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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Investing in Ourselves: #2017PDD Recap

In our constantly buzzing, hard-to-get-away-from industry, it’s not often that we can find the time to take half a day to sit down with the intent to invest in ourselves. That is perhaps what makes Professional Development Day so unique – the ability for all of us to come together, set the distractions aside and have meaningful discussions about trends impacting our industry and what our next steps should be as professionals. Better yet, we didn’t just sit there talking about these issues on a “high level” with nothing tangible to take back to our organizations, but rather really got a chance to dig in and reflect.

We kicked off the day hearing from Kelli Frazier of Nielsen about measurement, which is vital to public relations but quite frankly isn’t talked about enough. More specifically, we looked at research that showed us where the future of different media is headed, and where there is opportunity for our industry to reach our target audiences with our messaging. Our clients and organization are always wanting to see results, and love to talk about metrics, so this session really taught us to think more critically about what that means and if it is really telling us what we need to know.

We then heard from Kena Lewis, APR, from Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC) on a deep dive into the hours and days immediately following the tragic shooting at the PULSE nightclub last year. Perhaps one of her most important takeaways was how crucial it is to have a tried and true plan in place for times of crisis. Preparation is key, and that’s why in addition to a crisis comms plan, you ought to have a crisis-specific team in place, along with a list of their names, responsibilities and cell phone numbers. You never know when you might have to give them a ring and drag them out of bed at 3 a.m. Think you don’t need a photo/video production team or your webmaster during a crisis? In reality, they are vital to communications success and should be included in your plan.

The session that followed was led by Michele Reeves of Raymond James Financial, and focused in on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, as well as their roles in our everyday lives. Michele noted that diversity is often a struggle because our industries do not look the way our world does, and our world certainly does not look how our industries do. She also clarified that “diversity is not for the few, it’s for the many,” but that it is not the same thing as inclusion. Diversity is who we are, and inclusion is how we work. Over a brief breakout discussion with our tables, we got the opportunity to reflect honestly to see how inclusive we are in the different areas of our lives. As one of her key takeaways, Michele emphasized that if we are not intentionally inclusive, we are being unintentionally exclusive, and to fix that we need to make the most of teachable moments, strive to give the quietest person in the room a voice and always be thinking about what we can do to proactively change the situation.

Changing pace, a panel of Tampa-based business owners convened to discuss their public relations efforts, challenges and successes. We heard from Jamie Lanza of CAMP Tampa, Suzanne Perry of Datz and Leigh Harting of 3 Daughters Brewing, and something that resonated amongst the three was the importance of authenticity. Now more than ever, they agreed that social media is more about relationship-building than it is about selling your product and pushing forced content on an unwilling audience. However, they encouraged us all to consider that we are taking up someone’s time with our content – so, we need to consider what it is that we are taking their time up with, and why they ought to care.


Ending the program on a strong note, our keynote speakers were Josh Greenberg and Brad Simon from Edelman Orlando about earning trust in an era of “fake news.” Josh surprised us all by reminding us that fake news isn’t even news – but that it has been around for a long time (ala “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast). They emphasized how the shift in the media landscape has taken the authority from the bigger media conglomerates and put it in the hands of the people, who are becoming their own publishers. With that in mind, it is becoming much more common for organizations to make their own news and publish it themselves on their investor relations websites. Additionally, the discussion highlighted the fact that the way we have traditionally done media relations in the past isn’t going to cut it anymore. Ultimately, you need a multi-channel approach built around the idea that if you have a great story to tell, you need to determine where the conversation is taking place and who is driving it. Josh and Simon wrote a great blog post here that builds on many of the topics they discussed, and you can see the full content from Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer here.  

It goes without saying that it was a full morning jam-packed with cutting edge ideas and insightful discussions, fueled by tons of coffee. If you weren’t able to join us in person, do not fret - we live-tweeted each of the sessions on the PRSA Tampa Bay Twitter and you can read through (or relive the experience) using #2017PDD. We are already not-so-patiently counting down until Professional Development Day 2018, and can’t wait to see what it has in store! 

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Anchors Away with PRSA

By Sarah Kettenburg, Senior Account Executive at Hill+Knowlton Strategies and PRSATB Digital Comms Chair

The PRSA Sunshine District Conference presented the opportunity to brush up on some key skills that PR pros use daily. Crisis management, media relations, reputation management, storytelling and even game theory were a few of the topics covered at this year’s conference. 

While day one of the conference kept it light with some PRVille Family Feud, day two started strong with a session by Heather Fagan, deputy chief of staff for Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. Fellow PRSA Tampa Bay attendee Kelsey Van Camp provided a great recap of the session here

My key takeaways include:

  1. Prioritize. Ask yourself, “do I have to make this decision today?” if the answer is no, move on to something else.
  2. Take care of the local media. They are the ones that will still be around months later.
  3. Establish a great relationship with IT. In times of a crisis, the IT department is crucial to your success in communicating with the public (in other words, ensuring your website/social media/phone lines, etc. doesn’t crash)
  4. Document everything. Write down everything you do at the end of each day so that you can look back on each day’s activities, even months later.
  5.  Assume the camera/microphone/cell phone etc. is always on.

