Happy New Year and New Decade!

I am honored to serve as your 2020 PRSA Orlando Regional Chapter president and to be surrounded by an exemplary board of directors who are focused on continuing to deliver quality professional development and networking opportunities for our members and anyone in the public relations/communications fields.

There’s something for everyone to discover, participate in and build your personal and company brand — from attending programs, conferences, webinars and mixers to earning your APR and Fellow PRSA, from volunteering on a committee and giving back to becoming a sponsor (limited opportunities still available).

Our first program of the year, “Social Engineering and Cybersecurity: Cautionary Tales to Mitigate Risk,” featured guest speaker Christophe Réglat, one of the nation’s leading cybersecurity experts and an advisor to the FBI. He opened our eyes to the potential PR crisis and what we can do to help mitigate it. As one attendee put it, “It’s a lot easier to get hacked than I EVER thought, thanks to humans and not firewall breaches, etc! Pretty scary, if you ask me!” If you missed it, check out Eleven Cybersecurity Tips to Protect Your Organization courtesy of our January program sponsor, Bisbee and Company.

Our next event, “Strategic Communications on a Shoestring Budget,” is Feb. 6, learn more and register here. The program is presented by PRSA Orlando, the local chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) and in celebration of AD X Orlando – The Intersection of Business and Creativity. Communicators from nonprofits Second Harvest Food Bank and the American Cancer Society will offer insight into the traditional and digital media tactics that have elevated their campaigns at no or low cost.


Look for us to continue bringing relevant topics like these to the forefront and provide the experts to address them. If you have topics or speakers you are interested in hearing from, want to join a committee or have ideas for our chapter, please contact me rdonley@mccicorp.com.


Rich Donley, APR
2020 President, PRSA Orlando Regional Chapter

Demystifying the College of Fellows

Serving as the crisis communication leader during the largest art heist in the world, interviewing President Reagan (on two hours’ notice), conducting media training for professional football players– all of these are part of special stories of the extraordinary professionals who make up the PRSA College of Fellows.

PRSA’s International Conference in 2021 will be held in Orlando.  Imagine what it would be like for you to be inducted into the College of Fellows surrounded by your family and colleagues right here.  Let’s get started.

If you were a Fellow, what amazing story would you share? What footprint have you left on the profession or what footprint do you intend to leave? Because, fellow PRSA Orlando friends, you could be a member of the College of Fellows. What a milestone for you personally and professionally and what a celebration for our Chapter.

As immediate past chair of the College of Fellows and a former president of our Chapter, what an honor and joy it would be for me to welcome you into the College or at least to plant the seed for you to consider, to intentionally plan for, and to apply someday. Just what is this mystical organization?

Q. What is the College of Fellows?
A. The College of Fellows is a group of 350 experienced practitioners and educators who, through a rigorous application and selection process, have received PRSA’s highest professional designation. To be a Fellow is considered the pinnacle of one’s public relations career. It by no mean signifies the END of one’s career.

Q. How long has the College existed?
A. The College celebrated its 30th year last year. Regrettably, we just lost Harold Burson, our last remaining member of the inaugural class, which was made up of 25 Gold Anvil winners including Pat Jackson, Edward Bernays, Betsy Plank, Lawrence Foster, Chester Burger, and many other legends of PR. So many other legends have followed.

Q. What do Fellows do?
A. First, they work in every facet of the public relations and communications profession. Some are retired. Second, they mentor, teach, guest lecture, speak at conferences, serve on APR panel reviews, and serve as leaders and advisors at all levels of PRSA. They are also leaders in their communities.

Fellows Give Back in 2019

• 6 Fellows served on the national PRSA Board.
• 15 Fellows mentored PRSA professionals through Mentor Match.
• 16 Fellows led national PRSA Task Forces, Committees, Boards. Many others served on these committees.
• 27 Fellows served as Bateman Competition judges.
• 35 Fellows finished the 2018-2019 school year as mentors to AspireHigher PRSSA university students.
• 40 Fellows presented at ICON
• 45 Fellows are Champions for PRSSA

45 of the past 72 Chairs of National PRSA have been Fellows

Q. Why should you consider being a Fellow?
A. Being a Fellow is a validation of who you are and what you have accomplished as a professional. Becoming a Fellow can be a journey of a lifetime, a goal to strive for, and one that can be part of your life.
As Jim Lukaszewski, APR, Fellow PRSA wrote, being a Fellow is “understanding what matters, what is helpful, what is sensible and often what is powerfully simple and true….It’s their professional footprint that makes a Fellow, a Fellow.”

When I served on the national board 2011-2013, I was not yet a Fellow, but I was inspired by the experience, quality, and knowledge of those board members who were. I began asking questions about becoming a Fellow, looked over the application documents and watched the “How to Apply” video that was on the COF website. The entire process looked daunting, but the more I reflected on my career and talked to Fellows about the whole experience, the more I aspired to become a Fellow. I started preparing in 2013, applied in 2014, and was inducted in Washington, DC, in front of my family and friends. It was a moment of a lifetime.

I’d like to help you experience that moment when the time is right. To apply you need to have your APR and at least 240 months of public relations experience. But you can and you should start early to understand what you need to do to apply. Resources abound.

Please contact me with your interest and questions. It is never too early or too late to consider becoming a Fellow.

All my best,

Geri Evans, APR, Fellow PRSA
2019 Chair, College of Fellows
2003 President, PRSA Orlando
gerievans2222@gmail.com
407-687-8782
President, Evans PR Group

Diversity is a great force towards creativity

PRSA Orlando’s goal is to support communications professionals of all backgrounds. This year specifically, one of my goals was to look for opportunities to include everyone in our efforts and build new relationships. You can’t have a diverse membership if you don’t provide a diversity of opportunities.

We are all unique, come from a variety of industries, and are in various stages of our careers. One person cannot define diversity and inclusion.  That’s why this year, we expanded our team with the addition of two diversity and inclusion committee members working with the D&I Chair (me). Together, we shared experiences, brainstormed ideas and put words to action with a few key efforts.

We partnered with the Florida Diversity Council, where we found value in learning and hearing from Central Florida executives about what they’re doing to influence change and address diversity head-on.

We wrote ten blogs on various diversity topics like hip hop culture, engaging physically-disabled audiences, LGBTQ branding, and other focuses that influence and shape us daily.

We held a program on the role and impact of public relations in inclusion and diversity with EA Sports – a company that continues to evolve with its diverse audience.

We held our second annual Dinner, Diversity and Dialogue event fostering a culture of sharing experiences that influence our membership. We looked at the demographics of our association and held a dinner with 12 women in PR to discuss leadership. We learned the challenges they’ve experienced, the areas they wish they had more support in, and the advice they want to give young women in public relations. The findings will be shared in a thought paper that will be published on our blog early next year.

But perhaps what I’m most excited to share is that these types of purposeful, intentional efforts and direct outreach had a lasting impact. Our two D&I committee members came onboard after expressing interest following the first Dinner, Diversity, and Dialogue event. Three PRSA member attendees from the second dinner have officially taken on board roles for next year. This is the kind of change we’ve been looking for: getting members of all backgrounds more engaged with us by providing them opportunities that match their interests.

We found other ways to connect with our members too. We posted social media videos and graphics with quotes from our members on how to effectively communicate and incorporate diversity into their branding and messaging.

It’s hard to believe that the year is almost over when there’s so much more we want to do, but I hope you will continue to connect with us over the next year as D&I committee member Veronica Figueroa moves into the D&I Chair role.

Diversity and inclusion isn’t just a buzzword for us. It’s a commitment. It’s woven into who we are–within our practices, within our programs, and within our leadership.  We promise you we’re also taking your feedback to PRSA National to give them the best position to provide us the resources we need to address the diversity and inclusion challenges and opportunities within our profession.

One of the simplest, yet biggest values I believe PRSA brings is having each other as a resource and as a sounding board. As always, we appreciate any feedback, suggestions or ideas on how we can support you.

Have a beautiful holiday.

