Mid-Year Brings Virtual Membership Mixer, PD Sessions

It’s hard to believe it’s July already. On one hand, where has the time gone? On the other, many of you are probably already over 2020, right?

It has definitely been an interesting year for all of us, but hopefully, it has challenged you to think and act in new ways, learn additional skills and pause a bit to reflect on what is important in life.

While we may not meet in person any time soon, that hasn’t stopped your board from continuing to provide members with professional development, idea swaps, mentoring and networking opportunities. It has not stopped us from addressing diversity & inclusion challenges, having difficult conversations and taking action. It has not stopped our community from valuing PR professionals and beginning to hire again — as our Job Bank has seen an uptick in recent weeks.

Be sure to register for our upcoming events, including a virtual Member Mixer, monthly program and PD webinar: 

  • Thurs., July 9, 5:30 p.m., Member Mixer. Grab your favorite beverage, hat, sunglasses and Hawaiian shirt and join us for a free virtual hangout — tacky tourist style;
  • Thurs., July 16, 9 a.m., monthly program, “Communicating in Real-Time to Business Needs During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” featuring Laureen Martinez, APR, Orlando Economic Partnership, discussing media relations efforts and other marketing tools the Partnership has used since the onset of COVID-19, such as webinars, podcasts and videos; and
  • Aug. 4, 11:30 a.m., webinar, for APRs interested in learning more about applying for the College of Fellows, presented by our one-and-only Geri Evans, APR, Fellow PRSA. Registration information and more details to come.

Stay tuned to the website and social channels for more details on our Fall programs.

As always, we welcome your feedback and ideas. Looking forward to “seeing you” soon. Stay healthy and safe!

Rich Donley, APR
2020 President, PRSA Orlando Regional Chapter

 

 

President’s Letter: June 2020

Pandemic, Protests and Public Relations

As a global pandemic continues to impact us and we begin to show some 

signs of recovery, we have yet to recover from what divides us. We have seen peaceful protests and calls for change, as well as unrest, grip our nation in the past week. Some very close to home.

I do not pretend to know what it is like, but I do hope for peace. Forgiveness. Resolution. 

I do not pretend to know the answers, but I do know as public relations practitioners we know the power of communication — written, verbal and non-verbal. But not communication just to talk, but to listen, to understand. We need to be open. Raw. Honest. And we need to take action. 

We hear the pleas for justice and we cannot be silent. We need to communicate. Embrace our differences. Champion diversity, inclusion, equity, and equality regardless of thought, cultures, disciplines, ideals, gender, disabilities, sexual orientation and age.

PRSA Orlando proudly stands united with our Black members, colleagues and friends. Communicators — let’s do what we do and make a difference. Together. Change the world for now and for future generations. It begins with you. With me.

PRSA Chair T. Garland Stansell, APR, challenges us in his letter to members that although “communicators cannot single-handedly change the tide in our country, we can be a conduit to lead others to acknowledge the importance of using their voices in constructive ways — ways that help to move us through these troubling times and beyond to become better individually and as a society.” 

We are challenged to use our voices to stand for those who are hurt and frustrated. Now, more than ever, we also need to listen to those voices to help guide us in our action so that we may continue to further diversity, inclusion and civility in our organization.

We’re still in conversation as a board to figure out the best way to support, and we welcome feedback from our members. Please reach out if you would like to share ways in which our organization can serve. 

Rich Donley, APR
2020 President, PRSA Orlando Regional Chapter
rdonley@mccicorp.com
407-347-9675

President’s Letter: May 2020

Resilience. Reconnection. Reinvention.

Among all the negativity and “noise” in the world, I continue to be inspired by the selfless acts of kindness and coming together (virtually). There is resilience, reconnection and reinvention.

Despite the pain and loss, altered lives, fear and uncertainties of what’s to come, we are coming out of this not only changed, but also stronger. Life will not be normal as we once knew it. It will be a “different normal.” What did we discover (or re-discover)? What have we learned? What will we do differently going forward?

As communicators, the coronavirus has continued to put the spotlight on communications, albeit taking different forms than what we might have been accustomed to. But we are resilient and know how to reinvent ourselves, since we are used to the only constant: change. 

Some of you have noted how you now have earned a seat at the C-suite table. Your value has been there, but now it’s front and center and getting accolades. You should be proud of continuing to make a difference for your companies, organizations, clients and communities despite the uncertainty. I look forward to seeing your award-winning programs and learning from them.

