A Salute to Women in History, Women in PR

By Kecia Carroll 

To celebrate Women’s History Month, the men and women of PRSA Tampa Bay celebrated by sharing quotes from women in history who inspired them. As we wrap up our celebration, we’d like to recognize and thank all of the women who bring so much of themselves to our chapter. Now more than ever their leadership plays a critical role for our members, our organizations and our communities.

Submitted by Terri Durdaller 

Submitted by Bart Graham 

Submitted by Linda Hughes-Kirchubel, PhD 

Submitted by Quinn LeMelle 

Submitted by Joseph Priest 

Submitted by Camila Rodriguez 

Submitted by Kecia Carroll 

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President Spotlight: Kelsy Long

This special President Spotlight profiles Kelsy Long, the 2020 president of PRSA Tampa Bay and also the director of media relations at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. She joined the chapter in 2011 and previously served as vice president of the chapter, secretary of the chapter, and chair of the Media Roundtable Committee, for three years.

1. Reason you wanted to become PRSA Tampa Bay president?

I highly respect all the past presidents of PRSA Tampa Bay and the legacy each of them left, and I similarly want to be able to give back to an organization that has given so much to me and driven me to be the best professional I can be. This year seemed like the right time to step up and serve as president and leave my legacy.

2. Major goals for the chapter this year?

We have five:

  • Monthly programs-These serve as key learning and networking opportunities for our members and non-members alike. Jenna Rogers is our committee chair and would welcome your support, if you’re interested in helping organize them.

  • Professional Development Day-This annual half-day seminar has provided PR professionals with powerful and practical information to help us improve and advance as practitioners and strategists. Robin Bizjack is our committee chair and is open to all volunteers

  • Goodwill fund-PRSA Tampa Bay members are a tight-knit group of professionals and friends who all have experienced hardships, and we understand an important part of getting through a tough time can be the support of those around us. For these reasons, this year, PRSA Tampa Bay is committed to creating a goodwill fund, similar to the hardship plan offered nationally by PRSA.

  • Sponsorship-This year, we’re focusing on leveraging relationships in our community with those who find value in our programs and our members by establishing a more cohesive sponsorship opportunities package. If you have an idea, reach out to the committee chair, Josh Carrasco (who also happens to be our 2021 president-elect!).

  • Financial accountability-Our treasury is the strongest it has ever been, and with the strategic use of these funds, we’re able to offer quality programs as well as networking and learning opportunities for our members. In the next month, our board will finalize and approve our 2020 budget.

3. Biggest chapter events this year that everyone should keep on their radar?

As past chair of our Media Roundtable, I highly recommend keeping this April event on your radar. We are also bringing back Professional Development Day after a one-year hiatus because of hosting of the 2019 Sunshine District Conference, and our annual Prestige Awards program is always a wonderful celebration of the great work produced by our members and features a notable keynote speaker addressing some of the latest trends and best practices in our field.

4. Most rewarding moment as an officer for PRSA Tampa Bay so far?

Being able to represent this incredible group and hear how well we are perceived in the public relations community. We should all be proud to be a part of this chapter and continue to strive for excellence

In December, I joined a number of my colleagues at a half-day retreat to plan
our chapter’s goals and activities for 2020. Go PRSA Tampa Bay!

5. First news publication you read in the morning?

My commute to work is about 45 minutes, so I take that time to catch up on my news by first listening to Up First by NPR, then catching the news update by 970 WFLA, and then finishing my commute with news updates from WUSF.

6. First public relations job?

You could say my first PR job was at a restaurant called Pusser’s, in Annapolis, Maryland, where I was a waitress – a demanding PR job for sure! My first real PR job, though, was as director of communications and marketing for Franklin Street, a local commercial real estate firm.

At an event for my current job, at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium,
with a mascot for one of our two dolphins, Winter.

7. Most important career mentor, and why?

I’d have to say Andrew Wright, CEO and managing partner of Franklin Street, was an incredible mentor because he pushed me to have confidence in my decision making and rely on the resources available to me. Most of the time those resources are people who are more than happy to help.

8. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?

The improper use of an apostrophe has bugged me since middle school. “They’re,” “there,” and “their”; “we’re,” “where,” and “were”; and so on.

My wedding, with my husband, Kole, from last year.

9. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing stories being told that may have otherwise been ignored. Being able to shed light on a topic, situation or moment is an incredible accomplishment.

10. Advice to new public relations professionals?

My advice to any new professional is to ask questions and be prudent about keeping your contact list organized. You never know where life may lead you and when you just might need that person to help guide you with something.

