Event Recap: Media Crystal Ball - 2020 Forecast

By Shayla O'Keeffe 

At PRSA Tampa Bay’s recent Media Crystal Ball event, leaders in Tampa Bay’s journalism industry shared their insights into hot topics for the new year. Moderator Danielle Bayard Jackson, co-founder of Stride Media Group, asked the panelists questions that PR professionals in the community were eager to learn about, including:

The Impact of Mergers
Panelists acknowledged the trend, which means some longtime local businesses may no longer be headquartered in Tampa Bay. Business Observer Tampa Bay Editor Brian Hartz pointed out that there is a positive side to be considered because mergers and acquisitions “send a signal that Tampa Bay is a place to grow,” and it makes local companies attractive to those out of the local market.

Tourism and Transportation
Tampa Bay is a shining destination for tourists, with many signs pointing to a growing interest in the area. As ABC Action News Reporter Jackie Callaway put it: if you build it, they will visit it. The ferry between St. Petersburg and Tampa, along with free trolley rides in downtown Tampa, are two examples of how a free service can bring more visitors to local businesses.

Several large sports and entertainment events are coming to the Tampa in the next year, including March Madness, WWE Wrestlemania and Super Bowl LV, which puts even more pressure on transportation systems to provide solutions quickly.

Evolution of News Media
Jackson asked the panelists to explain how communicators can adapt to the noise, change and confusion during the current evolution of news media and consumer habits.

Graham Brink, Tampa Bay Times business columnist, said that although the Times has gone from producing one newspaper a day to a website a minute, investigative work “is the best it’s ever been.” Tampa Bay Business Journal Editor-in-Chief Alexis Muellner reaffirmed this and added that the entire community needs strong media organizations that act as truth-seekers. In a time of technology greatly impacting news, it’s crucial as PR and communications professionals to stay focused on the meat of the stories and not get distracted by the clutter.

Tampa Bay is thriving for small businesses and corporations alike. Its cities are gaining the attention of large organizations and tourists, and PR professionals have the unique ability to be on the frontlines of all the change. According to Brink, Callaway, Hartz and Muellner, 2020 will be a year full of dynamism, so get ready for the ride!

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Volunteer for Feb. 21 Communication Skills Session at Metropolitan Ministries

Help wanted! Please join PRSA Tampa Bay on Friday, Feb. 21, to once again give back to our community when we host a special communication and decision-making skills session at Metropolitan Ministries.

As part of our chapter’s public service commitment, we’re recruiting members to donate a couple of hours to participate in a workshop that is part of Metropolitan Ministries’ life skills program. We’ll be hosting a session for about 10 economically disadvantaged job seekers who are looking to rebuild their communication and business skills in order to restart their careers. As part of this, our chapter has been asked to host a session that provides guidance on common-sense communication and decision-making skills in the business world. The workshop will include a presentation of personal insights and best practices followed by a short question-and-answer period.

Please lend your expertise to help us help our community. Email Joseph Priest and Olivia Keegan at [email protected] and [email protected] to register or find out more information.

What:   Metropolitan Ministries communication and decision-making skills session

When:  Fri., Feb. 21
            11 a.m.-12 p.m.

Where: Metropolitan Ministries Outreach Center
             2301 N. Tampa St.
             Tampa, FL 33602


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How to Target a Gen Z Audience with Snapchat

By Hannah Hull

The current world of teenage interaction through Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram and other social media apps can seem mind-boggling to someone outside the culture. Trends cycle through popularity at the same speed Generation Z consumes content: the speed of light. However, marketing to young adults is actually easy because of the advertising options social media companies offer.

After deciding teenagers and young adults are the target audience for your company, it becomes a question of which social network is right for you. Instagram and Twitter are viable options, but more than double the price of a Snapchat advertisement per thousand views. The logistics of advertising on Snapchat are also easier than most other large social media options.  This makes Snapchat one of the most cost-effective social media apps for your company to explore.

