Calling all sole practitioners and small agency owners

Are you looking for a place to network, problem solve and share best practices with other independent public relations professionals?

The Independent Practitioners Group at PRSA Tampa Bay can help!

We invite all interested members to our first meeting of 2018 at 10 a.m., Friday, February 16 at Datz Restaurant at 2616 S. MacDill Avenue in Tampa.

At the meeting, we will be asking attendees to help identify topics, activities and meetings for the year ahead that will be of value to our group—and to the wider PRSA Tampa Bay chapter.

No payment is necessary for this first meeting—food and beverages are pay as you go.

Please join us and RSVP via our Facebook page (PRSA Independent Practitioners Group – Tampa Bay Chapter) or via email to Paula Macdonald at  [email protected].

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PRSA Finishes 2017 with Donation of 30 Toys

Go, PRSA Tampa Bay! Metropolitan Ministries happily received the gifts we dropped off at its tent.

By Joseph Priest, APR

PRSA Tampa Bay wrapped up the year by helping make the holidays a little brighter for a lot of local kids. On Dec. 18, our chapter met at Fleming’s restaurant to host its annual holiday mixer, and for the third year in a row the Public Service Committee held a toy drive to raise donations for Metropolitan Ministries.

Thanks to the generosity of our members, we succeeded in collecting 30 gifts and dropping them off at the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent shortly afterward, in plenty of time to serve needy families looking for holiday toy gifts. 

Metropolitan Ministries predicted that it would serve more than 18,000 families in need for Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2017, a yearly need that our chapter has eagerly helped serve for the past few years. To spur 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 at Metropolitan Ministries. Each gift donated earns the contributor one ticket that is entered in a drawing for prizes, which this time included one special prize of a $20 gift card to Publix and one grand prize of a $50 gift card to Roy’s Restaurant.

For last month’s mixer, this incentive helped bring in 30 gifts, including a variety of toys, dolls, books, and games, and gift cards.


Our gift donations pile up at the mixer. Thank you, contributors!

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 at our résumé review sessions with  USF’s PRSSA chapter and the United Way’s Sulphur Springs Resource Center.

Stay tuned to the PRSA Tampa Bay website for more ways you can help us serve in 2018.

Members and guests enjoy the mixer at Fleming’s.

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Member Spotlight: Bobby Eagle, APR

This Member Spotlight profiles Bobby Eagle, APR, Global Public Relations Director of Syniverse and 2017 president of PRSA Tampa Bay. He joined the chapter in 2007 and has served in a number of leadership positions before becoming president, including secretary in 2012 and board member from 2013 to 2015, and he has also served as a judge for the national PRSA Silver Anvil awards since 2014.

1. First news publication you read in the morning?

The Washington Post. I’ve long been a huge fan of the film All the President’s Men, and this got me hooked on reading the Post at a young age.

2. First public relations job?

Working for a minor league hockey and arena football team in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was a blast that sparked my passion for the profession. 

3. Most important career mentor, and why?

One of my first bossesturned out to be my most important mentor precisely because she was always much more than a boss. In my time working for her, she was a leader in every sense of the word, she always cared about the success of the members of the team, she always took a keen interest in supporting and guiding my development, and she helped me build the confidence I needed to begin and continue my professional growth, and still does to this day.

4. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?

There are so many options to choose from, but I suppose the biggest would be the use of the ampersand, which I once got a fact error for in college (50 percent off my grade!), for writing “Ben and Jerry’s” instead of “Ben & Jerry’s.” This opened my eyes to the lunacy that is this antiquated punctuation mark, and it still drives me crazy when I see it used inconsistently and haphazardly.

5. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?

Earlier this year, I was both surprised and honored to win a PRSA Silver Anvil. I’m exceedingly proud of this honor because of the terrific teamwork that went into the winning campaign, and I consider myself incredibly fortunate to work with an amazing team of professionals of which this award is a direct reflection.

6. Advice to new public relations professionals?

One, always remember attitude is everything, and, two, JFDI. There’s a fairly well-known quote by Chuck Swindoll that “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it,” and I’m a firm believer in taking control of the 90 percent and JFDI – “Just freaking doing it”!

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

This is a tough question to answer, so I guess I’m lucky to be in public relations. But in an alternate universe, I may have gone to law school or been a reporter.

8. Favorite movie?

Jaws has been my favorite movie for as long as I can remember. Despite knowing nearly every line, I could still happily watch it on a loop at any time.

