PRSA Tampa Bay recognizes outstanding PR students

The end of the academic semester was a busy and professionally rewarding period for PRSA Tampa Bay as we awarded scholarships to four amazing PR students -- three at the University of South Florida and one at The University of Tampa -- and had the pleasure of congratulating the founding president of the UT PRSSA Chapter for her recognition as Outstanding Public Relations Student.

Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, represented PRSA Tampa Bay on April 18 at the USF 2019 Honors and Awards Banquet and had the opportunity to congratulate Kayley Alsina and Jessica Schmidtetter for having been awarded the John Cassato Scholarship as well as Jaiya Williams, recipient of the Walter E. Griscti Scholarship.

The John Cassato Scholarship “is designated for an undergraduate public relations student and is awarded each fall semester…in memory of John Cassato, a former public relations officer of the Jim Walter Corporation. This scholarship requires residency in the 15-county area served by the Tampa Bay PRSA chapter, an overall GPA of 3.0, enrollment in 12 or more hours at USF, and enrollment in or completion of at least one PR course.”

The Walter E. Griscti Scholarship “is designated for undergraduate public relations students. The scholarship is awarded each spring semester…in memory of USF professor emeritus Walter E. Griscti, AAPR. The scholarship requires residency in the 15-county area served by the Tampa Bay PRSA chapter, a 3.0 overall GPA, enrollment in 12 or more hours at USF, and enrollment in or completion of at least one PR course.”

On April 29, Kirk and PRSA Tampa Bay President Jenna Stock attended UT’s College of Arts and Letters’ Awards Ceremony, with Jenna presenting the first-ever “Emerging Professional” scholarship to sophomore/budding PR star Olivia Cowden. Although Olivia was unable to attend the ceremony as she is studying abroad in Florence, Italy, Jenna’s remarks underscored the importance of this recognition by the leading public relations organization in the Tampa Bay area. And when Olivia is back on campus in the fall, a formal in-person presentation of the scholarship will take place.

The “PRSA Tampa Bay Emerging Professional” scholarship is awarded to a UT student who has demonstrated an active interest in public relations as his or her career path. He or she also will have declared public relations as his or her specific area of study (minor or concentration) and will have an exemplary grade point average. Additional qualifying distinctions will include active involvement, preferably with a public relations focus, in on-campus organizations and activities and, ideally, completion of one or more public relations internships. 2019 is the first year that this recognition has been offered, and we look forward to many more!

Finally, Jenna and Kirk congratulated Emilie Sears, graduating senior and founding president of UT PRSSA, for her recognition by the university’s Communication Department as Outstanding Public Relations Student. Emilie has embraced public relations as her chosen career path and has been an untiring champion for the benefits of professional organization involvement as a way for aspiring public relations practitioners to begin establishing their own identities. Emilie is now embarking on her search for an entry-level position that will allow her to put her studies and her hands-on experience gained through multiple PR internships to good use.

If these recent experiences are any indication, public relations profession of the future will be in very, very good hands!

Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, congratulates USF scholarship recipients (left to right) Jessica Schmidtetter, Jaiya Williams, and Kayley Alsina


Two presidents at once! PRSA Tampa Bay President Jenna Stock congratulates UT PRSSA Founding President Emilie Sears


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Join PRSA Tampa Bay for one (or all) of our May events!

If you attend three great PRSA Tampa Bay events scheduled this month, it's likely you’ll accomplish some of your New Year’s resolutions. 

Did you resolve to get out more and network with PR professionals?
Then come to the PRSA Tampa Bay Networking Mixer on Thursday, May 16 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. It’s free for PRSA Tampa Bay members and only $10 for others. You’ve still got time to register for the mixer by going to the PRSA Tampa Bay events page.

Did you decide to spend more time helping others?
Your assistance will be welcomed at a resume review session for disadvantaged job seekers on Tuesday, May 21 at the Metropolitan Ministries Outreach Center in Tampa. To sign up for the resume review session, or to get more information about it, please see this article or contact Joseph Priest at  [email protected]

Did you vow to learn more about data and analytics this year?
If so, sign up for “Analyzing Earned and Owned Media to Create Your Super Strategy” with Brandon Andersen of Ceralytics. It’s a lunch session on Wednesday, May 22 at Besito Mexican restaurant in Westshore Plaza.

All this means May is a big month for Tampa Bay professionals, but don’t forget – so is July.  Now is the time to sign up for the July 25-27 PRSA Suncon Conference, which will be held right in our own backyard at the Hilton Tampa Downtown. Early bird pricing ends tomorrow, May 15. Find a speaker’s list here and register here.

