PR News offends Kansas PRSA chapter two months after causing uproar

UPDATED — The Kansas Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America recently issued an invitation to Diane Schwartz, senior vice president and group publisher for PR News.

That’s the group that, during an e-mail appeal for more subscribers, told PR executives nationally that they can “score big” in the industry if they “Don’t be like Wichita State.” The e-mail came shortly after the ShockersNCAA tournament loss.

After much uproar in local PR circles — and with Shocker and WSU fans all over — a day later Schwartz apologized to the school.

PRSA president-elect Mary Beth Chambers says she invited Schwartz to “talk about lessons learned and best practices.”

On or about April 8, Chambers says she extended an invitation via e-mail.

“I think I gave it about a week or so before I followed up with a phone call and left a message.”

She says Schwartz didn’t return the call or e-mail.

“I said we weren’t going to tar and feather her,” Chambers says. “Maybe she didn’t believe me.”

Schwartz did return a call from The Eagle.

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‘Wichita’ is Tampa Bay Rays code word

WICHITA — In a Fox Sports story online Thursday, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon is quoted as saying, “I never served time in Omaha, but I have in Wichita.”

Though that may not sound like a good thing, Maddon apparently meant well, and Wichita gets a great plug in the story.

Much like Peyton Manning used the word “Omaha” to signal certain plays in football, the article says Maddon is now using “Wichita” as a “code word to signal that a call should be challenged as part of Major League Baseball’s expanded replay.”

Joe Maddon, right, is using Wichita as his code name for MLB replay challenges.

Joe Maddon, right, is using Wichita as his code name for MLB replay challenges.

“Omaha and Wichita, kind of almost in a perverse way, rhyme,” Maddon said.

The article says the Wichita code is “a tip of the cap to his past.”

Maddon was involved in the National Baseball Congress World Series, which is held in Wichita, as a player and a coach and has been inducted into its Hall of Fame.

The article says baseball has a “soft spot throughout Wichita’s history,” in part due to the NBC. It quotes a few Wichitans about the code connection.

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Hallelujah, even SNL loves the Shockers

WICHITA — Wichita and Wichita State University have taken a bit of gentle razzing since the Shockers’ NCAA tournament loss.

There was Jimmy Fallon, who teased that the Shockers said they were able to focus on winning because, “We play in Wichita. Not many distractions here.”

Stephen Colbert joked, “March Madness comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lion who lost 10 grand betting on Wichita State.”

The city and the team have been shown a lot of love, too, especially in a funny Saturday Night Live skit over the weekend.

Actor Jay Pharoah reprised his role impersonating animated ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith.

“When this whole thing started, I picked Wichita State to win it all, and I’m still picking Wichita State,” Pharoah, as Smith, stated.

“Now a lot of experts will tell you that Wichita State was eliminated from the tournament but that their season is over.”

With each word, Pharoah then sounded more like a preacher.

“But I have a feeling, and mark my words, that Wichita State will come back to win the entire NCAA tournament and an NBA championship. Mark it down. Hallelujah!”

Haysville has its defenders just like Gridiron

WICHITA — Have You Heard? shared some of the Facebook comments poking fun at Haysville residents who don’t want to be poked fun of anymore at Gridiron, so it’s only fair to share some comments in support of Haysville, too.

Wichita resident Vaughn Fox said via e-mail that he plans to boycott Gridiron if Haysville jokes continue, and he says he’ll support Haysville monetarily in its effort to fight being ridiculed.

Derby resident Bob Cropp says he can’t help but notice the similarities between the Haysville situation and all the PR people’s complaints about PR News making fun of the Shockers.

“I think a common thread to all that is bullying,” Cropp says.

When there’s teasing of any sort, he says, it says a lot in how a person or group responds when someone says a comment hurts.

“A defensive posture means you weren’t kidding,” he says. “That’s bullying. That’s what this is all about.”

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PR News apologizes to Wichita State University and the Shockers

WICHITA — It was a day late, but PR News has apologized for suggesting through an e-mail to PR executives nationally that they can “score big” in the industry if they “Don’t be like Wichita State.”

