Managing a Crisis – Canine Influenza Hits Chicago

Canine influenzaAs any public relations professional will attest, a crisis can take many different forms. Virginia Mann has dealt with a variety of crisis, from product recalls to plant closures to changes in corporate leadership. In the spring of 2015, Virginia played a lead role in an especially challenging crisis, one that provides a useful roadmap for communication professionals dealing with a rapidly changing crisis and multiple audiences.

In Spring of 2015, veterinarians in Chicago began seeing a large number of coughing dogs. Initially, they believed they were dealing with an unusually large outbreak of a contagious, but fairly common dog illness called Kennel Cough. It quickly became apparent that something much more serious was at hand as large numbers of dogs became critically ill, requiring extensive medical attention or hospitalization. In a matter of a few short weeks, more than 2,000 dogs, primarily in downtown Chicago and on the near north-side, contracted what turned out to be a highly contagious form of Canine Influenza Virus never before seen in the Americas.

For about eight weeks, Virginia worked with primary care, emergency and specialty care veterinarians, veterinary pharmaceutical companies and universities to address the crisis.

On behalf of her many veterinary clients, Virginia and her team rapidly created and implemented comprehensive communications to alert veterinarians, pet owners, the media and the public about this dangerous illness. Virginia and her clients were responsible for much of the media coverage worldwide on this topic, from CNN to Huffington Post to U.S. News & World Report, and virtually every Chicago media outlet.

Join us to learn how Virginia and her team managed the rapidly changing crisis while engaging a variety of audiences on behalf of multiple clients effected by the situation. Her learnings can easily be used as a roadmap for those dealing with a crisis.

Virginia Mann
Virginia Mann

Virginia Mann is an award-winning corporate communications, public relations and public affairs professional who heads up her own boutique agency. Her experience includes extensive work with CEOs, boards of directors, the media, employees and the public.

Her broad experience includes in-depth work with blue-chip, Fortune 500 and industry-leading consumer products companies as diverse as Astellas Pharmaceuticals; Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center; Diversified Real Estate Capital; Lou Malnati’s Pizza; United Airlines; and West Loop Veterinary Care; among others.

In addition to her clients, Virginia is an adjunct instructor at Loyola University in Chicago, teaching public relations courses in the School of Communication. She is the Treasurer of the Chicago Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, and is a former board member of the International Association of Business Communicators.

She and her husband Gary Dupuis are the proud pet parents of Spencer, an American Kennel Club Champion Tibetan Terrier.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
6 pm Networking, 6:30 pm dinner
Uno’s Pizzeria & Pasta
1160 Plaza Dr, Schaumburg, IL 60173
Corner of Meacham & Golf Roads (Woodfield Mall)

$25 Members, $35 Non-Members, $20 Students
Ticket includes dinner and program


Uno's Pizzeria Schaumburg
Uno’s Pizzeria Schaumburg

Year End Holiday Party Featuring a Conversation with Chicago Sky’s Lauren Niemiera

November 3rd – PRSASCC’s Year End Holiday Party!Christmas Party

Ready or not, fall is here and the start of holiday season is right around the corner. Traditionally, our chapter’s November meeting has been our year-ending holiday party. This year, we are moving our normal, second Tuesday of the month event one week earlier, to accommodate the PRSA International Conference in Atlanta during the second week of November. We have a fantastic speaker scheduled, some great awards to hand out, door prizes and our annual Toys for Tots campaign that even, so be sure to join us!

Featured Speaker:

Lauren Niemiera
Media & Communications Coordinator

Tuesday, November 3, 2015
6 pm Networking, 6:30 pm dinner
D.O.C. Wine Bar
326 Yorktowne Center
Lombard, IL 60148

$35 Members, $45 Non-Members, $25 Students, $30 Retired Members
Ticket includes dinner and program


October 13th: LinkedIn – Warm-up Cold Leads With Dee Reinhardt!

Networking and LinkedIn expert Dee Reinhardt is coming to our chapter program in October to show us how to make the most of LinkedIn…without paying for the premium membership.

