Blog

Interested in becoming an APR?

Interested in learning more about becoming an APR? Join our chapter Accreditation chairs for an informational lunch hour webinar on Monday, April 10 at 12 p.m. Learn more about the PRSA Tampa Bay Accreditation study group and what steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goal of becoming an APR in 2017. Email Paula MacDonald for webinar details at info@imagesuitepr.com.

You can find more details about the APR process here

Read More

2017 PRSA Sunshine District Conference Scholarship

As a benefit to our valued chapter members, PRSA Tampa Bay is offering two $745.50 scholarships for chapter members to attend the 2017 Sunshine District Conference. This year’s conference is June 23-26 on the Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas. Learn more about the conference here.

To apply, complete the online scholarship application found here

About the scholarship: The scholarship recipients will be required to perform a volunteer role during the conference. Be sure to indicate in your application which role(s) you are willing to perform, if you are awarded a scholarship. The Tampa Bay Chapter scholarship will cover $745.50 of the conference cruise fee. Recipients will need to register and pay for their registration/cabin room up front and submit the receipt to the PRSA Tampa Bay chapter treasurer for reimbursement after the conference. This scholarship covers one (1) attendee/passenger in an interior cabin. Any costs beyond the $745.50 mark, including additional passengers or room upgrade, are the responsibility of the attendee.

Deadline to apply: 5 p.m., Friday, March 24, 2016.

 Judging: A selection committee from another PRSA chapter will review and choose the scholarship recipients based on merit and need.

 Winners will be notified the week of April 3. 

Read More

Member Spotlight: Kasey Brennan

1. First news publication you read in the morning?
Does social media count? I follow a number of publications on Facebook and Instagram and like to skim the headlines as I’m waking up in the morning.

2. First public relations job?
My first job in PR was as a copywriter for a public relations agency. My degree is in English, so it was a natural fit for my skill set and allowed me to learn the industry from down in the trenches.

3. Most important career mentor, and why?
My grandfather – who built a successful company that is now under its third generation of family leadership. While he loved business, everything he did was for his family, and that is something that I look up to as a business owner.

4. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?
Using two words where one would do – for example, writing “in a timely manner” when “quickly” will work. I think there’s a tendency to add more words to a sentence to sound more intelligent, but I think it has the opposite effect.

5. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?
Managing the media relations for Give Day Tampa Bay, in 2015. I’m passionate about working with nonprofits and loved sharing the stories of different organizations working to better our community.

6. Advice to new public relations professionals?
Get connected. There’s so much that you can learn from talking with other PR professionals who are facing the same challenges as you. 

7. Job you would pursue if you weren’t in public relations?
I would love to do graphic design or event planning, but those both tend to fall under the PR umbrella. So if I had to do something completely unrelated, I would be a florist. 

8. Favorite movie?
10 Things I Hate About You.

9. Favorite vacation?
My favorite vacation would have to be my honeymoon in Costa Rica last year. We spent three nights in La Fortuna, near Arenal Volcano, and three nights on the beach in Guanacaste.

10. Any three dinner guests?
Rory Gilmore (one of the main characters from the TV show Gilmore Girls), Jesus, and my grandmother.


My wedding last year.

 
On honeymoon in Costa Rica.

 

 

 

Read More

Member Spotlight: Crystal Lauderdale


1. First news publication you read in the morning?
I usually crack one eye open to check my Facebook, USA Today, New York Times and weather apps before getting up (real healthy, I'm sure!). Then I listen to local news and the Today show while getting ready for work.

2. First public relations job?
For a brief time before joining Florida Poly, I worked in communications and PR at a local marketing agency. Before that, I was a journalist working for AOL, the New York Times Regional Group and Media General at various points.

3. Most important career mentor, and why?
My college photojournalism professor, Rick Meyer, a former Los Angeles Times photographer and brilliant businessman, who always told us, "There's plenty of time to rest when you're dead!" Between that advice and a lot of coffee, I stay pretty energized.

4. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?
Oh, my, can we all agree to stop saying and writing the word "utilize"? Unless you're trying to win at Scrabble, "use" should work just fine in most instances. 

5. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?
I feel really fortunate to get to introduce the world to Florida's newest state university and the only one dedicated exclusively to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). News outlets in more than 24 countries covered our grand opening, and our all-digital library was the subject of a Jeopardy! clue that year!

