Member Spotlight: Leslie Allen

This Member Spotlight profiles Leslie Allen, who, as owner of Wildcat Communications, serves one of her major clients, Martin & Company, a Nashville-based ad agency, as the agency’s PR Director and Event Manager remotely from Tampa. She joined the chapter in 2016 and currently serves as co-chair of the committee planning the chapter’s fourth annual PRestige Awards, on Nov. 8.

1. First news publication you read in the morning?

The Wall Street Journal.

2. First public relations job?

My first public relations job was with Powell Advertising in Nashville, Tennessee, which is now called Powell Creative and today operates more as a boutique design agency. My first professional job after graduation was with The Buntin Group, the largest agency in Nashville at the time, where I worked as Creative Department Secretary and my goal was to be an award-winning copywriter. 

3. Most important career mentor, and why?

My most important career mentor has to be Zan Martin, President and founder of Martin & Company Advertising. Although I didn’t have any prior knowledge of the automotive industry, she hired me to be PR Director for some of the top automotive aftermarket companies in the industry and started me on a career path that I’m still on today.

4. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?

The misuse of an apostrophe to make a plural, as in “favorite’s.” A close and related second is the misuse of “it’s” for “its.” 

5. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?

Major events in Las Vegas for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show that were well-attended; some large-scale productions for the Hot Rod Power Tour (which included a budget of $70,000); and several standing-room only news conferences. I feel rewarded when the client is extremely satisfied.

6. Advice to new public relations professionals?

In a tight market, you may have to work in a role indirectly related to public relations, and with each position you have to take advantage of the opportunity to gain experience that will be a stepping-stone to your next career move. Seek positions in areas that will lead to your top career goal – such as event management, copywriting or marketing – because all jobs can contribute to your knowledge of public relations in some way.  

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

Travel writer or food editor.

8. Favorite movie?

That’s hard to say. My favorite romance is Under the Tuscan Sun, and my favorite dramas include The English Patient, Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Dead Poets Society and Doctor Zhivago, which all rank almost equally.

9 Favorite vacation?

Sailing for eight days in the British Virgin Islands with my husband. The sky was unbelievably clear and the water unbelievably blue, and our 32 ft. sailboat was outfitted with everything we could have possibly needed for weeks on the water.

10. Any three dinner guests?

Cleopatra, Benjamin Franklin and Gertrude Stein.

With my family in Kingston Springs, Tennessee, my hometown, to celebrate the wedding of my son (second from left) and new daughter-in-law, along with my daughter and other son.

Having fun off-roading in Colorado with my son (left) and husband (seated beside me).

Celebrating my son’s recent graduation from USAF Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.


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UT PRSSA Vice President Recaps Tampa Bay PRSA's Ethics Program

UT PRSSA Vice President Ben Norton published an article on our chapter's Ethics Program. Kirk Hazlett, PRSA Tampa Bay ethics officer, interviewed Sandra Moscovic, director of Corporate Ethics and Compliance at TECO, about how she handles ethical issues. Read more in "Tampa Bay PRSA Hold Ethics Talk at UT."

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Join the 2019 PRSA Tampa Bay Leadership Team!

PRSA Tampa Bay has set the standard for advancing the public relations profession and its professionals for more than 50 years. Making this possible is a legacy of outstanding volunteer leaders like you. And we need your help in 2019!

Your participation as a chapter leader makes a difference to all chapter members, and it helps you to get the most out of your membership experience. Learn new skills; form lasting friendships; and contribute your professional talents to benefit PRSA Tampa Bay and our community.

We are filling positions for elected officers and also accepting nominations for our 2018 Committee Chairs.

Submit your nomination here!

Open Board positions include the following:

  • President-Elect (1)
  • Secretary (1)
  • Treasurer (1)
  • Assembly Delegate (1)
  • Board Member (1)

The nomination form for elected officers must be completed by 5 p.m. on October 19, 2018.

Open Committee Chair, Co-Chair or Vice Chair positions include:

  • Accreditation (must be accredited)
  • PRestige Awards
  • Digital Communications
  • Programs
  • Students (must be accredited)
  • Membership Retention
  • Volunteer Coordination
  • Public Service
  • Diversity
  • Independent Practitioners
  • Scholarships
  • Membership Recruitment
  • Media Roundtable
  • Professional Development Day
  • Website/Blog
  • Newsletter
  • Social Media
  • Sponsorships
  • 2019 Conference Planning
  • Assistant Treasurer

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2018 Call for Award Nominations

PRSA Tampa Bay Chapter – 2018 Call for 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 Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, 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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USF PRSSA Résumé Review/Mixer - Oct. 11

Help wanted! We need your expertise for a résumé review session with USF’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 October 11, the judges will meet at USF 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, October 11, 5:45 –7:15 p.m.

Location: USF Marshall Center, 4103 Cedar Circle, Rm. 3700, Tampa FL 33620

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

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Start with the Story

By: Laura Neff-Henderson, APR

As a society, we are well on our way to automating everything.