Do you know a member who deserves kudos? Share them with us. Do you have good news to share? Share them on Good News Fridays on our Facebook page!

Thank you to those who completed our Communicating in Crisis survey. See this newsletter, our website and social media channels for other upcoming programs, professional development and networking opportunities. Be sure to register for our upcoming virtual programs:

  • May 12, 4 p.m.“Afternoon Coffee Break Idea Swap” is a chance for members and non-members to grab a cup of coffee and join us for a virtual conversation (FREE). We had so much fun and received positive feedback from our first one last month that we’re doing it again. We will be moderating the Zoom conversation, sharing pro-tips and exchanging ideas for solutions on hot topics.
  • May 21, 8:30 a.m. –  “Coming Together for Good in the Midst of Crisis,” with presenter Heather Morgan, APR, VP of Brand & Communications at Children’s Home Society of Florida. Learn practical tips to help your own organization or clients prepare for and respond to crises, motivate and engage staff at all levels, reach audiences with the right message during pivotal times, and appropriately position your organization. Free for members; $15 for non-members.

Thank you for all you do! Stay healthy. Stay safe! If you have questions or ideas, please contact me directly.

Rich Donley, APR

2020 President, PRSA Orlando Regional Chapter

Resources for COVID-19

As COVID-19 presents new challenges for communication professionals, we have compiled a collection of local and national resources to assist during this time. This collection includes online learning tools, informative research and communications tips. 

News and Updates: 

Free On-Demand Webinars: 

Virtual Events and Live Webinars: 

Articles and More: 

You can also find helpful resources on PRSA’s Crisis Communications Resources page.

President’s Letter: April 2020

We’re All in this Together

 

I hope this finds you healthy and safe. We all have been personally impacted by COVID-19. 

We have experienced lost lives, sickness, unemployment, pay cuts, business loss, increased workloads and stress. And the list, unfortunately, goes on. But we have also seen numerous heroes, including first responders, nurses, doctors, military personnel, grocery workers, truck drivers and more.

We also have witnessed businesses recreating themselves to assist, people leveraging their talents to sew masks, teachers reaching out virtually to their students, people doing random acts of kindness, and, of course, public relations/communicators providing crisis counsel and keeping their publics informed. And this list, fortunately, goes on.

Our thoughts go out to all of you as we continue to navigate these unprecedented times. It will change our lives forever. However, we’re #orlandostrong. We’re all in this together. 

Your PRSA Orlando Board has come together, virtually of course, to discuss creative ways to continue serving our members, including networking (virtual mixers/socials and idea swaps) and professional development (webinars, resource sharing, tips/advice, mentoring, etc.). Watch for our member survey to gauge your interests and needs. See this newsletter, our website and social media channels for updates.

I’m very proud of our board, members and sponsors that have stepped up during this uncertain time. Thank you for your continued support.

Stay healthy. Stay safe. Wash your hands. Practice social distancing. We will get through this!

If you have questions or ideas, please contact me directly.

Rich Donley, APR

2020 President, PRSA Orlando Regional Chapter

3 things we learned from Netflix’s Strong Black Lead on how to engage a captive audience

By: Veronica Figueroa Fernandez, PRSA Orlando Diversity & Inclusion Chair

“…We’re not a genre, because there’s no one way to be black. […] This is not a moment. This is a movement. We are Strong Black Leads. Today is A Great Day in Hollywood.”

Two years ago, Netflix debuted a commercial spot during the 2018 BET Awards celebrating black actors, directives and the creatives who work for the streaming giant. Directed by Lacey Duke, the video was titled “A Great Day in Hollywood,” taking inspiration from the 1958 photo “A Great Day In Harlem,” a black-and-white photograph of 58 jazz musicians in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City.

Narrated by “Stranger Things” star Caleb McLaughlin, the video features 47 artists including Danielle Brooks, Laverne Cox, Ava DuVernay, Lena Waithe, Spike Lee, and Alfre Woodard, among others. The video spot launched Netflix’s Strong Black Lead campaign, designed to foster an “ongoing, intentional focus to talk authentically with the black audience.”

Enriching conversations about race and identity are occupying a vital place in today’s culture. In honor of Black History Month, PRSA Orlando would like to celebrate the pioneers leading the charge in creating original content with a strong black identity that reflects its viewers by discussing the lessons we learned from Netflix’s Strong Black Lead campaign.