6. Advice to new public relations professionals?
Whether you're new to the industry or experienced, I think it's always important to connect regularly with other PR and communications professionals through organizations like PRSA. You can learn so much by comparing notes and sharing experiences.

7. Job you would pursue if you weren’t in public relations?
I loved being a photographer and video journalist, but really I thrive on the combination of strategic planning, data analysis, and creativity that PR, communications, and marketing require. This is kinda my jam.

8. Favorite movie?
I can't decide, but my husband and I are trying to watch our way through American history as depicted in film. I just watched Glory for the first time as part of our Civil War segment, and I'm taking recommendations if you have them. 

9. Favorite vacation?
In 2014, we took a trip to Hungary and Switzerland, and I loved them both. We visited the highest train station in Europe at the top of the Jungfrau, a mountain in the Swiss Alps, and the journey required a three-hour train ride and an hour of that ride inside the mountain – freaky!

10. Any three dinner guests?
Well, you want people who have something in common so the conversation flows, right? So, how about Elon Musk to discuss what might be possible in space travel, Neil Armstrong to discuss his firsthand experience, and Galileo, just to see the look on his face when he hears it all. :-)


Me and my husband, Peter Masa, on top of the Jungfrau in the Swiss Alps in October 2014.


Me, Peter and friends on top of Sentinel Dome in Yosemite National Park in September 2016.


Me learning to cook recipes from around the world. Maybe Elon, Neil and Galileo would like some baklava?

Read More

Spotlight: Kenya Woodard

Kenya Woodard, a former journalist with the Daytona Beach News-Journal, is currently the owner of Sigma 7 Communications which helps individuals and organizations craft stories to promote their businesses, projects, and missions. Ms. Woodard’s background also includes nonprofit public relations for a statewide school voucher program as well as corporate p.r. for the national scientific research arm of the property insurance business.

Read below to find out more about Kenya.

First news publication you read in the morning?

Tampa Bay Times. I like to know what’s going on in my own backyard

First public relations job?

Public relations coordinator with Step Up for Students. I was so nervous when I first started because in undergrad, professors warned about crossing over to “the dark side”, i.e. public relations. Turns out, much of what’s revered in journalism – accuracy, strong writing and storytelling skills, and good news sense – carries the same weight in PR. After two weeks on the job, my nervousness disappeared and I really got into the job and grew to love it. 

Most important career mentor, and why?

My most important career mentor is someone who’s not in PR and who will tell you she’s never had a career, just jobs – and that’s my mom, Patricia Harris. She’s always given me great career advice. My favorite gem: “You’re always looking (for a job/work).” She’s partly responsible for my being where I am in my career. In college, I wrote for the school newspaper but never had intentions to go into journalism; I had plans to be a teacher. But I had trouble passing the math section of the teacher’s exam, and after the third and final fail, I felt doomed. I remember whining that I’d wasted so much time and money only to leave school without a career, to which she responded: “What are you talking about? Haven’t you been writing for the school paper all these years? Why don’t you do something with that?” That was the kick I needed to take journalism seriously as a viable career option

Favorite thing about your job?

I love the freedom to choose my projects. And helping clients tell their stories never gets old. 

Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?

It’s a tie between split infinitives and the lack of use of the Oxford comma when it’s necessary. 

Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?

My first client was 2 Wheels 1 Cause, a nonprofit organization that’s focused on diabetes awareness. I’ve had to pleasure to watch as the founder has groomed a quirky idea into a movement that’s grown leaps and bounds. 

Advice to new public relations professionals?

You can plan and prep all you want but it’s execution that matters most. So always be DOING. 

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

Attorney/and or political pundit. I can talk for hours on end about the law and politics. 

If you could have any three dinner guests, who would they be?

My maternal grandfather, Oscar Williams. He was a Tuskegee Institute-trained carpenter who built a successful contractor business with his three brothers. This was during segregation and they endured quite a few hardships but somehow thrived. Their imprint stretches from Florida to Indiana, where they built entire neighborhoods that still stand today.

Ida B. Wells. Journalist, women’s suffragist, civil rights activist, businesswoman, working mom – the list goes on.  I mean, she was a total badass. She wrote articles and editorials against lynching, putting her life in great danger. She advocated that black people arm and protect themselves against white terrorists in 1892 when Jim Crow was taking root in the south – can you imagine such a thing? She sued a railroad company after being dragged off a passenger car for refusing to give up her seat. And she won, although her case was overturned on appeal. I often wonder how she managed to pack so much living into the 68 years she was here. 

