By: Jennae Ruehrdanz
What a year it was. It was a pleasure organizing and leading PRSSA’s agency tours this year. Here are some of the highlights from our wonderful tours.
September: Holland Tours – Next Creative Co, Haworth, Fairly Painless
As the VP of Professional Development this year, I wanted to take our members to as many new places as I could. The beautiful town of Holland was high on the list. We started the day at Next Creative Co, which is a small company made up of a handful of professionals from around the area. It was really inspiring to learn about how Next got its start. We also met Cheezit the cat, who is stuffed and doesn’t do much. The team is a fun, quirky group who are “basically, kinda nerdy.” I mean, they have a stuffed cat in their office, c’mon.
Another excellent tour we had that day was at Fairly Painless where, ironically enough, we met another cat. However, this cat was a sassy little thing who is the spokes-cat for Hopcat Grand Rapids, a client of Fairly Painless. We all had a laugh discussing the unique ways Fairly Painless handles their work.
Our last tour in Holland was at Haworth. There were no cats there, but there was food and an exquisite building to tour at Haworth headquarters. We heard about the company’s beginning and how their desire for innovation kept them going to become the successful company that they are today.
October: Quicken Loans Tour
We were invited to join Wayne State PRSSA on their tour at Quicken Loans headquarters in Detroit. The buildings were impressive. We would start in one building and walk underground through the Quicken Loan campus and end up a block or two away in an entirely different building. The variety of rooms in that place was unfathomable. There was even an entire dog floor dedicated to, you guessed it, dogs. We also visited a conference room that was previously a bank vault. It was totally casual too because most of the safes in the vault still contain whatever the previous owners kept in them. I can’t imagine what treasures might be stowed away in some of them.
November: Chicago Tours – Ogilvy & Mather, SapientRazorfish
Although these two agencies were both large and impressive, they were very different from one another in many ways. SapientRazorfish had a spunky yet inviting vibe. We learned that the name “SapientRazorfish” came from the merge between the companies, Sapient and Razorfish. Ogilvy was much more traditional in their office culture. However, they were still inviting and we learned a lot during our visit. The employees at each company expressed how much they love the culture and people they work with, which was very inspiring to hear. Personally, an office culture that I fit into and a fondness for the people around me have everything to do with how productive I can be. It was comforting to hear that there may be hope!
January: Detroit Auto Show
We got this amazing opportunity to attend the North American International Auto Show in Detroit for free. Yes, for free. Our very own PR dad, Derek DeVries, pulled some seriously tricky strings to get us into the event. One of the coolest things about this invitation was that we were asked to document our experiences on our personal social media channels while we were there. The automotive industry has been trying to tap into marketing to millennials as they are not as keen as previous generations to purchase automobiles. We are certainly in no hurry to do so even if we consider making the purchase at all. I currently don’t have a car, but that is not because I don’t want one. It is just the simple matter of money and not having any. Therein lies the essence of why millennials are not purchasing cars.
February: Grand Rapids Tours – Experience GR, ArtPrize
It was so great to have some tours in Grand Rapids for a change. These weren’t agency tours, but we still learned about how some of the flavors of Grand Rapids have been shaped. One major factor in the growth and life of Grand Rapids has something to do with ExperienceGR. We learned about their innovative approaches to engaging with their audience on their social media channels and why that’s important for Grand Rapids. Next, we visited the ArtPrize headquarters. We all know the ArtPrize is big, but while at this tour, we learned just how big. Millions attend the international event each year and it just keeps growing.
That’s a wrap! I had so much fun being a part of this important aspect of PRSSA and I hope you all feel a bit more professionally developed by attending the tours. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year!
Jennae is a senior from Grand Rapids, Michigan majoring in Advertising and Public Relations with an emphasis in PR. She is the Vice President of Professional Development for Grand Valley’s chapter of PRSSA. She is also a sports marketing intern for the Grand Vally Athletics program. Jennae enjoys spending most of her time at the beach, but she also enjoys practicing yoga and watching The Office with a hot cup of tea.