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President Spotlight: Josh Carrasco, APR

This special President Spotlight profiles Josh Carrasco, APR, who is 2021 president of PRSA Tampa Bay and also travel sales multimedia specialist for AAA – The Auto Club Group, where he is host and producer of the webcast “Well-Traveled with AAA.” He joined PRSA Tampa Bay in 2014 and previously served as 2019 treasurer for the chapter and as chair of the Sponsorship Committee.

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

This organization and chapter have given me so much in terms of professional development, networking opportunities, and career support early on in my PR career. I view my term as president as an opportunity to give back and to find ways to better serve both our existing members and those just embarking on their PR careers.  

  1. Major goals for the chapter this year?
  • Raising awareness of our diversity and inclusion strategic plan. I would encourage our membership to visit our Diversity & Inclusion page on our chapter website and become familiar with PRSA national’s 2020-2022 strategic plan for the organization. This year, I want to put diversity and inclusion at the center of our decision making and continue to take actionable steps toward our strategic plan. Our Diversity & Inclusion Committee, led by Kecia Carroll, has set up liaisons with key committees in the chapter, is developing challenging programming for members and chapter leaders, and is keeping our chapter focused on diversity and inclusion priorities. One of my goals in 2021 is to develop a new board member seat that will focus solely on the chapter’s diversity and inclusion strategic plan. I believe strongly that fully embracing diversity and inclusion priorities is the path forward for long-term sustainable growth in the Tampa Bay chapter and the national PRSA organization as a whole.
  • Increasing and retaining membership. Programs are the top reason members engage with the chapter. Our Programs Committee, led by Terri Durdaller and Laura Fontanills, is taking a hard look at our digital programming and coming up with creative ways for our members to network, ensure we have powerful and diverse speakers, and discuss issues that are important to our membership.
  • Professional development and accreditation. We had a record seven APRs pinned in 2020. Let’s go for eight in 2021! Our Accreditation Committee, led by Paula MacDonald, APR, and Katy Parsons, APR, never missed a beat during the pandemic. We want to continue to offer world-class support for those seeking accreditation both digitally and in person when we are able.

  1. Biggest chapter events this year that everyone should keep on their radar?
  • Media Roundtable. We are doing some testing in the early part of the year and anticipate this being virtual again, but we have some great ideas in the pipeline. Stay tuned. This will not be your run-of-the-mill Zoom call.
  • PRestige Awards. We are hopeful that we can return to an in-person event for the PRestige Awards, and I couldn’t be more excited for what our Award Committee, led by Heather Parsons and Denise Wilson, has in store for us.
  • Holiday Mixer. If all goes well with the vaccine rollout, this event will be in person.

  1. Biggest challenge in adapting the chapter’s activities to the COVID-19 lockdown?

Networking. Thanks to the leadership of Kelsy Long, we were able to immediately pivot our program strategy to a digital one, but networking was a bit of a challenge for the chapter. Thankfully, we had volunteers step up, like Shannon Burch, Beth Hardy, APR, and Bart Graham, to create Chapter Chats and back-to-work digital events to support our members. This year, we are looking at new and creative ways that our members can network digitally until we are able to safely gather again.

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

This might sound cliché, but the people are the most rewarding part. Building relationships with fellow leaders who have a passion for helping other professionals. Each one of us volunteers our time to create an organization that lifts other professionals up in our community. It’s the passion that I see in my fellow PRSA leaders and members that keeps me motivated to serve this organization.

  1. First news publication you read in the morning?

Can I choose more than one? I read excerpts from the New York Times, Washington Journal, Tampa Bay Times and Wall Street Journal.

  1. First public relations job?

My position at AAA – The Auto Club Group in Tampa is my first and so far only job in public relations. I’ve held several positions in communications and marketing over my six-year tenure at the company, including in social media, media relations, data and reporting analytics, internal communications, digital marketing, and webcasting.

  1. Most important career mentor, and why?

My former supervisor, Angie LaPlant, director of public relations at AAA – The Auto Club Group, is a pivotal figure in my public relations career. She put me in a position early in my PR career to explore many areas of public relations and provided me with educational opportunities to learn more about the profession. 

  1. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?

Burying the lead! So often I have to read through paragraphs of information to get to the meat of a story.

  1. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?

Earning my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). Coming from a journalism background, I felt I needed something that attested to my proficiency in public relations, and one of the best post-college educational experiences as a working professional was going through the APR process.

  1. Most important skill gained through the APR process?

Gaining a better understanding of public relations from a big-picture view. Through the APR process, I was better able to articulate my role as an adviser to senior leaders at my company and educate them on how effective public relations benefits the company.

  1. Advice to new public relations professionals?

Network, network, network – having a strong professional network is invaluable in finding a job or finding resources to a work-related issue. Also, don’t stop learning, because the field of public relations is constantly evolving, and PR pros must continue to educate themselves to stay competitive and competent in the field. 

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

I would say it’s a tie between travel blogger and winery owner.