A photo from a trip to southern England to see the Seven Sisters cliffs, in East Sussex, in 2018.

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

If I weren’t in public relations, I’d probably be working at a beach resort.

12. Favorite movie?

I could watch Ace Ventura: Pet Detective on a repeating loop. I feel bad when I watch it with other people because I say every line.

Me at Kjeragbolten (Suspended Rock) in southern Norway,
during our honeymoon there last year. It was a long way down!

13. Favorite vacation?

I loved traveling to Norway and the U.K., but my favorite vacation was to Anna Maria Island last September. It’s such a cute little beach town, it has amazing biking and kayaking, and it’s just a short drive from home.

14. Any three dinner guests?

My mom, Mary, my dad, Mike, and my sister, Shanon. They all live in Maryland, so it’s a rare treat for me to be able to visit there and share a meal with them at the same time.

At home with our baby, Dusty, a rescue dog from the Humane Society.

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Differences Between U.S. and U.K. English to Know

The Essential Differences Between American and British English

By Joseph Priest, APR

This article was originally published in the February 2020 issue of Strategies & Tactics, the monthly newsletter of the Public Relations Society of America, and is republished here with permission.

If you were working for a company that speaks British English rather than American English, would it be correct to write, “She will send it towards the end of April”? Or should it be, “She will send it toward the end of April”?

Would you write, “This sentence needs a period,” or “This sentence needs a full stop”? How about, “The team are playing well,” versus “The team is playing well”? (In British English, the correct answers are “towards,” “full stop” and “are.”)

English has become the common language of the global economy. Spoken in more than 100 countries around the world and the official language in 35 countries, English is also the most commonly studied foreign language.

Still, it’s easy to forget that this language has two major forms: American English, spoken mainly in the United States; and British English, used in the U.K. and many former British colonies. In fact, most English-speaking countries, including such economic leaders as Australia, Canada, India, Singapore and South Africa, use British English. 

Although American English and British English are generally interchangeable, they contain enough differences to cause awkward errors. In an increasingly globalized business world, it’s important to be adept at both forms.

For help, here’s a rundown of differences between some common American-English and British-English usages that can cause confusion, along with resources for further guidance. Knowing these differences will make your work more accurate and inclusive in a world where British English represents another element of diversity that PR pros should strive to appreciate.

Same Words, Different Spellings
American English -- British English
airplane -- aeroplane
canceled -- cancelled
program -- programme
theater -- theatre
toward -- towards
traveled -- travelled

Different Words, Same Meaning
American English -- British English
calendar (appointment book) -- diary
ad -- advert
anchor (for TV news) -- presenter
period (punctuation mark) -- full stop
résumé -- CV (curriculum vitae)
zee (pronunciation of letter “z”) -- zed

Same Words, Different Meanings
American English -- British English
biscuit (small piece of bread) -- (small cookie)
chips (potato chips) -- (French fries)
pants (clothing for lower part of body) -- (underwear for lower part of body)
pudding (sweet dish made with sugar, flour and milk) -- (dessert)
toilet (commode) -- (restroom)
torch (stick with flame on end) -- (flashlight)

What day is it?
One difference between the two forms is that American English uses the month-day-year format: “Amy will arrive on March 16, 2020.” British English, on the other hand, follows the day-month-year format: “Amy will arrive on 16 March 2020.”

Quote me on this
As professional communicators, we know that in American English periods and commas are always enclosed within quotation marks (“I won’t go,” John said), and question marks and exclamation points follow quotation marks unless they’re part of the quote. In British English, however, only those punctuation marks that appear in the original material should be enclosed, and commas fall outside the closing quotation marks: “I won’t go”, John said

One or many?
In British usage, collective nouns that represent groups often take a plural verb, as in, “The band are loud.” In American English, of course, we use the singular form: “The band is loud.”

A list of specific word differences between American and British English follows below. For further help, consult The Cambridge Dictionary online, or the book The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship between American and British English, by Lynne Murphy.

Joseph Priest is a corporate writer at Syniverse, a Tampa, Fla.-based software and services company, and has over 20 years of experience working with American- and British-English-speaking clients at such companies as IBM, AT&T and Ketchum. Email him at [email protected].

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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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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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2019 PRSA International Conference Scholarship Available!

PRSA Tampa Bay is offering one scholarship for a member to attend the 2019 PRSA International Conference Oct. 20-22 in San Diego, Calif.  To be considered, please complete the application.

About the scholarship: The scholarship recipient 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 full registration package ($1,495 value) for the conference. All other expenses will be the responsibility of the scholarship recipient.

Deadline to apply: 5 p.m. on July 31.

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

The winner will be notified by August 16.

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