Roots and Growth
Tanner Friedman knows what it takes to tell stories and deliver messages. Our team’s vast, varied client experience spans industries and includes productive collaborations with nonprofit organizations, small business startups, middle market companies and multinational corporations.
We are communication pros, but not all are PR lifers. Each partner began his career delivering news and information in major market media positions - a valuable background for knowledgeable, high-impact business counselors. Our entire team brings diverse knowledge and perspective from a range of communication backgrounds to meet client needs.
A Founding Partner of Tanner Friedman, Don Tanner offers more than 35 years of strategic communications counsel and experience in virtually all industry sectors, including automotive, professional services, technology, non-profits, healthcare, and real estate.
The work of Tanner and his teams has garnered numerous national and international awards, including on behalf of clients in the Information Technology, Automotive and Animal Conservation sectors. He has also served as Executive Director of the Woodward Dream Cruise, the world’s largest one-day automotive event, where his Tanner Friedman team was honored with an international MarCom award.
A former major market print and broadcast journalist, Tanner’s background includes on-air, programming, production and public affairs posts—locally including as an anchor/ reporter over Detroit radio stations WWJ-AM and WXYT-AM. He also previously served as a writer/editor/research director for the national radio industry weekly trade publication, Monday Morning Replay.
Tanner is the author of No Static at All-A behind the scenes journey through radio and pop music. He is also a frequent lecturer on journalism, media and publications, including at Wayne State University, the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Michigan State University and Central Michigan University. His perspectives on branding, marketing and pop culture have appeared in Fast Company, FoxNews.com, Christian Science Monitor, Fox-TV, WDIV-TV, Crain's Detroit Business, Detroiter, Detroit News, and other dailies across the country.
Tanner serves as 2016 Detroit Chapter president for the Public Relations Society of American (PRSA) and on the Board of the Eight Mile Boulevard Association. A graduate of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Leadership Detroit Class XXVI, he is a Past Chair of the Chamber’s Ambassador Program and was previously named Ambassador of the Year. Tanner holds a B.A. in Speech Communications and Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Away from the office
“Someone once said, ‘if only life could be set to music.’ I second that emotion. From Frank to the Foo Fighters, I appreciate and enjoy just about all of it. To relax, I also enjoy reading - largely history, cultural studies and current affairs - running and working out, writing, sports and quality time with my family. Favorite position: On the floor in front of a good football game on TV, with a pet Labrador on either side of me.”
Tanner Friedman Co-Founder Matt Friedman leads teams and works directly with clients to develop and implement traditional and emerging communications strategies, that support business objectives. His clients have included an international airline, multiple global pharmaceutical companies and research universities, print and broadcast media companies, top nonprofit organizations, innovative entrepreneurial companies and leading professional service firms. Friedman is a recognized crisis communications strategist, helping to guide organizations of all sizes through periods of “bad news” and times of change.
His specialized experience includes working with virtually all facets of health care communications, handling litigation communications for high-profile legal matters, leading media relations operations for large business and policy events and strategic communications projects for multiple Division I college athletic departments and a “Power Five” athletic conference. Friedman is also an experienced media trainer, combining his news and PR experience to create customized training sessions for clients nationwide to learn how to tell their stories and deliver their messages through interviews with journalists.
He began his PR career at a large Metro Detroit firm in the 1990s, after a track record of success in broadcast journalism. Most recently, he was the lead news producer for Detroit station WDIV-TV (NBC)’s 6pm news broadcast, at the time Michigan’s most watched evening news program. He also served as a news producer at WKMG-TV (CBS) in Orlando, Florida and WSB-TV (ABC) in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was the top news writer on the nation’s highest-rated 11pm newscast. Friedman began his professional broadcasting career on-the-air and behind-the-scenes covering news and sports at WWJ-AM radio (CBS) in Detroit. He first started at age 11 as a DJ and sports announcer at Metro Detroit community radio station WBFH-FM, where he eventually became the station’s operations manager. He now frequently serves as a broadcasting, news and PR analyst for newspapers, magazines, websites, TV and radio stations. Friedman also serves the host of a statewide Internet radio program focused on trends, "Communicating Business" on the Michigan Business Network.
Friedman is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, where he served as News Director at WJPZ-FM, at the time the nation’s highest-rated collegiate broadcast outlet. He was inducted into the WJPZ Radio Hall of Fame in 2012.
A leader in the Michigan community, Friedman serves as Chair of the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation Board of Trustees and on the Boards of the Legacy Detroit Medical Center, the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame, Yatooma’s Foundation for the Kids, Charity Motors and the Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation. He also chairs the Detroit Regional Chamber’s PR/Marketing Advisory Council. His previously served as Governance Chair for the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. Earlier in his career Friedman received recognition for his leadership as one of Crain’s Detroit Business’ “40 Under 40” and DBusiness magazine’s “30 In Their 30s,” for his business and community accomplishments before the age of forty.
He resides with his family in West Bloomfield, Michigan.
Away from the office
“When not talking business, I’m probably talking sports. From Syracuse basketball to the Detroit Tigers to Michigan football, the Red Wings, Pistons or the NFL, the games are my great escape. One year, the Detroit Free Press put me on the front page for admitting to watching college basketball tournaments at work. That wasn’t news to family, friends and colleagues. As a recovering journalist, I’m also an ‘information junkie,’ consuming news via all platforms at all hours. Old habits die hard. Otherwise, I’m interested in whatever my family has going on, volunteering in the community, biking and walking on trails near my home, exploring Northern Michigan and my ongoing search for the best Bar-B-Que joint in America.”
Tanner Friedman Senior Account Manager Kristin Priest Sokul shares a diversified portfolio of client experience, including those in the professional service, non-profit, education, healthcare, event-marketing, advocacy, government, technology, automotive, real estate and traditional media sectors.