  1. Favorite vacation?

Paris is by far one of my favorite city destinations. I’ve been twice now and even proposed to my now-fiancée there in 2019.

  1. Any three dinner guests?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Ryan Reynolds.

 


Popping the question to my girlfriend, Danielle, with a romantic backdrop and a familiar landmark. She said yes!

 


Danielle and I visiting St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.

 


On a trip to Glendalough Monastic City in County Wicklow, Ireland.


At the famous Cliffs of Moher, on the west coast of Ireland.

 

 

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It’s Time for Our Annual Toy Drive! This Year, It’s by Mail

Metropolitan Ministries will serve thousands of families in need for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, and as usual our chapter is lending a hand! As is our tradition, PRSA Tampa Bay is hosting a toy drive to collect items to be dropped off at the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent. This year, however, we’re collecting them by mail, and each toy donated by mail will earn the donor one opportunity to win one of several special prizes at our holiday mixer.

Here’s how it works. Either mail a new, unwrapped toy or arrange for a company like Amazon to have a toy mailed to the address of Public Service Committee Chair Joseph Priest at the address below, and arrange for the toy to be delivered by Dec. 11. After that date, the committee will take all the mailed-in toys and drop them off at the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent. 

Please note, when you send your toy, email Joseph at [email protected] to let the Public Service Committee know about your donation. The committee will respond to you with a unique ticket number that you should save and be ready to claim at the mixer if it’s selected. Each ticket number earns a donor a chance to win one of several special prizes at the mixer, where all the tickets will be entered in a drawing, and several tickets will be randomly selected and winners presented prizes.

Remember, please arrange to have your toy delivered by Dec. 11 to the address below, and be sure to send an email to [email protected] to let the Public Service Committee know so they can give you a ticket number for each toy you donate. Thank you for anything you can give!

Joseph Priest
PRSA Tampa Bay Public Service Committee
3315 Korina Lane
Tampa, FL 33618

Photo caption: Metropolitan Ministries receives PRSA Tampa Bay’s gift donations at its tent last year.



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2020 Call for Chapter Award Nominations

PRSA Tampa Bay Chapter – 2020 Call for Chapter Award Nominations

PRSA Tampa Bay is seeking your input on members that 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 below on each category and provide your comments on the most qualified candidates using the nomination form. Deadline for nominations is Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, 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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Freelance Business Week Comes to Tampa Bay, September 14-18, 2020

According to a recent report by Freelancers Union, 57 million Americans performed freelance work in 2019, representing 35% of the U.S. workforce. And what this number looks like for 2020 remains to be seen, as many people affected by layoffs due to the pandemic begin to shift their focus as independent consultants and freelancers.

To connect the local freelance community, your fellow PR pros, Kevin Bakewell, APR and Paula MacDonald, APR are bringing Freelance Business Week (FBW) to Tampa Bay, September 14-18, 2020. Offered in a safe virtual environment, FBW is joining forces with other cities (including Austin, Miami and Buffalo) to bring a variety of business topics, networking opportunities and panel discussions to freelancers in all industries nationwide. The conference is free to attend.

In addition to Paula and Kevin serving as co-hosts and moderators, the program agenda includes Tampa Bay Chapter members Danielle Bayard Jackson, APR, Founder of TELL Public Relations and Karen Frashier, APR, Fellow PRSA, CEO of Advocate Marketing PR, as well as frequent national PRSA presenter Kami Watson Huyse, APR, Founder of Zoetica Media.

Conference organizers from the other participating cities will also bring their speakers to the virtual table to ensure a full week of valuable content relevant to independent workers.

Emily Leach, the founder of The Freelance Conference and the FBW concept, is guiding each host city and providing the foundational templates, tools and technology to connect independent business owners. The conference will also include a national panel on diversity and inclusion in the freelance industry.

To register for this free event and check out the current lineup of topics, visit 2020.freelancebusinessweek.com.

*Note: This is not a PRSA event.

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Apply for the 2020 PRSA ICON Scholarship

The 2020 PRSA International Conference is a fully digital networking and educational event for professional communicators across all industries and in all stages of their professional journey.

Get ready for a vibrant online program packed with education, thought leadership, networking, business solutions, exhibits and healthy fun. ICON 2020 is designed for today’s public relations and marketing professionals, educators and students, with a special focus on industries innovating to stay ahead of the curve and ahead of the story.

PRSA Tampa Bay is offering one scholarship for a member to attend the fully digital conference held Oct. 26-29, 2020.  

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 ($795 value) for the conference. 

Deadline to apply: 5 p.m. on August 28.

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 September 18.  Apply Now!

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A Salute to Women in History, Women in PR

By Kecia Carroll, PRSA Tampa Bay member and co-chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee

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.

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Submitted by Terri Durdaller 

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Submitted by Bart Graham 

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Submitted by Linda Hughes-Kirchubel, PhD 

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Submitted by Quinn LeMelle 

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Submitted by Joseph Priest 

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Submitted by Camila Rodriguez 

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Submitted by Kecia Carroll 

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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.

Strategy
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.

Agencies
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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