Dive into professional development this summer

by Carter Flynn, Co-VP of Membership

Summer is a great time to join PRSA! Take advantage of this special offer to help you advance your professional future.

Join PRSA now as a Regular member with promo code BACKPACK19, and you’ll also receive two valuable bonuses at no additional charge:

  • PRSA Chapter membership (up to a $100 value), and
  • a handy backpack to help you stay mobile and organized! This popular laptop backpack from Lenovo features a durable, water-repellent polyester fabric and streamlined design with a padded interior to protect your laptop, notebook and other important items.

Raise your local profile and expand your network of PR and communication colleagues with your membership in one of PRSA’s more than 110 Chapters!

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

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

Frank R. Stansberry Scholarship Recipient: Candice Joseph

We are pleased to announce that this year, three students at UCF will be awarded the Frank R. Stansberry Scholarship. Our second student recipient is Candice Joseph, a Fort Lauderdale resident who was born and raised in a city called Plantation. Candice is expected to graduate in May 2021. 

Why did you choose to major in communications?

I chose to major in communications because I have always been a people person, and when I joined DECA in high school and started writing advertising campaigns and competing, I knew the field of Advertising-Public Relations was a perfect fit for me.

Have you completed any internships? If so, where and what was the most valuable thing you learned?

I have not completed any internships yet, but I have accepted my first one, which I will start this upcoming fall with UCF Athletics!

What would you like to do professionally?

I would love to open up my own advertising agency/ law firm and help others with their brand while providing legal protection.

Click here to read more about our first student recipient Danna Saenz.

Engaging the unengaged: Focusing on minority audiences in the tourism industry

By Veronica Figueroa Fernandez, PRSA Diversity & Inclusion Committee 

Our need for exploring and adventure connects us as people, allowing us to create lasting memories. And while traveling can be stressful at times, for persons with disabilities the challenges can often feel overwhelming.

According to The World Bank, one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability. One-fifth of the estimated global total, or between 110 million and 190 million people, experience significant disabilities.

With an awareness that understanding the needs of disabled persons can result in increased visitation, Experience Kissimmee (Osceola County’s tourism authority) is leading the charge locally in promoting diversity and inclusion in their marketing and public relations efforts.

Recently, Experience Kissimmee partnered with leading accessible travel blogger Cory Lee (pictured above) from CurbFreeWithCoryLee.com, where he visited the destination and shared wheelchair accessible activities in Kissimmee–from soaring over alligators at Gatorland to exploring the town of Celebration.

Cori Powers, director of communications at Experience Kissimmee, shared with us why diversity and inclusion are crucial to the travel and hospitality industry.

Why is it important for Experience Kissimmee to promote accessible tourism?

As a destination, we promise a vacation where sunny hellos, out-of-this-world adventures, and wow-worthy experiences are always included. That promise pertains to everyone. Part of Kissimmee’s appeal is its accessibility. We put the focus on fun, so that accommodations, transportation, and access is as worry-free as possible. It’s important our messaging promotes that in Kissimmee, the entire family, no matter age, race, style, or culture, stay and play together.

Why should diversity and inclusion matter to the travel and hospitality industry?

The travel and hospitality industry needs to be representative of the population it serves. As buying power shifts, the industry needs to work to acknowledge and pivot messaging and communications efforts to fit individual audiences and needs.

How else is Experience Kissimmee featuring diversity and inclusion in their public relations efforts?

Whether we are talking to consumers, groups, event planners, event rights holders, or travel agents, our messaging is that Kissimmee is accessible. We work to educate different audiences that all are welcome here. We achieve this by promoting our partners and events that share our focus on inclusion and diversity, making it easy for us to tell that story.

As you already know, we hosted blogger and disabled traveler Cory Lee in Kissimmee. At Gatorland, he was able to zipline 350 feet through the air right over the Alligator Breeding Marsh on the Gator Gauntlet. We’ve also worked with LGBTQ influencers such as Perez Hilton, distributed a press release touting Kissimmee’s autism-friendly attractions and accommodations, and constantly showcase our hotels and vacation homes’ ability to accommodate any special needs.

We also have established local events that help promote our destination as inclusive and diverse. Experience Kissimmee sponsors PrideFest Kissimmee in June, a celebration grounded in welcoming and acknowledging the impactful contributions of our local LGBTQ community. Our area celebrates diversity through many multicultural events, such as the Caribbean Fusion Festival and the Cuban Sandwich Festival.

As public relations professionals, we need to engage a focus on minority audiences to make them our regular audience because ultimately, diversity and inclusion is something that all customers, including discerning travelers, notice and value.

PRSA Orlando: Professional Development Summit

by Monique Trevett, UCF student 

PRSA Orlando held its annual Professional Development Summit on November 30, 2018 at Rosen Shingle Creek. The event consisted of a keynote speaker and three breakout sessions that were lined up with enthusiastic panelists. 

