Calling All Presenters for the 2019 Sunshine District Conference!

Deadline: March 1, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Interested in sharing your communications knowledge, skills and abilities? Have a great case study to share or some proven best practices to help others sharpen their skills? Join us as a presenter!

Please complete the online form or share with someone who might be interested. Questions? Email:

We look forward to seeing you in Tampa’s Downtown!

Conference Overview

The Tampa Bay Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America is seeking speakers for the upcoming 2019 Sunshine District Conference, taking place at the Hilton Tampa Downtown in Tampa, Fla., July 25-27, 2019.
The full conference schedule will be available soon. The general agenda is as follows: 

• July 25: Sunshine District Board Meeting 1-5 PM I Evening welcome reception
• July 26: Full Day Conference
• July 27: Half Day Conference

PRSA Tampa Bay is seeking speakers who can cover a wide range of public relations and communications topics, including but not limited to:

• Communications Planning
• Branding
• Crisis Communication
• PR Research Methods
• PR Trends/State of the Industry
• Content Strategy
• Social Media
• PR Career Advice/Personal Branding
• Best Practices/Case Studies
• PR at a Leading Local Company
• Media Relations
• Integrated Marketing Communications
• Leadership and Management
• Data and Measurement
• Internal Communications
• Diversity and Inclusion

All presentation times are 50 minutes each.

You must have enough content to fill this time.

Sales pitches will not be accepted.

**Please note that your submission must include a headshot, speaker bio, and session topic overview for use on the conference website (see Speaker Information below for details).
Your full presentation, including any slides or accompanying materials, must be submitted to PRSA Tampa Bay no later than Friday, May 31, 2019.

To submit a speaker form, please click here.

Read More

Sarah Kettenburg Named Rising PR Star

Sarah Kettenburg, PRSA Tampa Bay Board Member and Principal at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, was named one of PR News’ 2018 Rising PR Stars. This award showcases top talent, passionate professionals and budding PR leaders who day in and day out make communications matter in the marketplace. Kettenburg received her award during the PR People Awards Luncheon on Dec. 4 at the National Press Club in D.C. For more information, visit

Sarah Kettenburg accepting her award.

Sarah Kettenburg with her award.

Sarah Kettenburg with her H+K D.C. office colleagues.

Read More

PRSA Rings In Holidays with Toy Donation

Chapter members Makenna Imholte (left), Jessica Summers, APR, and Joseph Priest, APR, drop off this year’s donated gifts at the Metropolitan Ministries holiday tent.

By Joseph Priest, APR

Sometimes a little can mean a lot, and a lot of Tampa Bay kids will be having a little brighter holiday this year thanks to our chapter. On Dec. 10, we met at Jackson’s restaurant on Harbour Island to host 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 over 20 gifts this year. We dropped them off at the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent shortly after the mixer, just in time to help needy families looking for gifts this holiday season.

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

In order to be eligible, members have to bring a new, unwrapped gift, which is collected with other gifts for drop-off later at Metropolitan Ministries. Each gift donated earns the contributor one ticket that is entered in a drawing for prizes, which this time included three $10 Starbucks gift cards, two $25 Amazon gift cards, and one grand prize of a $75 gift card to Jackson’s restaurant.

For this year’s mixer, this incentive helped bring in 20-plus gifts, including a variety of toys, dolls, books, and games, and gift cards.

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

The Public Service Committee thanks everyone who participated in the toy drive and everyone who helped our chapter give back to the community earlier in the year. This included résumé review sessions with USF’s PRSSA chapter and UT’s PRSSA chapter, and a half-day of toy sorting at the Metropolitan Ministries warehouse.  

Stay tuned to the PRSA Tampa Bay website for more ways you can help us serve in 2019.

Members and guests enjoy the mixer at Jackson’s.

Chapter President Mary Margaret Hull, APR, recognizes some of the chapter’s biggest accomplishments in 2018 in another successful year for PRSA Tampa Bay.

Read More

Final Membership Promotions End on Friday, Dec. 14

While you’re making a list and checking it twice for all the other people in your life, remember to take care of yourself, too! 

PRSA has the perfect gift for public relations and communications pros like you — access to valuable tools and resources with a PRSA membership, a gift that will benefit you throughout all of 2019. 

Join PRSA with promo code HOLIDAY18 and you will get:

  • A $50 Amazon gift card and
  • Waived initiation fee (a $65 value).