Lady Bird Johnson. She’s mostly thought of as meek and demure, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find she also was a stone-cold businesswoman who amassed millions in her own right with the acquisition of radio and TV stations. She took a meager inheritance and made a president and built a mini-media and banking empire. She’s a great example of a #GirlBoss. 

Read More

Résumé Review w/ USF PRSSA Helps Next Gen of PR PRos

By: Joseph Priest, Elizabeth Watts and Davina Gould

It lasted two hours, involved 13 PRSA members and included 22 résumés, but the contribution it made to the future of our local public relations community is incalculable.

 On Feb. 2, our chapter’s Public Service Committee and Students Committee held a résumé review session and mixer with USF’s PRSSA chapter at the USF Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications. PRSA members divided into groups to judge student résumés on areas such as organization, strategy, and effectiveness; discussed their impressions with the students in their groups; and concluded by addressing the students and offering some final tips about starting a public relations career. Then, to reward the students and judges for their hard work, PRSA hosted a mixer where both chapters got to know each other better while enjoying a catered dinner from Carrabba’s. 

PRSA Tampa Bay President Bobby Eagle opens the review session with USF PRSSA President Vanessa Dreher.

Our résumé review team included 13 volunteers who gave up a Thursday evening to help prepare 22 students begin the first chapter in their public relations careers. The members included both seasoned professionals who were able to share lessons from the breadth of their careers, as well as younger professionals and new graduates who were able to offer insight from their recent experience on both the academic side and professional side of public relations.

 Our team included these members:

  • Lauren Bopp
  • Betty Carlin, APR
  • Bobby Eagle, APR
  • Christie Ebanks
  • Davina Gould, APR
  • Mary Haban, APR
  • Mary Margaret Hull, APR
  • Paula MacDonald, APR
  • Joseph Priest
  • Alana Siceloff
  • Jessica Summers, APR
  • Elizabeth Watts, APR
  • Jessica Wyland.

And they’re off. PRSA members (first two rows) plunge into judging résumés while PRSSA members (back rows) prepare to meet with the judges. 

The groups discuss their remarks before meeting with the students.

Our members had a busy night. Assembling in a large classroom inside the USF Communication and Information Sciences Building, they broke into three groups, and each group was assigned approximately seven résumés that it was given about 20 minutes to review. The groups then had all the PRSSA members whose résumés they reviewed come over, and the groups took another 20 minutes to discuss their impressions on each résumé with each PRSSA member. To wrap up the review session, all the PRSA members came to the front of the classroom to share some of their top-line observations and recommendations on how the students could refine their résumés and start their job search. 

Students find out how their résumés fared from the judges.

Bobby Eagle (left) and Christie Ebanks (second from left) go over their impressions.

Jessica Summers (center left) and Paula MacDonald (center right) share their thoughts. 

Although we only had a couple of hours to contribute, our team had an amazingly rewarding experience. We were able to provide 22 aspiring public relations professionals with real-world advice, tap in to a pipeline of the latest public relations talent to consider for our organizations’ hiring needs, and strengthen our relationship with the largest local PRSSA chapter.

The Public Service Committee and Students Committee are working on other ideas to keep our chapter involved in the community and engaged with college students this year, so stay tuned to the PRSA Tampa Bay website for more events and ways in which you can participate. 

PRSA members end the session with some final recommendations to students before beginning the mixer. 

Read More

PRSA Tampa Bay Donates 46 Gifts to Charity

By Jessica Butzier and Joseph Priest

A lot of Tampa Bay kids and teens will be having a little bit brighter holiday this year thanks to our members. On Dec. 15, our chapter hosted its end-of-year holiday mixer at Bonefish Grill in South Tampa, and, for the second year in a row, the Public Service Committee held a toy drive to raise donations for the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent.


Members enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at Bonefish Grill.

Metropolitan Ministries expects to serve nearly 20,000 families in need for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, and our chapter has been eager to help. To spur even more donations, for the past two years, we’ve added a prize drawing to randomly award a few contributors with special prizes.

To participate, members had to bring a new, unwrapped gift, which would be collected with the other gifts and dropped off at Metropolitan Ministries the next day. At the end of the mixer, we ended up collecting 46 gifts, including toys, dolls, books, and games, and gift cards totaling over $150.

