Convenience or Confusion? Why You Need to Use Abbreviations Sparingly

By Joseph Priest, Corporate Writer, Syniverse

“The new PCs will arrive on Thursday” or “The new PC’s will arrive on Thursday”? “The PR department is located in the U.K. office” or “The P.R. department is located in the UK office”? And is “FYI” an acronym or an initialism?

In our speed-is-everything world, it seems we can’t write more than a couple of sentences without relying on some kind of abbreviation to try to save time. But constantly resorting to abbreviations can affect the clarity and quality of our writing. To help PR pros be on the lookout for this, I’ve put together some guidelines for using abbreviations in an article published in this month’s PR Tactics, “Convenience or Confusion? Why You Need to Use Abbreviations Sparingly.”

In the article, I cover some rules of thumb for when to use abbreviations as well as how to write the plurals of initialisms and acronyms, whether or not to use periods with these, and when it’s correct to use ampersands.

I hope the guidelines are useful, and I would love to know your thoughts on them. Email me at to let me know if you come across any questions when you use abbreviations.

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Become a 2016 Chapter Sponsor

Driving increased awareness and leads for our sponsors, our 2016 advertising and sponsorship opportunities includes 6- and 12-month packages that utilize the chapter’s many popular communications channels. We offer three package options for a sustained, multifaceted approach for businesses to reach and develop relationships with PR professionals throughout Tampa Bay.

Annual Sponsorships:
Gold and Silver Level Annual Sponsorships include complimentary registrations to chapter events, onsite promotional activities and exclusive recognition at a chapter event, and online advertising via the chapter’s website, e-newsletter, program e-mails and social media throughout the calendar year. (Note: Fees for Annual Sponsorships for 2016 are pro-rated.)

Signature Event Presenting Sponsorships:
Our “Signature Events” are high-profile special events that tend to draw large crowds year after year. Presenting Sponsor status of a Signature Event includes complimentary event registrations, and promotional activities leading up to and at the event. We still have Signature Event Presenting Sponsorships available for 2016.

Advertising Packages:
Available for 6 or 12 months, this package includes having your clickable company logo on our chapter website, program e-mails and e-newsletter; and quarterly promotion on the chapter’s social media.

See all the details in our Sponsorship Packet 

If you’re interested in becoming a chapter sponsor, please contact Noelle Fox at And please share these opportunities with anyone you think may be interested!

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It's The Year To Volunteer!

Don’t be left on the outside looking in.  Committee openings are filling up quick.  If you want to meet new friends, network, and put your talents to good use, volunteering is one of the best ways to do so.  Become an active part of one of the largest PRSA chapters in Florida, PRSA Tampa Bay!

We are still looking for volunteers for the following committees:

Accreditation - If you are an APR this team could use your knowledge to help train potential APR’s.  Plus, you would earn valuable points towards your own APR maintenance.

Digital Communications - Do you have a flair for blogging and video?  Then this is the team for you.

Diversity - Would you like to help improve job and career development opportunities for practitioners of multicultural heritage, LGBT community, and people with disabilities?

Media Roundtable Program - Strengthen your media contacts by arranging special media seminars and informal panels.

Nominations - Help determine the future of your chapter.

Professional Development Day - Are you skilled at event organization?  Work includes scheduling of programs, coordinating with presenters and identifying and developing new programs areas.

Programs - Are you skilled at event planning?  Responsibilities include securing top executives and media representatives as presenters, working with Programs Logistics to confirm location and working with digital publicity volunteers to get the word out to membership and public.

Sponsorship - Do you have sales skills?  Can you solicit donations?  The Sponsorship Committee can use your talents.

Just can’t commit right now?  Then consider being an “on call” volunteer.  We will contact you when a special need arises.

To volunteer for any of the positions above please contact your chapter’s Volunteer Coordinator, Bart Graham, at and

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Words to Know for 2016

By Joseph Priest, Corporate Writer, Syniverse

Being a good public relations professional means being familiar with new, changing and hard to-spell words. For this reason, it’s occasionally useful to review spellings for new words, words with more than one spelling, and those oldies but goodies that continue to confound new generations of writers. Below are some of these to keep in mind for 2016.

A note about spell-checkers. Don’t count on them. The following sentence will escape spell-check every time: “I try too right good butt eye half trouble with spelling.” Use a spell-checker as a starting point, but never use it as a substitute for a thorough proofreading.

