2017 Board of Directors

A note from 2017 President, Bobby Eagle, APR

The elections for 2017 leadership of PRSA Tampa Bay have now concluded and produced an exceptionally strong list of new leaders for the year ahead, including the following individuals:

  • President: Bobby Eagle, APR
  • President-elect (2018 President): Mary Margaret Hull, APR
  • Treasurer: Jamie Williams
  • Secretary: Jenna Stock
  • Assembly Delegate: Diane Jones, APR
  • Board Members: Kim Polacek, APR; Elizabeth Watts, APR; Mike Flanagan

Although the officer elections are compete, there remain many opportunities for members to get involved in the year ahead, including to chair or serve on committees, or to support programs as well. If this is something you’re interested in doing – or even to learn more about the possibilities – please reach out to me or our Volunteer Coordinator Chair Bart Graham.

Without question the members of PRSA Tampa Bay are what make our chapter so strong. In 2016 we have made amazing strides as a chapter thanks to our outstanding leadership team and array of phenomenal volunteers. As upcoming president, I very much look forward to working closely with all of our officers, board members, committee chairs and other members to build on the progress that has been made and raise the bar even higher.

Congratulations to all our new leaders, and here’s to success in 2017!

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Speaker Spotlight: Sally Falkow, APR

Our November program will feature Sally Falkow, APR, CEO of Meritus Media, who will discuss how the new media landscape is changing the way we communicate with stakeholders.

Sally is an Accredited PR practitioner with an intense interest in the changing media landscape and the need for digital transformation in business. Her blog has been a resource on the intersection of PR and Technology since 2003.

Read below to find out more about Sally and make sure to register for our program on November 30 to discover the 10 most important digital skills you need in PR and marketing today and how to use these skills in your strategy and tactics.

1. Favorite thing about your job? It’s never boring.It’s always challenging and I have to learn new things all the time.

2. Dogs or Cats? None at the moment – but I will be getting both soon.I want a white Turkish Van like this

3. Favorite social media channel? Twitter – so I hope all the predictions about it dying are not correct.  I am a Twitter-holic and have been on since early 2008.

4. Proudest moment of your career? Winning the PR Trainer of the Year award in 2009

5What is the most important digital skill PR pros should make sure to master? That’s a tough one.  Right now I’d say graphics and video, but measurement is a close second.

6. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Almond butter

7. What was the best piece of advice you got when starting your blog?Write for your audience.  Always post content of value that helps your readers.

8.  Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve? There/their/they;re  your/you’re.  I had a British education so I get very picky about grammar and spelling.  And how a sentence flows.

9.  Any three diner guests? Rebecca Lieb – author and speaker; Lee Childs – author of Jack Reacher books; Nelson Mandela


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Member Spotlight: Justine Giancola

This Member Spotlight profiles Justine Giancola, event marketing specialist at ABILITY Network and first-year member of PRSA Tampa Bay.

1. First news publication you read in the morning?Bay News 9 on TV and Fox News on Twitter.

2. First public relations job?My first job out of school was at Nicopure Labs, as a PR and event marketing specialist involved in media outreach, which has been my favorite facet of the PR world so far. I handled all of the company’s trade shows and was responsible for organizing media coverage at the events.

3. Most important career mentor, and why?
My first boss, Rich, who was my biggest cheerleader from the minute he interviewed me and who gave me guidance that helped me gain invaluable marketing experience. More than that, he brought out a confidence in me that I didn’t know I had, and having someone other than your parents see potential in you and push you to let that potential shine is truly a blessing.

4. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?
The misuse of the past tense and past participle, such as writing “he should have went” instead of “he should have gone.”

5. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?
In a publicist position I held in college, I was recognized as the most valuable intern and assigned to the agency’s largest client. The position involved a lot of last-minute assignments requiring extensive research with quick turnaround times, but being able to not only handle the work but succeed under that pressure was highly rewarding. 

6. Advice to new public relations professionals?
As a fairly new public relations professional, I would tell my peers to remain eager and take all opportunities available in order to learn and grow.

7. Job you would pursue if you weren’t in public relations?
Anything related to the fashion industry. Fashion designing, fashion writing, fashion photography – you name it, I’m sold.

8. Favorite movie?
Pretty Woman

9. Favorite vacation?
My first visit to New York City. I’ll never forget how the city made me feel – like there was so much possibility and opportunity to do anything you want to do – and I still feel it every time I go back.

10. Any three dinner guests?
Ronald Reagan, Anna Wintour and Pepper, my childhood dog.

Enjoying Central Park on a recent trip to New York.