Each gift donated earned the contributor one ticket that was entered in a drawing for three prizes, which included two special prizes of $25 gift cards to Publix and one grand prize of a $50 gift card to Roy’s Restaurant. Congratulations to Mary Haban, APR, for winning the grand prize this year!


Our gift donations. Thank you, contributors!

The mixer was our last event for the year and was preceded by a farewell message earlier in the week by our 2016 president, Jennifer Dunn, APR. 

The Public Service Committee thanks everyone who donated to the toy drive and helped our chapter give back to the community through our activities this year. Stay tuned to the PRSA Tampa Bay website for more ways you can help us serve in 2017. 


The mixer is the chapter’s last event for the year. Stay posted for an announcement on our January event soon. 

 

Read More

Farewell Message from Jenn Dunn

As this year draws to a close and my time as president comes to an end, I’m humbled as I reflect on what we’ve accomplished this year as a chapter. I’m also forever indebted to this organization for what it has done for me, both professionally and personally.

As one of the largest PRSA chapters in our state, the Tampa Bay chapter has been fortunate to meet so many new members this year as well as reconnect and engage with members who have been a part of our organization for years. Through top-notch programming, this year we took a glimpse into the world of NFL PR with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, provided valuable facetime with local media at our annual Media Roundtable, and even had the honor of hosting author, entrepreneur, speaker, and worldwide connector Peter Shankman.

Through our chapter’s nationally-recognized Accreditation program, we welcomed four new APRs into our ranks, bringing our total number of accredited members to 73. Now in its second year, we increased our total number of submissions to our chapter’s annual PRestige Awards by ten percent over last year. We even successfully filled nearly 100 percent of our chapter’s volunteer positions through the efforts of our tireless chapter volunteer coordinators.

We’ve also taken great strides to invest in our membership, the next generation of PR professionals, and our community. This year, our chapter hosted two successful membership mixers on both sides of the Bay, chock full of networking and connections (and don’t forget – our final membership mixer of the year will be held on Dec. 15!). We worked closely with our local PRSSA chapter at the University of South Florida to host specialized events and provide them access to our professionals and development opportunities, as well as provided scholarships to benefit students majoring in public relations. I’m proud to say we also made it a priority to give back to our local community through a public service event benefitting the Hillsborough Education Foundation and a holiday toy drive in support of Metropolitan Ministries.

As we look forward to 2017, I can attest that the future is bright for our chapter. Our 2017 board of directors is comprised of a stellar group of new leaders, including current president-elect and my friend, Bobby Eagle, APR. Under his leadership, I have no doubt that our chapter will rise to even greater heights.

It’s been my distinct honor and privilege to have served as your chapter president this year. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity – one I’ve aspired to for several years as both a member and volunteer leader of our chapter. It’s because of you, our members, that I’ll look back fondly on this experience. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your dedication and commitment to PRSA Tampa Bay and industry, as a whole.

Best wishes always,

Jennifer Dunn, APR

President, PRSA Tampa Bay

Read More

You’d Better Watch Out... for Holiday Clichés!

By Joseph Priest, Corporate Writer, Syniverse

The holiday season is upon us, and along with those old holiday decorations we pull out and dust off are those shopworn clichés that we uncover and inundate our language with each December.

While it's true that PR pros, journalists and marketers fall back on familiar phrases at this time of year, it's also true that these phrases have become dull and lifeless after many years of use. Clichés are only effective if they can be used with a fresh twist or in an ironic tone. What’s more, one of the worst things about clichés is that by falling back on them we don’t stretch our writing muscles. We don’t try to find that perfect turn of phrase that could capture a reader's attention and indelibly bring a situation to life.

So resist trying to set the mood with clichés such as “you’d better watch out,” “have yourself a merry little,” or “it’s beginning to look a lot like,” or most other phrases that come from a popular song, poem, story or movie. This is not to say you shouldn't try to cleverly inject some holiday allusions when called on to do so for a client or campaign, but dedicate the time necessary to craft something original or provocative. That's what will break through the clutter of clichés competing for everyone’s attention.

With that in mind, here are some clichés to try to avoid in your prose, along with a couple of notes to remember on some other wintertime terms that are often miswritten and misunderstood.