LinkedIn – Warm-up Cold Leads

You may have a LinkedIn profile, but how can you use it to find leads and then make them  warm” leads instead of resorting to that thing we all hate – cold calling!

We will cover a number of features in LinkedIn to help you understand more about using the tool instead of just collecting connections.  Bring your laptop if you would like to participate while I demonstrate. Come armed with your questions.

Dee ReinhardtDee Reinhardt

Right-brained.  That is a good description of Dee Reinhardt.  If it has to do with creativity, she is all about that.  When social media advanced into the marketplace, Dee embraced it with a passion.

Dee is a Type-A personality, energetic, gregarious, an extrovert, a planner and a leader.  As the marketing department for a workforce development agency, her “right-brain” kicked in with social media to help her develop new ways to reach out, new avenues to explore and new methods to exercise.

Dee is a certified social media strategist and the principal of her own company, Time2Mrkt, Inc. specializing in digital marketing.  In addition to helping small business optimize their digital strategy, teaching LinkedIn is one of her passions. It is only natural that she shares her knowledge with the community, teaching LinkedIn and other social media sessions for business owners and community members. She consults with small business and solopreneurs to help them plan, create, implement, maintain and/or train staff to market on their social media platforms.

Find out more about Dee on

Tuesday, October 13, 2015
6 pm Networking, 6:30 pm dinner
Uno’s Pizzeria & Pasta
1160 Plaza Dr
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Corner of Meacham & Golf Roads (Woodfield Mall)

$25 Members, $35 Non-Members, $20 Students
Ticket includes dinner and program


Join Us September 8th: First Comes the Crisis, Then There’s the Apology….

Michael Shmarak
Michael Shmarak

It’s a Crisis and You Need to Apologize….Do You Know What to Say? And When Do You Say It?

It’s become routine in a public crisis: public figures and company representatives standing in front of the cameras, issuing an apology after having been exposed in some form of wrongdoing, or when something goes horribly wrong. Yet instead of helping to resolve the situation, the apology often makes things worse. Join PRSA Suburban Chicago on Tuesday, September 8th, as Michael Shmarak presents a look at the role of apologies in a crisis, and how to make them an effective tool instead of fuel to the fire.

Michael Shmarak

Michael is the Vice President/National Media Relations Director at Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock, and is also Adjunct Lecturer, Northwestern University School of Professional Studies. With more than 20 years of experience, his current and past representation of clients span several industries, including professional services, real estate, hospitality, retail, technology and investment banking.

Prior to joining Jarrard Phillips, Michael was the Vice President in charge of DKC Public Relations, Marketing & Government Affairs’ Chicago office. He was previously the Principal of Sidney Maxwell Public Relations, a Northbrook, Illinois-based public relations consultancy.  His work included senior-level client counsel, traditional and social media relations, communications infrastructure development and adversity management.  He previously served as director of Ruder-Finn’s Corporate Affairs Practice, and was Account Supervisor/Media Relations for Ketchum in Chicago. 

Michael earned an MBA from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI and received a BSBA in Marketing from The Ohio State University. 

Tuesday, September 8  • 6-8 p.m.

Uno Pizzeria in Schaumburg (Woodfield Mall)
$25 Members, $35 Non-Members, $20 Students
Ticket includes dinner and program

Eventbrite - Handling a Social Media Crisis

What Would You Do in a Social Media Crisis?

The worst part of handling a crisis isn’t always the ‘round-the-clock scrambling to maintain your reputation; it’s that they often happen when you least expect them. But with preparation and training in the best practices of crisis PR, you can minimize the damage—and stress—of what’s bound to happen in all our careers.

Jack Monson Headshot

On Tuesday, April 14, Jack Monson will share his expertise in social media strategy to prepare us for the worst over a delicious pizza party package at Uno Pizzeria in Schaumburg. He’ll start with ways to create an effective crisis plan before sharing tips and guidelines for implementation. Then things will get interactive as he puts us to the test, giving us worst case scenarios where participants will have to implement what they just learned in order to survive. Continue reading What Would You Do in a Social Media Crisis?