If you do choose Snapchat, your company’s first decision will be whether to choose a geofilter or snap ad. Geofilters are best for promoting events happening in the area or highlighting special events. They can be created on a mobile device in-app with step-by-step, easy to follow instructions. First, you select a Snapchat template or submit your own design. Then you add text along with your company name, and you’re done! The price for a geofilter is based on how large of an area you would like to broadcast your filter, along with how long you would like it to appear in-app. The longer the geofilter is available to Snapchatters, the more opportunity there is for users to tag it in photos and spread the word.


Example of Geofilter on Snapchat

Snap ads are a more viable option for companies seeking worldwide engagements with a younger audience at any time they choose. Using Snapchat’s business helper Snapchat Ads Manager, it has never been easier to input your photo advertisement into the database, keep track of engagements, and refill your ad credit entirely online. The website walks you through exactly how to publish advertisements and gives very clear parameters and expectations of exactly what their company will be providing your business. Within the snap ads, your company can embed a link so engagers can swipe up to access your website or product.

Example of a Snap ad

If your target audience is Gen Z, then Snapchat can be one of your company’s best tools for eye-catching advertisements. Adapting to the ever-changing social media environment is a must, so experiment with Snapchat to increase awareness of your campaign. 

Hannah Hull is a member of PRSSA and FPRA’s Florida State University chapter studying at FSU campuses in Spain and Italy for a year.


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PRSA Tampa Bay Donates 72 Toys to Metropolitan Ministries

By Joseph Priest, APR

What a way to finish the year big. On Dec. 10, our chapter wrapped up the year at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts with our annual holiday mixer, and, continuing a tradition, the Public Service Committee held a toy drive to bring in donations for Metropolitan Ministries.

Thanks to the generosity of our members and guests, we succeeded in collecting a record 72 gifts this year and making the holidays a little brighter for a lot of local kids. We dropped them off at the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent shortly after the mixer, just in time to help needy families looking for gifts for the holiday season.

Metropolitan Ministries expected to serve more than 30,000 families in need for Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2019, a yearly need that our chapter has eagerly helped serve the past few years. To entice even more donations for this effort, we hold a prize drawing to randomly award a few contributors with gifts.

To be eligible, members must bring a new, unwrapped gift, which is collected with other gifts for drop-off later at Metropolitan Ministries. Each gift donated earns the contributor one ticket entered in a drawing for prizes, which this time included one $10 Cold Stone Creamery gift card, one $15 Starbucks gift card, one $25 Chick-fil-A gift card, and, for the  grand prize, one $50 Cheesecake Factory gift card.

For this year’s mixer, this incentive helped bring in a whopping 72 gifts, including a variety of toys, dolls, books and games.

Members and guests enjoy the mixer at a tent outside the Straz Center.
Members and guests enjoy the mixer at a tent outside the Straz Center.

Our gift donations begin to accumulate. Thanks to all who contributed!

PRSA Tampa Bay 2019 treasurer Josh Carrasco announces the winning tickets that I drew from everyone who donated.

The Public Service Committee thanks everyone who participated in the toy drive and everyone who helped our chapter give back to the community throughout the year. This included holding résumé review sessions at Metropolitan Ministries, and stocking items a Metropolitan Ministries food and clothing store for the United Way’s annual Day of Caring .  

Stay tuned to the PRSA Tampa Bay website for more ways you can help us serve in 2020.

Celebrating our chapter’s success in 2019 with a group photo. Go, PRSA Tampa Bay!

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Every month, PRSA Tampa Bay recognizes an outstanding volunteer whose hard work has significantly served our members and helped to make our chapter even stronger. In the second half of 2019, we celebrated the following contributors:

July – Angela Walters Eveillard, MBA, APR

Why she was recognized: Angela Walters is an essential part of the leadership of the PRSA Tampa Bay chapter. She has reached the top of the volunteer ladder in PRSA by recently being selected as a National Board Member, something no other Tampa Bay Chapter member has ever done before. That's a big deal! But even with her commitment at this high level, she continues to support the local chapter–most recently by serving as an integral member of the 2019 Sunshine District Conference Planning Committee. Angela has volunteered her time, her network and her expertise in helping plan the conference, as she did so quite successfully the last time SunCon was held in Tampa in 2012. While it would be so easy to commit all her time and efforts to the district and national level committees and leadership roles she has taken on over the years, Angela has never forgotten the Tampa Bay Chapter and has remained a dedicated member and volunteer. I'm very happy I was able to work with her on the SunCon committee and that I get to recognize her for all of the hard work, passion and dedication she continuously exhibits. – Alexandra Booth

