Blog

What PRSA Has Done for Me

By Bart Graham 

I used to consider myself an introvert.  

Sitting at a computer and staring at a screen for eight hours a day doing sales can make you feel that way.  My only window to the outside world, where my clients were, was my phone and Microsoft Outlook. I was in my own little bubble thinking nothing would ever happen. Then the unthinkable did happen. Three years ago I was told my services were no longer needed by my company.

I thought, “What do I do now?” I had a LinkedIn profile with no picture and only 50 connections.  I also had my yearly Grand Prix auto racing vacation where I volunteered for a week doing media relations in the Media Center. This was my hobby, which I still have and love.

Outplacement services told me that I needed to network and update my LinkedIn profile. I told myself that I also needed to join a professional association. In my job-search notes I wrote “PRSA.” Why PRSA? Two words: media relations. Could I possibly turn the work I loved doing for the Grand Prix into a new career chapter?

As luck would have it, through a civic activity I was involved in, I met the PRSA Tampa Bay chapter president serving at the time and mentioned to her I was interested in joining. That was all it took. The orders were to let her know when I had completed my application so I could be placed on a committee. I worked the registration desk at one of our events. It was pretty overwhelming for an introvert, but I told myself to embrace the change and to not be a spectator.

I can’t believe where I am at today.

Do I have my dream job?  Not yet, but I am working on it. It is just a matter of time.

I never had a mentor.  Do I have one now? I sure do, through the help of PRSA. My mentor is great, and I now consider him a dear friend, somebody I can talk to if needed. I know he is there, and he has taught me the fine art of conversation among other things.

Have I met great people and made many friends and connections? Wow, I sure have! There must have been an extroverted side of me hidden somewhere. My connection count on LinkedIn is now more than 1400. I love networking.

I was fortunate enough to win a scholarship to attend our PRSA International Conference in Indianapolis. This really opened my eyes, and I felt right at home. The conference was themed around auto racing. Go figure!

I learned a new social media skill for this conference, courtesy of our Digital Communications Committee. They gently led me “kicking and screaming” into using Twitter!

Was the chapter there to support me when I went through a family tragedy last year? Yes, they were, and I am forever grateful.

And guess what else. I think I found another niche I might be good at because of my involvement on a committee: volunteer recruitment. Just another skill I have honed from being involved with PRSA Tampa Bay.

While all of this might sound like an advertisement to join PRSA, it really isn’t.  I guess I just didn’t realize the importance of being active in a professional association in the field you work (or want to work) in, of volunteering your time and of networking. I sure do now.

Am I a true extrovert now? No. I am not willing to go that far, but I do consider myself an ambivert. That works for me!

 

 

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Member Spotlight: Stephanie Navarro

1. First news publication you read in the morning?

I read the Daily Skimm, a newsletter-type email by theSkimm that provides a recap of the last 24 hours of news, from entertainment to politics to even international news. This is a great way for me to stay on top of current events every day without having to dig through several sources. 

2. First public relations job?

I was promoted from an intern position to an account coordinator role at BAM Communications in San Diego (where I’m originally from). BAM is a lifestyle and hospitality PR agency, which I think is branching out to include tech now, and it gave me great exposure to a variety of clients that helped me develop my core skills.

3. Most important career mentor, and why?

I have been so fortunate to have many great mentors so far that it's impossible to pick just one! I try to surround myself with people that I can learn from, will challenge me to be better and hold me accountable when I set goals.

4. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?

The Oxford comma! AP style was so drilled into me during college that I get very uncomfortable when I read content that uses it. 

5. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?

My most rewarding accomplishment to date, and I still feel I have much to accomplish because I’m just a few years into my career, was coordinating a press conference with Gov. Rick Scott. The facility had to be ready to receive him within about 15 hours of notice, which felt like a whirlwind, but it was rewarding because I was able to spring into action, work closely with his team and succeed in delivering the platform they needed to communicate his message.