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Speaker Spotlight: Russell Rhodes

Our 2nd Annual PRestige Awards Luncheon, presented by BrightWays Coaching and Communications will feature Russell Rhodes as our keynote speaker. 

Russell anchors Good Day Tampa Bay every weekday morning on FOX 13 Tampa Bay. Russell is an award-winning anchor/reporter with more than thirty years of experience in the television news business. Twenty years of that has been spent at FOX 13. Along the way, Russell has worked at television stations in Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota and Florida.

During his keynote presentation, Russell will focus on the fundamentals of good storytelling – a key element of award-winning public relations work! He will uncover his recommendations on how public relations practitioners and journalists can work together to tell more effective stories. What do journalists need from public relations practitioners? What do public relations practitioners need from journalists? He’ll also discuss how in our new world of social media, effectively sharing these stories has changed.

Read below to find out more about Russell and don't forget to register for the PRestige Awards on October 28. 

1. First job in TV?

KTEN TV Ada, Oklahoma. On the first day of work they said, "Here's a camera. Go out and shoot, report and edit your story. Get back in time to anchor the 5pm news." I was dumb enough to think I could do it. I did it. Badly. 

2. Favorite thing about my job?

Being the person to tell our viewers the news before anyone else in the morning.

3. Favorite social media channel?

These days, Instagram. It's because it is not work related. I just follow friends and post personal stuff. Like pictures of my dogs, Coco and Josephine. 

4. What job would you be doing if you weren't in TV?

I'm not trained to do anything else. Maybe a dog rescue farm. I want to see dogs running everywhere. Happy dogs.

5. Proudest moment of my TV career?

That's an interesting question. I think it's whenever anyone says, "I watch you every morning." It amazes me that someone would take time out of their busy morning to rely on us to get them going. It's an awesome feeling. I never take that lightly. 

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PRSA Tampa Bay Celebrates United Way's Day of Caring

Our team: (bottom row, from left) Marsha Strickhouser, Paula MacDonald, Jennifer Dunn; (top row, from left) Noelle Fox, Shai Johnson, Jessica Butzier, Betty Carlin, Joseph Priest and Kathlyn Fitzpatrick.


By Jessica Butzier and Joseph Priest

It included three hours, nine people, and thousands of markers, but the number of school children’s lives it will touch is countless.

On Oct. 6, our chapter’s Public Service Committee organized our participation in the United Way’s “Day of Caring.” This is an annual event by the United Way Suncoast chapter that recruits volunteer teams from companies and organizations across Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota and DeSoto counties to help local charities for half of a day. This year, approximately 2,100 volunteers from more than 65 local companies were mobilized to tackle some 150 projects at local social service agencies, schools and community organizations.

Our Day of Caring team included nine people who took off from work to contribute to the Hillsborough Education Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping school children have the basic tools for learning by connecting the community's surplus supplies and merchandise with teachers and school children in need, at no cost.  

Our project was to sort a large donation of markers and package them to help the Foundation’s Teaching Tools Store, which provides free school supplies to economically disadvantaged students attending Hillsborough County Public Schools designated as Title I, a federal designation that signifies that 60 percent or more of the students in the school qualify for the free and reduced-price lunch program. In Hillsborough County, 62 percent of the 266 public and charter schools (164) are deemed Title I, and the store currently serves 140 of them.

Members of our team (right) in action at the Hillsborough Education Foundation. 


Paula MacDonald and Jennifer Dunn help package markers. 

The store is staffed by a group of volunteers who operate teacher check-in and checkout processes, stock shelves and sort donations. Teachers shop monthly and collect an average $200 or more in free supplies to bring back to their classrooms. The store is open throughout the school year so a teacher can acquire nearly $2,000 in free school supplies throughout the school year.

Although we only had a few hours to contribute, our team had an amazingly rewarding experience. We were able to package thousands of markers for the store and build relationships with several leaders of the Foundation and learn more about their mission. Our experience became especially rewarding after finding out that the store provides an incredible $3 million-plus in free school supplies annually to over 68,000 students, and since 2002 it has provided over $22 million in free school supplies.

The Teaching Tools Store


The Public Service Committee is working on other ideas to keep our chapter involved in the community, so stay tuned, right here at the PRSA Tampa Bay website, for more ways you can help serve. And if you have any suggestions, let us know at [email protected] and [email protected]

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You May Be Using The Singular ‘They’ Incorrectly

By Joseph Priest, Corporate Writer, Syniverse

Which is the best way to write the following sentence? (Hint: It’s the one that sounds the most natural.):

  1. “Everyone has his own opinion.”
  2. “Everyone has her own opinion.”
  3. “Everyone has his or her own opinion.”
  4. “People have their own opinions.”
  5. “Everyone has their own opinion.”

If you selected door number five, congratulations, you’re a winner. The accepted use of “they” as a singular pronoun to refer to a subject like “anyone” or “everyone” in formal writing is finally reaching a tipping point among language authorities, and it’s a pronoun that public relations pros should feel more comfortable in using as correct and accepted English usage. It’s been adopted as the official style of several leading news outlets now and its perception as a casualism not fit for serious writing is crumbling fast.

So feel free to start using the forms of “they” below, and ditch the “his,” “her,” “his or her,” and changing-the-subject-to-a-plural-solution in these kinds of sentences:

  • “Each citizen is required to pay their income tax.”
  • “Everyone has their own reason for choosing what candidate to vote for.”
  • “Any public relations professional can set themselves up with their own firm.

If you want a little more detail on this language change, please read on. If not, please stop here, and have at it in using the singular “they” when needed in your writing. And if anyone has a question on this, they should email me at [email protected].

The singular “they” has been a common habit in American speech for centuries, but stylebooks and usage guides have continued to rail against it. For example, the sentence “Nobody remembers a doctor for their handwriting” would be completely natural in conversation. Once it gets transferred to the written word, though, many well-meaning language sticklers are tempted to make it “Nobody remembers a doctor for his handwriting”; or, worse, “Nobody remembers a doctor for his or her handwriting”; and, possibly even worse than that, “Nobody remembers doctors for their handwriting.”

To get an idea of why the uses above have presented problems, let’s take a look at the history of the pronouns used in the examples in the first paragraph of this post:

  1. “Everyone has his own opinion.” This option, with “his,” was the traditional singular pronoun option and was considered acceptable until a few decades ago, when a movement began to eradicate masculine terms from English and make the language more gender-neutral.
  2. "Everyone has her own opinion." This option, with “her,” arose when “his” began falling out of favor, but the use of “her” can come off as a kind of linguistic affirmative action and seem patronizing.
  3. "Everyone has his or her own opinion." This option, with “his or her,” has been a less common way to solve the need for a singular pronouns, and the problem with it is that it sounds awfully stilted and unnatural.
  4. "People have their own opinion." And this option, with the plural “they,” represents perhaps the most common way of getting around the singular pronoun conundrum -- by just making the subject plural – and it’s inferior because changing the subject from singular to plural often affects the tone and meaning of a sentence.

Now, though, the singular “they” has finally come into its own as a practical choice that is much better than the options above. Long controversial but with no other practical alternative, the singular “they” is what Washington Post copy editor and author Bill Walsh has described as “the only sensible solution to English’s lack of a gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun.”

In fact, many of the criticisms of the singular “they” are without merit, as Anne Curzan, professor of English and associate dean for humanities at the University of Michigan, has explained. For starters, she notes, as far as its history, the singular “they” has been in regular use in spoken English and informal prose for centuries. To say it’s ambiguous is nonsensical, too, because she says ambiguity is often the point of its use, and all pronouns have some potential ambiguity. Finally, to say “they” is too informal for formal writing is a circular argument she argues, because many editors have devoted much of their time to taking it out of formal, published writing.

The only real question concerning singular they, she concludes, is “whether we should and will let ‘they’ be used in its singular form in formal, edited prose without comment. That decision is within our control.”

This decision is being made now. The singular “they” was named Word of the Year for 2015 by over 200 language experts at the American Dialect Society’s annual meeting in January, was sanctified in the Washington Post style guide late last year, been used by such publications as the Baltimore Sun, led by one of the dean of American copy editors, John McIntyre, for years, and even mildly sanctioned by major dictionaries like The American Heritage Dictionary. What’s more, the singular “they” has long been common and accepted in British English.

Unfortunately, though, our go-to resource for public relations style and usage guidelines, the AP Stylebook, has still not embraced this thinking, but with the consensus about “they” building in other language quarters, I predict the AP Stylebook to bless this change soon.

Nevertheless, I urge you to begin “theying” away when you come across a need for it in your writing. It has official precedent now and has to be better than continuing to use a sexist “his,” a patronizing “her,” a stilted “his or her,” or a let’s-bypass-this-problem-by-making-the-subject-plural cop-out.

What do you think? If anyone has a thought on this, I hope they let me know.