9. Favorite vacation?

I’m fortunate to have been on some amazing vacations, but my favorite is easily the trip my wife and I took to Australia in 2015. We studied Down Under back in our college days, and it was incredible to get to go back to relive our time there and explore Sydney, Brisbane, and Moreton Island – and we’re already planning to go back again!

10. Any three dinner guests?

The first two would be Tim Tebow and Bob Woodward. And the most important would be my late grandfather, who was an incredible role model and inspiration to me and showed me that with hard work and perseverance, nearly anything is possible.

My wife, Kaity, and me in Sydney Harbour, Australia, with the stunning Opera House behind us.


Winning a Silver Anvil this year for Syniverse’s “Exposing the Privacy Predicament” campaign, in the reputation/brand management for business category, was a professional high, and represents the work of an amazing team that I’m fortunate to be able to work with.  

One of the many things that make my company awesome is being able to play on our own intramural hockey team!


One of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday: Watching my alma mater, the University of Florida, take on our latest foe. Go Gators! 

With our baby, Charlotte, a feisty Boston terrier with a penchant for mischief!  


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Calling all Mentors!

Would you like to help a USF PRSSA student prepare for a career in public relations? If you have just a few hours to spare, consider mentoring a student for the remainder of the 2017-2018 academic year.

The PRSA Mentor Program is designed to be flexible so that mentors and mentees can make the most of their experience. Mentors may share career tips and professional advice to help students better understand and prepare to meet the expectations of the public relations industry. Mentors can also offer job shadowing opportunities if schedules allow.

Mentors and mentees are required to communicate at least four times during the semester (or roughly once a month), and mentees are expected to be the ones to reach out. At least one of these meetings must be in person. Mentors must be a current member of PRSA Tampa Bay.

Applications for the 2017-18 year are due this Thursday, November 16.

To apply for the program, click here.

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PRSA Tampa Bay Counsels Job Candidates

By Joseph Priest

Sometimes, PR professionals can demonstrate the best of PR when they’re not directly doing  PR. Our chapter’s recent participation in the United Way Day of Caring was one of these times.

On Oct. 12, the Public Service Committee organized our participation in a résumé-review and job-search counseling session for the Day of Caring at the United Way’s Sulphur Springs Resource Center. The Center, which opened in 2009, provides a range of community services, including job training, legal assistance, and education mentoring, and enables residents to do everything from use computers, to take GED classes, to participate in leadership-training and personal-growth-assistance programs, among many other activities. 

For our Day of Caring event, we were able to arrange, with the special help of Elizabeth Watts, APR, an activity in which we could specifically apply our communication and  planning skills by evaluating job candidates’ résumés and providing counsel on the best strategies to help them with their job searches. The event follows a similar Day of Caring résumé review workshop that we participated in at the Center two years ago, and also builds on the Day of Caring project we took part in at the Hillsborough Education Foundation last year. 

Our day consisted of dividing into three groups to evaluate the candidates’ résumés on areas such as neatness, organization, and effectiveness, and then sharing feedback with the candidates and having in-depth discussions to provide counsel on their job-search strategies.

Ten of our members participated:

  •         Betty Carlin, APR
  •         Bobby Eagle, APR
  •         Kathlyn Fitzpatrick
  •         Bart Graham
  •         Felicia Johnson, APR
  •         Stephanie Navarro
  •         Joseph Priest
  •         Jessica Summers, APR
  •         Elizabeth Taylor
  •         Elizabeth Watts, APR


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

In particular, many of the typical job candidates at the Center are different than many of the typical PR candidates that we encounter in that the candidates at the Center are middle-aged, have had many jobs in many areas, and 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 that restrict the days and hours they can work, or having a termination history for past job performance.

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 working on other ideas to keep our chapter involved in the community, so stay tuned for more ways you can help serve. And if you have any suggestions, please send them to Joseph Priest

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Seeking 2018 PRSA Tampa Bay Leaders!

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 incredible volunteers like you. Your participation in chapter leadership makes a difference to all chapter members and helps you to get the most out of your membership. Learn new skills, form lasting friendships and contribute your professional talents to benefit PRSA Tampa Bay and our community. 

Along with elected officers, we are also accepting nominations for our 2018 Committee Chairs!

Submit your nomination here! 

Open Board positions include:

  •         President-Elect (1)
  •         Secretary (1)
  •         Treasurer (1)
  •         Assembly Delegate (1)
  •         Board Member (2)

The nomination form for elected officers must be completed by October 20, 2017.

Open Committe Chair positions include:

  •         Accreditation (must be accredited)
  •         PRestige Awards
  •         Digital Communications
  •         Programs
  •         PRSSA (must be accredited)
  •         Membership Retention
  •         Volunteer Coordination
  •         Public Service
  •         Diversity
  •         Agency Leaders
  •         Scholarships
  •         Membership Recruitment
  •         Media Roundtable
  •         Professional Development Day
  •         Website/Blog
  •         Newsletter
  •         Social Media
  •         Sponsorships
  •         2019 Sunshine District Conference

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Speaker Spotlight: Steve Jerve

This Speaker Spotlight profiles Steve Jerve, Chief Meteorologist at News Channel 8, WFLA, who will be the keynote speaker at PRSA Tampa Bay’s third annual PRestige Awards ceremony, on Oct. 20, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at The Tampa Club. Steve joined News Channel 8 in 1998 and provides weather forecasts on the station’s 5, 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts. He has over 30 years’ experience as a television news meteorologist.

You can register for the PRestige Awards here

1. First news outlet you access in the morning?


2. First job?

Corn detasseler.

3. Most important career mentor, and why?

Steve Rollison, my first news director. He gave me my first job, as a reporter, and my second job, as a weather guy. He was a captain in the Army in the Vietnam War, and he understood how to be a good leader and mentor.

4. Most rewarding career accomplishment?

Helping our viewers get through hurricanes and other severe weather.

5. Pitching advice to new public relations professionals?

Know who you’re pitching to and don't send out blanket emails – make your pitches personal. If it's something for television, make the pitch short, describe how it will look on television, and try to make it easy to shoot.

6. Favorite movie?

Saving Private Ryan.

7. Favorite vacation?

Motorcycling trip in New Zealand and Australia.

8. Any three dinner guests?

Jesus Christ, Buddha and George Patton.


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PRSA ICON: Mastering the Art of Engagement

By Mary B. Haban, APR

It’s happened to me more times than I can count. I enter an ice cream shop, my mind firmly decided on that heaping scoop of salted caramel, and then it begins. My eyes wander aimlessly to the array of flavors next to it. I’m standing there, hands pressed against the cool glass display case, wondering which one to indulge in.

That’s the feeling I got heading into my second day of the PRSA International Conference in Boston. With so many appetizing sessions to choose from, it wasn’t easy deciding on a path to proceed down.

The morning offered a double scoop of keynotes, beginning with Entrepreneur Bea Arthur, who shared her secrets for success. Some of her most memorable takeaways included these bite-sized bits of advice:

  •        Have a single-minded obsession of seeing your vision in the world.
  •        The new PR is about psychology and relationships.
  •        There’s an art to getting what you want.
  •        Anybody can do it.
  •        What am I doing? Who am I doing it for and what does it get them
  •        The best part of going through hell is you come out on fire.

A contributor to, Arthur offered audience members the chance to pitch her right in the session, and the winner would be featured in an upcoming article.


Next up, Think Tank Facilitator, Amy K, whose passionate presentation on the way we think had the crowd invigorated. Some of Amy’s takeaways included: 

  •        Life is happening one conversation at a time.
  •        It’s our job as leaders to raise the quality of our conversations and the thinking inside our companies.
  •        We need engagement and buy-in for productivity to skyrocket.
  •        Your number one job as a leader is to set your people up for success.
  •        Take responsibility for raising the level of thinking for your team.


One of the highlights of Monday’s professional development lineup was the “How to Write for Mobile Reading” session with facilitator Ann Wylie. For the top tips from this workshop, see the live tweets on our PRSA Tampa Bay Twitter Page.


The interactive session with PRSA CEO Joseph Truncale, Ph.D., included having us break into groups to solve a challenge presented in a Harvard Business Review case study on leadership.


Mary Haban with the CEO of PRSA, Jospeh Truncale 

And for all you internal communicators, the session with Sean D. Williams, on Building Employee Engagement and Enhancing your Corporate Culture, provided solid solutions to creating an environment where everyone feels valued. Some takeaways included:

  •        People want to participate. Tell them what their role is.
  •        Define the purpose of your meetings up front.
  •        Ask people in meetings how they see the plan you’ve presented affecting them and their department.
  •        The key to the heart is through vision. People are inspired by vision.
  •        Confidence leads to trust. 


