Submit your nominations for a local PR leader!

PRSA Tampa Bay is seeking your input on members who have made remarkable achievements in public relations and management practices, advancing the profession, meeting the needs of the community and strengthening our chapter.

Please review the details for each category below and submit your nominations for the most qualified candidates. Self-nominations are encouraged for all categories.

The deadline to submit nominations is Monday, November 3, 2014, at 12 p.m.

Awards will be presented during the PRSA Tampa Bay diversity program on November 19, 2014 at Brio. Please look for more details on this program soon.

Please see the award categories listed below before casting your votes:

Excellence in Community Relations Award
This category recognizes a chapter member who has given pro-bono public relations support to one or more community organizations 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 two years and has made outstanding contributions to chapter management and member programming.

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 services.

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 in 2014.

Submit Your Nominations:
To cast your votes, please follow the links below. In order to nominate people in multiple categories, you will have to click on each of the survey links individually to submit multiple nominations. We encourage multiple nominations for each category! Please note for the President’s Award, four chapter members will be recognized. Links to the nomination forms are below:

2014 Excellence in Community Relations Award

2014 Sue Ellen Richardson “Rookie of the Year” Award

2014 Chapter Service Award

2014 President’s Service Award


Read More

Reflections from PRSA 2014 International Conference

By Paula MacDonald

I had the distinct honor of attending this year’s PRSA International Conference as the Tampa Bay PRSA chapter scholarship winner, and what an incredible opportunity it was! From the amazing keynotes to the informative breakouts and networking, PRSAICON was four days of public relations immersion and learning that left me happily exhausted and proud of the industry and organization that I am a part of.

This year’s conference theme, Leading the Way – A Fearless Future for PR, resonated throughout the discussions. The rapid pace at which technology has changed our industry and the worlds of those who walk beside us in business and journalism continues to disrupt and challenge all of us to keep learning and leading those who we serve. The impact of social media was a huge theme that resurfaced frequently, from how to manage from a PR perspective to how real-time news has transformed our personal lives, as reflected so touchingly by keynote speaker Amy Robach, the Good Morning America anchor who discovered on-air last year that she had breast cancer during a televised story on mammograms. The strength and support she received through social media during her treatment has inspired her and others, demonstrating the power of a connected world to make an impact and create change.

Next year, the PRSA International Conference moves a bit closer to home, as Atlanta plays host to the annual event. After my experience this year as the scholarship winner, I’m hooked on attending this conference, and will definitely be budgeting attendance at PRSAICON 2015 into my training for next year. Anyone ready for a road trip?

See more of the conversation from the national conference here.

Read More

PRSA Agency Leaders Channel Their Inner CEO

By Mary Haban, APR

The PRSA Tampa Bay Agency Leaders Committee ended their year in style, with an interactive breakfast that helped each practitioner find their “Inner CEO.” The discussion, held at Cassis American Brasserie in downtown St. Pete and moderated by Juliann Nichols, focused on addressing each person’s professional challenge, then invited the group to weigh in with solutions. Attendees came away with a newfound perspective to tackling the hurdles that go hand in hand with owning and running your own agency.

Juliann Nichols is the founder and CEO of Focus on You Strategy and helps those looking to take their careers to the next level - do just that.

Both Mary Haban, APR, and Missy MacFarlane, APR encourage anyone looking to start their own firm, to attend one of the Agency Leaders gatherings next year. Watch your email for information on future committee events beginning in 2015.

Read More

Welcome New Chapter Members!

PRSA Tampa Bay Welcomes the following new chapter members from August through October:

Taylor Agnew

Katy Barrett
Raymond James

Amy Binder
Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Bobbie Bresson

Betsey Marie DiSanza

Olivia Galvin

Elizabeth Gunning

Cristy Levengood
Booz | Allen | Hamilton

Sara Morrell
Fry Hammond Barr

Don Niederpruem
United Landmark Association

Caroline Parsley

Lisa Wolf
Moffitt Cancer Center

Read More

PRSA/FPRA Media Roundtable Is a Summer Hit

By Marissa Segundo, APR and Sarah Kettenburg

PRSA Tampa Bay’s Media Roundtable provides an unparalleled opportunity to build relationships and talk directly with local media about how to work with them to generate media coverage. Jointly organized by the local chapters of PRSA and FPRA, the event also offers a great chance to network with dozens of PR colleagues from both organizations.

This summer’s sold-out event was held Wednesday, June 25, from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Chart House restaurant, and didn’t disappoint. Nearly 80 PR professionals came to hear insights from eight leaders representing a wide range of Tampa Bay media, including the following:

Vicky Benchimol, Planning Editor, ABC Action News
Diane Egner, Publisher and Managing Editor, 83 Degrees Media
Stefanie Fletcher, Senior Photo Editor, The Tampa Bay Times
Alexis Muellner, Editor, The Tampa Bay Business Journal
Rich Mullins, Business Reporter, The Tampa Tribune
Grover Murrell, BayNews9
Orlando R. Nieves, Vice President, Integrated Marketing Solutions, Entravision
Jeff Schlesser, Fox13, WTVT
In total, 78 attendees filled roundtables at the Chart House with one media representative per table. Much like speed dating, this whirlwind event allotted each media representative 15 minutes per table. When a bell sounded, the representatives switched tables and began again.

Editors, writers, reporters, producers and assignment desk managers volunteered to meet the faces behind familiar emails and tweets as well as to make new contacts. At the same time, PR pros got to pose a number of questions to the roundtable speakers, such as these:

• “What is the best way to contact you?”
• “In what time frame should we contact you when we have a pitch?”
• “What do we do that pisses you off?”

Among the leaders who’ve help made the Roundtable possible, PRSA volunteer Adrienne Drew has played an important role in putting together these events over the past two years.

“It’s my favorite event to plan, and it’s very rewarding to see all of the hard work come together at the end,” said Drew. “I truly believe this is one of the most beneficial events for our chapter, so it means a lot to me personally to be involved with organizing the event and hopefully contributing to our members’ and guests’ opportunity to meet new media contacts and enhance their profession.”

The event was sponsored by Hill+Knowlton Strategies, a global public relations firm.

If you attended the event, we invite you to complete an event survey here so we can continue to enhance this program:.

If you would like information on the materials from the program below, or if you would like more information on volunteering to plan amazing programs like the Media Roundtable, contact [email protected].

Here are some take-away materials from the event:

What Makes a Story Newsworthy
Top 10 PR Tips

Read More

Tampa Bay Shines at PRSA Travel and Tourism Conference

By Mary Haban, APRPress trips go digital at the PRSA Travel + Tourism Conference. Attendees converged on Busch Gardens for a day-long workshop to learn the tricks of the trade.

What do you do when hundreds of the brightest minds in the travel industry converge on your city for three days? Show off, of course.

And that’s exactly what Tampa did during the 2014 PRSA Travel and Tourism Conference. The annual event took place this year from June 8 to 11 at the Tampa Marriott Waterside and attracted more than 300 public relations professionals who specialize in hospitality. From digital press tips, to amazing keynote speakers, to intensive sessions on how to integrate your public relations plan into a social-media-savvy success story, the conference offered a valuable forum that was engaging and memorable for all who attended.

Popular speakers included Lee Abbamonte, who’s on course to be the youngest American to travel to every country in the world, as well as Jeff Corwin, host of the TV show Ocean Mysteries. Both provided meaningful messages about the travel sector and how those who practice in it can impact the world through communication.

To demonstrate how popular many of the conference sessions were, imagine standing room only and jam-packed workshops. This was the scene at several of the panel discussions, which were stacked with top editors and travel industry pros. The rousing response of the audience and the follow-up question-and-answer period were proof that attendees not only craved this knowledge, but also appreciated the chance to interact with some of the industry’s most prolific influencers.

The kickoff reception proudly showcased the Tampa Bay History Center, while a media mixer gave attendees the chance to get up close and personal with sea life and journalists at the Florida Aquarium. Other dining events took attendees to some of Tampa Bay’s finest eateries, like Bern’s Steak House, the Columbia, Boca, the Epicurean Hotel, and the Edison Food + Drink Lab.

All in all, the conference provided an invaluable opportunity to get insights on strategies and tactics from some of the best, discuss top issues and trends with nationally renowned leaders, and get to network with PR pros from the region and nation. It was an honor to be able to attend.