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Meet Kyle Parks & Missy MacFarlane, APR

From media strategies and social media copyright law to crisis communications and career management tips, the 2016 PRSA Tampa Bay Professional Development Day Presented By Business Wire will provide you with the vital insights, resources and tools to advance as practitioners.   

Kyle Parks and Missy MacFarlane, APR, the principals of B2 Communications, will share tips for writing content that engages readers from the start and compels them to take action. The interactive presentation will demonstrate how to implement the strategies across various platforms, such as social media, blogs, websites, and e-newsletters.

Read below to find out more about Kyle and Missy and don't forget to register for the event on September 28!

Missy MacFarlane, co-founder and principal at B2 Communications

1. First job? 

I was a hostess at Bravo Cucina Italiana, a popular Italian restaurant in the Cincinnati suburbs.

2. What brand has a social media strategy or approach you just love? 

The Skimm. Their channels feature pieces of their daily email and shared on their social media channels with simple, but meaningful images or soundbites. Their core value is sharing national and international news in witty, interesting ways and their social media accounts show it.

3. Favorite social media channel to follow? 

Fast Company Twitter: @FastCompany

4. Proudest moment of your career? 

Getting my APR in 2011. It was validation and verification that what I’ve been doing in my career follows our industry’s best practices.

5. Any three dinner guests? 

1. Abe Lincoln - I’m fascinated with how he was able to lead our country through such a difficult time 2. John Legend - I love his music, and the social activism that he has started and supported as he’s become more successful. Plus, he’s a fellow Ohioan.  3. Michelle Obama. She has the whole package: stylish, funny, intelligent and an incredible role model. I bet she’s a great conversationalist. 

Kyle Parks, co-founder and principal at B2 Communications

1.Top professional pet peeve

When I see content being pushed out that doesn’t have something interesting or important to the target audience. You don’t want to waste readers' time with information that doesn't matter to them. Content that is neither interesting nor important will be ignored, and it hurts the sender's credibility with that audience going forward.

2. What brand has a social media strategy or approach you just love? 

Colliers International Real Estate Company. Its brand is built around the knowledge and the expert status of its brokers and the quality of its service, and that plugs into what we do in working with them.

3. Best writing tip you’ve ever received? 

One of my favorite editors, Rob Hooker at the then-St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times), would tell me to get to the point by saying, “Hit me over the head with it.” In other words, make it clear why someone should care about what you’re writing.

4. Proudest moment of your career? 

Celebrating our success and the quality of our work at B2’s fifth anniversary party last year. We were pleased to have many of our clients there to join in the celebration.

5. It’s Saturday, and you can do anything with anyone, living or dead. What do you do, and who’s going with you? 

I was a history major in college, I’ve always been fascinated by history, so like much of the world, I have taken an interest in Alexander Hamilton. I am truly enjoying reading "Alexander Hamilton" by Ron Chernow, the basis of the Broadway musical, and would enjoy spending a Saturday afternoon with him talking about the Revolutionary War, writing the Constitution, etc.

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Speaker Spotlight: Amy Calvin

From media strategies and social media copyright law to crisis communications and career management tips, the 2016 PRSA Tampa Bay Professional Development Day Presented By Business Wire will provide you with the vital insights, resources and tools to advance as practitioners.   

Amy Calvin, credentialed coach and principal of BrightWays Coaching and Communications, helps organizations and people “bring out their best” and strengthen results from the inside out through professional career coaching – typically of mid- to senior-level executives working in PR, communications, marketing, or advertising. 

Read below to find out more about Amy and don't forget to register for the event on September 28!

1. Describe your personal brand in three words.

My personal brand was the starting point for my company’s brand, BrightWays. Bright has several meanings, three of which are: 1) optimistic, 2) vivid, and 3) smart. Bonus word: Nice! :)

2. Favorite website or resource for building your own brand?

Hands down, a 360-degree assessment. Get feedback from people senior to you, at your level, and junior to you so you understand your strengths and how you’re perceived. This exercise is the starting point for creating a personal brand that’s authentic to you and resonates with others.

3. Proudest moment of your career?

Anytime as a manager or coach that I was able to help someone else advance his/her career.

4. Best motivational song, album or band?

Kelly Clarkson! Her songs dominate my workout playlist and pump me up for big meetings or events.

5. Any three dinner guests?

From a business perspective, I would want to dine with amazing female CEOs like Mary Barra of General Motors, Meg Whitman of Hewlett-Packard, and Melissa Mayer of Yahoo! (Can’t imagine what it’s been like to sit at her desk the last several months!). Here locally, it would be incredible to have dinner with Liz Smith of Bloomin’ Brands and Mindy Grossman of HSN. An executive coach’s dream date!


