Carolyn Grisko launched her own public relations and public affairs firm in 1995 after a 12-year career in broadcast journalism and five years working for former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, including time as deputy press secretary and campaign manager. Over the past decade and a half, she has built a strategic, integrated communications and public affairs firm that delivers impact out of all proportion to its relatively modest size.
The firm is differentiated by its intimate working knowledge of Illinois’ politics and media, with strong roots in local communities and strong relationships with local decision makers. And beyond its communications and public affairs expertise, Grisko can provide community engagement and consensus-building capabilities, particularly in the transportation arena, for airports and the FAA. But the firm also has experience handling national and multi-state public affairs campaigns for organizations like US Cellular and international reach through its membership in IPREX, one of the largest global partnerships of independent communications firms. And the past 12 months have seen the development of a new, metrics-driven methodology that also allows for a more integrated approach to client challenges.
Grisko has built a strong senior team that includes longtime vice presidents Margarite Wypychowski, responsible for the firm’s legislative support practice, and Terri Cornelius, who was news director at the Fox affiliate in Chicago for six years. They have been joined more recently by Samantha Joyce, marketing director, who brings ad agency experience and expertise in program design across both traditional and social media; Ambar Mentor, senior project director; and Gretchen Wieland, project coordinator.
An increase in integrated marketing, communications and public affairs work helped the firm achieve decent results in 2010. The firm has been working on public affairs projects for GTech, for example, which led to additional public relations work with its new Illinois consortium, Northstar Lottery Group.
A long relationship with organ and tissue donor network Gift of Hope (part of Donate Life Illinois) expanded beyond traditional PR to include integrated communications, including digital work. There was new business from The Joyce Foundation, Chicago Dental Society and National Skills Coalition, while the firm continues its work with US Cellular, Chicago Department of Transportation, The Joyce Foundation and Rush University Medical Center.
Interesting assignments included the Illinois Lottery work, a first of its kind private management lottery contract; development and launch of a new website for VOA Associates, a global architecture and design firm; and work with Chicago Department of Transportation on two substantial public initiatives: the Revive Wacker Drive public works project and marketing, advertising and public relations support for a citywide awareness campaign. Says Keri Kramer, director of communications for the Chicago Dental Society: “The working relationship with CG&A felt much more like in-house staff than an outside agency. As we neared the end of the project, I felt like the CG&A team hardly even needed any direction from me—they knew what needed to be done and took care of it.”