Now, here’s your memorization assignment for 2016 (with correct spellings in bold). Let me know how many you know and any questions you come across. Hit me at

  • accommodate - One of the all-time typo champs.
  • adviser -  The AP-style preference over advisor.
  • canceled - Be careful not to let the British-English “cancelled” slip into your writing.
  • could not care less - Don’t use the common but incorrect “could care less.” This literally means “I care more than I might.”
  • dialogue - Stay away from the variant, “dialog.” Also, avoid using this word as a verb, which is particularly grating. There are plenty of other verbs to use for that.
  • email - Unfortunately, the normally astute AP Stylebook sanctioned this hyphenless spelling of “electronic mail” in its 2011 edition and gave validity to a fundamentally flawed word formation. What’s the big deal with losing the hyphen? Don’t other hyphenated words merge into one? Yes, compound nouns do tend to go from separate to joined, often with a hyphenated stage (e.g., “per cent” to “percent, “to-day” to “today”). The problem with “e-mail,” though, is that it’s not a simple compound noun. It’s an initial-based abbreviation, and the hyphen is crucial in clarifying that “e” is an initial and not simply a syllable. What’s more, in the English language, initial-based abbreviations don’t merge into solid words. Some are split; the rest are hyphenated: C-section, Q rating, T-shirt, X-ray. In any event, the ship has sailed as far as “e-mail,” and “email” (ugh) is the standard spelling now.
  • high tech - Never “hi tech.”
  • judgment - A notoriously tricky one that leads people to write “judgement.”
  • just deserts - “Desert” here is spelled like the arid region, not the sweet treat. In this sense, “desert” is being used in an archaic sense to mean “something that is deserved.”
  • mike - Controversy surrounds this AP-sanctioned abbreviation for “microphone,” which was changed from “mike” several years ago. What’s the problem? “Mike” is the correct way to spell the way we say the abbreviation for microphone, but broadcast journalists complained to the AP that the abbreviations on their equipment were all written as “mic.,” and the AP caved in to this and changed its official spelling to “mic.” Despite the AP’s decision, those of us who have experience with the printed word know better than to take our cues abbreviations squeezed into limited space on equipment. More importantly, truncated forms of words tend to be written with phonetic spellings if a simple shortening of the word would suggest an incorrect pronunciation. For example, we write “bike” instead of “bic” for bicycle; “fridge” instead of “frig” for refrigerator; and “Trish” instead of “Tric” for Patricia. Therefore, in a break with the AP Stylebook, I advise using “mike” in all cases. In fact, creating even further confusion, the AP Stylebook does sanction “miked” – and not “mic’d” or “micced” – for the verb form.
  • OK - The AP-style preference over “okay” and “O.K.” (Trivia tidbit: The word evolved in the 1830s as a facetious abbreviation for “oll korrect.”)
  • Portuguese - Not “Portugese.”
  • similar - Watch out for “similiar.”
  • Super Bowl - This one is a biggie among misspellings. It’s always two words, not “Superbowl.”
  • theater - Use this spelling, which is the American-English spelling, instead of “theatre,” unless a proper name includes this latter spelling.
  • traveled - Be careful of the British-English spelling, “travelled.”
  • trouper - This, and not “trooper,” is the right word to use for “a reliable, uncomplaining and hard-working person.” It’s derived from “troupe,” a group of performers, and the notion that the “show must go on” and performers must proceed with an event even under trying circumstances. A “trooper” is a state police officer or member of a cavalry unit.
  • website, Web page, Web - The spelling “website” became the AP style standard in the 2010 stylebook and replaced the two-word spelling, “Web site.” “Web page,” though, should continue to be written as two words with a capital “W.” It remains two words because “page” is not ordinarily used to form single words, as “front page” and “back page” attest. And  “Web” with a capital “W” should be used as a short form of “World Wide Web,” a proper noun. Although “Web” is increasingly written with a lowercase “w” and treated as a common noun in many technology publications, “Web” is still the AP style standard.

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Thank You For An Amazing 2015!

PRSA Tampa Bay members gathered this past week at Fleming’s Steakhouse in Tampa to celebrate a great year at our Membership Mix & Mingle event in support of Metropolitan Ministries.