Why she’s a member: PRSA has played a part of my life for more than half of my lifespan. I walked into my first PRSSA meeting 20(ish) years ago at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications and it was one of the best decisions of my life. From lifelong friends to trusted mentors, this society has given me so much both professionally and personally. I’m incredibly honored to be joining the national board of directors in 2020 and look forward to serve this dynamic group of public relations professionals.

About Angela: With over 15 years of experience in the communications field, Angela Walters Eveillard is currently the Strategic Communications Officer at Hillsborough Community College. In this position, she develops marketing and public relations strategies for the college, which serves over 45,000 students, while also strengthening community relationships and managing the dissemination of information among five campuses and three satellite centers.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations with a minor in Business Administration from the University of Florida, a Master of Business Administration from the University of South Florida and an Accreditation in Public Relations.

Always the constant volunteer, she has served in numerous roles within Public Relations Society of America including 2018 district council chair, 2016 sunshine district chair and most recently the 2019 APR marketing committee chair.

August – Jesica D’Avanza, MPA, APR   

Why she was recognized: Jesica D'Avanza, MPA, APR has been an exceptional addition to the chapter’s leadership. As most of us serving on committees, I first “met” Jesica via email. We were in the midst of evaluating and selecting SunCon conference speakers and her feedback was always on point. From her emails only, I wanted to meet her in person! In person, she’s a force. She wicked smart. She knows the pulse of our profession and the needs of PR practitioners. Not only was Jesica integral in helping to shape a successful conference, but she also has a spirit of inclusion. Something near and dear to my heart. For that, I’m appreciative and thankful for her commitment and dedication to our chapter. With chapter leaders like Jesica, our chapter will reach even greater heights. – Angela Walters Eveillard, APR

Why she’s a member: One of the core values of my company and practice is to be relentlessly opposed to the status quo. The only way to deliver on that promise is to consistently be in a state of curiosity — staying on top of trends, learning from best practices, analyzing the latest campaigns, better understanding metrics and engaging with professionals and peers to strengthen each other and our profession. PRSA provides that through its many learning and networking opportunities. I continue to be involved with PRSA because the organization truly uplifts our entire profession and each one of us to make an impact for the brands and organizations we support.

About Jesica: Jesica D’Avanza, MPA, APR, is an award-winning communications leader who works at the intersection of brand and business strategy to make our world a better place. As owner and chief strategy officer at Round Square, she applies nearly two decades of experience in brand and communications strategy to transform nonprofits and mission-driven organizations for greater relevance, resonance and results. Her consultancy supports clients across health care, wellness, education, environmental and nonprofit arenas. Jesica has served in a variety of national communications and marketing leadership roles for organizations like the American Cancer Society and Muscular Dystrophy Association. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Florida State University and her Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). In 2012, PRWeek named her as one of the nation’s 40 under 40 stars in the field of public relations and integrated communications. Outside the office, Jesica enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter and is on a quest to visit every National Park in the U.S. She is also a runner and marathon coach. You can reach Jesica at [email protected] or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

September – Betty Carlin, APR

Why she was recognized: It was such a privilege to work with and get to know Betty better this year during the PRSA Sunshine District Conference planning committee. I was truly in awe of Betty and her commitment to PRSA. The amount of work she took on and accomplished on top of her full-time job was beyond admirable. She is consistently smart, strategic and level-headed, able to help guide conversations to positive and productive outcomes even when lots of different opinions and emotions are involved. She is also pretty great at impersonating a pirate. #PRrrrrr. It has been such a joy to work with Betty, and I can’t think of a more deserving person to be our volunteer of the month. – Jesica D’Avanza, APR

Why she’s a member: PRSA has always been an integral part of my career.  I got my first job from a lead on the Tampa Bay Chapter Job Bank.  I have been blessed to know so many top-notch PR professionals through my involvement with the Chapter over the years.  There is always an opportunity to learn something new, make professional connections, catchup with busy colleagues, grow both professional and leadership skills, have a mentor / be a mentor and have some of my deepest friendships as a result of my involvement.  I’m proud to be a PRSA Tampa Bay member!

