• Name: Veronica Figueroa
  • Current position: Communications Manager at the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association
  • Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Alma mater/degree: University of Central Florida; Interdisciplinary Studies
  • First PR Job: Communications Coordinator at Feeding Children Everywhere (now known as U.S. Hunger)

 

What was your first PR job like? 

The first job that introduced me to the world of public relations was Feeding Children Everywhere (now known as U.S. Hunger), where I served as communications coordinator from 2013 to 2014. At the time, I had been focused on securing journalism internships but ended up applying to the nonprofit’s communications internship program after reconnecting with a friend who worked there. 

I was offered the role of communications coordinator a few months into my internship, where I had the opportunity to travel to Hunger Projects, write blogs for the website, create social media content, act as a spokesperson for the organization and write press releases – which I had never written before and had no idea how to structure!

How long have you been a member of PRSA and what made you join? What aspect(s) do you enjoy most? 

I have been a member of PRSA Orlando since 2017. I joined at the recommendation of then vice president of communications at Experience Kissimmee, Larry White. Because I was still relatively new to public relations, he thought it would be beneficial for me to join the association to network with other like-minded colleagues in the industry. Little did I know that PRSA would become such an important aspect of my career and professional development. 

Since 2017, I have attended countless in-person and online events, made many lifelong friendships, and even participated on a panel at ICON 2022 sharing PRSA Orlando’s journey to winning PRSA’s 2021 Chapter D&I Award. This year marks my fourth year on the PRSA Orlando board, and I look forward to once again serving our chapter.

What does your typical workday look like? 

My days at the office are very run-of-the-mill, where I work on member communications, website updates, blogs and social media posts, and more. All important work, but not as exciting as my days on the road. Those are an entirely different ball game!

 Throughout the year, I travel across the state (and even across the country to California!) to get to know the association’s members. In December 2022, for example, I traveled to Hardee, Hillsborough and Polk counties to learn about production practices for a variety of crops, including bamboo, blueberries, citrus and strawberries, as well as the challenges facing Florida growers and opportunities surrounding innovation.

With the tour taking place at the beginning of the Florida strawberry season, I saw the harvesting and transport of berries as well as the packaging for retail. And yes, I ate fresh Florida strawberries to my heart’s content! You know what they say, “when in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World, do as the strawberry growers do…”

 My days begin at 6 a.m. I’ll get ready for the day, ensure my laptop, cellphone and portable charger are charged, and head down for breakfast at the hotel lobby. There (and throughout the day), I’ll catch up on emails and work on any member communications that need to go out. I’ll hop on a bus with my ag industry colleagues and we’ll visit up to six agricultural operations per day – that means touring their facilities, packinghouses, coolers and fields.

As the day goes on, I’m capturing photos and horizontal and vertical video at every stop that will be used on our social media pages or as b-roll and taking notes of the conversations had with the growers. In the evening, I choose my favorite pictures and videos from the day, begin posting on Twitter and create curated Instagram Stories with the information gleaned from the stops. This goes on for three to four days. Following the trip, I’ll post a recap on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

The days are long but rewarding, and I am glad to have a hand in sharing the hard work Florida growers put in to supply us with fresh fruits and vegetables. 

What’s something new you want to learn or master in 2023? 

Professionally, I would love to gain more experience in crisis communications. Of course, that would require a crisis and I live my life as drama-free as possible, so it is a real catch-22. Personally, I would like to be more intentional in scheduling fun things to do with my family. It is often that we become so consumed in our day-to-day that by the time the weekend rolls around, we’re too exhausted from the week to come up with plans.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Orlando? 

From shopping at the Winter Garden Farmers Market to exploring Central Florida’s ever-growing culinary scene, it is hard to narrow down my favorite things to do. These days, you’ll find me looking for more toddler-friendly activities as I have a one-year-old, and as I type this, I’m buying tickets for Wild Florida’s drive-thru safari experience and can’t wait to feed a giraffe while I’m there! 

What’s your most-used emoji? 

I know this is going to make me sound ancient, but the laughing emoji with tears (😂). I’m sorry to any Gen Zers reading this right now, but this is my truth. I laugh a lot and find many things in life amusing, and that emoji perfectly encapsulates how I feel. I already gave in to wearing mom jeans after Gen Z decided skinny jeans were out (they’re not), but you will have to take my laughing emoji from my cold dead hands.