6. Advice to new public relations professionals?

It's more important to have the drive and willingness to solve problems than to have all of the answers when you start. Much of what we do as PR professionals requires creativity, innovation and consulting, so as long as you have a solid foundation of principles, you shouldn’t be afraid to do your homework and tackle those big projects – because you may surprise yourself!

7. Job you would pursue if you weren’t in public relations?

I would've gone into genetics research. I took a few courses in school that really sparked my interest in hereditary traits, how genes are passed down and how each person has so many unique variations in their makeup, and I think I would have enjoyed uncovering genetic profiles and consulting with people on how to use this information to achieve better health.

8. Favorite movie?

Hocus Pocus – so much so that my older sister banned it from the house for a year because I would watch it on repeat, all year long! Bette Midler is absolutely iconic in her role as Winifred Sanderson, and not only do I still love watching it, I know every line.

9. Favorite vacation?

This is a tough one because I love to travel, but I'll go with the most recent, which was to Malaga, Spain, for my cousin's wedding. During the rehearsal dinner, which was hosted at a small farm-to-table restaurant in the historic center of the city, Casco Antiguo, we were surprised by a live flamenco dance performance that was absolutely surreal.

10. Any three dinner guests?

Oprah Winfrey, a media mogul, philanthropist and entrepreneur who got her start in journalism; Frida Kahlo, a Mexican painter most well-known in pop culture today for her bold style and flower crowns, and someone I admire because she blazed a trail for women in art and society, and challenged what it meant to live with a disability; and Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ executive chairman, who built a brand based on values, people and quality – and a brand that’s now global.



With Gov. Scott.


My team at Tomlin St Cyr Real Estate Services, Emily Knudson and Ali St. Cyr, and me.


Visiting an exhibit on Frida Kahlo at the Dali Museum.


Flamenco dancers in Malaga!

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2018 Career Panel Recap

By: Michael Mezich, USF PRSSA President

On January 23, PRSA Tampa Bay met at BRIO Tuscan Grille for a panel on career-building in PR and Communications. The panelists were Crystal Lauderdale, director of Content Strategy at Alvarez & Marsal; Katy Parsons, APR, senior account executive at ChappellRoberts; and Paula MacDonald, APR, owner at Image Suite PR/HEROIC Integrated Communications, along with moderator Kirk Hazlett.

Hazlett began by pointing out that there are a myriad of paths for our careers to follow and asked the panelists to share where their careers had taken them and what they had learned.

Lauderdale went from journalism to communications jobs at a variety of places, including start-ups, Florida Polytechnic University, and Alvarez & Marsal, where she currently works.

“I realized that my love of storytelling could be expanded beyond the field of journalism,” said Lauderdale. “By keeping an open mind about how I could work in jobs that involved my interests, I have been fortunate to have enjoyed working for a variety of employers.”

Parsons has spent her entire career at the same agency, ChappellRoberts. During that time, she has watched the agency grow and evolve into something completely different from the agency that which she first started. At ChappellRoberts, Parsons experiences a different work day every day, and works in a culture that accepts failure. This is important because, for Parsons, the biggest learning moments come from failure.

MacDonald is currently working as a sole practitioner, an opportunity that came available after being laid off. She has learned that working for your own business can come with benefits such as schedule flexibility, but skills like self-motivation and self-discipline are key. Most importantly, Paula has learned that as a sole practitioner, it is important to play to your strengths and be able to reach out to others who can help cover your weaknesses.

Another tip shared to build your career was the importance of having your APR.

“Since receiving my APR, I have never looked at projects the same way again,” said Parsons.

In addition, the importance of having a mentor and using social media were noted for being very beneficial for growing your career and networking.  

 “Even if you don’t like social media, use it,”  said Lauderdale. “I have received two jobs from using LinkedIn.”

Lauderdale advised others to treat personal social media accounts like business accounts. Use them regularly and think about your own brand that you’re creating.

Join us for our next event, Building Trust Inside-Out: How Internal Communications Can Build Morale, Productivity and Brand Advocacy, on February 13 at Brio Tuscan Grille.

