PRSA Tampa Bay Helps Job Seekers at Met. Min.

By Joseph Priest, APR

Sometimes, PR professionals can demonstrate the best of PR when they’re not directly doing PR. Our chapter’s recent participation in a résumé review session at the Metropolitan Ministries main office was one of these times.

On May 21, the Public Service Committee organized our participation in a résumé-review and job-search counseling session for disadvantaged job seekers as part of Metropolitan Ministries’ life skills program. The program provides a range of life-management and career-building services to help people in critical economic need. These services include one that takes in people for a period of six to nine months during which they live at residence halls on Metropolitan Ministries’ main office and attend a series of workshops and activities to help them reset their lives and prepare for a new future.  

Our team took part in one of these workshops to help about 20 economically disadvantaged job seekers who were looking to rebuild their business writing and personal communication skills in order to restart their careers.

Three of our members participated:

  • Leslie Allen
  • Karen McAllister
  • Joseph Priest

Our team: (from left) Karen McAllister; Noel Ramos, Director of Employment Services, Metropolitan Ministries, and coordinator of the session; Leslie Allen; and Joseph Priest.

Our afternoon consisted of the three of us presenting our top writing and job-search tips to the attendees; dividing into three groups where each of us evaluated a different group of the attendees’ résumés on areas such as neatness, organization, and effectiveness; and then meeting with each attendee to share our feedback and provide general advice on their job-search strategies.


Leslie Allen shares her job-search communication tips.

Although we just had a few hours to contribute, our team had an amazingly rewarding experience. We were able to offer high-level communication advice to job seekers who don’t normally have access to this kind of counsel.


In particular, many of the typical job seekers in the Metropolitan Ministries program are different than many of the typical PR candidates that we more commonly work with in that they are older, have already had several jobs in a diversity of areas, and may face special challenges with their ability to work or with their job histories. These challenges can include having regular access to transportation, having special family needs, or having health problems.


Karen McAllister offers feedback on a job seeker’s résumé.

The way our team came together to apply our skills to address these different challenges and give personal counsel to the candidates truly exemplified both the professional value and community benefit of what our profession offers. It was rewarding to be a part of this event, and rewarding to be a part of PRSA Tampa Bay.

The Public Service Committee is planning to build on this session with similar events later this year. Stay tuned for more details on

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2019 AP Stylebook Updates to Know

By Joseph Priest, APR

“Asian-American” is now “Asian American”; “10 percent” is “10%”; and “Beyonce” is “Beyoncé.” So says the leading journalistic authority whose stylebook most PR pros follow.

In recent years, introducing Associated Press style changes at the annual conference of the Society for Editing (formerly the American Copy Editors Society but still referred to as “ACES”) has become a tradition. The AP Stylebook editors announce the newest changes in a session that has become one of the biggest events of the conference and always draws a jam-packed room.

In the last several years, some of those changes have been earth-shattering, like taking the hyphen out of “e-mail,” allowing “over” to indicate quantitative relationships as well as spatial, and permitting “they” to refer to a singular subject. This year was a little less dramatic, but still brought some big changes.

For the last three conferences, at St. Pete, Chicago, and, this year, Providence, I’ve had the fortune to be able to attend and, as a member of the organization, offer some representation from PR writers. Below is a rundown of some of the biggest changes that I took away from this year’s conference along with perspectives that I think are important for PR pros to know. The stylebook entries for these changes will be included in the new paperback version of the AP Stylebook and have already been added to the online version.

I hope they’re a help with your writing. If you have any questions or thoughts on them, I would love to know. Please write me at [email protected].   

The AP Stylebook session begins.

This year, many of the changes centered on racial, ethnic, and gender entries. This is a delicate but expanding area of style that always requires care. To provide greater assistance in this area, the stylebook has consolidated many of its entries under a new section titled “race-related coverage.”

Paula Froke (left), executive director of Associated Press Media Editors and editor of the AP Stylebook, and Colleen Newvine, Associated Press product manager, prepare to announce the latest updates. 

Here are some of the top changes:

  • No more hyphens in national-heritage expressions - The stylebook decided to drop hyphens in expressions denoting dual heritage, like “Asian-American,” “African-American” and others. The decision was made after consultation with members of journalism organizations and affinity groups. Dropping a hyphen does not appear to be a big deal, but it reflects a growing acknowledgment among news organizations that racial and ethnic identities are individual, that the individuals have differing views on how to portray themselves, and that news organizations should be aware of those desires.
  • Using “Latino” - The stylebook also now says that “Latino is often the preferred noun or adjective” for people of Spanish heritage. “Latina” is the feminine form. As for the gender-neutral “Latinx,” the stylebook says its use “should be confined to quotations, names of organizations or descriptions of individuals who request it and should be accompanied by a short explanation.”
  • “Indians” and “American Indians” - The entry on “Native Americans” was also revised. Where the previous entry allowed the use of “Indian” to refer to “Native Americans” or “American Indians” (the terms themselves are a matter of preference), the new entry says it should not be used as shorthand for “American Indians” and should be reserved for people from South Asia or the nation of India.

Other announcements also marked some big changes:

  • The “%” symbol is legal – The AP is now allowing the use of “%” with figures instead of requiring “percent.” Instead of “the stock rose 3 percent,” copy that follows AP style can now read “the stock rose 3%.” One reason for not making this change earlier relates to the AP’s client base. Because news organizations have different computer systems to receive AP copy, the material transmitted by the AP must be digestible by them all. In the past, AP warned against sending “nontransmitting symbols” like “*,” “@,” “~,” and the like. Though some systems still can’t digest those, “%” can generally get through now.

“%” is sanctioned.

  • Yes way, José - The AP also advised against transmitting any accent marks for the same reason. This, too, has changed: a revised entry allows “accent marks or other diacritical marks with names of people who request them or are widely known to use them, or if quoting directly in a language that uses them.” There is still the caveat that some systems won’t accept them, and it is not blanket permission to use accents on words in English that have them or need them for pronunciation. The AP clarified this usage by explaining that accents are for “people, not places, things, foods, weather systems or anything else.” So, the name of the star from the movie Bridget Jones’s Diary can now be written “Renée Zellweger,” with the accent mark in the first name, but no accent mark would be used for words like “entree,” “cafe,” “décor” or “jalapeno.”
  • Debunking a myth further - Split infinitives are now even more OK. The previous entry said this: “In general, avoid awkward constructions that split infinitive forms of a verb (to leaveto help, etc.) or compound forms (had leftare found out, etc.).” It continued: “Occasionally, however, a split is not awkward and is necessary to convey the meaning.” The new entry takes a stronger position that splitting infinitives is OK: “In many cases, splitting the infinitive or compound forms of a verb is necessary to convey meaning and make a sentence easy to read. Such constructions are acceptable.” Here’s an example of how avoiding the splitting of an infinitive can make a sentence awkward: “She went to the store personally to thank the employees.” In this case, avoiding a split infinitive – by keeping “personally” out of the middle of “to thank” – results in an awkward construction. The most natural interpretation of “personally” in that place in the sentence is that the woman in question went to the store personally, as if there’s a way to go to a store without going there personally. Of course, the much more natural and common way to write the sentence above is with the infinitive split: “She went to the store to personally thank the employees.” As the AP Stylebook’s slowness in taking a stronger position on split infinitives shows, the myth that splitting an infinitiveis somehow wrong is one of the hardest to kill.
  • “Data” is right - Finally, formalizing the practice that has become widespread for this word, the AP now says “data” typically takes singular verbs and pronouns when used for general audiences and in journalism contexts. For example: “The data was collected over two years.” This follows a long-growing practice. Although the singular form of this word – “datum” – technically still exists, it’s almost never used outside scientific writing, and most language authorities have come to agree that “data” has become a collective noun, like “information.” Good riddance, “datum”!

Me at the annual conference for the Society for Editing (also known as “ACES,” for its former name, the American Copy Editors Society) in Providence, where I was joined by over 800 editors from a wide variety of digital media, print media, corporate communications, book publishing, academia and government.

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PRSA Tampa Bay recognizes outstanding PR students

The end of the academic semester was a busy and professionally rewarding period for PRSA Tampa Bay as we awarded scholarships to four amazing PR students -- three at the University of South Florida and one at The University of Tampa -- and had the pleasure of congratulating the founding president of the UT PRSSA Chapter for her recognition as Outstanding Public Relations Student.

Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, represented PRSA Tampa Bay on April 18 at the USF 2019 Honors and Awards Banquet and had the opportunity to congratulate Kayley Alsina and Jessica Schmidtetter for having been awarded the John Cassato Scholarship as well as Jaiya Williams, recipient of the Walter E. Griscti Scholarship.

The John Cassato Scholarship “is designated for an undergraduate public relations student and is awarded each fall semester…in memory of John Cassato, a former public relations officer of the Jim Walter Corporation. This scholarship requires residency in the 15-county area served by the Tampa Bay PRSA chapter, an overall GPA of 3.0, enrollment in 12 or more hours at USF, and enrollment in or completion of at least one PR course.”

The Walter E. Griscti Scholarship “is designated for undergraduate public relations students. The scholarship is awarded each spring semester…in memory of USF professor emeritus Walter E. Griscti, AAPR. The scholarship requires residency in the 15-county area served by the Tampa Bay PRSA chapter, a 3.0 overall GPA, enrollment in 12 or more hours at USF, and enrollment in or completion of at least one PR course.”