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Volunteer for May 21 Résumé Review at Metropolitan Ministries

Join PRSA Tampa Bay on Tuesday, May 21, in giving back to our community at a résumé review session at Metropolitan Ministries!

As part of our chapter’s public service initiative, we’re recruiting volunteers 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 with 10 to 20 economically disadvantaged job seekers who are looking to rebuild their business writing and personal communication skills in order to restart their careers. The session will include individual résumé reviews as well as a presentation with best practices for writing and interviewing.  

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

Metropolitan Ministries résumé review session

Tuesday, May 21, 1:30-3 p.m.

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

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PRSA SunCon: Early Bird Deadline Extended to May 15

There’s still time to register at a discounted rate for the PRSA 2019 Sunshine District Conference being held in Tampa, July 25-27, 2019.  The Early Bird deadline has been extended to May 15.

With nationally known speakers, an array of breakout sessions and great networking opportunities, the PRSA 2019 Sunshine District Conference offers the best professional development opportunities for public relations and communications professionals across Florida.

"This conference provides professional communicators with programming from local and national experts along with terrific networking opportunities at an affordable price," said Betty Carlin, APR, conference co-chair. "For Tampa Bay PRSA members, it’s also a great opportunity to come to this conference while it's in our own back yard."

Visit for a speaker’s list and registration information for the July 25-27 conference in Tampa.

The conference in the Hilton Tampa Downtown will feature four keynote speakers:

  • Sara Evans, digital strategist and global brand correspondent
  • Debra Peterson, national PRSA chair
  • Kanika Tomalin, deputy mayor and city administrator, St. Petersburg, Florida
  • Morra Aarons Mele, author of Hiding in the Bathroom: How to Get Out There When You’d Rather Stay Home

And there’s a robust offering of 18 different breakout sessions allowing participants to pick and choose as they wish, or to follow along specific tracks such as: marketing communications; digital communications; leadership and management; big data and measurement; reputation and crisis management; and tools and techniques.

Conference co-chair Jenna Stock adds “This year’s theme “Knowledge Is Treasure” aims to equip attendees with an opportunity to personalize programming to meet their professional development needs while offering unique opportunities to explore the hidden treasures of Downtown Tampa.”

A Thursday night reception hosted by PRSA Sunshine District and sponsored by Business Wire and a Friday night reception sponsored by Visit Tampa Bay also will offer fun activities, refreshments and a chance to meet public relations and communications colleagues from across Florida.

The Sunshine District includes PRSA members from all over Florida including: the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chapter; the Gulf Coast Chapter; the Miami Chapter; the North Florida Chapter; the Orlando Regional Chapter; the Palm Beach Chapter; and the Tampa Bay Chapter.

By the way, volunteers are needed! Learn more about the opportunities by contacting:

Mark your calendar and set your compass for Tampa Bay, July 25-27, 2019.

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Share Your Knowledge: Write for the PRSA Tampa Bay Blog

As a PRSA member, you know how many talented communicators come to our meetings, trainings and mixers. You’ve learned some great PR tips from our speakers, as well as from the people you happened to sit next to at lunch.

So here’s a way to continue the conversation — write for this blog.

The PRSA Tampa Bay blog may be the best way to reach the region’s leading communicators. As PR practitioners, we’re all looking for ways to master our craft and learn about new techniques and tools.

That’s why we’d like to hear from you. The PRSA Digital Communications team would love to see your posts on:

  • New pitches and campaigns that have worked especially well in Tampa Bay
  • What’s next in social media platforms
  • Profiles of speakers who will be presenting at the PRSA Sunshine District Conference
  • And more


Keep the posts to 500 words or less. Generally speaking, we’re looking for posts written by PRSA members that help educate people about PR techniques or ethical issues. Posts should not promote one particular company or product.

If you are a PRSA member and have an idea for a blog post, feel free to contact Curtis Krueger at [email protected] or simply send your proposed post to [email protected]. Our team will get back to you with edits or questions.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

— Curtis Krueger, APR, digital content committee chair; and the PRSA Tampa Bay Digital Communications Committee


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PRSA Sunshine District Conference Member-Only Scholarship

As a benefit to our valued chapter members, PRSA Tampa Bay is offering two scholarships for chapter members to attend the 2019 Sunshine District Conference. This year’s conference is July 25-27 at the Hilton Tampa Downtown in Tampa, Fla. Learn more about the conference 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 the conference registration fee.

Deadline to apply: 5 p.m., Wednesday, May 8.

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

Winners will be notified by May 17.