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4 Ways to Improve Your Writing and Speech

By Joseph Priest, APR

“Mary tweeted her status,” or “Mary Tweeted her status”? “Bart wrote a blog about the movie,” or “Bart wrote a blog entry about the movie”? And “Paula developed FAQs,” or “Paula developed FAQ’s”? In a new article in Strategies & Tactics, Joseph Priest a corporate writer at Syniverse and member of the PRSA Tampa Bay Digital Communications team, sheds light on four problem areas in PR writing that can keep communications from being correct, clear and consistent. Check them out.

 

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President’s Message

January brings on thoughts of new beginnings and we are pleased to announce the newly elected 2018 PRSA Tampa Bay leaders outlined below. This new leadership team joins a seasoned group of PR pros making up the chapter’s Board of Directors.

  • President-Elect (2019 President): Jenna Stock
  • Treasurer: Justin Herndon
  • Secretary: Kelsy Van Camp
  • Assembly Delegate: Betty Carlin, APR
  • Board Member: Sarah Kettenburg (overseeing digital communications)
  • Board Member: Denise Wilson (overseeing awards and public service)

If you're looking to build new PR skills or expand your existing talents, this year provides many opportunities to maximize your membership through volunteering. Specifically, we are looking for: vice chair of programs, assistant treasurer, website vice chair, programs communications chair, networking coordinator and committee members for Awards, Bylaws, Membership, Professional Development Day and Programs. If you’ve found value in your membership, I want to embolden you to get involved with the chapter. Learn more about volunteer opportunities on our website, and please reach out to our Volunteer and Recruitment Chair Bart Graham.

I want to extend a special THANK YOU to my predecessor, Bobby Eagle, APR, for his leadership and dedication to our chapter. He has raised the bar in offering excellent professional development opportunities through our monthly programs. He also implemented a strong financial foundation for the chapter’s treasury. With this strong foundation, we have a fiscally-responsible format to track and report our expenses and revenue. Bobby worked tirelessly this year in activities supporting the success of this chapter.

In 2018, my and the Board’s priorities will be to (1) ensure that we keep delivering amazing value to you through our many best-in-class programs and events, (2) help you professionally from doing better at your job to advancing your career in public relations, and (3) continue to provide you avenues for service within the community and with our PRSSA chapters at the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa. 

It’s my honor and privilege to serve as your chapter president this year, and I look forward to helping you make the most of your PRSA membership and experience. If you have any questions, comments or ideas, I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to contact me anytime.

Looking forward to seeing you at an upcoming meeting or program this year!

Mary Margaret Hull, APR

President, PRSA Tampa Bay

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Calling all sole practitioners and small agency owners

Are you looking for a place to network, problem solve and share best practices with other independent public relations professionals?

The Independent Practitioners Group at PRSA Tampa Bay can help!

We invite all interested members to our first meeting of 2018 at 10 a.m., Friday, February 16 at Datz Restaurant at 2616 S. MacDill Avenue in Tampa.

At the meeting, we will be asking attendees to help identify topics, activities and meetings for the year ahead that will be of value to our group—and to the wider PRSA Tampa Bay chapter.

No payment is necessary for this first meeting—food and beverages are pay as you go.

Please join us and RSVP via our Facebook page (PRSA Independent Practitioners Group – Tampa Bay Chapter) or via email to Paula Macdonald at  info@letsgetheroic.com.

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PRSA Finishes 2017 with Donation of 30 Toys

Go, PRSA Tampa Bay! Metropolitan Ministries happily received the gifts we dropped off at its tent.

By Joseph Priest, APR

PRSA Tampa Bay wrapped up the year by helping make the holidays a little brighter for a lot of local kids. On Dec. 18, our chapter met at Fleming’s restaurant to host its annual holiday mixer, and for the third year in a row the Public Service Committee held a toy drive to raise donations for Metropolitan Ministries.