Best,

Alyssa Badalamenti

PRSA Diversity & Inclusion Chair

Alyssa.badalamenti@ffva.com

PRSA Orlando’s November Newsletter

Take a look at PRSA Orlando’s November Newsletter.

More Than A Campaign: Inclusion beyond the rainbow logo

By Veronica Figueroa Fernandez, PRSA Diversity & Inclusion Committee

Inclusive marketing has become a consumer expectation. And when companies, such as MAC Cosmetics, Levi Strauss & Co., and many others, have inclusive practices embedded into the fabric of their business, are proud to be a part of the progress toward equality, and are forces of change within the community, they will attract the right talent to deliver their brand message in an authentic way, fortify brand relevancy and drive sales.

“The best LGBTQ marketing or public relations campaign your brand can push is the authentic joy your employees feel while contributing their best selves at work,” said Yolanda Londono. Prior to retiring, London served as Tupperware’s former vice president of global responsibility.

Earlier this year, Londono spoke at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Inclusion Incorporated Florida Regional Forum, an event created for businesses and partners to realize the full benefits of fostering LGBTQ inclusion.

Numerous studies have shown the positive impact of LGBTQ-inclusive practices on a company’s bottom line and its ability to attract and retain talent. To put it simply, diverse teams deliver superior results. Diversity is essential in marketing, but without an inclusive workplace culture, your message will seem inauthentic.

These days, consumers are looking for inclusion beyond rainbow logos and seasonal campaigns. They’re holding companies responsible for their hiring practices because they are looking to support companies that support its LGBTQ employees.

But despite significant progress, nearly 50% of LGBTQ workers nationwide remain closeted on the job, according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s, A Workplace Divided: Understanding the Climate for LGBTQ Workers Nationwide. The report also shared 31% of LGBTQ employees said they have felt unhappy or depressed at work, with many not reporting incidents because they did not think anything would be done to address it.

What efforts can companies take in order to create an LGBTQ-inclusive environment in the workplace?

Integrate diversity training programs depicting realistic scenarios, including those issues reflecting the LGBTQ community, to directly impact office behavior. These programs can be integrated into already existing diversity and inclusion programs and help build inclusivity from the core.

Create and enforce inclusive policies, and establish procedures for dealing with employees who violate your policies.

Ensure your employee benefits, such as health insurance or life insurance, does not exclude your LGBTQ employees.

Develop gender-transition resources and guidelines for your company’s transgender and gender non-conforming employees.

Become involved in the community by supporting or sponsoring local events, such as Pride parades and festivals, or participating in Spirit Day, an annual awareness day created as a sign of support for LGBTQ youth and to speak out against bullying.

The U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE FOUNDATION is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness. We educate the public on the conditions necessary for businesses and communities to thrive, how business positively impacts communities, and emerging issues and creative solutions that will shape the future.

PRSA Orlando’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee attended the program to be able to share key takeaways with chapter members, and learn how to incorporate Londono’s advice within the public relations industry.

Why should diversity & inclusion matter to the public relations industry?

In honor of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Diversity Month, PRSA Orlando‘s D&I Committee asked its members about the importance of diversity to the industry. Check out what members had to say! #PRDiversity

PRSA Orlando’s October Newsletter

Take a look at PRSA Orlando’s October Newsletter.

How hip-hop culture can enhance your career as a communications professional

By Tyrone Law, PRSA Orlando D&I Committee Member

According to the 2019 Nielsen Music Mid-Year Report, the R&B and hip-hop genre is America’s preferred musical style, accounting for 26.5 percent of the total volume of all music consumption in the country. In turn, hip-hop culture influences many of the trends and key moments that engulfs society today. Having a working understanding of popular culture, which currently is heavily driven by hip-hop culture, can help communications professionals create more comprehensive and trendy campaign messaging, cultivate strategic partnerships and expand upon or introduce new target audiences.