About Betty: Betty S. Carlin, APR, is Principal of Carlin Communications, a Tampa Bay-based public relations and integrated marketing communications firm founded in January 2013.

With more than 25 years of public relations and communications expertise in the Tampa Bay market, Betty takes a strategic approach to connecting organizations with the audiences and influencers most important to them. 

She has extensive experience in B2B marketing in a full range of industries including economic development, banking and financial services, real estate development, professional services and transportation industries. Her broad-based expertise ranges from corporate communications, media relations, crisis communications, and public affairs to content management, web development, social media, brand management, integrated marketing, reputation management, community relations and event management. Throughout her career, Betty has excelled in building successful collaborative teams across multiple organizations to accomplish larger organizational or community goals.

Prior to starting her own firm, Betty was Vice President, Marketing & Communications with the Tampa Bay Partnership, an eight-county regional economic development organization focused on advocacy, marketing, research and leadership for the Tampa Bay region.  Previously, Betty also served as Vice President/Corporate Communications for National Planning Holdings, a $5 billion broker-dealer holding company, where she was responsible for all media relations and strategic communications for the firm’s four broker-dealer subsidiaries and over 2,200 investment representatives located across the country.  She has also served in statewide marketing management roles with two regional banks and served as president of a Tampa-based public relations firm.

Betty is accredited in public relations and communications by the Public Relations Society of America.  She currently serves as an Assembly Delegate for the Tampa Bay Chapter of PRSA, has served as a Board Member and has held multiple officer and committee chair positions.  She is alumni of the 2018 Class of the Hillsborough County Leadership Program and serves on the USF Alumni Association Event Committee.  She is a graduate of the University of South Florida with a degree in Mass Communications/Journalism.

October – Josh Carrasco, APR

Why he was recognized: Early this year, Josh jumped in when the 2019 Sunshine District Conference committee lost its Sponsorship Chair.  He developed target sponsor lists, built connections, handled sponsor outreach, negotiated sponsor agreements and contracts, and coordinated with sponsors who wanted to become more involved with the conference.  He was an active leader on the committee in many other ways.  Josh not only met our target sponsorship level but exceeded it to make the conference a success.  This is all in addition to his role of Chapter Treasurer this year (oh, and his full-time job at AAA.)  His dedication to the Chapter is admirable, he’s always willing to lend a hand and it’s been a true pleasure to get to know him better this year.  I can’t think of a more deserving person to be our October volunteer of the month. – Betty Carlin, APR

Why he’s a member: I am a PRSA Tampa Bay member for two primary reasons. One, I want to continue to developed my professional communication and networking skills. Two, I enjoy being a part of an organization with members who are passionate about what they do in their careers, volunteerism, and personal lives.

About Josh: Josh Carrasco has been an active member of PRSA Tampa Bay since 2014. During his tenure as a PRSA member, he has served two terms as the chapter Sponsorship Chair, one term as Treasurer, and as the Sponsorship Chair of the 2019 PRSA Sunshine District Conference. His professional experience includes more than seven years in broadcast journalist, six years of media relations, and one year of internal communications. In his current role at AAA – The Auto Club Group, he is responsible for event planning, creating digital marketing strategies, and managing several internal communication initiatives for their travel agency.

November – Colin Trethewey, APR

Why he was recognized: Colin was integral to the success of PRestige Awards this year, which was one of our most successful award programs to date. Colin is always willing to lend a hand and volunteer when the chapter needs assistance. – Josh Carrasco, APR

Why he’s a member: An opportunity to meet and learn from fellow PR pros. I was new to Tampa when I joined and PRSA Tampa Bay helped me get connected with fellow PR practitioners, media and business leaders.

