Michelle Olson, APR, has spent most of her 30-year public relations career in a consulting environment, ranging from mid-size firms to large, integrated advertising agencies, with a stop at corporate America in between. Her experience ranges from strategic communications planning for large companies and nonprofit organizations, to national media relations, crisis communications, public involvement, and content marketing for consumer and B2B clients.
In 2002, she founded Olson Communications, which she ran for 13 years until its merger with Fingerpaint. She now is general manager of Fingerpaint’s Scottsdale office, while creating a public relations division for this New-York-based advertising agency and its four offices. Blending PR into an integrated environment comes easily to her, as she was at the forefront of changing media and interactive platforms, and since 2008 has included social media and online initiatives in all campaigns and programs. She’s a blogger and an active user of Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook, along with lesser-known social networks that keep her clients connected to their industries.
While managing Olson, she handled numerous high-profile projects including the Arizona Coyotes Arena opening, SKINS Game (PGA Tour), Phoenix Open (PGA Tour) and the opening of several hotels, restaurants and golf courses in the West, plus two successful malls: Kierland Commons and Scottsdale Quarter.
Although her career began in Minneapolis, Olson has lived in Arizona for 25 years and has built strong relationships with business leaders, government staff and officials, and print and broadcast media throughout the state and western region. She has been a leader in her field locally, regionally and nationally, is a past president of the Phoenix Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), holds the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) designation and is a past chair of Counselors
Academy, a special Section within PRSA for public relations firm owners and leaders. She is the chair-elect of Arizona Forward, a statewide environmental education and advocacy nonprofit, and an active member of National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). She is a founding member of ULI’s Women’s Leadership Initiative, which convenes women in the real estate industry for networking and learning opportunities. she mentors students and young people interested in public relations as a career, and is a frequent guest lecturer at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
In 2003, Olson was recognized by the Phoenix Chapter of PRSA with the prestigious Percy Award for her lifetime achievements in the public relations industry. She has won numerous industry awards and was recognized as “Up and Coming” in BizAZmagazine in 2003, as “One to Watch” in 2004 by Arizona Business Magazine, and as a “Best Places to Work” finalist in 2009. Her firm continues to rank favorably in The Business Journal’s Book of Lists and Arizona Business Magazine’s Ranking Arizona.
- Fingerpaint (Scottsdale), General Manager, December 2014 to present
- Olson Communications, Inc. (Scottsdale), President, 2002–2014
- The Lavidge Company (Phoenix), PR Director, 1999–2002
- BJ Communications (Phoenix), Account Manager, 1991–1999
- The Shelard Group (Minneapolis), Marketing Manager, 1990–1991
- Colle & McVoy (Minneapolis), Account Executive, 1988–1990
- Target (Minneapolis), Sales Plan Coordinator, 1985–1988