On April 29, Kirk and PRSA Tampa Bay President Jenna Stock attended UT’s College of Arts and Letters’ Awards Ceremony, with Jenna presenting the first-ever “Emerging Professional” scholarship to sophomore/budding PR star Olivia Cowden. Although Olivia was unable to attend the ceremony as she is studying abroad in Florence, Italy, Jenna’s remarks underscored the importance of this recognition by the leading public relations organization in the Tampa Bay area. And when Olivia is back on campus in the fall, a formal in-person presentation of the scholarship will take place.

The “PRSA Tampa Bay Emerging Professional” scholarship is awarded to a UT student who has demonstrated an active interest in public relations as his or her career path. He or she also will have declared public relations as his or her specific area of study (minor or concentration) and will have an exemplary grade point average. Additional qualifying distinctions will include active involvement, preferably with a public relations focus, in on-campus organizations and activities and, ideally, completion of one or more public relations internships. 2019 is the first year that this recognition has been offered, and we look forward to many more!

Finally, Jenna and Kirk congratulated Emilie Sears, graduating senior and founding president of UT PRSSA, for her recognition by the university’s Communication Department as Outstanding Public Relations Student. Emilie has embraced public relations as her chosen career path and has been an untiring champion for the benefits of professional organization involvement as a way for aspiring public relations practitioners to begin establishing their own identities. Emilie is now embarking on her search for an entry-level position that will allow her to put her studies and her hands-on experience gained through multiple PR internships to good use.

If these recent experiences are any indication, public relations profession of the future will be in very, very good hands!

Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, congratulates USF scholarship recipients (left to right) Jessica Schmidtetter, Jaiya Williams, and Kayley Alsina


Two presidents at once! PRSA Tampa Bay President Jenna Stock congratulates UT PRSSA Founding President Emilie Sears


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Volunteer for May 21 Résumé Review at Metropolitan Ministries

Join PRSA Tampa Bay on Tuesday, May 21, in giving back to our community at a résumé review session at Metropolitan Ministries!

As part of our chapter’s public service initiative, we’re recruiting volunteers to donate a couple of hours to participate in a workshop that is part of Metropolitan Ministries’ life skills program. We’ll be hosting a session with 10 to 20 economically disadvantaged job seekers who are looking to rebuild their business writing and personal communication skills in order to restart their careers. The session will include individual résumé reviews as well as a presentation with best practices for writing and interviewing.  

Please lend your expertise to help us help our community. Email Joseph Priest at [email protected] to register or find out more information.

Metropolitan Ministries résumé review session

Tuesday, May 21, 1:30-3 p.m.

Metropolitan Ministries Outreach Center
2301 N. Tampa St.
Tampa, FL 33602

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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 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.

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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Member Spotlight: Josh Carrasco, APR

This Member Spotlight profiles Josh Carrasco, APR, who is Public Relations Program Consultant for AAA – The Auto Club Group. He joined PRSA Tampa Bay in 2014, has served as Chair of the Sponsorship Committee, and currently serves as the 2019 Treasurer for the chapter.

  1. First news publication you read in the morning?

The Tampa Bay Times.

  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 had the good fortune of being introduced to PRSA during my first year on the job and have grown so much as a professional, but before I entered the public relations field I spent seven years as a photojournalist.

  1. Most important career mentor, and why?

My current supervisor, Angie LaPlant, Director of Public Relations, has been pivotal to my public relations career. She took a chance on me even though I had no experience in public relations.

  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 APR. Coming from a journalism background, I felt I needed something that attested to my proficiency in public relations.

  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 leadership at my company and educate them on how effective public relations benefits the company.

  1. Advice to new public relations professionals?

Don’t stop learning, and network with other professionals, attend conferences, participate in webinars, read, and earn your APR. 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?

Travel blogger.

  1. Favorite vacation?

Paris is by far one of my favorite city destinations. I am planning another trip to France this year and hope to explore more of the countryside around Paris.

  1. Any three dinner guests?

Barack Obama, Jennifer Lawrence and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

With my girlfriend, Danielle Salmon, visiting St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.

Danielle and I 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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PRSA Rings In Holidays with Toy Donation

Chapter members Makenna Imholte (left), Jessica Summers, APR, and Joseph Priest, APR, drop off this year’s donated gifts at the Metropolitan Ministries holiday tent.

By Joseph Priest, APR

Sometimes a little can mean a lot, and a lot of Tampa Bay kids will be having a little brighter holiday this year thanks to our chapter. On Dec. 10, we met at Jackson’s restaurant on Harbour Island to host our annual holiday mixer, and, continuing a tradition, the Public Service Committee held a toy drive to bring in donations for Metropolitan Ministries.

Thanks to the generosity of our members and guests, we succeeded in collecting over 20 gifts this year. We dropped them off at the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent shortly after the mixer, just in time to help needy families looking for gifts this holiday season.

