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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