“On behalf of PR News, I wish to apologize to Wichita State University and its many basketball fans and supporters across the country for the reference to the university in our March 26 email solicitation,” wrote Diane Schwartz, senior vice president and group publisher for PR News in what appears to be an e-mail blast to the same people who received the initial e-mail on Wednesday.

“The subject line was inappropriate and reflected poor judgment on our part. We have taken steps to ensure such statements made in our email solicitations will not happen again,” Schwartz wrote. “Thank you for understanding that mistakes happen, even to those who serve the PR trade. We are humbled by the incident and appreciate your continued support.”

Late Wednesday evening, Schwartz also sent a note to Barth Hague, WSU’s associate vice president for university relations and chief marketing officer. She said, in part, “I and my team have the utmost respect for your university — and the Shockers –and please understand that we own up to this mistake in judgment.”

The mass apology was sent Thursday morning.

“I find it acceptable,” Hague says. “I know that others who have been talking to me from outside of the organization thought it was weak.”

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PR News takes ‘cheap shot’ at the Shockers

scoreUPDATED — In a bid for more subscribers through a national e-mail blast on Wednesday, PR News touted its “expert opinions” on communications and crisis management, among other things, through what a Wichita State University spokesman calls a “cheap shot” at the Shockers.

The PR group now needs a little crisis management help of its own.

The e-mail, which was about how to “score big” in the business, has a subject line that says “Don’t be like Wichita State.”

“Really, that’s the approach you’re going to take to generate business?” asks WSU spokesman Joe Kleinsasser. “It’s just a marketing attempt gone awry. Is it the end of the world? No. But it’s unfortunate.”

His day began with a couple of e-mails from his counterparts at Wake Forest University and Princeton University alerting him to the slam against the school and its beloved Shockers.

“And, yes, I am unsubscribing from their distribution list,” one said after saying how much the slam annoyed him.

It’s a sentiment others locally and nationally are echoing.

“We think this approach is mean-spirited and beneath contempt,” wrote Barth Hague, WSU’s associate vice president for university relations and chief marketing officer, in an e-mail to PR News about playing on the Shockers’ “heartbreaking loss.”

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You don’t say

Garvey Center employ Steven Shaffer changes the number atop the building one more time for the Shockers.

Garvey Center employ Steven Shaffer changes the number atop the building one more time for the Shockers.

“The streak is over, but they’re still No. 1 with us!”

Larry Weber on changing the sign atop the Garvey Center to say #1 with a heart instead of counting Shocker wins

You don’t say

“Too much #Shocker Spirit? Guilty!”

– A Facebook post from Subaru of Wichita, which has changed its response to a union “shame on” sign by putting up a new sign saying, “For excessive Shocker spirit”

Shock Top & WuShock: like beer & pretzels

This sign at R&J Discount Liquor near College Hill is an example of how Shock Top and WuShock have joined to promote both their brands.

This sign at R&J Discount Liquor near College Hill is an example of how Shock Top and WuShock have joined to promote both their brands.

WICHITA – Shock Top and WuShock are like beer and pretzels: They’re not an official combination, but they go awfully well together.

When Anheuser-Busch’s Shock Top wheat beer debuted in 2007, House of Schwan’s Pam Irish called it “the very unofficial beer of WSU Shockers.”

While it’s still not the school’s official beer – most colleges, of course, don’t have one – WuShock is now used in Shock Top promotions here and elsewhere.

“We are fortunate enough to be one of the ambassadors for Wichita State athletics,” Irish says of the wholesale company, where she’s special events director.

“It’s been the most rewarding partnership I’ve ever been involved with. They’re just great partners.”

Before the Shock Top name debuted, Anheuser-Busch had a specialty beer called Spring Heat Spiced Wheat that was so popular the company decided to rename it and keep it year round.

Shock Top was one of about five possibilities Anheuser-Busch sent to wholesalers to see what they thought. House of Schwan lobbied hard for Shock Top, and it won.

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You don’t say

mbm“He has the same philosophy as us. ‘If you don’t start no stuff, there won’t be no stuff.’”

Laura Hands of Koch Companies Public Sector on the yellow “Marshall Based Management” buttons, which are a takeoff of Koch’s market-based management idea, that the company created in honor of Shockers coach Gregg Marshall