For her clients, Sokul develops, implements and advises on campaigns and projects incorporating multiple platforms. Her specialty areas of focus include communications strategy, media relations, branding, messaging, event promotion, expert positioning, community relations, social media, website communications, adversity communications, marketing and advertising. Her counsel and support for clients has resulted in award winning campaigns, with clients experiencing increased marketplace recognition, target audience participation and online presence.
Beginning her career with another Metro Detroit public relations agency, Sokul specialized in media relations, community relations, search marketing, product launches and event planning. There, she provided client counsel and enhanced positioning within respective industries and targeted markets—locally, regionally and across the country.
Sokul earned her bachelor“s degree from Central Michigan University, where she studied public relations and interpersonal and public communication. She graduated summa cum laude and was recognized for excellence in research and composition by the CMU Interpersonal and Public Communications department. In 2015, she was appointed to the Reach Charter Academy Board of Directors, a K-8 charter school located in Roseville, Mich. Sokul also has led and/or coordinated seminars throughout the region regarding organizational and online communications.
Away from the office
“I like to spend as much time as possible with friends, family and my lovable rescue-mutt Piko. Likely, you’ll find me chatting the ears off anyone who will listen, usually about off-color humor or obscure musical nostalgia, and experimenting with some new concoction of confectionary delights.”
Tanner Friedman Senior Account Manager Kim Eberhardt brings her diverse work experience in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors to her clients, which include professional service and nonprofit entities.
Kim creates success for clients by creating multi-platform public relations and marketing strategies that help firms share their stories in compelling and engaging ways to achieve their business goals.
Prior to joining Tanner Friedman, Kim served as the vice president of marketing and communications for Hennessey Capital LLC (now Hitachi Business Capital), a working capital provider for entrepreneurial businesses. Kim managed the firm’s community outreach and public relations activities and created and directed the company’s advertising, marketing and social media programs.
Previously, Kim honed her nonprofit communication skills in her role as marketing manager at the Detroit Regional Chamber, where she focused on event and strategic partnership marketing, as well as e-marketing.
Kim is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America, and serves on the board of directors for the Detroit Chapter. Kim is also involved with the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce and volunteers for a variety of community and charitable projects, including planning her town's annual Memorial Day Parade.
Kim holds a Master of Arts in Public Relations and Bachelors of Arts Degree in Journalism and Public Relations, from Michigan State University.
Away from the Office
“In no specific order, I love movies of all genres, the Michigan State Spartans, ice cream, reading, travel, trying out recipes from my massive cookbook collection, Tigers baseball, all things pop culture, biking, exploring Detroit’s hidden gems and spending time with my friends and family. These hobbies and adventures are enhanced by having my husband, my son Griffin and dog Cooper by my side.”
Tanner Friedman Account Manager Tom Wegehaupt has more than 15 years of public relations, marketing, and account management experience heavily focused in the automotive and technology industries.
Tom brings a proven track record of achieving results in developing, directing, and implementing public relations and marketing communication strategies, with a proven ability to build and maintain positive relationships with media and industry leaders.
Wegehaupt joined Tanner Friedman from a full service digital agency, where he held the position of Project Manager, serving clients such as Audi, Subaru, Volkswagen, and Delphi by helping shape their online media presence.
Previously, Tom was entrenched in the public relations department of the largest European OEM for nine years, where he collaborated with a diverse range of national and international media professionals, served as a brand spokesperson, counseled key executives, and possessed a strong voice in the development and implementation of the brand’s communication strategy.
Tom completed his business pre-core and general education courses at Oakland University, and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Baker College. Tom is an Ambassador for the Detroit Regional Chamber, and was recently elected to the Methodist Children’s Home Society Board of Directors.
Away from the office
“I enjoy traveling and have been blessed with the opportunity to have visited many interesting places, including; nearly all 48 contiguous states, all of the “lower” provinces of Canada, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Virgin Islands and Aruba. I also enjoy cheering for the Chicago Cubs!
Account Manager Lexi Cerilli manages social and traditional media and marketing projects, among other public relations and multi-platform communications initiatives for both for-profit clients, such as corporations and professional service firms and non-profit clients, such as charities and business associations. She also leads Tanner Friedman’s internship program, in addition to managing the firm’s own marketing strategies.
She started her career with Tanner Friedman as an intern, before graduating Cum Laude from Central Michigan University where she earned a bachelor"s degree in Integrative Public Relations and a minor in marketing.
Away from the office
“I‘m a huge Detroit fan. I love everything about the city, especially sporting events. You can usually find me at Comerica Park enjoying a Tigers game with friends and family on summer nights.”
In her position, Higgins is responsible for overseeing and managing all firm financial and related administrative functions, including forecasting and budgets.
Previously, she served for 12 years in various accounting capacities, including mid-level accounting management with Compuware Corporation in Farmington Hills.
Higgins earned a degree from Walsh Business College where she majored in business and accounting.
Away from the office
“Having spent time living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Higgins still enjoys every opportunity to travel with the family. A Michigan-native, Higgins returned to her home state in 2002 from Connecticut. There, she devoted much of her time to volunteer work including an area Reading Recovery program. Higgins is also a sports and outdoor enthusiast.”
Our team is flexible. As we customize messages for different audiences and channels, we also customize entire teams to support specific client objectives. With a “best of the best” lineup of proven, experienced creative specialists on call to support our in-house professionals, our expertise and capacity to drive results knows no bounds. Able to contribute to client programs anytime, anywhere are trusted colleagues in media buying, brand development, graphic design, video production, Internet marketing, technical writing and other fields critical to many successful communication campaigns.
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