Good luck with your writing this holiday season.

Holiday Clichés to Stamp Out

  • Christmas came early - Please, do not use.
  • Dickens - Give the famous author of A Christmas Carol a rest and stay away from ghosts of anything past, present or future. Also keep “bah” and “humbug” out of your copy.
  • Jolly old elf - Don’t use it. And if you must use “Kriss Kringle,” remember the double “s” in the first name.
  • Old Man Winter, Jack Frost - Leave these and other moldy personifications in storage.
  • Ring out, ring in - Please do not “ring out” or “ring in” an old year, a new year or anything else.
  • ‘Tis the season - This one cannot be made fresh. Do not try it.
  • ‘Twas the night before - “'Twasing” is no more defensible than “’tising.” (And if you refer to the Clement Moore poem, the proper title is A Visit from St. Nicholas.)
  • White stuff - If this phrase ever had any originality, it’s long since lost it.

Other Misunderstood Wintertime Words 

  • Xmas - This abbreviation should not be used in formal writing, although it isn’t a slang word. The word is  derived from Greek, in which the letter “X” represents the first letter (chi) of the Greek word for Christ (Χριστος). In the early days of printing when typesetting was tedious and costly, abbreviations were common. For this reason, churches began to use “X” for “Christ” and from there it moved into general use in commercial printing. Hence, the pronunciation “ex-mus” is a misinterpretation of this abbreviation.
  • Hanukkah - This is the official AP style spelling of this holiday, but it is also spelled correctly a number of other ways (“Chanukah,” “Channukah,” “Hanuka” or “Hanukka”) because the name is translated in different ways from the Hebrew letters.

Read More

Member Spotlight: Kimberly Polacek, APR

This Member Spotlight profiles Kimberly Polacek, APR, who is account coordinator for Moffitt Cancer Center. Kimberly is the 2016 secretary of PRSA Tampa Bay, has served in several positions in the chapter, including as Digital Communications Committee chair in 2015 and Social Media Committee member in 2014, and has been a member of the chapter for four years.

1. First news publication you read in the morning?
As a former television news producer, I turn to television as my first source for information and watch both local and national broadcasts. When I get to work, I usually peruse Google News for headlines.

2. First public relations job?
Account Executive at The Publicity Agency in Tampa.

3. Most important career mentor, and why?
Since I chose to seek my APR relatively early in my PR career, this made the experience a little more stressful than it typically is, but I was very fortunate to have PRSA Tampa Bay members Suzanne Grant, APR, and Karen Frashier, APR, Fellow PRSA, take me under their wings and shepherd me through the process. Both provided great advice and support, helped me stop doubting myself, and made me realize I thoroughly understand public relations and all that comes with it – a lesson that stuck with me long after I passed the APR test.

4. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?
“First annual.” Please use “inaugural” instead.

5. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?
It involved one of my internal clients at Moffitt, the Government Relations Department, and my work with that group in the planning of Moffitt Day, our annual day of advocacy at the Florida Capitol. Our 10th anniversary Moffitt Day event was a special one, and the success far surpassed my institution’s day in Tallahassee, with my public relations campaign for the event winning three local PR awards and two state PR awards.

6. Advice to new public relations professionals?
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and offer suggestions. It is so easy to get stuck in the “we’ve always done it that way” state of mind.

7. Job you would pursue if you weren’t in public relations?
I’ve already done it. I was a television news producer for 10 years before making the leap into public relations, but if I had to have a third career, it would probably be as a chef or baker.

8. Favorite movie?
I watch a lot of movies and have had many favorites over the years. My top two are Love Actually and Serendipity.

9. Favorite vacation?
In 2008, I had the opportunity to travel to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands with a group of friends – the first time I had been on a cruise and out of the country – and my friend’s brother happened to be a singer on the cruise who was able to take us to all the best local spots on each island. In the Cayman Islands, we ventured to a swim-up bar at the famous Treasure Island Resort and played on Seven Mile Beach, and, in Jamaica, we were led by locals deep into the rainforest to jump off waterfalls – amazing!

10. Any three dinner guests?
Gilda Radner, Lauren Graham and Diane Keaton.

 Me jumping off the Blue Hole waterfall in Jamaica in 2008.

 

 

 

 

 

I helped my best friend, Stephanie, mark an item off her bucket list when we completed the Disney Marathon in 2011.

Read More