Thank you to those who attended for joining us and making our Toy Drive event a success!

We collected over 40 toys for infants, toddlers, school-aged children and teens. Gifts included learning games, building sets, arts & crafts, journals, beauty products and approximately $150 in gift cards. Our donation will help Metropolitan Ministries fulfill its mission to bring toys to children in need this holiday season. 

In addition to mixing with members and guests, we heard from 2015 President Marissa Segundo, who recapped the amazing year we had at PRSA.

As we reflect on this year, we’d love your feedback, too! If you haven’t already, please provide feedback on your membership experience this year by filling out our two-minute Membership Survey. As a member of the chapter, your thoughts are instrumental in helping us improve and enhance the value for members in the coming year.

Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season, and we look forward to connecting with you in 2016!


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PRSA Tampa Bay Member Spotlight

Bart Graham, Sr.
Media Center Volunteer Team Leader
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

I am a new member of PRSA National, PRSA Tampa Bay Chapter and the PRSA Entertainment and Sports Section. I am also working the chapter's volunteer committee, so we will be contacting you too to ask you to volunteer with the chapter!

Before answering my questions, I first want to thank everybody for welcoming me in the chapter! Chapter President Marissa Segundo, APR helped me get started with the chapter and allowed me to team up with Volunteer Coordinator Chair Carrie Johnson-O'Brion. Membership Retention Committee Chair Shereen McCall keeps us busy providing us with the names of the new members.  And Marissa and Board Member Betty Carlin, APR allowed me to work the registration desk at the Port Tampa Bay event in September.  It was a pleasure meeting many of you there!

Tell us a little bit about your career, educational/professional background and how you got to where you are today.

My road to my current position is long and winding.  I took two years of Mass Communications classes from Southern Illinois University but my BS is in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  I have extensive account management, event recruitment, and sales experience in the IT industry while I was with Tech Data.  My passion is auto racing and in 2005 I decided to volunteer for the St. Petersburg Grand Prix in the Media Center.  I started on the literature table and now I am a volunteer staff leader at the race overseeing 30 plus volunteers of the Media Center.  I like to brag that we have the best volunteer team around and I feel fortunate to be part of the IndyCar family for this event.  I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with many local and national media along with nationally known auto racers and series officials.  I have learned so much about media relations over these years thanks to the press officers I have worked for.

What do you suggest students do to stand out among applicants in the competitive job market?

I would tell students to network, network, network.  Got involved and make sure to complete their LinkedIn profile!

When you see a great story in the press, what's your immediate thought?

When I see a great story I am not shy about sending a note to the writer telling them how much I enjoyed reading the story.

What are some of your personal hobbies outside of work/PR?

I like to say that I am a plane, train, and automobile type of guy.  Also, I am now a boat guy after the Port Tampa Bay presentation.  The movie, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, with Steve Martin and John Candy is one of my favorites!  To my chapter friends, if you ever want a racing outing at our local short tracks or information on auto racing please feel free to reach out to me.

Have you ever done anything out of the ordinary to apply for and/or get a job?

I ended up getting the Traffic Manager position at WorkPlace after being the President of the Tampa Bay Transportation Club.  My WorkPlace job led me to Tech Data.  I am a firm believer in volunteering.  You may never know where it will lead you!

Thank you for your submission, Bart. Be sure to connect with him on LinkedIn.

If you would like to submit your information for a future Member Spotlight, please fill out the form here.


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PRSA Tampa Bay Helps Neighbors Brush-up Their Interview Skills

By Elizabeth Watts, APR
Public Service Chair

We’ve all been there and it can be nerve-racking. Yes, the dreaded job interview!

But practice makes perfect, right?  

PRSA Tampa Bay members helped several Sulphur Springs neighbors practice putting their best foot forward in a mock interview workshop during United Way’s annual Day of Caring on October 1. 

Chapter members interviewed 14 job seekers at the United Way Sulphur Springs Resource Center, helping them practice and improve their job interview skills.


“This was a rewarding and fun way to give back to our community and pass along some tips that we, as professional communicators, use every day,” said PRSA Tampa Bay Chapter President, Marissa Segundo, APR.    

PRSA Tampa Bay volunteered nearly 30 hours of professional service.  

