Hoosier Chapter in Fort Wayne

While much activity of the Hoosier PRSA is concentrated around Indianapolis, the influence of our chapter extends statewide. This year, a group of PR professionals in Fort Wayne is helping us have a more visible presence in northeast Indiana.

On February 12, PRSA members and non-members gathered for lunch and conversation in Fort Wayne. Twenty-three public-relations professionals participated in the informal meet-up at Calhoun Street Soup, Salad and Spirits. John Paff, APR, vice president of Nichols Company, presented an overview of the benefits of PRSA membership. He then briefly interviewed Dr. Kathie Fleck, APR, visiting assistant professor of public relations at Ohio Northern University, and Melanie Hall, APR, public affairs director at Fort Wayne Community Schools, about their experiences with PRSA and professional accreditation. Those attending were asked for suggestions about future programs and career-networking opportunities.

On March 27, the group hosted its second event with 26 in attendance. A panel discussion examined “The Contours of PR in Fort Wayne.” Panelists explored the diversity of the public-relations profession in Indiana’s second-largest city. Speakers included:

  • Kevin Erb, director of public relations and social media at Ferguson Advertising,
  • Maria Omar, director of media relations at Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA),
  • Heather Schoegler, director of community engagement at Parkview Health (and a new member of Hoosier Chapter)
  • Nicole Wilkins, who is leaving her role as chief Communications officer at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne to launch her own company, 260 Media.

The Fort Wayne meet-ups are the brainchild of Peter Schnellenberger, who has helped organize the events with a small steering committee that includes Paff, Erb, Schoegler, Amber Recker of Punch Films and Jon Swerens of Rockhill Design.

“There is amazing PR talent in northeast Indiana, but until now, there’s been rather limited engagement with the Hoosier Chapter. PRSA’s membership directory shows only a handful of members with 260 area codes,” said Paff. “We hope to change that by creating regular opportunities for our Fort Wayne peers to connect with the Hoosier Chapter’s initiatives and services.”

Paff said the steering committee has considered many suggestions to increase PRSA membership and participation. Future efforts might include offering pro-bono consultations for local non-profits, simulcasting the monthly Hoosier Chapter luncheons from Indianapolis, selecting Fort Wayne venues for Half Day with a Pro, recruiting qualified candidates for the APR review course, and soliciting more Pinnacle Award entries from northeast Indiana.

More than 50 professionals have joined the “PRSA Hoosier Chapter – Fort Wayne” groups on LinkedIn and Facebook. Reservations for future events can be made on EventBrite. All Hoosier Chapter members are invited to participate and join the conversation: