June PRSA Happenings

Here is what you should be on the lookout for this month: 

Webinars (Free for Members)

  • June 23: Turn Lame Quotes into Killer Sound Bites: Go from Bleh to Brilliant
  • June 29: Exposing Collaboration Myths: Learn What 100 Million Intranet Activities Can Tell You about Internal Communications 
  • July 21: Craft Content Marketing Pieces that Almost Write Themselves

Workshops/Partner Events

  • June 16: Social Media and Public Relations Planning
  • June 22: Beyond Engagement
  • June 23: Public Relations Strategic Planning
  • June 28-29: Catch Your Readers Writing Workshop
  • July 26-27: Social Media & Storytelling Summit
  • July 27-28: NOT Your Father’s News Release Writing Workshop

To register or learn more about webinars, workshops, and partner events click here.

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Member Spotlight: Christie Ebanks

Christie Ebanks is an account coordinator at True Blue Communications, has been a member of PRSA Tampa Bay since October 2015 and is the 2016 chair of the membership committee, and, in college, held several positions in PRSSA for the Brigham Young University-Idaho chapter, including president.

First news publication you read in the morning?
I watch the local news when I’m getting ready for work. Then I read theSkimm when I get in the office.

First public relations job?
My job now is my first “official” PR job. Before I started working with True Blue Communications, I did a lot of freelance work and internships, and I held a marketing director position at a local healthcare agency.

Most important career mentor, and why?
Noelle Fox, APR, president and chief strategist at True Blue Communications, and past president and current assembly delegate for PRSA Tampa Bay. She inspires me to be a better writer and communicator.

Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?
When someone says, “I could care less.” The correct way is “I couldn’t care less.”

Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?
Seeing the success of something I created, like when PR Daily published one of the blog posts I wrote for True Blue Communications on social media etiquette. You can read it here.

Advice to new public relations professionals?
Join PRSA! It’s the best way to network with professionals in your area, and it could even land you a job.

Job you would pursue if you weren’t in public relations?
TV news anchor.

Favorite movie?
Pretty much any chick flick, but, if I had to pick one, it would probably be How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. I can quote the entire movie!

Favorite vacation?
A visit to the Cayman Islands. My husband’s family has a lot of family history on the island, so it was neat to learn about it and take in the beautiful views. 

Any three dinner guests?
The entire cast of Friends. I know that’s more than three, but I can’t pick just three! 

When I'm not doing PR, I enjoy exploring the outdoors with my husband. We love biking, kayaking and camping.

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One Error PR Pros Should Not Make

By Joseph Priest, Corporate Writer, Syniverse

This mistake has had copy editors throwing their hands over their heads for so long that you would think everyone would get it right by now, but they don’t. At the same time, there is growing pressure for a change in usage for “comprised of” that is worth knowing.

The Correct Way to Use ‘Comprise’ Now
First, a look at the current correct usage, according the AP Stylebook, the Chicago Manual of Style, Garner’s Modern English Usage and other authoritative guides. “To comprise” means “to contain or embrace,” so something is not properly “comprised of” something else. The correct way to use “comprise” is in the active voice:

          The national tour comprises 12 cities.

When writers use “comprised of,” the word they usually mean to use is “compose,” in the passive voice. “To compose” means “to create or put together” and can be used in both the active and passive voice:

          Bart composed a news release.

          The media kit is composed of seven documents.  

“Constitute,” in the sense of form or make up, is another option that can be used for “comprise” or “compose”:

          Four TV news stations, three magazines and one newspaper constitute the local media targets.

However, even when used correctly, “comprise,” “compose” and “constitute” tend to sound stilted. A less formal and more useful verb in many cases is “consist”:

          The board consists of four executive officers and six committee chairs.

And an even more informal and colloquial option is some form of “made up of”:

          Sections on market analysis, media strategy and new tactics make up the critical parts of the new-business presentation.

          The account team is made up of two account executives, one account supervisor and one vice president.

Gathering Pressure for a Change
Although the use of “comprise” in the active voice only is still the standard for most well-edited publications today and the use endorsed by the authorities mentioned above, there has been growing pressure for the sanctioning of “comprised of.”

The pressure is based mostly on the sheer amount of this word’s use (or misuse) and is not without precedent. Similar changes in usage led to the sanctioning of “safe haven,” which is a redundancy; the definition of “careen” to also mean “to lurch or swerve speedily,” which was formerly a definition reserved for the verb “career”; and the pronunciation “komp-tro-ler” for the word “comptroller,” which is properly pronounced exactly as the word “controller” is.

But we’re not there yet with “comprised of.” Acceptance for this change by the language community – which includes dictionaries, usage guides, stylebooks, and leading news publications – has not gained critical mass yet, and “comprised of” continues to be considered poor usage.