About Colin: PR agency founder and media relations specialist with a background in journalism and sales & marketing. Prior to PR, enjoyed a 12 year career as a news, sports, business and award-winning tech TV anchor and reporter. This has given me a unique set of skills to pitch the media with success - an insiders approach with a flair for marketing and sales. I share PR advice as a contributor with Forbes Magazine Councils.

My agency PRmediaNow focuses on securing media coverage for public and private companies who are targeting investors and customers. We are creative, nimble, responsive and we offer great customer service to our clients and the media. We create media outreach campaigns that lead to major mainstream media coverage and social media viral spread on the Internet.

December – Heather Parsons

Why she was recognized: I would like to nominate Heather Parsons as the next volunteer of the month. She has been amazing taking on heavy time consuming tasks throughout the year for PRestige awards including organizing the Charlotte chapter’s judging day. – Colin Trethewey

Why she’s a member: Heather enjoys being a member of the Tampa Bay chapter because of the opportunities to network and learn from others in the public relations field. Parsons is looking forward to another successful year supporting PRSA’s award committee, the PRestige Award program, and chapter members!

About Heather: Heather Parsons is a senior public information coordinator for the city of Clearwater, she has worked in the department since 2003. Heather supports the communication and public relations needs of the city’s public works departments: engineering, public utilities, solid waste/recycling, gas and utility customer service. Parsons also serves as editor of MyClearwater magazine, a 68-page, full-color publication that is produced three times a year, and she coordinates the city’s Citizens Academy program.


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Member Spotlight: Olivia Keegan

This Member Spotlight profiles Olivia Keegan, who is a communications and PR coordinator at Kforce and joined PRSA Tampa Bay this year.

  1. First news publication you read in the morning?

 I like to read the local Tampa Bay Business Journal and Tampa Bay Times in the morning.

  1. First public relations job?

In November 2018, I began my PR career as a communications and PR coordinator for Kforce. I take pride in working with a stellar team of experts to help manage the firm's associations, events, media relations, external award initiatives and internal communications.

  1. Most important career mentor, and why?

It’s difficult to narrow it down to one person because there are so many wonderful people that have shaped my life and provided crucial learning in my career. In thinking of one, I am grateful for my team leader, Kimberly Bird, director of communications and PR at Kforce, who is a devoted mentor and constant source of encouragement and guidance.

  1. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?

In AP style, I really dislike the lowercasing of executives’ titles, such as “Jane Doe, chief executive officer,” because it doesn’t look fitting for their position.

  1. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?

One of the most rewarding experiences was witnessing how our cross-functional teams in the marketing department came together quickly to support disaster relief in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian hit this year. With Kforce’s Flights of Hope initiative, employees, donors, and other community members were able to raise over $110,000 in donations, rapidly fly 31 missions, deliver 68,000-plus pounds of supplies, volunteer 1,000-plus hours of their time, and send more than 950 family packs to our neighboring country.

  1. Advice to new public relations professionals?

That would be advice from my mentor – “Be yourself!”

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

If I weren’t a PR professional, I would love to work with marine animals! I am fascinated by the mysterious and awe-inspiring creatures that live deep in our oceans

  1. Favorite movie?

It’s a tie between Miss Congeniality and Fantastic Mr. Fox.

  1. Favorite vacation?

My older sister Mary and I made a spontaneous trip to Kauai, Hawaii, the most magical place I have ever been. We enjoyed yoga on the beach, ate endless amounts of fresh fish tacos, saw the most beautiful waterfalls, and witnessed a traditional hula practice – I’ll never forget all the special memories we made!  

  1. Any three dinner guests?

Ellen DeGeneres, Joni Mitchell and Jesus.

My entire family in one selfie! We had great time together at a wedding at St. Petersburg Beach.

My older sister Mary and I sailing off the coast of Barcelona, Spain, days before her wedding in September 2019.

At Christmastime in 2017, my mom and I took a vacation to New York City and saw a musical on Broadway!

My sister Katie and I ziplining through the woods of northern Wisconsin in 2017.

