Speaker Profiles: Chrysler Group, LLC

The automobile industry is a huge part of Michigan’s economy and connects with countries around the globe.  As one of Electing Excellence’s sponsors, we are fortunate enough to have three professionals presenting during the morning breakout sessions: Shawn Morgan, Jodi Tinson and Christine Estereicher.  Below, we interview Jodi.

Did you always know you wanted to work in the communications/PR industry?

Yes. I really wanted to be a foreign correspondent. Ultimately, I decided that PR would utilize the same skill set, be a steadier source of income and be far less dangerous.

How did you get to where you are?

Out of school, I held communications positions at a non-profit and a school district. I was then given the opportunity to work in PR at an ad agency, where I was introduced to Chrysler. That position led me to an onsite position at Chrysler with a PR firm, then to full-time employment. Since 1992, I’ve been involved in some aspect of Chrysler’s business whether at an agency or as an employee.

How do you like working for one company, as opposed to at an agency?

If you’ve done both, compare! Agencies can certainly offer a variety of professional experiences and tend to allow for more creativity, but they serve at the request of the client. I prefer the corporate side, where you can become ingrained in the culture of the company and fully understand the dynamics/complexities of the business. There also seems to be more job stability on the corporate side.

What was your favorite part about NAIAS, as a communications professional, this year or previously?

I always enjoy helping the media get the stories they want. It’s also a great opportunity to see media that I don’t normally get to work with day-to-day including those from other countries.

What’s your favorite car or what do you drive?

I drive a minivan. (I really do love it and it’s very practical for this stage of my life.) If money were no object, I would love to drive a 1961 Corvette or a Viper.

Chrysler_Jodi TinsonJodi Tinson is manager of Manufacturing and Labor Communications at Chrysler Group. She has had a wide variety of experience on both the agency and corporate side. At Chrysler, Jodi has handled everything from product and international communications to government affairs and corporate marketing PR to speechwriting. Jodi received her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University.


Chrysler_Shawn MorganShawn Morgan has been the Head of Corporate Communications at Chrysler Group LLC since 2009. She currently leads Chrysler Group’s external Corporate Communications efforts globally as well as the Company’s executive speechwriting activities and corporate web site. Shawn has a diverse range of communications experience having held various senior level communications positions within Chrysler and working for agencies such as Bozell and Golin-Harris. She received her bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations from Michigan State University. She also serves as a member of the board of directors for the Michigan State University Communications Arts and Sciences Alumni Board.

Chrysler_Christine EstereicherChristine Estereicher is the Senior Manager of State Relations and Legislation for Chrysler Group, LLC.  She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and her master’s degree in Public Administration from The George Washington University.


Meet the Conference Directors!


Regional Conference Coordinator, Nicole Russell


Nicole Russell is a senior pursuing a degree in communication, specializing in public relations. She is an active member of PRSSA serving on the executive board as Regional Conference Coordinator. She also is the Social Media Manager for MSU PRSSA’s student-run public relations firm, Hubbell Connections. Currently, Nicole works with Michigan State University’s athletic department and hopes to find a job after graduation that will allow her to be creative and utilize the skills she has gained in her experiences at MSU. @nicolerussell91

Assistant Regional Conference Coordinator, Anita Chitwood


Anita Chitwood is a senior communication student, specializing in public relations and graduating in May of 2015. She has expanded her knowledge of communications through her experiences in Walt Disney World. Anita has had the pleasure of working on the communications staff for SpringHill Camps and also as an Intern for the State of Michigan Senate. Her work experience also includes her current job as a Sparty’s Store Manager where she oversees a group of college students. She has had the opportunity to be the social media chair for MSU’s Association of Women in Sports Media, an active member of PRSSA and work on freelance projects for Hubbell Connections. She loves adventure and would love to find an internship this summer that allows her to be creative while further exploring the PR industry. @chitwoo5

Director of Promotions, Danielle O’Brien


Danielle O’Brien is a senior pursuing a degree in communications and will graduate from Michigan State University this spring. She is an active member of PRSSA and is an Account Executive at Hubbell Connections, the student run PR firm at Michigan State. Danielle currently interns at M3 Group in downtown Lansing where she frequently writes columns for Capital Area Women’s Lifestyle Magazine. After graduation, she plans on moving to a large urban area where she can pursue a career in an agency setting. @DanielleObrii