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“Reroute Your Thinking” – Rebranding insights from Port Tampa Bay

Port Tampa Bay is the largest single economic engine in west-central Florida, contributing more than $15 billion in economic impact and affecting more than 80,000 jobs. Until recent years, this was largely unrecognized by the Tampa Bay community. Enter Karl Strauch and the rebranding campaign of Port Tampa Bay.

Karl Strauch, VP of brand development and strategic alliances for Port Tampa Bay took on the complex task to rebrand Tampa’s port and elevate its reputation. Strauch said their biggest issue was how they were perceived by the community, business and government leaders and the Port’s customers.

Just how were they perceived? “That bulk port with a little bit of cruise business.”

The Port knew they needed to make a change. They changed their name from the Tampa Port Authority to Port Tampa Bay. An enhanced logo followed suit, as well as updated marketing materials, promotional efforts and an enhanced Tampa Bay business and community presence.

The Port worked with economic development organizations, hosted business and government leaders and held educational and community outreach programs to help get their new branding message out. Their new tagline became “Reroute Your Thinking.”

The result of the rebranding campaign was a more engaged, recognizable Port community that embraces the Port’s new look, name and message positioning, and customers who appreciate the value that Port Tampa Bay can bring to them.

Save the Date

Join keynote speaker Preston Rudie as he covers best practices and pitfalls to avoid when transitioning from journalism to public relations on Friday, October 23, from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Westshore Marriott. 

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Help Lead PRSA Tampa Bay

PRSA Tampa Bay wants you! Annual elections are quickly approaching and we are looking for members to volunteer or nominate others to serve as an officer, board member, committee chair or committee member.

Getting involved in the chapter’s leadership helps members build valuable business relationships, hone special skill sets and position themselves as leaders in the industry and community. Remember, we are a volunteer-led organization and your service to our chapter is essential.

Elected official positions available in 2016 include President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer, Assembly Delegate and Board Director (two openings). The first step is to complete our Willingness to Serve form, noting in which capacities you would be willing to serve the chapter next year.

Your service is not limited to elected positions. Lead or be an active volunteer in one of 13 committees. Please complete the Willingness to Serve form to show your interest in a non-elected leadership position.

We also encourage members to nominate other members from the chapter. To nominate one or more members, with their permission, for an elected position.

Please complete the Willingness to Serve form by Thursday, Sept. 10. And if you have any questions, you can email

QuickStart Your Leadership Skills Scholarships Available
Receive valuable chapter leadership training at PRSA Sunshine District QuickStart Program, Sept. 25-26 in Apopka, Fla., scholarships are available.This annual leadership training brings together current and incoming chapter board members to discuss PRSA governance, treasury, accreditation and committee leadership. 

There is no fee to attend QuickStart; scholarships will cover travel expenses (hotel, mileage reimbursement) up to a combined total of $200. The recipient will need to pay travel expenses up front and submit receipts for reimbursement following QuickStart. Any transportation and hotel costs beyond the $200 combined total are the responsibility of the attendee. 

If you are interested in attending QuickStart and would like a scholarship, please complete the application as soon as possible. Scholarship recipients will be required to fulfill a role, such as blogging or social media posting, during QuickStart. Be sure to indicate in this application the role(s) you will commit to perform if you are selected.


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Seven Common and Confounding Errors All PR Pros Should Know

By Joseph Priest, Corporate Writer, Syniverse

Do you have any pet peeves that cause you to groan when it comes to grammar and style in PR writing? Are there any words you see misspelled over and over? Any punctuation marks you see misused that make you cringe? Or any written-in-stone AP style rules you see broken that raise your hackles?

In my role as writer and editor over the past 15 years, I’ve developed my own list of some of the most common – and apparently confusing – errors that I come across again and again. To help PR pros be on guard against these, I selected seven and shared them in an article published in this month’s PR Tactics, “Seven Common and Confounding Errors All PR Pros Should Know.”

In the article, I’ve created a quiz in which I’ve included an example of each error in the form of a sentence. I urge you to try the quiz, spot the mistake, and check your answers against the explanations. All answers are based on the 2015 issue of the Associated Press Stylebook, although in one explanation I include commentary to provide guidance on a rule that is particularly confusing. (It’s actually the single most confusing style rule in PR, I’ve come to believe.)

Good luck on the quiz! Email me at to let me know how you do.

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