BUT, lock in this great offer while you still can — it expires soon, on Friday, Dec. 14, 2018.

Read More

PRSA Tampa Bay Lends a Hand

By Joseph Priest

It included three hours, seven people, and hundreds of toys, but the number of children’s lives it will touch is countless.

On Oct.12, our chapter’s Public Service Committee organized our participation in the United Way’s “Day of Caring,” an annual event by the United Way Suncoast chapter that recruits volunteer teams from companies and organizations across Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota and DeSoto counties to help local charities for a day. This year, approximately 2,600 volunteers were mobilized to tackle some 120 projects for over 50 local social service agencies, schools and community organizations.

Our Day of Caring team included seven members who took off from work to contribute to the Metropolitan Ministries warehouse in east Tampa:

  • Alexandra Booth.
  • Noelle Brooke Fox, APR.
  • Mary Margaret Hull, APR.
  • Deborah Mazza.
  • Joseph Priest, APR.
  • Camila Rodriguez.
  • Andrea Sauvageot.

Our project was to unpack, sort and repack over 10 large boxes of donated toys. The job was a highly needed one for part of a massive annual effort. Last year’s toy giveaway at Metropolitan Ministries included  over 11,000 children who registered to receive some 22,500 toys.

Although we only had a few hours to contribute, our team had an amazingly rewarding experience. We were able to package hundreds of toys that will help Metropolitan Ministries organize, ship, and distribute them more quickly and efficiently for the holiday season.

All in all, it was rewarding to be a part of this event, and rewarding to be a part of PRSA Tampa Bay.

There’s also another chance to help Metropolitan Ministries this holiday season. On Dec. 10, PRSA Tampa Bay will be hosting its annual holiday mixer and toy drive at Jackson’s on Harbour Island. To participate in the drive, please bring one or more new, unwrapped gifts based on the suggested list on the event page. Each donation will entitle the giver to a raffle ticket and a chance to be selected for one of several special prizes from a drawing at the end of the evening.

We hope to see you there, and we hope you can donate a toy!


Read More

PRSA's "Triple Play" Membership Deal Ends Nov. 30

If someone joins PRSA through November 30 at the full member price, they’ll receive three memberships for the price of one! Help us spread the word about PRSA’s “Triple Play” promotion.

In addition to PRSA National membership, which connects members to more than 21,000 public relations and communication professionals, new members also receive a free Chapter* membership (get to know your local peers) AND a free Section* membership (to connect with industry colleagues). Plus, we will also waive the $65 initiation fee.

Use promo code FALL18 to take advantage of this once-a-year deal and save up to $180!  

RESTRICTIONS: The Counselors Academy and New Professionals Sections are not included in this offer. Associate member categories ($200 or less annual dues) and current or renewing members do not apply. View more details.  

Sign up now!

Read More

PRSA Tampa Bay 2019 Board Election Member Ballot

For more than 50 years, PRSA Tampa Bay has been a successful volunteer-led organization; advancing the public relations profession and its professionals. This outstanding organization would not be possible without dedicated chapter leaders. We rely on our membership to elect leaders who will contribute their professional talents to benefit PRSA Tampa Bay's membership and community.

Learn about the candidates (PDF download)

2019 Board Election Member Ballot (click here to access)

The ballot must be completed by no later than noon on Friday, Nov. 30.

Read More

USF and UT PRSSA Chapters Link to Learn

An eager and interested audience of members from both Tampa Bay PRSSA chapters had a first-of-its-kind chance on October 25 to both meet and interact with their “crosstown” peers and benefit from real-time, real-life advice from guest speaker Haley Hinds, Fox 13 anchor/reporter.

Hosted on the University of Tampa campus with pizza and sodas generously provided by PRSA Tampa Bay, this event marked the first time that both student PR chapters have come together for a program specifically organized for them by their professional colleagues.

“Both student chapters have been doing some excellent individual programming,” said Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, PRSA Tampa Bay’s “Students Committee” co-chair. “But I know from previous experiences in other locations where I’ve lived that these opportunities to ‘meet, mingle and learn’ are value-added benefits of the student’s PRSSA membership and can play a big part in his or her decision to convert from PRSSA to PRSA membership after graduation.”