Director of Speaker Outreach, Hanna Porterfield


Hanna Porterfield is a senior studying Advertising and Public Relations.  As a dedicated, involved PRSSA member she jumped at the chance to be on the planning committee for Electing Excellence, and secured the conference’s lineup of professionals as Director of Speaker Outreach.  Hanna is also an Account Associate for Hubbell Connections (MSU’s student-run PR agency) and has had four internships in varying aspects of the communications industry, working across the country.  Originally from Grand Rapids, Mich., Hanna loves MSU but is ready to live the city life, hoping to move to New York after graduation pursing a career in Public Relations, specifically social media. @citygirlhanna

Director of Logistics, Alyssa Sherman


Alyssa Sherman is a senior and will be graduating from MSU in May with a degree in communication and specialization in public relations. She has been a part of the Undergraduate Communication Association, PRSSA and Rotaract Club within MSU, as well as is a member of a local Toastmasters chapter. Alyssa also has experience in both the non-profit and corporate spheres through internships with Big Brothers Big Sisters and Emergent BioSolutions. She plans to pursue a PR career in a midwestern corporate setting after graduation. @a_sherman7

Co-Director of Sponsorships, Erica Tackett


Erica Tackett is a sophomore Advertising student, specializing in Public Relations. She has been a member of PRSSA since her first semester at MSU and is very involved with their student-run PR agency, Hubbell Connections. Along with these activities, Erica has held three internships ranging from radio promotion to social media management. Erica is hoping to gain more PR experience with an internship in the Lansing area this summer. @ericamt_

Co-Director of Sponsorships, Chelsea Dowling


Chelsea Dowling is a senior communication major with a specialization in public relations. Chelsea has had multiple public relation internships at B2B and B2C agencies like WordWrite Communications and Burson-Marsteller. She is involved in PRSSA as an account executive for Hubbell Connections, MSU’s student-run PR agency and has been helping with sponsorship outreach for MSU PRSSA Regional Conference. Upon graduation in May, Chelsea hopes to move to Chicago and do consumer public relations at a global agency. @chelseadowling_

Regional Conference Prep 101


Now that you’re registered to attend the 2014 PRSSA Regional Conference on Feb. 8, it’s time to begin prepping! The following tips have been complied to ensure that you get the most out of this event.

Create business cards! This is a quick and easy way to follow up with others and to share your contact information. Business card information can include your name, title, email address, phone number, Twitter handle and LinkedIn URL. Customize your business cards to fit to your personal style, but remember to keep them simple and professional.

Bring copies of your resume! These may come in handy all weekend, so it wouldn’t hurt to bring them to the networking event on Friday night as well as Saturday’s sessions.

Don’t forget your cell phones, tablets, laptops, notepaper and chargers! Internet access will be available to guests during Saturday’s sessions, which means that live tweeting will be encouraged!

Bring professional clothing. You never know whom you may meet at the conference, so it is best to make a good first impression from the start! Business attire such as dress shirts, dress skirts or pants, dresses and suits are all acceptable to wear during Saturday’s sessions. Dress for the networking event on Friday night is semi-formal/cocktail. 

Start using the event hashtag, #VotePR! Let MSU PRSSA know which PRSSA chapter or school you will be representing. Tell us which speaker you’re most excited to hear and what you’re looking forward to during the conference! Follow us on Twitter @msuprssarc and Facebook, if you haven’t already done so.

Registered attendees will receive an email with more information and the conference schedule within the next few days. Can’t wait to see you there! #VotePR

Keynote Speaker Profile: Sara Wurfel


Our very own Michigan State alumna and a graduate from the J-school within the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, Sara Wurfel is Electing Excellence’s keynote speaker! Wurfel is the Press Secretary for Governor Rick Snyder and accredited in public relations. 

After graduating from Michigan State, Wurfel worked in state government with the legislature, congressmen and the State of Michigan.  Once moving to Oregon and working as the director of communications for AARP Oregon, Wurfel received her master’s degree from the University of Oregon.  She is also involved with PRSA and was the President Elect for the Portland Metro chapter.

As a native Michigander, Wurfel returned to the mitten state when she started working as the Governor’s spokeswoman. 