Autonomous vehicles may soon replace truck drivers and taxi drivers on our highways. In time, cars will become better at self-repair and through artificial intelligence, chatbots could “learn” to have verbal conversations with humans, self-service postal machines may replace human transactions, and parking meters will “write” tickets.

The Bureau of Labor statistics projects that by 2024 the U.S. economy will need 50 percent less car mechanics, 42 percent less telephone operators, 26 percent less postal clerks, and 20 percent less parking enforcement officers.

That technology has left many professionals across the world wondering whether computers will replace us. Fortunately, the answer for those of us who work in creative industries, is an unequivocal “no” according to Microsoft Storyteller Miri Rodriguez.

“The ‘why’ is the heart of the story, and it’s the one thing robots don’t have,” said Rodriguez, who was the closing speaker at the Sunshine District Conference in Jupiter, Florida, in July 2018. Rodriguez is an award-winning creative journalist and one of 4,000 storytellers who work with Microsoft worldwide. She is one of three Information Technology Showcase storytellers who work in the company’s Redmond, Washington office.

At Microsoft, she explained, their creative teams are focusing on helping the tech giant humanize its brand - making human connections between their company and their customers.

“Our focus has shifted from the product to the person,” explained Rodriguez.

The company’s mission during Bill Gate’s leadership was “a computer in every household.”

Under current CEO Satya Nadella, their mission is "to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more." 

“At Microsoft we’re really talking about how we’re using our technologies to [improve people’s lives]. By telling stories about how their customers are using Microsoft products, the company is building a following, and earning trust.  In other words, Microsoft is taking a back seat and writing stories that position their customers as heroes, and their products as the trusty sidekick.

We should all “start with the story,” said Rodriguez who believes storytelling is one of the most effective ways to connect with an audience and move it to action.

“Story is not just a story, it’s a strategy to connect with your business and your customers,” said Rodriguez.

Check out a few examples of the stories Microsoft is telling about how their products are improving their customer’s lives.

  • A video that features a location scout who travels the world looking for the perfect places to shoot films and uses her Surface Pro to edit her drone footage, retouch her photos and create presentations, from anywhere.
  • In a commercial, blogger Courtney Quinn tells the story of how she creates mood boards, edits content, and takes it everywhere with her thanks to her Microsoft Surface Laptop.
  • On their Story Lab website, the story of Matthew Bennett, an audio creative director who tested more than 400 sounds before landing on “the” sound users here an email arrives, or your battery runs low, makes company employees relatable.
  • Another feature story on the Story Lab website reveals to readers how the company new office building in Silicon Valley is having a positive impact on the local community through green technology.



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Member Spotlight: Alexandra Booth

This Member Spotlight profiles Alexandra Booth, who is Public Relations Coordinator at DJ Public Relations. Alexandra joined the chapter this year and is a member of the Social Media Team on the Digital Communications Committee.

1. First news publication you read in the morning?

Besides checking several sources on Twitter, I read the Daily Skimm, a newsletter-type email by theSkimm that provides a recap of the latest news. I enjoy the writing style and conciseness of the news summaries each day.

2. First public relations job?

Public Relations Coordinator at DJ Public Relations, where I started this year after graduating from the University of Florida last year. After having had an internship working for an association, I now enjoy working in a different side of PR, with clients and different campaigns.

3. Most important career mentor, and why?

Betty Carlin, APR, who is Assembly Delegate on the 2018 PRSA Tampa Bay Board of Directors and Co-chair of 2019 PRSA Sunshine District Conference, and a mentor who has given me great advice about the industry as well as access to her network of public relations colleagues, which led me to my first internship and my current position. Also, she brought me as a guest to my first PRSA event, which inspired me to join the chapter a week later.

4. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?

Definitely use of the Oxford comma. My degree is in journalism, so it was drilled into me a long time ago that the Oxford comma is against AP style, and it’s stuck with me ever since.

5. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?

Too early to say really, since it’s so early in my career. But now that I’m situated as a new PR professional in Tampa and a new member of PRSA Tampa Bay, I’m really excited about what’s ahead.

6. Advice to new public relations professionals?

Network, network, network. It’s so important to connect with professionals in your field to not only learn from them, but to earn their trust and have them become your advocate to other professionals.

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

A zoologist. I loved going to ZooTampa at Lowry Park as a child and still love learning animal facts.

8. Favorite movie?

As of late, my favorite movie is The Post.

9. Favorite vacation?

An RV trip with my family to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park when I was 12.

10. Any three dinner guests?

J.K. Rowling, John Mulaney, and Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for women’s education and recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

Graduation day at the University of Florida in 2017!

Betty Carlin and me at PRSA Tampa Bay’s 2018 Professional Development Day, held at The Vault.

At the American Museum of Natural History on a family vacation to New York.

In front of the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles on a road trip from Gainesville.

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Ready to take the next step in your public relations career?