Emilie Sears, founder and immediate past president of UT PRSSA, had this to say about the event: “We were so fortunate to hear from Haley Hinds Thursday night. She shared valuable insights that she has learned along her career journey and provided examples of how to separate yourself from other interns in the workplace, as well as what it takes to stand out to future employers. Haley is a real-life example of someone who has worked extremely hard to follow and reach her dreams. I believe the lessons she shared will help current students in their pursuits of professional communication careers. We are so thankful and honored to have had Haley as a guest speaker for our first joint-chapter PRSSA meeting. We look forward to future collaboration with USF PRSSA and similar successful key events.”

USF Vice President Matt Corrado offered his thoughts: “Haley Hinds was extremely nice and down to earth, and all of the students who attended had a chance to speak with her one on one at some point. We all listened to her wonderful stories, which were very relatable and educational for all, about her own experience as a broadcast reporter. She then opened up the floor for questions and took her time to respond to each one until the student who asked it was satisfied with the answer. Overall, the lecture and the experience were extremely helpful, and I am sure that many students, myself included, will be utilizing a lot of what she shared with us for the rest of our careers.”

Hazlett noted that plans are already in the works for other joint programming. Stay tuned for details!

Read More

UT PRSSA's Resume Review Session Nov. 15

Help wanted! We need your expertise for a résumé review session with UT’s PRSSA Chapter so we can help future PR professionals put their best foot forward after graduation.

PRSA judges will receive student résumés in advance and evaluate them on areas such as organization, strategy and effectiveness. Then, on November 15, the judges will meet at UT to discuss their impressions with the students in person as well as offer general advice about public relations careers.

We’ll conclude the evening with a mixer with dinner, where everyone can get to know each other better. 

Please lend your expertise and join us for the review session and a light dinner.

When: Thursday, November 15, 6-9 p.m.

Location: University of Tampa, Sykes College of Business, Room 134

To volunteer as a reviewer, email Kirk Hazlett at

Read More

Member Spotlight: Leslie Allen

This Member Spotlight profiles Leslie Allen, who, as owner of Wildcat Communications, serves one of her major clients, Martin & Company, a Nashville-based ad agency, as the agency’s PR Director and Event Manager remotely from Tampa. She joined the chapter in 2016 and currently serves as co-chair of the committee planning the chapter’s fourth annual PRestige Awards, on Nov. 8.

1. First news publication you read in the morning?

The Wall Street Journal.

2. First public relations job?

My first public relations job was with Powell Advertising in Nashville, Tennessee, which is now called Powell Creative and today operates more as a boutique design agency. My first professional job after graduation was with The Buntin Group, the largest agency in Nashville at the time, where I worked as Creative Department Secretary and my goal was to be an award-winning copywriter. 

3. Most important career mentor, and why?

My most important career mentor has to be Zan Martin, President and founder of Martin & Company Advertising. Although I didn’t have any prior knowledge of the automotive industry, she hired me to be PR Director for some of the top automotive aftermarket companies in the industry and started me on a career path that I’m still on today.

4. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?

The misuse of an apostrophe to make a plural, as in “favorite’s.” A close and related second is the misuse of “it’s” for “its.” 

5. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?

Major events in Las Vegas for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show that were well-attended; some large-scale productions for the Hot Rod Power Tour (which included a budget of $70,000); and several standing-room only news conferences. I feel rewarded when the client is extremely satisfied.

6. Advice to new public relations professionals?

In a tight market, you may have to work in a role indirectly related to public relations, and with each position you have to take advantage of the opportunity to gain experience that will be a stepping-stone to your next career move. Seek positions in areas that will lead to your top career goal – such as event management, copywriting or marketing – because all jobs can contribute to your knowledge of public relations in some way.  

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

Travel writer or food editor.

8. Favorite movie?

That’s hard to say. My favorite romance is Under the Tuscan Sun, and my favorite dramas include The English Patient, Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Dead Poets Society and Doctor Zhivago, which all rank almost equally.

9 Favorite vacation?

Sailing for eight days in the British Virgin Islands with my husband. The sky was unbelievably clear and the water unbelievably blue, and our 32 ft. sailboat was outfitted with everything we could have possibly needed for weeks on the water.

10. Any three dinner guests?

Cleopatra, Benjamin Franklin and Gertrude Stein.

With my family in Kingston Springs, Tennessee, my hometown, to celebrate the wedding of my son (second from left) and new daughter-in-law, along with my daughter and other son.

Having fun off-roading in Colorado with my son (left) and husband (seated beside me).

Celebrating my son’s recent graduation from USAF Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.


Read More