Wurfel has much experience in policy communications and crisis management, which translates into working a lot. Like all public relations professionals will tell you, the industry does not work traditional eight-hour days.  Learn more about Wurfel and how she balances life and work in Capital Area Women’s Lifestyle Magazine’s article

We can’t wait to welcome Sara to our conference.  In the meantime, follow her on Twitter @SaraLW.

Martin Waymire brings a specialized spin to Lansing public relations

Martin Waymire Advocacy Communications is a multi-service public relations agency specializing in public affairs and strategic communications consulting.  As the winners of the 2013 PRSA Silver Anvil for Public Affairs, Martin Waymire has won countless awards for their work.

The agency was started by Roger Martin, APR and David Waymire combining their communications skills, public policy understanding and expansive network of reporters around Michigan.  Martin Waymire is based in Lansing and made up of a well-connected, hardworking team that is nonpartisan, putting their clients ahead of any political viewpoints.

martin waymire

We are excited to hear from Martin Waymire to start off Saturday during our first round of breakout sessions.  Read more about their NO on Prop 5 campaign here to get some insight on their work and thing about what you may want to learn from their session.

Sweet Soiree: A Networking Mixer


To kick off the 2014 Regional Conference in East Lansing, Michigan State University PRSSA has teamed up with Hubbell Connections and the Greater Lansing Food Bank to bring you the “Sweet Soiree” on the evening of Feb. 7! This dessert themed cocktail party, featuring live music and networking with PRSSA members, MSU faculty and professionals from across the state will begin at 6 p.m. The Valentine’s Day themed event, will take place at Jackson Zone located at 333 E Grand River Ave. All proceeds will be donated to the Greater Lansing Food Bank as an effort to give back to the Greater Lansing community.

The Greater Lansing Food Bank is a non-profit organization that provides meals for families and individuals across the state. A donation of just $60.00 can feed a family of four people for six days. Help out those less fortunate by showing your support and attending this upcoming event!

Tickets are $5.00 and can either be purchased prior to the event at Eventbrite or at the door! If you are planning on getting your ticket at the door, please RSVP by emailing soiree.sweet@yahoo.com.

Join us the night before the conference for some delicious desserts and a networking opportunity with future colleagues and professionals! If you have any questions about the event, contact the event coordinator, Megen Rapp at soiree.sweet@yahoo.com!

Speaker Profile: Karl Gude

Karl Gude


Karl Gude is pro at visual storytelling.  He was Director of Information Graphics at various large news organizations, including the Associated Press and Newsweek.  Currently, Karl teaches courses in information graphics and visual communication in the Journalism school at Michigan State University.

Did you always know what you wanted to do in life, with regards to graphic design and journalism?

No, I never knew what I wanted to do! In retrospect, my job philosophy has always been, and continues to be, ‘It sounded like a good idea at the time.” I graduated from high school and never attended college. I bounced from blue collar job to blue collar job (farmer, factory foreman, carpenter…) until I decided to move to New York City at 23 to try and work as an artist. I had always loved to draw, and I drew a LOT (which can tend to make you pretty good) but had never taken an art class or worked as an artist. I stumbled into journalism in my first job in New York  (Art Director at United Press International), a job that I didn’t screw up, although I made a lot of mistakes. This eventually led to Newsweek and MSU.

Technology has changed how readers consume content. Do you think that it has effected infographics’ place in media, or are they equally viewed in print and digital?

I don’t have any data on that. What I do think is that they can do a wonderful job of clarifying complex information in either place.  They are under-utilized, though, because people don’t really understand how to conceive them and get them made. Also, there aren’t a lot of people who know how to make them. Bad infographics can actually harm your mission to inform. Badly designed infographics, for instance, can confuse people and also harm an organization’s image.

How do infographics play a part in government communications?

Just about every topic that falls under the umbrella of government could be communicated better if there were infographics to explain it, but again, they are seldom made for the reasons I explained in the last question. Imagine an engaging and clear infographic explaining health care, the plight of education and the like!

What is the best way to pick relevant information that can be used in an infographic and shown effectively?

Big question! This entirely depends on the audience you’re trying to reach and what you want the graphic to do. For instance, an infographic about a chronic disease like cancer would change depending on who it was intended for. It may be trying to explain to policy makers why they should increase research funding, or it could be trying to encourage woman with little education and almost no access to technology to do breast self exams.

We can’t wait for Karl’s interactive session during the afternoon of the conference.  In the meantime, follow him @karlgude.