For this reason, PR pros would be well-advised to refrain from using “comprised of” in their work and try to keep in mind this simple principle with “comprise”: the whole “comprises” the parts; the whole is “composed of” the parts.

Make sense? I would love to know if “comprised of” creeps into any of your work or if you have confusion about its use.

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PRSA Sunshine District Conference Scholarships

As a benefit to our valued chapter members, PRSA Tampa Bay is offering two $500 scholarships for chapter members to attend the 2016 Sunshine District Conference. This year’s conference is June 16-18 at the Biscayne Bay Marriott in Miami. 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 ($275) and partial travel expenses (hotel, mileage reimbursement) up to a combined total of $500. The chapter will register and pay the registration fee for the selected recipient(s). Recipients will need to pay for their travel expenses up front and submit receipts to the PRSA Tampa Bay chapter treasurer for reimbursement after the conference. Any travel costs beyond the $500 mark are the responsibility of the attendee. If the recipient is unable to attend the conference, the scholarship will be awarded to another member.

To apply, complete the online application found here

Deadline to apply: Tuesday, May 24 at 5 p.m.

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

Winners will be notified the week of May 30.


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PRSA Group Membership Deal

Now is the time for your company's PR team to join PRSA! The PRSA Group Member Program is offering a “Memorial Day 2016” promotion now through Friday, June 3rd for all New Groups (5 members or more from one company) that join during this time.  Take advantage of the following discounts:

  1. Waived $65 Initiation Fee for all New Members.

  2. Waived $35 Reinstatement Fee for all Reinstated Members.

  3. Waived (1st Year) $60 Professional Interest Section dues (one Section only, excludes Counselors Academy) for all Members in the Group.


  1. Waived (1st Year) Chapter dues (cost varies per Chapter) for all New Members in the Group.

You can visit for more information on benefits, program criteria and employer advantages (copy below).  To join as a New Group, contact for the next steps.  I look forward to hearing from you and bringing the team on board as a PRSA Group member.

Employer Advantages:

  • Single Invoicing. Make a single payment each year for group members' dues, rather than numerous individual payments.

  • Transferability of Membership. Each membership within a group is easily transferable. This is convenient when an employee changes departments or leaves your organization.

  • Ease of Adding New Members. PRSA will prorate the dues to maintain the same term year and renewal date.

  • Employer Posting Opportunities. Receive discounted or free postings on PRSA's career and employment website, the PRSA Jobcenter.

  • Listings in Online Organization Search. Take advantage of complimentary listings in our Find-A-Firm Directory.

  • The Best Pricing on PRSA Events. Save on registration for on-site training at the annual PRSA International Conference, as well as various specialty conferences and seminars throughout the year.

  • Geographic and Sector-Specific Networking. Membership to specialty communities, such as our local Chapters or Professional Interest Sections, is provided according to group size.


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Member Spotlight: Paula MacDonald

This Member Spotlight profiles Paula MacDonald, APR, who is president and owner of Image Suite PR, a digital PR agency serving the hospitality industry. She joined PRSA Tampa Bay in 2012, served previously on the Digital Communications and Agency Leaders committees, and this year was elected a board member and named co-chair of the Accreditation Committee.

1. First news publication you read in the morning?
Social Media Current to fulfill my social media obsession, followed by Hotel News Now Daily Update.

2. First public relations job?
As I transitioned from a video and multimedia production role, I landed my first PR-focused position with the newly formed Office of Public Information for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida in Tampa in 2000. I later became the first public information officer for the City of Temple Terrace, in 2005.

3. Most important career mentor?
I found a most unlikely mentor in my former boss’s executive assistant when I worked for the City of Temple Terrace. Cathy Tack is a feisty, no-nonsense lady with a quick wit and a passion for doing the right thing, and I value her friendship and support beyond our time working together.

4. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?
Overused phrases, such as “Can I pick your brain?”

5. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?
Earning my APR in 2015, after more than 10 years of studying and stalling on initiating the process. Something was always getting in the way, but the truth was that I was getting in my own way.

6. Advice to new public relations professionals?
Don’t be afraid to dive in to anything and everything. Search your heart for the career that you love, and don’t settle for just a paycheck.

7. Job you would pursue if you weren’t in public relations?
If I were not having such a great time in PR, I would probably focus my sights on becoming a screenwriter and motion picture director, which is what I was originally trained to do with my education.

8. Favorite movie?
I’m a Star Wars fan from way back, and Yoda’s my guy. “Do or do not. There is no try.”

9. Favorite vacation?
Anyplace my family can take our two dogs, an Australian shepherd and a border collie. We’ve only traveled locally across the state with them, but we look forward to a trip to see snow in the future.

10. Any three dinner guests?
Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber and George Lucas.

As a child, I was a nationally ranked BMX racer, and I still enjoy riding BMX bikes. I even tried racing again a few years ago in the cruiser class, and even though I haven’t raced competitively since 2012, as you can see in this photo from a Sarasota track, I have a lot of fun!