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5th Annual PRestige Awards Event Recap

By Iovanna Borjas 


Every year since 2015, PRSA Tampa Bay has recognized local organizations and public relations professionals for outstanding programs and tactics conducted in the previous year. This year's blockbuster event -- the 5th Annual PRestige Awards -- took place on Nov. 6 at the elegant University Club of Tampa and, from start to finish, the room was filled with animated conversation and serious networking. New acquaintances were made and old friendships renewed. 

The formal awards program began with a warm welcome from 2019 PRSA Tampa Bay President Jenna Stock, who thanked all attendees for their continuous participation and support throughout the years. She also commented on the chapter's successful 2019 membership campaign which has resulted in a total of 250 members -- an all-time record.  

After Stock’s welcome, Janice Essick, Business Wire Regional Manager, took the podium to introduce keynote speaker, John Bell, CEO and President, Tampa Theatre. Speaking from his many years of experience, Bell emphasized the importance of public relations professionals as "storytellers," noting that, from his own perspective, “great stories are nothing without great storytellers.”  

To Bell, PR professionals demonstrate their connection to storytellers through the amazing way they share stories with “expertise, efficiency and a nice, healthy dose of creativity.” Even more importantly, he noted that PR professionals “are the ones who determine how we feel about an individual, a company, a product.” 

Following this invigorating and encouraging presentation by one of the Tampa Bay area's cultural arts leaders, attention turned to the raison d'etre for the PRestige Awards -- recognition of those organizations and individuals whose work on behalf of clients or employers was judged as "best of the best." A total of 23 awards were presented in the categories of “Public Relations Programs” and “Public Relations Tactics,” along with two awards recognizing “Best of Show - Program Category.”  


Congratulations to all 2019 PRestige Awards recipients and a heartfelt "thank you" for all that you do to support and promote the Tampa Bay community with your amazing work! And a sincere thank you to Business Wire for generous sponsorship of this stellar event. 


View more information about PRestige Awards and a list of the 2019 winners.


Iovanna Borjas is a University of Tampa journalism student who covered the PRestige awards at the request of PRSA Tampa Bay. 

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Going Direct – Why Owned Media Continues To Be Vital In Your Communications Mix

By Travis Claytor, APR

Ask 10 PR professionals for the definition of public relations and you’ll probably get 10 different definitions. Public relations experts may be known as content experts, event planners or even celebrity publicists. As the public relations industry evolves, so do the perceptions about the profession, and unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about PR professionals.

This likely, in part, is due to the many elements of a strategic communications plan that PR practitioners are responsible for: media relations, brand managements, social media, content creation, crisis communications, issues management and the list goes on and on.

If you subscribe to the Spin Sucks PESO model (and you should), there are four main buckets within the integrated communications process:

P – Paid

E – Earned

S – Shared

O – Owned

While I could write multiple articles on each of these areas – you can read more about the elements of a Strategic Communications plan, including the PESO model, here – today we’re going to focus on owned media and why it continues to play a crucial role in managing an effective communications strategy.

Define “Owned Media”

Owned media channels are the channels we, or our clients if you’re an agency, own and operate, where we have full control. What it does NOT include are social, or Shared, channels.

Ask yourself this question – do you own the content you put on Facebook? How about the data from your fans or followers? Or the user experience on the platform? If you think the answer to any of these is yes, I’d encourage you to read the Facebook Terms & Conditions a bit closer.

So, owned media are our websites, landing pages, blogs or anything where we control the content, the cadence, the data, branding and user experience.

Benefits of Owned Media
As consumers’ attention spans decrease, and the news cycle speeds up, earned and shared outlets are oftentimes creating content that is skimmable at best.

Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned are all crucial elements of a successful strategic communications campaign. But, with the lack of control of shared channels, or inconsistency of earned channels, and the resources needed for paid channels, your owned channels are more important than ever.

In a time when PR professionals are navigating through hundreds of thousands of news outlets, blogs, news websites, digital publications and streaming content, owned media channels offer some distinct advantages.

As strategic communications professionals, we look to reduce the number of variables to the success of our campaigns – basically we all feel the need to be in control of who sees our messaging and how they consume our content.

Owned media channels offer the control we’re looking for – in cadence, messaging priority, user experience, brand representation, and data mining. It also allows you to tailor content to specific, niche audiences in the ways they want to consume it.

Messaging Priority and Brand Representation – what does your content say about your brand? Working through earned or shared content, you leave this to chance. But, by making your owned channels one of the pillars of content creation, you control the messaging each and every time new content is distributed.

Cadence and Consumption – how often does your audience demand content, and in what way are they engaging? Hopefully you’re paying attention to some of the KPIs across your channels and you know this answer already, but if not, start digging in now! By focusing on your owned channels, you have the versatility to control how often you put your messaging out for audiences, and doing it in a way that maximizes engagement and ultimately action.

Data – this is probably the biggest advantage of owned media channels. From audience behaviors to content and website engagement, data drives everything we do and gives us the knowledge to create campaigns and content that drives real results. Having access to this information allows us to create content with intention and purpose.

“The But” of Owned Media

There’s always a “but” and working with owned media is no different.

First and foremost, this is all you. Your content, on your channel, the way you want audiences to consume it. That means you need to know the best way to deliver this content and dedicate resources to do it the right way.

With great control comes great responsibility.

One of the biggest challenges of working with owned channels is the potential of not being trusted. These are, after all, your channels and there’s no obligation for you to be objective, which could lead your audiences to be suspicious of your intentions.

It should come as no surprise that, as PR practitioners, we need to build trust and credibility with our key audiences, no matter who they are. It’s even more crucial for a channel considered to be biased. In order to achieve that credibility, make sure transparency is paramount in your approach.

The Takeaway

Simply put – owned media channels are crucial to a successful communications campaign. And so are the others.

Don’t get lost looking at the shiny object as you’re creating and executing your strategic communications campaign. National media hits are great. Shared and social media channels are crucial for engagement. Paid efforts provide targeting opportunities and amplification. And owned channels provide control.

It’s easy for public relations practitioners to focus on getting that next media hit, or launching a new social media channel. But if we’re really going to create meaningful results for our businesses and clients, we need to think in an integrated and strategic way.

How do these elements fit together? How do they enhance the results of the next tactic, or better move your audiences to take action?

Strategy is the name of the game for an integrated communications campaign. Act and execute with meaning and purpose, and you’ll find success with all elements of the communications process, elevating your client and the industry.




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PRSA Panel Spotlights Value of Having a ‘Seat at the Table’

By Joseph Priest, APR

Since the birth of public relations, just a little over 100 years ago, a holy grail of our profession has been to be fully respected by having a “seat at the table” with senior management. It’s been a long and complex journey to achieve this, but today many organizations have by and large integrated public relations as a management function and contributed to the maturation of the profession to help it be seen as a crucial part of business.

More recently, though, the challenge with this has shifted to keeping this seat at the table and continually proving our value in today’s tumultuous political environment, fiercely competitive business playing field and rapidly evolving technology landscape. While these forces have made the practice of public relations more challenging, they’ve also shown the value of public relations professionals having a seat at the table in managing mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and its publics.

I recently had an opportunity to gain more insights on this when I attended a Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Tampa Bay chapter event titled “C-suite and Pro Panel” on Oct. 8. The discussion featured an innovative format that included two C-suite executives along with their public relations counterparts, as well as a communications adviser who is a member of the C-suite herself and also works closely with the C-suite of her clients.

The panelists included these six leaders:

  • Gary L. Sasso , president and CEO, Carlton Fields 
  • Kate Barth, senior public relations manager, Carlton Fields 
  • Sam Sipes, LCSW, BCD, president and CEO, Lutheran Services Florida
  • Terri Durdaller, MPA, vice president, Communications, Lutheran Services Florida
  • Jesica D’Avanza, founder and chief strategy officer, Round Square
  • Kecia Carroll (moderator), marketing and communications director, and corporate social responsibility strategist, KC Roberg

The attendees consisted of over 20 public relations professionals representing a mix of different companies and levels of experience from around the Tampa Bay area.

Over the course of an hour, the executives and their public relations counterparts walked us through the dynamics of their working relationships, the major areas of public relations they focus on, and the crucial factors to the success of their power partnerships. The discussion offered a number of insights into how to have a seat at the table and establish an effective relationship with the C-suite, what the most common challenges and opportunities are that executives and public relations professionals regularly face, and why managing and protecting a brand have become increasingly challenging with the competitiveness of today’s economy and the rapid evolution of today’s technology.   