1. Give black creatives a seat at the table.

When Myles Worthington, manager of brand and editorial at Netflix, first arrived at Netflix in 2016, he noticed that the company’s black stories were not being significantly promoted. He then began connecting with African American media outlets and journalists through a monthly newsletter to build a network. He quickly began to see an increase in coverage of these Netflix features and the campaign grew from there.

If your team is looking to attract and engage today’s black consumers without including their voice in the room, your campaign won’t resonate culturally or experientially.

Based on research conducted by Cloverpop, inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87 percent of the time. And according to Nielsen, black consumer brand loyalty is contingent upon a brand’s perception as authentic and culturally relevant. And with African Americans spending $1.2 trillion annually, brands have a lot to lose when they are not authentic or inclusive in their decision-making.

2. Use social media to engage with your audience.

Netflix’s Strong Black Lead Twitter account is overseen by Maya Watson Banks, Netflix’s director of brand and editorial, and a team of black creatives who share a passion for Netflix’s stories and content. The Twitter account has amassed over 119,000 followers because of the authentic language in which they engage with their followers, from sharing excitement over a character or a new series to celebrating the importance of representation during award shows.

Research from Nielsen shows us that black consumers are speaking directly to brands in unprecedented ways and achieving headline-making results. It reads that throughout 2017, popular brands witnessed the power of “Black Twitter” and the brand impact of socially conscious black consumers.

For those unfamiliar with Black Twitter, it is a virtual community and movement that consists of a diverse group of black Twitter users connecting on a variety of issues related to the experience of being black.

3. Focus on your audience’s social footprint.

Strong Black Lead has expanded its presence beyond its Twitter feed to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and even a branded podcast series. The first season of Strong Black Lead launched in February 2019, focused on Strong Black Legends, honoring and showcasing Hollywood icons such as Ruth Carter, Loretta Devine, and Jason Weaver. The second season, Strong Black Laughs, premiered in November 2019 bringing together the black champions of comedy, including Mike Epps, Marlon Wayans, and Nicole Byer.

4. Connecting with your audience authentically takes time.

Should your brand have a presence on every platform? What is the most popular social network for your audience?

Building a successful marketing campaign that authentically connects with black audiences takes time, but it is possible. Focus your marketing dollars on where your audience is and do not sacrifice quality for uninspired content that does not resonate. Marketers must be willing to do the research, understand and embrace their audience, and most importantly, ensure there is enough representation and inclusion at the decision-making level.

International Crisis and Risk Communication Conference

The University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication and Media is hosting the annual International Crisis and Risk Communication Conference and announces a new Ph.D. program in Strategic Communication. 

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ICRCC features presentations, workshops and panel discussions on strategic crisis communication issues, case studies, best practices and emerging trends, presented by a unique combined lineup of top practitioner professionals and prominent academics from around the world. The event will be held in downtown Orlando on March 9-11, 2020. Learn more.

Strategic Communication Ph.D.

The Ph.D. in Strategic Communication offers advanced instruction in health communication, instructional emergency risk communication, and crisis communication; it prepares students with the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue a successful, advanced career in communication and related fields in both academic and applied settings.

The applied nature of research and theory in the program concentrations prepares students for career success in non-academic and professional settings. For example, the instructional communication courses provide students with strategies to communicate with the public on issues of health and crisis-related topics. Much of health, risk, and crisis communication involves instructing the public on issues such as safer-sex, disease management, preparedness for natural disasters, and other important issues related to the health and well-being of Florida residents, as well as national and international publics.  For more information, visit UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication and Media, or or contact Kelsey Loftus.

Kicking off the New Year with Great Programming

Rich Donley, APR

We’ve had a great start to the year and have even more networking, programming, professional development, awards and mixers planned for the year. Check out our newsletter, blog, website and social channels for all the details.

The momentum continued at our well-attended February 6 program, “Strategic Communications on a Shoestring Budget,” which was in partnership with FPRA Orlando Area Chapter and in celebration of AD X Orlando – The Intersection of Business and Creativity. It featured moderator Eric Gray, executive director, United Against Poverty Orlando; Erika Spencer, mission storyteller, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida; and Joe Culotta, director of communications, American Cancer Society. Attendees learned that regardless of budgets and staff size that success is still possible through storytelling, and they walked away with tips on how to cultivate and cost-effectively share those stories. 

Mark your calendars for our upcoming programs:

  • March 19, “A Conversation about Corporate Social Responsibility” with Wyndham Destinations
  • April 16, with the Orlando Economic Partnership about its “You Don’t Know the Half of It” campaign to attract more businesses to Orlando
  • May 21, “Reshaping the Future of Your Brand” with Children’s Home Society of Florida addressing lessons learned, including crisis communications around human trafficking and ethics in communicating about children’s welfare issues.

Are you looking to become a Chapter member or get more out of your membership? Want to get more involved? Have ideas for other programs or events? Looking for sponsorship opportunities? Let me know! 

Rich Donley, APR – rdonley (at) mccicorp (dot) com
2020 President, PRSA Orlando Regional Chapter


APR Spring Workshop 2020 Starting Soon

Considering earning your APR accreditation?

Earning the APR credential is a mark of distinction and demonstrates your commitment to the public relations profession and ethical practice. Practitioners who have earned their APR say the process helped them develop both their skills and professionalism, receive bonuses or salary increases and even has been the deciding factor between two similar job candidates. Military public affairs practitioners planning to earn their APR+M may also benefit from attending the workshop.

Spring APR Workshop Series:

Join the Orlando area chapters of PRSA and FPRA for this year’s Spring Workshop series presented as a mix of in-person and WebEx meetings. Meetings begin March 2, mock panel presentations will be April 13, and panel presentations the week of April 27.

Click here to view the full Spring Workshop schedule.

If you’re interested in joining the Spring Workshop, contact our PRSA APR coaches by March 2, to learn more about the process and decide if you want to take your professional development to the next level.

For more information, contact our PRSA APR coaches:
Laura Lord-Blackwell, APR: 407-257-4781
Mimi Flatley, APR: 407-885-1405,

What we learned at supper: PRSA members on women in leadership

PRSA Orlando Chapter members met and discussed the importance of women in leadership and more. Their discussion and findings were incorporated into the Diversity and Inclusion whitepaper:

What is the biggest lie working women have collectively accepted as true?

If you put your head down and work hard, you will be seen for your value,” said one Central Florida executive. “I wish that I had been more confident in the past and looked for opportunities to leverage the skills I brought to my role instead of burying myself in work and being passed over for promotions and opportunities.”

That you’ll advance based on your merits,” said another. “That isn’t always the case when you consider office politics and other factors. Merits are just one piece of it.”

Barely had we launched into PRSA Orlando’s second annual Dinner, Diversity & Dialogue before the anecdotes began after some initial thought-provoking questions by the chapter’s 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Chair Alyssa Badalamenti.

A few more strong answers gave us a glimpse into the work-life realities of PR women in leadership roles:

That you can achieve balance, have it all and be a leader at home and at work. Realistically, some days you are a leader at home and some at work and you have to be willing to sacrifice your time. Many spend so much time trying to find that balance that doesn’t exist.”

That I had to make myself fit into the working spaces that were created by men by dressing a certain way, speak how they spoke, and work a certain number of hours. For a long time, I thought that is what it took for anyone to take me seriously. These days I see more women standing up for themselves and negotiating their hours and pay.”

This year’s theme for the discussion focused on “Women in Leadership,” giving 12 PRSA Orlando members the opportunity to discuss the challenges, differences and commonalities they’ve experienced as women who have grown into leadership positions within the public relations profession. The Anderson-Devitt Foundation, a family foundation that seeks to help our community become a better place to live, covered the dinner expenses. The dinner touched upon the role of women in leadership, the importance of gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and the intrinsic value of mentorship. We are thankful for the women who attended and appreciate the refreshing candor of their conversation with us.
The goal was to connect and learn from others facing similar challenges or successes. An informal moderated dinner discussion with these 12 Central Florida women provided us with the following takeaways:

GENDER BIAS IMPACTS COMMUNICATION

What we ‘should be’: Gender stereotypes lead to men in the workplace being deemed as strong, competitive or independent, while women have certain characteristics attributed to them such as warm, nurturing, emotional and passive. These stereotypes are not who we are and should not define us.

Perceptions: It’s a challenge to avoid labels. When a woman speaks her mind and is assertive, she may be viewed or labeled as intense and aggressive, but when she doesn’t, she may be seen as quiet and meek. Rather than wasting energy managing perceptions and defining themselves in relation to gender stereotypes, female leaders should remain cognizant of implicit bias, while focusing on their purpose in their role and shared organizational goals.

Expectations: “There is an expectation that I will be nice and “fluffy” about any feedback I’m going to give,” one woman specifically remarked.

EMPOWERED WOMEN EMPOWER WOMEN
Mentorship: The encouragement of a colleague or another mentor in the profession can make a huge difference for someone struggling to grow. Counsel from someone who may have had similar experiences is invaluable for women to share with one another and others who may face comparable challenges. If you are a leader, be a leader, but don’t forget to be a mentor as well.

Cultivate relationships: Young professionals should not be afraid of cultivating meaningful relationships with colleagues who will help them reach the next step.

Self-advocacy: Through mentoring, young women should be encouraged to advocate for themselves. Whether it may be for more opportunity or for more pay, we should all be ready to stand for ourselves, no matter your gender.

Overcome imposter syndrome: During the dinner, we heard multiple stories of negative experiences that left our participants questioning their accomplishments and how others perceived their success. By discussing these events, it was clear that the resulting self-doubt was no easy hurdle to leap. Each person who shared their story realized they were not alone in this feeling, and bolstered by the realization, came to see more clearly their own worth. You deserve your success.

FEMALE PRACTITIONERS WANT MEN TO BE ALLIES IN THE WORKPLACE

Becoming allies: We all work better when we work together and several participants in our dinner noted the importance of supportive male colleagues and how such individuals have helped them on the road to leadership. Instead of engaging in call-out culture, it’s important for men in leadership roles to help build the next generation of allies, for women and all diverse individuals. Doing so cultivates a thriving mentoring culture in the workplace and in the community.

Listen: Perhaps one of the most important skills for a leader to possess is the ability to listen. Leaders that actively listen not only build the understanding necessary for seeing the big picture, but they also build trust. Historically, men have been encouraged to boldly share their ideas in the workplace. To build that important ally relationship, women and men need to listen to each other to understand each other’s voices and challenges, and further inspire trust.

Speak up: Merriam-Webster defines an ally as “a person or group that provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity, or struggle.” In other words, to be a true ally, you must speak up. It is important for leaders to confront sexism in the workplace, as well as speak up when they see a colleague being talked over, interrupted, having someone else take credit for their work, or not being compensated appropriately.

Advocate: The support of a peer can be just as important as that of leadership. Men, regardless of whether they are in a leadership position, can advocate on behalf of female and diverse colleagues, calling attention to and celebrating their accomplishments. These small, but important actions increase the chance of their colleagues’ work being recognized.

YOUR COMPANY’S DIVERSITY TRAINING MAY NOT BE WORKING

Onboarding talking points: Diversity and inclusion should be encouraged at all levels of an organization, from senior leaders to entry-level employees. When these values are at the core of a company’s culture, initiatives such as providing talking points during the onboarding process will empower leaders to call out injustice when they encounter it.

Beyond D&I training: Effective diversity and inclusion training should go beyond the basics and aim for organizational change. Training is more than a box to check and should be an ongoing and collaborative process. A comprehensive diversity and inclusion program will encourage changes that emphasize these values throughout the year.

Check-in with your employees: Employers, as well as the human resources team, should be scheduling regular check-ins with their employees in order to create an inclusive environment where employees feel a sense of belonging. During these one-on-one interactions, managers can ensure their team members feel included, as well as address any behaviors that need to be trained out.

Interview your company: Before accepting a job offer, find out if the company’s values and beliefs align with yours, and do not be afraid to leave a company that does not live up to what it says it represents. Your career is a reflection of you.

CONSENSUS

Unconscious bias has the potential to shape an organization’s culture affecting who gets hired and promoted. Female leaders are currently under-represented in the C-Suite and continue to be affected by unconscious bias from their male colleagues and by double-bind bias – the struggle between what is expected from a leader and from a woman.

To create an inclusive workplace culture and shift the gender balance, proper training is crucial, and companies need to redefine what a leader is. Empowering women, engaging allies in the workplace, and ensuring diversity and inclusion training is current and ongoing are surefire ways to guarantee your company’s bottom-line success.

We welcome suggestions from our PRSA Orlando members on how we can help communications professionals address diversity and inclusion in the profession and at large.

Please reach out to PRSA Orlando’s 2020 Diversity and Inclusion Chair, Veronica Figueroa, to continue the discussion.