The day started with a keynote address by Moira Vetter, who spoke about the importance of entrepreneurial storytelling. Her presentation highlighted the characteristics that set apart entrepreneurs from regular people and how many entrepreneurs have helped to shape the society we live in today. Many entrepreneurs aren’t communications savvy, so they need individuals in public relations to help tell and sell their story. A unique trait that sets entrepreneurs apart from others is their never-ending fighting spirit when facing failure head on. One of the best takeaways of the presentation was how non-entrepreneurs can use their PR skills to help an entrepreneur grow. Moira’s storytelling skills were masterful, as she was able to clearly paint the picture of her presentation in her words. Her presentation truly captured the audiences’ attention. 

After the keynote address, many of the attendees were able to break out into three different sessions. One of the sessions I found extremely helpful was the “Always in a Hurry” session. This session broke down the importance of proofing and editing in PR as well as in other areas of the workforce. One key takeaway was to always fact check pieces. Many writers misspell names, which are key components to stories. A person’s name is the sweetest sound they will ever hear, and messing that up will ruin a story no matter how insightful it may be. One of the things I used to do when writing was always inserting quotes. The panel taught me to keep facts out of quotes and that they should include something profound or personal about the person it’s attributed to. Another important point that was brought up is that people don’t speak the way things are written. In order to keep things personal, one has to get to know the person they’re writing about. 

The other breakout session I attended and found interesting was “Owning Your Content.”  The session was quite insightful and focused on the importance of style and persona when it comes to PR. One of the ice breakers during the session included a mock brand, where someone had to make up a brand and try to create its messaging. A great example used in the presentation was Wendy’s on Twitter. Wendy’s was highly successful in its sassy snaps back towards other fast food chains, and it got the people going. Many individuals related to Wendy’s because they were able to speak to the minds of what they were actually thinking.  Not only was it enlightening, it was also one of the best moves for Wendy’s. It took the company out of Wendy’s and made it a person. One thing about the session I learned is you have to be willing to take risks. Wendy’s had a 50/50 shot regarding whether or not the tactic would work, but the company was willing to place all its eggs in one basket and was willing to try new things.

As a junior in college, I found the presentation to be very inspiring. I may not be majoring in public relations, but as a mass communications student, it was very helpful. Not only do I feel more educated on the matter, I feel more confident I will be able to utilize what I learned from the experience in any job field. 

 

Did you know? Maintain Your Accreditation By Writing a PRSA Orlando Blog Post

Every three years, accredited professionals must maintain their credential and commitment to the sound and ethical practice of public relations. One of the ways you can reach your maintenance goals is by publishing on the topic of public relations, including a blog post on our PRSA Orlando website.

APRs will receive 2 points for each well-thought article, op-ed, book review, blog post, podcast, or video published in a public relations journal, magazine, newspaper, newsletter, in print or electronic format.

Learn more here on how to maintain your accreditation. http://www.praccreditation.org/maintain/

We Should Bungee Jump out of a Helicopter like Will Smith

by Wendy J. Roundtree

As if jumping off a cliff attached to a large elastic rope wasn’t risky enough, Will Smith decided to celebrate his 50th birthday by bungee jumping out of a helicopter. Yes, you read that right.

His jump was an answer to a challenge made by founders of the YouTube channel Yes Theory, who believe life can be authentic and fulfilling if you seek discomfort. Let me be the first to say that even though I was nowhere near the Grand Canyon when Smith jumped, I was 100 percent uncomfortable.

By now, you’ve probably guessed that the title of this blog is clearly a hyperbole. I will not, nor do I recommend that you heli-bungee jump (unless your heart desires). But in all seriousness, I do believe there’s something that public relations professionals can learn from Smith’s daring birthday celebration.

First: step outside of your comfort zone.

As PR practitioners, while we maintain many principles that serve as the foundation for our industry (i.e., advocacy, honesty, ethics, etc.), we can’t deny the role technology plays in how our audiences disseminate and receive information.

Take for instance, Will Smith and his jump. He not only accepted the challenge of YouTubers, he chose the non-traditional route, which racked up more than 16 millions views by streaming it live on said platform.

What does this have to do with PR?

Many of us are comfortable with traditional media. We may have even mastered the art of working with bloggers and influencers. But with Will Smith bringing vlogging to Hollywood, we continue to see more people taking hold of their content and sharing it on their own terms. It’s not always easy to adapt to changes in technology, particularly for larger organizations, but since when has innovation been related to the status quo?

The next lesson I believe we can all learn is to lead with authenticity.

Yes Theory’s mission and Will Smith’s recent entry into the vlogging sphere was a match made in heaven. And the eventual hour or so long production of “Will Smith: The Jump” was produced like any other of Smith’s video … with higher stakes involved, of course. We watched his excitement, his fear and finally his elation. In his own words, the experience was like going “from pure terror to absolute bliss.”

Our audiences can tell when we’re trying to do something that doesn’t fit our organization’s personality. Everyone can’t be as straightforward as Gary Vee, or as socially conscious as Google, or as witty as Wendy’s (the restaurant, not me).

At the end of the day, it’s up to us as communicators to help our organizations/clients navigate the ever-changing technological landscape ― while also helping them maintain a true representation of their corporate identity.

Does that mean you need to bungee jump out of a helicopter and stream it live? No.

But it is worth watching if you haven’t seen it yet.