Budd, former Emhart executive and current CEO of the Omega Group; Betsy Plank, the first woman to head the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and former Bell System executive; Doug Hearle, former Hill & Knowlton executive; and Carole Howard, former vice president of Readers Digest and current author, at Ball State for discussions of the advancements and changes in public relations over the past 25 years and of expectations for the next 25.

The event marked the 25th anniversary of the Schranz Lectureship at Ball State.  The lectureship was established in 1979 to honor Vernon C. Schranz, Ball Corporation's first public relations officer.

 -Dr. Melvin Sharpe 


"Send me your interesting guests;" content is king

A lively panel of broadcasters headlined 2003's final Meet the Media outing at the Press Club.

First up was Barb Lewis, host of the radio program "Sound Medicine" on WFYI-FM.  Lewis mentioned, only half-jokingly, that she was "begging for guests."  Her medical program is a product of the IU School of Medicine, although she tapes at WFYI's studios.  The confusion often results in people trying to contact her at WFYI; don't.  Her offices are at the Med Center: or 317-626-7794.

Barb's seeking interesting science and health-related guests.  "I need good talkers . . . people who can sustain for a half hour.  This is a different animal than the snappy soundbite provider."  Don't send voluminous c.v.'s, they're way too long. 

Perhaps surprisingly, Lewis said she sometimes sends questions in advance to her guests.  "I'm not a gotcha interviewer," she said.  Her audience is evenly split between men and women.  Most are 50+, college-educated, and have a higher-than-average household income.  "Our program is not extremely timely, but we compensate by being more in-depth." 

Lewis' producer for Sound Medicine, Ellen Gullett, is a great person to pitch ideas to (; 317-283-5407).  Lewis is also a contributor to the TV program "Inside Indiana Business," where she seeks health-related stories that influence Indiana's economy, such as projections on how this year's flu season will impact worker productivity.   

The articulate Sharon Gamble next took the podium.  She hosts "The Art of the Matter" on WFYI-FM, and she considers her show to be "appointment listening."   Sharon's program celebrates the myriad ways the arts enliven our lives in central Indiana. 

She pulls in 8,000 listeners to her weekly program, and "they fit the classical NPR profile:  well-educated, high-income, liberal, fiscally concerned."   Sharon's show is a full hour, and it airs on Saturdays.  "If you're going to pitch a guest, do this first: listen to the program to catch its tenor."  "The Art of the Matter" consists of three interviews, each from 12-15 minutes in length.  "That's a  l-o-n-g time by radio standards." 

"We don't go in for the scandalous, such as the ballet's problems; we support."   Radio is all about sound, she reminded us:  "We've got to paint our picture with words."  

More quotable tidbits from Sharon:  "Bring me the guest who's so passionate he gets tongue-tied." "Believe it or not, our Arbitrons show people flipping between our show and Q-95."   "If all else is equal, I prefer to do a show about an arts organization that doesn't have deep pockets.  For instance, we're interviewing a street musician next week - that guitarist on the Circle we've all seen."

And this:  "If you have a choice between sending me an important guest or an interesting guest, send me the interesting one." 

Next up was Gerry Dick, host of TV's "Inside Indiana Business."  Dick described his company's growth pattern, which epitomizes the concept of media convergence.  Grow Indiana Media Ventures features radio, TV, and Web-based content.  "Our TV show is just one part of our family of properties."  What this means to PR pros is that Dick and his staff of eight can potentially leverage your story idea through other channels - potent stuff. 

The flagship TV program airs on a dozen stations statewide, with Channel 13 the local home base, although Dick and Company tape at Channel 20's studios.  Video is archived on their Web site for six months, helping achieve ‘«ˇstickiness' to the tune of 11 minutes on that recently re-done site (

Jason Fenwick is Dick's executive producer and primary gatekeeper.  He offered up tips a-plenty:  "Know who you're pitching to.  We're not a print product - yet.  Consider our audience, which is business managers and executives.  Explain to me why I should care (about your story).  Don't throw a bunch of technical terms at me; I don't get them and neither will our audience.  Make it relevant.  Provide me with localized sidebars.  It can be a challenge to come up with video for business stories.  Help me to understand how we can make your story visual, be it graphic generation or video.  Provide me with e-mail and cell phone numbers.  I like to hear this question: ‘«ˇWhat is your deadline and how can I help?'  Supply me with bio info.  Prep your interviewees to conform to our maxim: sharper, shorter, snappier.  But don't over-prep them and lose their spontaneity.  If I have to tell you ‘«ˇno' on a pitch, don't globalize that to mean that we don't like you and don't welcome future pitches.  We do!"

On the Internet side of the house, "We posted our 10,000th story this week," Raquel Bahamonde, who manages e-content for Grow Indiana, said.   

Raquel also came armed with more uber-helpful tips:  "When you send us e-mails, which by the way is our highly preferred method of contact, compose your subject lines with great care.  I get so many submissions that I have to make editorial decisions based on that subject line.  Be specific, state the company name, and summarize what you want."  

And another ah-ha tip:  don't use attachments in your e-mails.  Anti-virus software strips them out.  Cut-and-paste into the body of your email. 

Another surprising observation Raquel made was that contact info on press releases was often wrong.  "If you're going to be on vacation, don't use your name on a release.  If you are available, give me every chance to reach you.  That could mean pagers, cell phones, whatever." 

Radio is a burgeoning segment for Grow Indiana.  "We partner with WIBC at 7:35 a.m. and again at 5:35 p.m.," Dick said. It's distributed across the state. 

"When we first started this enterprise, Jason and I were concerned we wouldn't be able to fill 30 minutes with solid content," Dick said.  "At this point, we could easily fill two hours every week."  For PR people, this means the competition is tough, but the rewards are worth it.  "The convergence model is great," he said.  "But, content is and always will be king."

Ingrid Cummings, APR


Member update

Drew Carey has been promoted to manager of marketing communications at Clarian Health Partners.  He can be reached at (317) 962-4514 or

Peyton Bailey-Brown, communications specialist at ATA, can be reached at (317) 390-4292 or

January 2004

President: Jennifer Dzwonar, APR
Director, Internal Communications: Beth King, APR
Editor: Michael Schug

PRofessional is published monthly by the Hoosier Chapter of the PRSA, Indianapolis, and is distributed to its members. To submit articles and story ideas for PRofessional, contact Michael Schug at (317) 417-0709 or before the 10th of each month prior to publication.

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