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 or simply send your proposed post to 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 $375 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.

To apply, complete the online scholarship application found 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

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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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March 6 Webinar: Get your APR accreditation this year

Becoming Accredited in Public Relations is a career goal for many PR professionals, because it recognizes those who have demonstrated a high level of expertise within our profession. Our PRSA Tampa Bay chapter has an exceptional APR study program — it allows members to learn from  local experts and to meet others who are preparing their presentations and studying for the exam.

Would you like to get your APR in 2019? A great first step is to sign up here ( for a 30-minute webinar at noon Wednesday March 6 with PRSA Tampa Bay Accreditation co-chairs, Paula MacDonald, APR and Katy Parsons, APR.

Sign up even if you can’t participate at that time, because the webinar will be recorded and provided to you later.

This could be your path to the APR this year!

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Five tips for getting coverage from leading Tampa Bay business journalists

By Liz Taylor

When you get three leading Tampa Bay business journalists together to talk about today’s big stories and trends, you don’t expect the main topic to be food.

But when the trendy grocery chain Sprouts opened a store in Clearwater last month, the news got more clicks than almost all other news headlines locally, the journalists said at PRSA Tampa Bay’s recent “Media Crystal Ball” program.

“The Sprouts story attracted the most interest in our readership. It was off the charts – not even close compared to other stories,” said Mark Gordon, managing editor of the Business Observer.

It was the same  at the Tampa Bay Times. “Yes, Sprouts is the No. 1 story” compared to all the other news stories of the day, said Times business writer Susan Taylor Martin.

“So it doesn’t matter what it is, just put Sprouts in the subject line,” quipped Alexis Muellner, editor-in-chief of the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

This isn’t exactly the kind of advice nearly 50 PR and communications professionals expected to hear.But the foodie talk drove home an important point about getting media attention today.

Even when publications have print editions – as all three of those represented do – their digital presence is what’s driving many media decisions when it comes to story coverage. For example, Martin described how a giant screen ranking headlines and their views is prominently displayed in the Times newsroom, and reporters all get a daily report telling them how their articles are playing based on the numbers.

While “being clicky” isn’t the only factor, stressed Gordon and his colleagues, the fact that media can instantly measure what’s attracting readers creates interesting opportunities for savvy PR pros and companies.

Here are five tips on getting coverage – some related directly to today’s digital reality and others based on solid journalistic and media relations principles:

  1. Get up early: With journalists looking to publish online much earlier in the day than the old afternoon print deadlines, early morning releases can capture their attention. “I get in at 7 and try to get stories up on the web by 10. We’re pushing all day to have fresh content,” said Martin. “If you have good stories, get them to us early.”
  2. Expand on published stories: With digital speed, you can get more mileage and keep stories alive by supplying updates in the hours and days following the first publish. Readers are especially hungry to know more about big stories like the recent announcement of a 50-story condominium and hotel development in St. Petersburg. You can also get ideas from reader comments on the story. If you can supply more images and key details, get them to the reporter.
  3. Get leaders to take a stand: Muellner said Tampa Bay Business Journal is looking for guest columns from leading executives, but they don’t get enough submissions. “We want business people to take a stand and be brave” on issues like education and transportation,” he said. Gordon added that The Business Observer also finds it challenging to get business leaders to speak out on issues.
  4. Be clear about what a company does: Martin said press releases often fail to explain what a company, product or service actually does in terms an average reader can understand. “This is particularly true in the technology field,” said Martin. “If we can’t figure it out, it’s not going to get covered.”
  5. Hook readers with brilliant stories: The internet and social media may have turned traditional media upside down, but the value of good storytelling is not changing. Look for ways to surprise and entertain readers. Even though a story is about development, it can still have a funky angle that will get a reporter’s attention, as well as their readers.   

“Remember, businesses don’t make business news, people do,” said Muellner.

And when all else fails, just mention the magic word: Sprouts.

Liz Taylor is a freelance content writer based in Tampa. She can be reached at LizWritesBiz.

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PRSA Tampa Bay Interviewers Needed!

PRSA Tampa Bay will hold its first-ever “Mock Interview” session with aspiring interviewees from USF PRSSA. The event will take place on Thursday, February 28, from 6 to 8 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

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Personal View: Ethical behavior is your responsibility

By Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA

We’ve somehow managed to make our way into a new year having more-or less survived a fascinating 12 months of, at best, questionable words and actions by local, state and national leaders at all levels in all industries.

Whether it be blatantly incorrect or uninformed statements or shockingly improper actions by seemingly intelligent individuals, we have been treated to a non-stop array of revelations that have caused at least this observer to question their ethical awareness.

The laundry list includes automobile manufacturers who choose to ignore safety concerns expressed by their own employees, healthcare providers who seem to have forgotten the “do no harm” oath by which they are expected to abide, and government officials who have chosen to disregard the wishes of their own constituents.

No. Ethical action is not a legal requirement. But, if history teaches us anything, it is that acting and speaking in the best interest of those who look to us for guidance - or as role models - is crucial.

I’ll be among the first to say the world isn’t perfect. We all stumble once in a while. But being aware that you made a misstep or misstatement and acting quickly to correct or clarify goes a long way toward reassuring those who look to you for guidance and inspiration that all is well.

Unfortunately, as we have seen and continue to see time after time, our government and corporate leaders seem to operate on the “baffle ‘em with b.s.” theory instead of giving clear, from-the-heart responses.

Fortunately for us, as members of the Public Relations Society of America, as well as for our colleagues in the International Public Relations Association, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, International Association of Business Communicators, and numerous other professional associations around the world, we have clearly-stated, comprehensive ethical guidelines to assist us in responding to ethical challenges.

Today’s hyper-connected universe leaves little wiggle room for specious pronouncements that appear to be a response but, upon closer examination, are revealed as blatant attempts to dodge the bullet. With our communication capabilities today, though, this action is doomed from the start. As I love to tell my students, “You can run, but you can’t hide. I will find you, and I will  find out.”

With that as a backdrop, we turn our attention to the seemingly never-ending charade of “he said, she said” playing out day after day in local, national and international news. PRSA’s National Chair for 2018, Anthony D’Angelo, APR, Fellow PRSA, provided some insightful observations for PR News in February 2018 about the PR professional’s role in organizational communication.

D’Angelo makes an excellent case for ethical conduct, but he also offers a realistic look at those situations where the substance of one’s response is shaped by other factors: “Certainly, there are times when professional communicators need to protect the privacy rights of those we counsel by safeguarding confidential information, but that doesn’t require white lies, however immaterial, as a remedy. If we can’t answer a question, it’s a professionally acceptable response to say, 'I can’t answer that, and here’s the reason why.'”

Or, to use another time-honored adage attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “Honesty is the best policy.”

Finally, Ivy Ledbetter Lee laid out our responsibilities as representatives of those clients or employers clearly and concisely in his “Declaration of Principles” (1906): “In brief, our plan is frankly, and openly, on behalf of business concerns and public institutions, to supply the press and public of the United States prompt and accurate information concerning subjects of which it is of value and interest to know about.”

Yes, my friends, ethical challenges are not a new thing. But the ability of others to check and challenge our communications on behalf of clients or employers and to share their perceptions and opinions with countless thousands of others is creating a whole new realm of hurdles that we must address and overcome.

Happy 2019!

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