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Member Spotlight: Abby Broom

This Member Spotlight profiles Abby Broom, SEO marketing specialist at Wonderment Creative House (powered by Shield Watch IT & Web Services), a full-service marketing agency offering creative, digital marketing and technology services. She joined PRSA Tampa Bay earlier this year, is currently a volunteer coordinator for the chapter, and is a former treasurer and member of the PRSSA chapter of Auburn University.

1. First news publication you read in the morning?
I enjoy a lot of the PR publications, but I will often read PR Daily.

2. First public relations job?
I just began my career in May, and I started as a copywriter and PR assistant at Wonderment Creative House.

3. Most important career mentor, and why?
I have three: Jarrett Moore, creative director at Inner Spark Creative, who taught me to believe in myself and provided me with knowledge and skills that I needed to begin my career; Terri Knight, director of public relations at Auburn University, who was my motivator in college and one of the absolute best mentors; and my current CEO, Pratik Roychoudhury, who is giving me the chance to advance in my career and learn what I am capable of.

4. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?
But, of course, the Oxford comma. I am neither for or against it, but my issue is that few people remain consistent with their decision to use it or not.

5. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?
Being a part of organizations such as PRSA, Ad2 and FPRA is really rewarding to me. It gives me the opportunity to grow my network and learn from the best.

6. Advice to new public relations professionals?
Considering I am a new professional myself, I have tons of advice. I would have to say, though, my main piece of advice is to start somewhere, wherever you can, work hard, be persistent, and don’t ever give up before you get where you want to be!

7. Job you would pursue if you weren’t in public relations?
A world traveler – is that a job? Travel provides great perspective, and that is something that I am passionate about.

8. Favorite movie?
One that stands out as a favorite is Overboard.

9. Favorite vacation?
Although I went when I was younger, a trip to Costa Rica was a beautiful and cultural experience like no other. I also had the opportunity to study abroad in London and loved every minute of it.

10. Any three dinner guests?
I have way too many! Paul McCartney – Sir Paul is a must! – along with Steve Jobs and Bob Marley


  Me (right) with friends on vacation in Colorado.

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Member Spotlight: Mary Margaret Hull, APR

This Member Spotlight profiles Mary Margaret Hull, APR, who is the lead communications coordinator for the Southwest Florida Water Management District. She joined PRSA Tampa Bay in 2012, served last year as the inaugural PRestige Awards chair, and this year was appointed a board member and also serves as the PRestige Awards co-chair and a member of the Membership Committee.

1. First news publication you read in the morning?
I’m a fan of News Channel 8, which I watch every morning while making a smoothie for breakfast. When I arrive to work, I read the daily DEPNews Clips (from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection).

2. First public relations job?
My first job out of college was water conservation specialist for the City of Tampa. I developed communications tools and programs to increase awareness and promote actions that conserve water for youth and adult groups.

3. Most important career mentor?
I’ve worked for some wonderful bosses over the years, and each one has provided meaningful mentoring to me along the way, including Wendy Nero; India Williams; Honey Rand, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA; Beth Putnam; Michael Molligan; and Robyn Felix.

4. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?
It annoys me a little when I see (1) misuse of apostrophes, like “1980’s,” “60’s” or “PDF’s”; (2) two spaces after a period (use find and replace to correct); and (3) “web site” written as two words (when the official spelling for it, according to AP style, has been one word since 2010).

5. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?
Earning my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), on Aug. 29, 2014, was the most rewarding PR accomplishment in my life.

6. Advice to new public relations professionals?
Join and actively volunteer with your local PRSA chapter! It’s a great way to gain skills for your résumé that you aren’t using in your regular job.

7. Job you would pursue if you weren’t in public relations?
If not in PR, I’d like to be an organic farmer.

8. Favorite movie?
Two of my all-time favorites include Forrest Gump and the animated film The Incredibles.

9. Favorite vacation?
My husband and I went to Alaska for two weeks before we started our family. Some highlights were taking guided salmon and halibut fishing trips; riding in a helicopter to a glacier and walking around on it; hiking in Denali National Park; whale watching in the Gulf of Alaska; visiting the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward; and meeting some wonderful Alaska residents.

10. Any three dinner guests?
I would love to invite Rachel Carson, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas and John Muir over for dinner. My husband is an excellent cook.


In my free time, I enjoy running with friends. I’ve run 14 races during the past four years, including seven half-marathons, and I’m looking forward to my first Ragnar trails race in December at Alafia River State Park.

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