Thanks to the generosity of our members, we succeeded in collecting 30 gifts and dropping them off at the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent shortly afterward, in plenty of time to serve needy families looking for holiday toy gifts. 

Metropolitan Ministries predicted that it would serve more than 18,000 families in need for Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2017, a yearly need that our chapter has eagerly helped serve for the past few years. To spur even more donations for this effort, we’ve begun adding a prize drawing to randomly award a few contributors with prizes.

In order to be eligible, members have to bring a new, unwrapped gift, which is collected with other gifts for drop-off at Metropolitan Ministries. Each gift donated earns the contributor one ticket that is entered in a drawing for prizes, which this time included one special prize of a $20 gift card to Publix and one grand prize of a $50 gift card to Roy’s Restaurant.

For last month’s mixer, this incentive helped bring in 30 gifts, including a variety of toys, dolls, books, and games, and gift cards.

 

Our gift donations pile up at the mixer. Thank you, contributors!

The Public Service Committee thanks everyone who participated in the toy drive and everyone who helped our chapter give back to the community earlier in the year at our résumé review sessions with  USF’s PRSSA chapter and the United Way’s Sulphur Springs Resource Center.

Stay tuned to the PRSA Tampa Bay website for more ways you can help us serve in 2018.

Members and guests enjoy the mixer at Fleming’s.

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Member Spotlight: Bobby Eagle, APR

This Member Spotlight profiles Bobby Eagle, APR, Global Public Relations Director of Syniverse and 2017 president of PRSA Tampa Bay. He joined the chapter in 2007 and has served in a number of leadership positions before becoming president, including secretary in 2012 and board member from 2013 to 2015, and he has also served as a judge for the national PRSA Silver Anvil awards since 2014.

1. First news publication you read in the morning?

The Washington Post. I’ve long been a huge fan of the film All the President’s Men, and this got me hooked on reading the Post at a young age.

2. First public relations job?

Working for a minor league hockey and arena football team in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was a blast that sparked my passion for the profession. 

3. Most important career mentor, and why?

One of my first bossesturned out to be my most important mentor precisely because she was always much more than a boss. In my time working for her, she was a leader in every sense of the word, she always cared about the success of the members of the team, she always took a keen interest in supporting and guiding my development, and she helped me build the confidence I needed to begin and continue my professional growth, and still does to this day.

4. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?

There are so many options to choose from, but I suppose the biggest would be the use of the ampersand, which I once got a fact error for in college (50 percent off my grade!), for writing “Ben and Jerry’s” instead of “Ben & Jerry’s.” This opened my eyes to the lunacy that is this antiquated punctuation mark, and it still drives me crazy when I see it used inconsistently and haphazardly.

5. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?

Earlier this year, I was both surprised and honored to win a PRSA Silver Anvil. I’m exceedingly proud of this honor because of the terrific teamwork that went into the winning campaign, and I consider myself incredibly fortunate to work with an amazing team of professionals of which this award is a direct reflection.

6. Advice to new public relations professionals?

One, always remember attitude is everything, and, two, JFDI. There’s a fairly well-known quote by Chuck Swindoll that “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it,” and I’m a firm believer in taking control of the 90 percent and JFDI – “Just freaking doing it”!

7. Job you would pursue if you weren’t in public relations?

This is a tough question to answer, so I guess I’m lucky to be in public relations. But in an alternate universe, I may have gone to law school or been a reporter.

8. Favorite movie?

Jaws has been my favorite movie for as long as I can remember. Despite knowing nearly every line, I could still happily watch it on a loop at any time.

9. Favorite vacation?

I’m fortunate to have been on some amazing vacations, but my favorite is easily the trip my wife and I took to Australia in 2015. We studied Down Under back in our college days, and it was incredible to get to go back to relive our time there and explore Sydney, Brisbane, and Moreton Island – and we’re already planning to go back again!

10. Any three dinner guests?

The first two would be Tim Tebow and Bob Woodward. And the most important would be my late grandfather, who was an incredible role model and inspiration to me and showed me that with hard work and perseverance, nearly anything is possible.