Here are some of the major areas that were explored and the takeaways from them.

The two CEOs on the panel, Gary Sasso and Sam Sipes, both testified to the importance of having their public relations leaders involved in the senior levels of management with a seat at the table. This includes having regular personal meetings through which a genuine relationship of familiarity and trust can be built. In parallel, the public relations professionals, Kate Barth, Terri Durdaller, and Jesica D’Avanza, explained that in their roles it was imperative to listen well, be frank and attempt to add value in every interaction.  

Media Relations and Coaching
Both Sasso and Sipes said they had received media training and praised its value as vital in being able to handle the complexity and unpredictability of live media interviews and conferences. A poll of the attendees in the room revealed that many of their executives had been trained as well. Sasso and Sipes also shared some of their experiences with working with the media and how media training helped prepare them. In particular, the training exposed them to mock situations that provided effective insights and best practices on how to best address these situations.

Crisis Management
With a 24-hour news cycle and ever-expanding range of mobile and social media channels that empower people to share news instantly, having a thorough and carefully planned crisis communication program in place is more vital than ever, the panelists said. At the same time, it’s equally as important to have a public relations leader who can detect and divert a crisis or manage and mitigate one as best as possible. How a crisis is prepared for and how it is managed have critical consequences for a company’s reputation and brand, as well as its internal and external stakeholders.

Internal Communication
The panelists also shared some insights in the area of internal communication, and they discussed some of the best practices they’ve learned for engaging employees as well as building trust and credibility. These included making strategic use of today’s multitude of employee digital communication applications, such as intranet, instant messaging, video chat, social networking, and employee recognition tools, to communicate instantly and in diverse ways to reach the right audiences at the right times.

One of the final topics that the panel addressed was the best way to integrate the expertise of a public relations agency in an organization’s communication program. In particular, Sasso and Sipes examined the business case for having someone like Kate Barth or Terri Durdaller in house versus having no in-house public relations counsel and only an agency or consultant. The CEOs said it was invaluable to be able to have an in-house public relations executive fully committed to the company’s interests and expert in the company’s business. On this topic, Jesica D’Avanza, head of her own communication and consulting agency, offered that an agency should above all strive to be a seamless extension of the clients it serves.  

In over a little more than 100 years, public relations has come a long way in gaining a seat at the table. This discussion was compelling in demonstrating how the profession has met this challenge while at the same time illuminating the challenges today in keeping that seat.

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2019 Call for Chapter Award Nominations

PRSA Tampa Bay Chapter – 2019 Call for Chapter Award Nominations

PRSA Tampa Bay is seeking your input on members that have made significant achievements in public relations and management practices, advancing the profession, meeting the needs of the community and strengthening our chapter. Please review the details below on each category and provide your comments on the most qualified candidates using the nomination form. Deadline for nominations is Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, at 5 p.m. Self nominations are encouraged. Please direct any questions to [email protected].

Deanne D. Roberts Excellence in Community Relations Award
This category recognizes a chapter member or local agency who has given pro-bono public relations support to one or more community organization throughout his or her professional career.

Excellence in Chapter Service Award
This award is presented to a chapter member who has been with the chapter for more than one year and has made outstanding contributions to chapter management and member programming.

Michael B. Manning Leadership Award
This award is presented to a chapter member who has demonstrated exceptional leadership within the chapter.

Sue Ellen Richardson “Rookie of the Year” Award
This award recognizes a chapter member who has been with the chapter for two years or less and has demonstrated the commitment to be involved and to make a difference in member programming.

Tampa Bay Chapter President’s Award
This award recognizes up to four chapter members who have gone above and beyond for the good of the chapter. Please provide full details of the project that individual completed.

Tampa Bay Chapter Life Achievement Award
This category honors a senior chapter member who has committed his or her professional career to public relations and has achieved numerous accolades in public relations management, community relations and overall PRSA service.

Nominate someone today!

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