Metropolitan Ministries typically expects to serve more than 18,000 families in need for Thanksgiving and Christmas, a yearly need that our chapter has eagerly helped serve the past few years. To entice even more donations for this effort, we’ve begun adding a prize drawing to randomly award a few contributors with prizes.

In order to be eligible, members have to bring a new, unwrapped gift, which is collected with other gifts for drop-off later at Metropolitan Ministries. Each gift donated earns the contributor one ticket that is entered in a drawing for prizes, which this time included three $10 Starbucks gift cards, two $25 Amazon gift cards, and one grand prize of a $75 gift card to Jackson’s restaurant.

For this year’s mixer, this incentive helped bring in 20-plus gifts, including a variety of toys, dolls, books, and games, and gift cards.

Our gift donations begin to accumulate at the mixer. Thanks to all who contributed!

The Public Service Committee thanks everyone who participated in the toy drive and everyone who helped our chapter give back to the community earlier in the year. This included résumé review sessions with USF’s PRSSA chapter and UT’s PRSSA chapter, and a half-day of toy sorting at the Metropolitan Ministries warehouse.  

Stay tuned to the PRSA Tampa Bay website for more ways you can help us serve in 2019.

Members and guests enjoy the mixer at Jackson’s.

Chapter President Mary Margaret Hull, APR, recognizes some of the chapter’s biggest accomplishments in 2018 in another successful year for PRSA Tampa Bay.

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PRSA Tampa Bay 2019 Board Election Member Ballot

For more than 50 years, PRSA Tampa Bay has been a successful volunteer-led organization; advancing the public relations profession and its professionals. This outstanding organization would not be possible without dedicated chapter leaders. We rely on our membership to elect leaders who will contribute their professional talents to benefit PRSA Tampa Bay's membership and community.

Learn about the candidates (PDF download)

2019 Board Election Member Ballot (click here to access)

The ballot must be completed by no later than noon on Friday, Nov. 30.

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USF and UT PRSSA Chapters Link to Learn

An eager and interested audience of members from both Tampa Bay PRSSA chapters had a first-of-its-kind chance on October 25 to both meet and interact with their “crosstown” peers and benefit from real-time, real-life advice from guest speaker Haley Hinds, Fox 13 anchor/reporter.

Hosted on the University of Tampa campus with pizza and sodas generously provided by PRSA Tampa Bay, this event marked the first time that both student PR chapters have come together for a program specifically organized for them by their professional colleagues.

“Both student chapters have been doing some excellent individual programming,” said Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, PRSA Tampa Bay’s “Students Committee” co-chair. “But I know from previous experiences in other locations where I’ve lived that these opportunities to ‘meet, mingle and learn’ are value-added benefits of the student’s PRSSA membership and can play a big part in his or her decision to convert from PRSSA to PRSA membership after graduation.”

Emilie Sears, founder and immediate past president of UT PRSSA, had this to say about the event: “We were so fortunate to hear from Haley Hinds Thursday night. She shared valuable insights that she has learned along her career journey and provided examples of how to separate yourself from other interns in the workplace, as well as what it takes to stand out to future employers. Haley is a real-life example of someone who has worked extremely hard to follow and reach her dreams. I believe the lessons she shared will help current students in their pursuits of professional communication careers. We are so thankful and honored to have had Haley as a guest speaker for our first joint-chapter PRSSA meeting. We look forward to future collaboration with USF PRSSA and similar successful key events.”

USF Vice President Matt Corrado offered his thoughts: “Haley Hinds was extremely nice and down to earth, and all of the students who attended had a chance to speak with her one on one at some point. We all listened to her wonderful stories, which were very relatable and educational for all, about her own experience as a broadcast reporter. She then opened up the floor for questions and took her time to respond to each one until the student who asked it was satisfied with the answer. Overall, the lecture and the experience were extremely helpful, and I am sure that many students, myself included, will be utilizing a lot of what she shared with us for the rest of our careers.”

Hazlett noted that plans are already in the works for other joint programming. Stay tuned for details!

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UT PRSSA's Resume Review Session Nov. 15

Help wanted! We need your expertise for a résumé review session with UT’s PRSSA Chapter so we can help future PR professionals put their best foot forward after graduation.

PRSA judges will receive student résumés in advance and evaluate them on areas such as organization, strategy and effectiveness. Then, on November 15, the judges will meet at UT to discuss their impressions with the students in person as well as offer general advice about public relations careers.

We’ll conclude the evening with a mixer with dinner, where everyone can get to know each other better. 

Please lend your expertise and join us for the review session and a light dinner.

When: Thursday, November 15, 6-9 p.m.

Location: University of Tampa, Sykes College of Business, Room 134

To volunteer as a reviewer, email Kirk Hazlett at mkhazle[email protected]

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