PR firm CEO retiring and considering politics


Kelly Rossman-McKinney. Photo by Johnny Quirin

The co-founder and CEO of a statewide PR firm with a local office is retiring from her role and considering a career in politics.

Kelly Rossman-McKinney, of Lansing-based Truscott Rossman, which has an office in Grand Rapids, will retire in June 2018 from the firm she has co-led since founding it in 2011 with her business partner, John Truscott.

According to Truscott, Rossman-McKinney is exploring running as a Democrat for state Senate in the 24th District, the seat currently held by term-limited Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

Though she has not formally announced her candidacy, Truscott said she filed her committee and is “raising some money and making plans.”

Meanwhile, Rossman-McKinney will step back from all legislative PR work to avoid conflicts of interest.

The Business Journal was unable to reach Rossman-McKinney for comment today.

Truscott said Rossman-McKinney is “a phenomenal person, and it’s been a joy to work with her.”

“She was looking at retirement anyway and starting to work in that direction,” he said. “She said having worked around politics for so many years, she figured she could do it just as well as anybody serving now. She’s used to advising people, and she thought it would be interesting to be on the other side.”

Rossman-McKinney’s background

A pioneer of issues management campaigns in Lansing, Rossman-McKinney is a nationally accredited public relations counselor and member of the Public Relations Society of America, or PRSA, distinguished College of Fellows — one of three in Michigan.

Early in her career, she worked for a state representative in Battle Creek, which fed her interest in politics. She went on to work on state policy issues and met Truscott when he was working for Gov. John Engler in the mid-1990s.

She is a certified crisis communicator, a motivational speaker and will teach a class at Grand Valley State University this fall.

Rossman chairs the Michigan Chamber Foundation and serves on several boards, including the Michigan Political Leadership Program and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. She meets twice a month with members of the Michigan State University chapter of the PRSA, advising and mentoring dozens of PR students every semester.

Firm’s succession plan

Truscott said he will assume full leadership of the firm after Rossman-McKinney retires.

“We’ve been planning this for awhile, and we’ve got a really strong team that will be stepping up,” he said. “Even though her shoes are very difficult to fill, when she leaves, that will leave me in the leading role. We are deciding what we want to do afterward, but for the foreseeable future, I’ll be leading the firm.”

Truscott Rossman

Truscott and Rossman-McKinney joined forces to establish their firm in January 2011, after decades pursuing separate public relations careers.

The firm represents local, statewide and national clients from its offices in Lansing, Grand Rapids and Detroit.

It offers communications services including issues management, crisis communication, new media, ballot initiatives, community relations, government affairs and grassroots initiatives.

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