Planning and Executing a Media Tour de Force

Eventbrite - Planning and Executing a Media Tour de Force

Next Tuesday, March 10, Jim O’Reilly from D S Simon will share his knowledge and experience on conducting effective Satellite media tours (SMTs), both broadcasted and online. After a brief introduction for those who haven’t run one before, he’ll demonstrate the importance of structuring a good storyline, using solid talent, and getting additional value by re-using SMT content in the future.

Jim O’Reilly is Regional Vice President for the strategic video communications company D S Simon, where he has been for nearly 15 years working as a producer, then production manager in New York. This was a time when the Video News Release was a key tactic in public relations. Jim produced hundreds of highly successful VNRs as well as Satellite Media Tours. In 2006 Jim moved to Chicago to open D S Simon’s Midwest office. Continue reading Planning and Executing a Media Tour de Force

The Best Apps and Software for PR and Communication Professionals Roundtable Discussion

We’re going more casual for our February 10th meeting and hosting a roundtable discussion!

Are you curious about what Apps and Software are out there for PR, marketing, and communication professionals? Join our chapter as we discuss the different types of applications and software (free and paid) we use to make the most of our PR planning.

apps and softwareIf you are using a great app or software at your workplace, bring your suggestions to share. If you’re new to the field or aren’t tech savvy, this will be a great roundtable discussion to help you get started. Continue reading The Best Apps and Software for PR and Communication Professionals Roundtable Discussion

Converged Media in Your Marketing Strategy

Eventbrite - Converged Media in Your Marketing Strategy

With Sonal Moraes, CisionSonal Moraes Headshot
Content strategies are becoming more sophisticated and between earned, owned, and bought, there’s a lot of information going around. Sonal Moraes

The best content strategies not only focus on posting content to your website and promoting it on social channels, but also incorporates the reach that paid media offers. That being said, content marketing ultimately is a space that PR people need to own to be successful across all spectrums. Continue reading Converged Media in Your Marketing Strategy

A Bridge to Somewhere: The Do’s and Don’ts of Media Relations With Barnaby Dinges: November 11th Year End Party

With Barnaby Dinges, Senior Vice President FleishmanHillard ChicagoBarnaby Dinges

Eventbrite - A Bridge to Somewhere

PRSA Suburban Chicago Chapter
Tuesday, October 14, 2014 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
DOC Wine Bar in Lombard, IL

Media relations is the most visible part of public relations, and at the same time potentially the least understood. Barnaby Dinges of FleishmanHillard Chicago will keynote our Year-end Holiday Party. Barnaby will provide examples of techniques that work (and some that don’t) … and a real world example in an update on the Affordable Care Act as it begins year two in Illinois with the start of the annual open enrollment on November 15th. Continue reading A Bridge to Somewhere: The Do’s and Don’ts of Media Relations With Barnaby Dinges: November 11th Year End Party

October Program: Negotiating Ethical Minefields with Bobbi Simmons

Eventbrite - PR Ethics and Digital Technology

PRSA Suburban Chicago Chapter
Tuesday, October 14, 2014 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
DOC Wine Bar in Lombard, IL

Bobbi SimmonsSimmons will speak about ethical dilemmas currently in the news and how they impact the careers of PR professionals. Highlights will focus on conflicts in digital communication, including social media and native advertising, followed by small group discussion and analysis of three ethical scenarios.  The conflicts reveal how PRSA resources can provide guidance through application of the Code of Ethics.

About the Presenter:
Bobbi Simmons
Bobbi Johnson Simmons, APR, was president of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Hoosier Chapter in 2012, her 25th year of PRSA membership. Over those 25 years she has served in nearly every board and committee capacity including delegate to PRSA’s annual convention and member of its Counselors Academy. She has held APR (Accredited in Public Relations) status for over 20 years. Continue reading October Program: Negotiating Ethical Minefields with Bobbi Simmons