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PRSA Tampa Bay will hold a “Mock Interview” session at the University of Tampa with aspiring interviewees from UT PRSSA. The event will take place on Tuesday, April 16, from 8 to 9:30 p.m. at USF, exact location to be announced soon. A light dinner will be provided following the event.

Interviewees will come prepared as though they are actually meeting with you (the “hiring manager”) to discuss their qualifications for an entry-level public relations position in your organization. They will have resumes and portfolios, and they will be “dressed for success!”

You will evaluate them based on their preparedness, their professionalism, and their experience gained through internships and/or work. Honest and thoughtful feedback will help these young men and women better prepare themselves for their approaching venture into “our world!”

If you would like to be a part of this exciting new initiative designed to assist our future professional colleagues in getting their start, please email Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, at [email protected].

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PRSA Sunshine District Conference: Opening Keynote Speaker Announcement

PRSA Tampa Bay is pleased to announce PR influencer, digital correspondent and overall PR Rockstar, Sarah Evans (@PRSarahEvans), as the opening keynote speaker at the 2019 PRSA Sunshine District Conference, July 25-27, 2019, in Downtown Tampa at the Hilton Tampa Downtown. Sarah will provide insights into the future of our profession and the state of PR in 2019.

Sarah Evans, PR influencer and digital correspondent

Sarah Evans, the founder of Sevans Strategy, is a digital strategist and global brand correspondent, who works with companies worldwide to create and improve their social and digital strategies, advising on branding, marketing, advertising, and public relations. Additionally, Sarah is a digital correspondent for several companies including Paypal, Cox Communications, MGM International, Wal Mart, Shorty Awards and more... Sarah got her start by helping small to midsize businesses build their digital PR efforts. Previously, Sarah worked with a Chicago area crisis center to raise more than $161,000 in three weeks exclusively via social media, and is honored to be a member of the Guinness Book World Record holding #beatcancer team.

Early Bird Registration Now Open

Register now to take advantage of a special, limited-time offer of only $299 for a full Conference registration package for members ($399 for non-members). This Early Bird Rate is the lowest price that will be available and you have until April 26, 2019, to take advantage of this extra-special discount.

For more information on the 2019 PRSA Sunshine District Conference and to register, click here

Mark your calendars for July 25-27, and set sail for Tampa Bay—where your treasure awaits!


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Member Spotlight: Katy Parsons, APR

This Member Spotlight profiles Katy Parsons, APR, and Senior Account Executive at ChappellRoberts. She joined PRSA Tampa Bay in 2006, currently serves as co-chair of the APR Committee, and previously served as a member of the PRSSA Committee and professional liaison to USF’s student-run public relations agency, KnoBull.

  1. First news publication you read in the morning?

The Tampa Bay Times.

  1. First public relations job?

Assistant Account Executive at ChappellRoberts, where I started in 2006. I’ve been with this inspiring agency and grown my career there for 13 years, and I credit my tenure to an agency culture of continued learning, creativity and fun.

  1. Most important career mentor, and why?

I actually have two, Colleen Chappell, APR, and Christine Turner, APR, who are both selfless champions of growing the people around them. In my career, they have helped me to treat failure as an opportunity to grow, learn, and be more creative, and they both bring a creative spirit and amazingly fun energy to work every day, which inspires all of us around them.

  1. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?

Using too much jargon or professional-speak versus connecting with people in a meaningful way.

  1. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?

Earning my APR (Accreditation in Public Relations)! It changed my perspective of the role of public relations, strengthening a focus on results.

  1. Most important skill gained through the APR process?

One, know that you have the potential to change to world – or at least your world. Two, give a damn about what you do and bring that passion to work every day, because it will help you and inspire others to create change.

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


  1. Favorite movie?

Better Off Dead.

  1. Favorite vacation?

Paris. This city exudes creativity, history and energy.

  1. Any three dinner guests?

Eleanor Roosevelt , Tina Fey and Sheryl Sandberg.

With my husband, Kerry.

My children, Annie and Jude.

At our chapter’s 2018 PRSA Professional Development Day, with fellow members (from left) Paula MacDonald, APR; Crystal Lauderdale; Kirk Hazlett, APR and Fellow PRSA; and Mary Margaret Hull, APR, and 2018 PRSA Tampa Bay president.


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February Event Highlights

Crisis Communication in the Digital Age

PRSA members learned how digital technology and social media have transformed the nature and source of crisis management.

PRSA Tampa Bay Networking Mixer

PRSA Tampa Bay members enjoyed Tapas Tuesday at Ceviche in St. Petersburg

Mock Interview Session with USF PRSSA

Seven PRSA Tampa Bay members joined USF PRSSA for our inaugural mock interview session. Can’t wait to watch them excel in their careers! 



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