To find out more about how much the attendees loved our great city, check out the PRSA Travel Twitter and Instagram feeds:

Read More

PRSA Tampa Bay Awards $1,650 in Scholarships for Three Conference Attendees

Mary HabanProfessional development, education and networking are just a few of the many rewards of an active PRSA membership, but three lucky members have just gotten cash awards as part of their PRSA membership benefits as well.

PRSA Tampa Bay recently had the privilege of awarding scholarships to three PR pros to allow them to attend two major conferences and have the entry fees and some partial travel expenses covered. One recipient was just given the opportunity to attend the PRSA 2014 Travel and Tourism Conference from June 8 to 11 in Tampa, and two recipients will have the fortune to be able to make it to the PRSA Sunshine District Conference from July 10 to 12 in Naples. The winners were decided on based on their service to the chapter and a personal interest or need.

The conferences represent invaluable opportunities to learn award-winning strategies and tactics from recent campaigns, discuss the latest issues and trends with nationally renowned experts, and hob knob with some of the top PR pros from the nation. And the scholarships are one perk in particular that the chapter is proud to be able to offer as yet one more reward that members can reap.

Mary Haban, of MBH Communications, was selected as the first scholarship winner and just attended the national PRSA Travel and Tourism Conference, hosted by PRSA Tampa Bay and held at the Tampa Marriott Waterside. Haban was selected from a long list of candidates based on her contributions and support to the chapter. As an active member of the chapter for more than 10 years, she has demonstrated a true capacity to serve the profession by volunteering her time and lending her talents to a variety of chapter initiatives.

Haban said it was an honor both to be selected and to represent the chapter at this prestigious national event.

“From digital press trips to social media strategies, the PRSA Travel and Tourism Conference did not disappoint the more than 300 attendees that packed the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel to learn the latest and greatest from the best of the best,” said Haban, who is also an active member of the Society of American Travel Writers and PRSA’s Travel & Tourism Section. “Several PRSA Tampa Bay members, including Travis Claytor, Kelly Prieto, Paula MacDonald and Gina Morales, were among some of the attendees on hand for the multi-day conference. A full report of conference activities and photos are coming soon, so stay tuned.”

Jenna StockThe next scholarship winners include Jennifer Medeiros, public relations and media manager at Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, and Jenna Stock, TV digital coordinator at Home Shopping Network (HSN), who will be heading to Naples for the 2014 PRSA Sunshine District Conference, a conference that represents one of PRSA’s 10 national districts and one that represents 1,000 public relations pros from seven chapters throughout Florida.

“I’ve been a part of PRSA since I was introduced to it as an undergraduate at the University of Central Florida,” Medeiros said. “Fast-forward through my graduate studies and now my career, and it’s been an honor and a privilege to have been a part of this organization, as it’s played a significant role in my development as a professional. As a member of PRSA Tampa Bay, I’ve been able to make invaluable connections and have had the unique opportunity to work with some of the best in our industry.”

Stock shared similar thoughts on her selection as a scholarship recipient.

“I’m thrilled to have been selected to attend the Sunshine District Conference on behalf of PRSA Tampa Bay,” Stock said. “I’m hungry to learn and excited to excel in my career, and this rewarding opportunity will provide me with the knowledge and resources to help achieve my professional goals. As an undergrad, I was actively involved in PRSSA at the University of Minnesota. It was an invaluable experience, and as a result, joining PRSA Tampa Bay was a no-brainer when relocating to Florida.”

Reflecting on their scholarships and their time in PRSA, Medeiros and Stock also offered some advice for new PR pros on how to reap the greatest benefit from their new profession.

Jennifer Medeiros“If I could offer advice to new PR professionals,” Medeiros said, “it would be to network as often and as much as possible — you never know who you’re going to meet! For me, this was my biggest challenge when first starting out in the field, because I can be shy. But once I pushed myself to open up, I gained confidence through experience, and it’s now something I can do with ease.”

“My advice for recent grads?” Stock said. “Step out of your comfort zone and make a point to get involved in your local PRSA chapter. Take on a leadership role. You’ll meet like-minded professionals and build long-lasting relationships that will benefit you both personally and professionally. Most importantly — be curious, constantly challenge yourself and soak up as much information as you can after graduation.”

Congratulations to Mary, Jennifer and Jenna on their scholarships, and a special thank you to the PRSA Orlando chapter for helping with the judging for the scholarships.

Don’t forget, you can still sign up for the Sunshine District conference today! For more information, visit

Read More