My wife, Kaity, and me in Sydney Harbour, Australia, with the stunning Opera House behind us.

 

Winning a Silver Anvil this year for Syniverse’s “Exposing the Privacy Predicament” campaign, in the reputation/brand management for business category, was a professional high, and represents the work of an amazing team that I’m fortunate to be able to work with.  

One of the many things that make my company awesome is being able to play on our own intramural hockey team!

 

One of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday: Watching my alma mater, the University of Florida, take on our latest foe. Go Gators! 

With our baby, Charlotte, a feisty Boston terrier with a penchant for mischief!  

 

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Calling all Mentors!

Would you like to help a USF PRSSA student prepare for a career in public relations? If you have just a few hours to spare, consider mentoring a student for the remainder of the 2017-2018 academic year.

The PRSA Mentor Program is designed to be flexible so that mentors and mentees can make the most of their experience. Mentors may share career tips and professional advice to help students better understand and prepare to meet the expectations of the public relations industry. Mentors can also offer job shadowing opportunities if schedules allow.

Mentors and mentees are required to communicate at least four times during the semester (or roughly once a month), and mentees are expected to be the ones to reach out. At least one of these meetings must be in person. Mentors must be a current member of PRSA Tampa Bay.

Applications for the 2017-18 year are due this Thursday, November 16.

To apply for the program, click here.

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PRSA Tampa Bay Counsels Job Candidates

By Joseph Priest

Sometimes, PR professionals can demonstrate the best of PR when they’re not directly doing  PR. Our chapter’s recent participation in the United Way Day of Caring was one of these times.

On Oct. 12, the Public Service Committee organized our participation in a résumé-review and job-search counseling session for the Day of Caring at the United Way’s Sulphur Springs Resource Center. The Center, which opened in 2009, provides a range of community services, including job training, legal assistance, and education mentoring, and enables residents to do everything from use computers, to take GED classes, to participate in leadership-training and personal-growth-assistance programs, among many other activities. 

For our Day of Caring event, we were able to arrange, with the special help of Elizabeth Watts, APR, an activity in which we could specifically apply our communication and  planning skills by evaluating job candidates’ résumés and providing counsel on the best strategies to help them with their job searches. The event follows a similar Day of Caring résumé review workshop that we participated in at the Center two years ago, and also builds on the Day of Caring project we took part in at the Hillsborough Education Foundation last year. 

Our day consisted of dividing into three groups to evaluate the candidates’ résumés on areas such as neatness, organization, and effectiveness, and then sharing feedback with the candidates and having in-depth discussions to provide counsel on their job-search strategies.

Ten of our members participated:

  •         Betty Carlin, APR
  •         Bobby Eagle, APR
  •         Kathlyn Fitzpatrick
  •         Bart Graham
  •         Felicia Johnson, APR
  •         Stephanie Navarro
  •         Joseph Priest
  •         Jessica Summers, APR
  •         Elizabeth Taylor
  •         Elizabeth Watts, APR

 

Although we just had a few hours to contribute, our team had an amazingly rewarding experience. We were able to offer high-level communication and planning advice to job candidates who don’t normally have access to this kind of counsel. 

In particular, many of the typical job candidates at the Center are different than many of the typical PR candidates that we encounter in that the candidates at the Center are middle-aged, have had many jobs in many areas, and face special challenges with their ability to work or with their job histories. These challenges can include having regular access to transportation, having special family needs that restrict the days and hours they can work, or having a termination history for past job performance.

The way our team came together to apply our skills to address these different challenges and give personal counsel to the candidates truly exemplified both the professional value and community benefit of what our profession offers. It was rewarding to be a part of this event, and rewarding to be a part of PRSA Tampa Bay. 

The Public Service Committee is working on other ideas to keep our chapter involved in the community, so stay tuned for more ways you can help serve. And if you have any suggestions, please send them to Joseph Priest

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