The PRSA Sunshine District is hosting its first-ever APR Boot Camp Nov. 7-10 at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.!

Why register for the APR Boot Camp?
The APR Boot Camp is a four-day intensive course for candidates to prepare and advance through the Panel Presentation and take the computer-based Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) or Accreditation in Public Relations + Military Communication (APR+M).

This course is designed to provide a setting that will meet the needs of busy professionals whose schedules do not permit extensive preparation time.

What will the APR Boot Camp cover?

  • Day One: Panel presentation preparation in the morning, followed by a panel presentation in the afternoon
  • Day Two: Full-day preparation for computer-based examination
  • Day Three: Morning preparation session for computer-based examination, afternoon peer study time
  • Day Four: Computer-based exam at the Prometric Testing Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Please note: There is an additional fee to take the APR exam; however, those fees are at least partially reimbursed by PRSA National, pending successful completion of the exam. PRSA Sunshine also offers a $100 rebate program for local PRSA members.

Additional details are available at and Spots are limited!

Have questions? Email PRSA Sunshine District Chair Christina Morton, APR at [email protected] or the PRSA National Accreditation Senior Manager Kathy Mulvihill at [email protected].

Register for the APR Boot Camp. Learn about accreditation.

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Ethical PR – Are You a Leader or a Follower?

By Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA

September is traditionally “Ethics Month” for the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). We focus a great deal of attention throughout the month on educating our members, raising awareness and informing the public of our commitment to ethical practice and counsel.

In truth, these initiatives are ongoing and include year-round outreach and guidance, but September’s special focus allows us to emphasize ethical consciousness. This year, we have focused our efforts on ethical leadership, giving proactive advice and counsel to our clients or employers.

It’s one thing to mutter, “Yeah, I know about PRSA’s Code of Ethics.” It’s an entirely different thing to state confidently, “Yes, I refer to PRSA’s Code of Ethics regularly in my counsel to senior management on their own words and actions.” Having a high level of familiarity with this important code enables PR professionals to immediately weigh words or actions in against possible public perception and reaction.

Proactive public relations professionals don’t sit around “waiting to see” what the boss or the client says or does so that they can formulate supportive - or defensive - statements. Rather, they take the lead, anticipate actions, evaluate possible outcomes and act.

Edward L. Bernays, arguably the “Father of Public Relations,” had this to say in “Your Future in Public Relations” (Richards Rosen Press; 1961) about the personal qualifications of a public relations professional: “In every organization it is the tendency of the individual to bow to the will of the person above him … It is vital that a consultant or advisor be guided only by objective reason, facts, his honest, unbiased judgment, and his ideal of truth, rather than by a desire to agree with a client or to tell him what he wishes to hear. The extent to which one is able to follow this rule will be a test of strength of character.”

It's clear that Mr. Bernays wasn’t talking about sitting back and twiddling your thumbs when faced with a potential ethical challenge. Rather, he strongly suggests that an effective PR counsel takes action and takes the lead in formulating strategies and supporting words. This may often require that the counsel be willing and able to stand up to leaders at higher levels and challenge  prevailing bad practices if any exist.

A precursor to this, of course, is that you will have established relationships with upper-level management that will have made them aware of your qualifications to provide this type of guidance. When flames are erupting out the windows is not the time to start building a fire escape!

Public relations leadership, then, is defined by the action -  and the confidence in that action - of the public relations professional. Your willingness to provide, as Mr. Bernays says, “honest, unbiased judgment” will set you apart from others and will establish your position as counsel to senior management rather than “yes-man or -woman” to the boss.

Take advantage of the opportunities available through PRSA for education and training. Increase your ethical awareness. Take the lead in promoting ethical thought and action by setting an example for others. Be a leader, not a follower!

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Call for Judges for the PRSA Central Iowa PRIME Awards

PRestige Awards Presented by Business Wire

You are invited to serve as a peer judge for the PRSA Central Iowa PRIME Awards. No problem if you haven’t judged in the past, we’ll pair you with an experienced judge. It’s also not necessary to be accredited with your APR. We ask you to consider donating a day to be a judge this year.  

When: Friday, Aug. 31, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Where: Port Tampa Bay, 1101 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602

Bring: Your laptop and power cord

Why: Share your experience with other public relations professionals, learn some good PR strategies from the entries, and take part in post-judging happy hour!

Parking is free and complimentary lunches and snacks will be provided for judges. 

Please email Lori Letzring, APR, and Heather Parsons by Aug. 30 with any questions and to relay your availability. The judging date will be finalized on the date with the most judges available.

We hope you can join us a PRestige Awards Judge!

Business Wire is the global leader in press release and multimedia distribution as well as regulatory disclosure. We distribute corporate content to news organizations, journalists, bloggers, consumers, analysts and more. Business Wire’s distribution services include enhanced interactive multimedia integration, exclusive content marketing platforms and social media engagement tools. Business Wire launches news and conversations that jumpstart action and measurable results. Call us at 888.381.9473 or email [email protected] to learn more.

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