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Leadership Bio

Michelle Olson, APR

General Manager
Scottsdale, Arizona

Michelle Olson, APR, has spent most of her 32-year public relations career in a consulting environment, ranging from mid-size public relations firms to large, integrated advertising agencies. 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 her own firm, which she ran for 13 years until its merger with Fingerpaint, a New York-based integrated marketing agency. She now leads the company’s Scottsdale office, while creating a public relations discipline in its other offices. Blending PR into integrated marketing 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 has handled numerous national 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 lifestyle centers: Kierland Commons and Scottsdale Quarter.

Although her career began in Minneapolis, Olson has lived in Arizona for 27 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 immediate past chair of Arizona Forward, a statewide environmental education and advocacy nonprofit, and a member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) where she served as a founding member of its Women’s Leadership Initiative in Phoenix, convening 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 and has won numerous industry awards for her clients. 

Employment History

  • 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 

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