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PRSA Members were Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a Day

By Alexandria DiBenigno, senior at the University of South Florida and social media and junior PR coordinator at Conversa

On April 1, members of PRSA toured One Buc Place and met Nelson Luis, senior director of communications for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The tour began by congregating in the press conference room where many members were excited for the chance to take a picture behind the podium. 

Nelson then brought members to the media room and explained how each media outlet has its own station to work from. “We like to make sure the media is happy,” Nelson said with a smile, which made a room full of public relations practitioners laugh in agreement. 

Members were next brought to an auditorium where the PRSA Tampa Bay President Jennifer Dunn introduced Nelson and noted his prestigious legacy in the world of sports communications. 

Nelson began his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1995 as an intern, but left in 1999 to follow the PGA Tour and later joined the Houston Rockets as their director of media relations, before returning to the Buccaneers in 2013. 

Nelson also described his experiences working with the coaches and players that make up Tampa’s NFL team. He realized during the course of his career that it’s important to not control the players and limit what they say, but instead encourage them to promote and protect the Buccaneer brand. As a result, many coaches and players have grown to trust and respect the advice given to them by Nelson and his team.

 As members exited One Buc Place, they noticed a statue showing an overjoyed team and coach after scoring a touchdown. Thank you to Nelson and his team for also showing this much passion by cheering on its team’s success in the press box. 

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Ready, Fire, Aim: The Biggest Threat to Successful Brand Building

By: Kaylea Schule, USF PRSSA member

While kicking off her program, Nancy Walker, President of Walker Brands, shared an important insight.

"Over twenty years of branding, hundreds of programs, one thing I've learned-being strategic is the hardest part."

She shared that strategy is usually the step in which companies skip because the "fire" is the most fun. Many obstacles get in the way of strategic planning, including not having enough time, capital investment, and needing participation. However, the rewards for effective strategy are enormous. "It's all about distinction," said Walker.

A highlight of Walker's program was her introduction of the six steps of her method, The BrandWalk:

  1.        Discovery
  2.        Brand Platforms
  3.        Brand Concepts
  4.        Brand Planning
  5.        Brand Assets
  6.        Implantation of touch points

Walker concluded the luncheon by elaborating on a well-defined case study from Walker Brands on Horizon Bay Retirement Living. The previous campaign needed to be renewed desperately since the company was expanding rapidly. Horizon Bay needed something that would take them all the way. After months of discovery, the brand platform was found by telling stories of the residents. "Public Relations is about finding and telling beautiful stories over, and over again," said Walker. 

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And The Winner Is... YOU! Submit for a Radiance Award Today!

Get your shine on! Apply for a Radiance Award! Take this opportunity to showcase your talents and demonstrate your value to your executives and clients.

The applications are easy. Just complete a 2-page summary for a campaign award or a 1-page summary for a tactic/product award. Then gather your supportive materials and submit everything electronically. Forget about postage. You can even pay for your entries online.

View the full details in the Call for Entries. Applications are due by April 22.

Winners will be announced June 17 at the awards gala at the Sunshine District Conference in Miami. Entries are only $55 for members and $80 for non-members.

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Member Spotlight: Jennifer Dunn

This Member Spotlight profiles Jennifer Dunn, director of public relations for Conversa. Jennifer is the 2016 president of PRSA Tampa Bay, has held several positions in the chapter, including treasurer and webmaster, and has been a member of the chapter for five years.


1. First news publication you read in the morning?
I start my day with theSkimm.

2. First public relations job?
It was at Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce, where I was a program coordinator for, a regional program designed to bring 86 cities, seven counties, leaders, and citizens in central Florida together to build a better, more sustainable future for the area’s residents and businesses.

3. Most important career mentor?
Kristin Whitaker, at the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, who, from the moment I met her, believed in me and unfailingly fostered my potential. She is one of the most gracious, most inspiring individuals I’ve ever met, and I’m so fortunate to not only call her a mentor, but a friend.

4. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?
Confusing “there,” “their” and “they're”!

5. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?
Serving as president of PRSA Tampa Bay and effecting positive change for nonprofit clients.

6. Advice to new public relations professionals?
Don't be afraid to ask for help, take advantage of internships and network as much you as can!

7. Job you would pursue if you weren’t in public relations?
Animal advocate or environmental conservationist.

8. Favorite movie?
Father of the Bride (1991).

9. Favorite vacation?
It’s a tossup between Dublin, Ireland, and Nashville, Tenn. I love live music, so these cities spoke to my soul!

10. Any three dinner guests?
John F. Kennedy, Taylor Swift and my late aunt Gloria.

Me and my almost three-year-old pup, Jackson, at a local dog park. My husband and I adopted him from the Humane Society of Pinellas when he was just two-and-a-half months, and he brings us so much joy, we both agree he’s the one who rescued us!

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