Analyzing trends and predicting their consequences 

Throughout history, music has represented and influenced dominant societal movements that transcend race, gender, ethnicity, social or economic status, and sexual orientation. Hip-hop is no different. For example, “Same Love” by Macklemore and Mary Lambert, an American hip-hop song, tackled issues of LGBTQ rights and helped bring awareness to Washington Referendum 74, which eventually legalized same-sex marriage in Washington State. Other R&B and hip-hop influencers, including Childish Gambino, Beyoncé, 50 Cent and many more also have created songs and other content that sway American social norms, trends, language, and politics.  As a result of this growing trend, many brands are studying, embracing and implementing elements of hip-hop into marketing and communications.  A recent example comes from DoSomething.org, which recently teamed up with rapper Silento on its new anti-vaping campaign.

Strategic hip-hop partnerships and activations

A strategic partnership in the hip-hop space can build campaigns that speak appropriately to cultural nuances and resonate with audiences time and time again. This concept has already proven to be successful by several brand activations over the last five years. Some of the most memorable campaigns containing elements of hip-hop are Sprite and Drake, Mercedes Benz and A$AP Rocky, and General Mills and Travis Scott Reese’s Puffs cereal box collaboration. These examples and numerous more have resulted in millions of media impressions and hundreds of stories. The Pew Research Center projected that by the end of 2019, millennials will surpass baby boomers to become the largest living generation in the United States. It just so happens that this same demographic group (millennials) is also the top consumer of hip-hop music.

Embrace the hip-hop culture

Hip-hop culture is everywhere. Broadway has even embraced the genre.  Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” is said to be one of the most successful Broadway shows of all time, holding the record for the most Tony Awards nominations. Communications professionals should immerse themselves in a diverse range of cultures. If you haven’t already, give hip-hop a try; watch hip-hop-themed movies; listen to a new hip-hop artist; hire someone who is more attuned with hip-hop culture to help inspire content and messaging that can bring your results to the next level.

PR campaigns should speak to what is manifested through popular clothing, art, attitude, style, music, video and language. Although culture is a revolving door of rapid changes, I’d bet hip-hop isn’t going to lose steam any time soon. Think critically on how to authentically implement this trend in your communications, and it just may lead you to that award-winning campaign or that promotion you’ve always wanted.

Editor’s note:  October is PRSA’s Diversity & Inclusion month. This post supports the organization’s effort of recognizing the importance of continuing to create awareness of this essential topic, and to recommit ourselves to actively promoting change for the betterment of the industry. PRSA is devoted to building consciousness by increasing visibility of D&I standards, resources and best practices for racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation and gender differences, as well as diverse skill sets, mindsets and cultures at all levels of the organization.

Fall is in the air. And so is PRSA’s best membership deal of the year!

Now through October 31, 2019 you have three big benefits to joining PRSA. In addition to our national PRSA membership (with no initiation fee, a $65 value), you will also receive a free section membership (a $60 value) and a free chapter membership (up to $100)!

Use the code FALL19 when applying for membership to receive:

  • PRSA National Membership: Access to more than 21,000 public relations and communications professionals 24/7 via the members-only online community MyPRSA. Plus, you have access to dozens of other member benefits!
  • PRSA Chapter Membership: PRSA has more than 100 local groups across the United States, known as Chapters. These Chapters are run by local PRSA members who host networking and educational events to connect you to industry professionals and ensure you are staying up-to-date on the latest industry trends and skills. Check out the Orlando chapter’s upcoming events!
  • PRSA Section Membership: PRSA has 14 professional interest groups, known as Sections. Each Section focuses on a specific industry that public relations and communication professionals serve, and a few of the Sections are geared towards career level and business owners. Members of these Sections are able to connect with industry peers who have similar needs and share the same challenges. These groups share important and relevant information about their area of interest through a variety of channels throughout the year. Click here to view all 14 Sections.

Questions? Please feel free to reach out to Co-VP of Membership, Carter Flynn – cflynn@bdo.com

RESTRICTIONS: N/A for Associate member types ($200 or less annual dues) and current/renewing members. Refer to http://www.prsa.org/joinus/howtojoin for details.

PRSA Orlando’s September Newsletter

Take a look at PRSA Orlando’s September Newsletter.