 Achievement Unlocked! Using Game Theory to Level Up Your PR

Did you know that you are likely participating in a form of game theory every day? That’s right, everyone’s beloved social network, Facebook, is a prime example. So, what exactly is Game Theory? 

Gamification is defined as using game-like elements in a non-game environment. But real gamification is about building a behavior, not just a game.

There are four steps to gamification, condensed into a model known (particularly by folks who work in Silicon Valley) as the Hook Method:

  1. Trigger: Think of this as the subconscious itch. As it is said, it starts as a vitamin, and ends up as a painkiller.
  2. Action: Behavior = Motivation X Ability X Trigger. If you have the ability, but not the motivation, you won’t follow through.
  3. Variable Reward: Keep it fresh and meaningful. We get pleasure in anticipation of the reward, but not necessarily from the actual award. Ultimately, it must have an emotional connection.
  4. Investment: Create a sense of shared value.

Key takeaway? There needs to be constant evolution and a sense of surprise so people don’t get bored.

How The World Met My (Dead) Mother

One thing is for sure, few of us were certain where this session was going to go, but the room was packed full of participants who were eager to find out – naturally, I was one of them. Bonnie Upright, APR, shared how her mother, Emily Phillips, had the unique opportunity to write her own obituary after learning she had terminal cancer. The witty and moving obituary spread like wildfire after being published in her local newspaper. The Today Show, Time, Huffington Post and Buzzfeed are just a few of the many publications that picked up the obituary, and retold the story of Bonnie’s mother and her life. Upright and her family were surprised at all the attention, but loved that their mother’s words were being shared with millions. Fast forward a few months and they realized that someone had copied the obituary not once, but twice!

This session provided an excellent case study for how vital fact checking is – with ALL things – even if the owner of the words has passed away. In fact, Upright has been told by a number of newspapers that they have begun to fact check obituaries after coming to terms with the fact that her mother’s had been plagiarized. Most importantly, this unconventional set of circumstances served as a great reminder of the vital importance of protecting your intellectual property and personal brand.

While the conference sessions were all excellent, one of the best parts of the conference was being able to network and mingle with fellow PR professionals. From shared dinner conversations, to learning from one another’s confidential PR anecdotes (mum’s the word!) and enjoying karaoke every night (looking at you, Karaoke Brian!), a great time was had by all.


I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference, hosted by the Palm Beach chapter.

For your viewing pleasure, enjoy a few photos of our PRSA members in all their karaoke glory!


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The Camera is Always on & Invest in The Basics

By Kelsy Van Camp, Director of Marketing and Communications for Tampa Downtown Partnership

This June, I was lucky enough to attend the PRSA Sunshine District Conference and not only did I leave with a notebook full of best practices and tips, but I also left with a suntan. It’s hard for me to decide which session was my favorite because they were all engaging, informative, and included tips I could turn around and apply to a current project. So, I’m going to share with you my key takeaways from two of the sessions.

If there is one thing I can say about the Sunshine District, it’s that they kick things off with a bang. Saturday was a full morning of sessions that started with Heather Fagan. Fagan, who is deputy chief of staff for Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, was one of the first people on the scene for the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. She recounted chilling memories and facts clearly and professionally. Fagan explained to the group the timeline of events and why the city had decided to take to twitter to share up-to-the-minute details instead of dealing with multiple outlets and attempting to answer the non-stop phone calls and emails. She spoke about the Mayor’s main message of building “civic resilience” and how that message helped the community and families to handle the tragedy. Some tips she shared on press conferences include: order matters, establish next time, share new information only, and to coordinate with partners. Fagan also advised us to assume the camera is always on, record interviews so you can confirm statements, and to only worry about fixing inaccuracies that impact your message. Lastly, she reminded us that tragedies like the Pulse shooting have long-term effects and to schedule your staff appropriately to account for your organizations day-to-day activities, because the show must go on.

During the break-out sessions, I chose to attend the session on how to create videos on a shoestring budget, led by Kate Norton from Nemours Children’s Specialty Care Hospital. The title caught my eye because I too work on a shoestring budget for a nonprofit, and I recently was tasked with creating a video that was presented to a group of over 500 people that was shot on my iPhone 7. Norton started out her presentation with a helpful list of four secrets in video shooting. First, she told us to invest in the basics. This meant getting a nice camera, external mic, tripod, a computer with an editing program (she suggested Adobe Final Cut Pro), and an external drive since videos take up a lot of memory. Second, she suggested we take the time to learn the skills. and the book “How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck” were a few of her suggestions. Third, don’t be afraid to get help. That meant knowing when to call the professionals and when to try it yourself. Finally, find the story. Norton said this should be easiest for PR professionals but can sometimes be the hardest to capture with video.

Looking back, the main theme I keep going back to is how PR professionals are doers. We step up to the plate when situations get tough and roll with the punches. My head is still spinning from all the information that was packed into the conference, and I look forward to next year!

#ShipHappens #WearSunscreen

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