As I embark on my final day of learning, I’m still not sure if I’m in the mood for salted caramel, pistachio, chocolate chip or strawberry. What I do know is this -- as I set my gaze upon the glass case containing all the professional development that’s offered here, it’s more than enough to satisfy my hunger for the knowledge and skill building I came to find.

You can read Mary's thoughts from Day One of the conference here

Mary Haban with Jane Dvorak, APR - 2017 PRSA National Chair. 

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PRSA ICON: Ready. Set. Grow!

By Mary B. Haban, APR

After three action-packed days of professional development, networking and sharing ideas, the 2017 PRSA International Conference is a wrap. From data measurement to storytelling, strategic planning to social media, this year’s lineup of programming did not disappoint. In fact, there were so many amazing sessions to choose from, deciding which one to attend became my biggest challenge.

Digital Marketing Strategist and New York Times best-selling author Jay Baer provided the final keynote address, which included the top ways we can create exceptional customer experiences. His presentation on what he calls Talk Triggers showcased prime examples of how some of the biggest brands in the world are succeeding by engaging with customers in unique ways.


Some key takeaways from Jay’s presentation can be found on PRSA Tampa Bay’s Twitter page. And Jay’s latest book Hug Your Haters provides ever more ways to deliver exceptional customer experiences.


Another noteworthy session was “The New Creative Process and What it Means for PR.” Top tips from this presentation included:

  •        For PR, creativity is the real currency.
  •        Ground your campaigns in authenticity.
  •        Creativity is about storm mining; discovering what makes a brand besides the logo.
  •        More organizations are open to the big idea coming from PR.
  •        We need to open to the creative process happening in different ways.
  •        The most overlooked members on your team are the researchers.
  •        Culture is so important to creativity.

Though my time in Boston may be winding down, I’m not ready to slow down. In fact, I’m already gearing up to apply what I’ve learned at this year’s conference to become even better at what I do. And when the 2018 PRSA Conference heads to Austin, you can be sure thousands of other public relations practitioners from across the country, will do the same.

 You can find Mary's recap of Day One here, and Day Two here

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PRSA ICON: Innovation, inspiration and insight

By Mary B. Haban, APR

Six seconds. It’s the prime amount of time they learned they needed to engage with and keep the attention of their social media audience.

Nine months. That’s how long he had to endure endless rejection after cold calling hundreds of investors about his big idea only to be told, “no thanks.”

One year. It’s what they did during that historical moment in time that would win the hearts and devotion of millions of people around the world.


These were just some of the key takeaways from the first day of the 2017 PRSA International Conference in Boston, where thousands came to learn about the latest topics and trends influencing the public relations profession.


Award-winning filmmaker and TV host Morgan Spurlock kicked off the conference with a captivating keynote about never giving up on your big idea, he encouraged attendees to find people who believe in them. “You need people who believe in you and your vision,” he told the packed-room.  Sage advice from someone who after being told “no” countless times, believed in his own ability so much that it resulted in two award-winning films, Supersize Me and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.


Spurlock also parlayed his passion for filmmaking into 20 short documentary-style films in a series called We the Economy. In success, he said, “You have to own your derivative space. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Now is the best time in history to be a storyteller.”


Other notable sessions included the duo of Jason Maderer and Steven Norris, who drive the social and media relations’ efforts for Georgia Institute of Technology. Their presentation showcased the immense impact video can have on building and keeping your online audiences. These former TV reporters demonstrated the incredible results videos and live streaming can have on building your following. They encouraged us to “Think like a newsroom,” and to “Use video in a way that helps the media in your follow-up pitch.” They showed the power that six seconds of video can have on your social media audience and explained the success they had when they did it.


Making the space program cool again is what the team of rock star communicators did when they launched their historic A Year in Space campaign starring Astronaut Scott Kelly. They explained how they rushed to create an Instagram account for Kelly after President Obama mentioned he would be following his journey but the team learned Kelly didn’t have an account – yet.


This action-packed day ended with a reception to celebrate PRSA’s 70th Anniversary, where attendees dined on delicious food, connected with their peers and talked about all they had learned throughout their first day.

PRSA Tampa Bay will be bringing you updates from the 2017 PRSA International Conference in Boston, so stay tuned to Twitter, Facebook and our blog.

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