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Frank R. Stansberry Scholarship Recipient: Danna Saenz

We are pleased to announce that this year, three students at UCF will be awarded the Frank R. Stansberry Scholarship.

Over the next several months, we will introduce you to each student. First up, is Danna Saenz, a West Palm Beach native whose expected graduation date is May 2020.

Danna Saenz with immediate past PRSA president Scott McCallum.

Why did you choose to major in communications?
As a crossroads of the social sciences, communications gave me the opportunity to mix creative liberty with critical thought about human interaction and expression.

Have you completed any internships? If so, where and what was the most valuable thing you learned?
My first internship was with Treasure Box Kids, Inc. where I wrote blog posts about the ethical fashion market. I just finished my second with the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, Inc. where I worked to start their first PR efforts. Both places presented the challenge of learning industry-specific language and practices, teaching me the value of flexibility, independence, and the importance of research in communication.

What would you like to do professionally?
Growing up with a privilege my parents lacked instilled in me a passion to give back. That drives me to seek PR and communications work for nonprofits and the broader public interest realm.

April is APR Month

April is APR Month — but APR Month has nothing to do with Annual Percentage Rates. A second, less recognized, definition for APR is Accreditation in Public Relations.

In the world of communication professionals, Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) is a credential earned by public relations practitioners who commit to the profession through ethical practices and sound judgment, strategic perspectives, knowledge of best practices and the use of the research planning-implementation-evaluation (RPIE) process.

Unlike other professions (e.g., physicians and attorneys), the field of public relations does not require licensure or certification to practice the craft. But it does require expertise, knowledge and training to be a successful and strategic public relations professional and counselor. The decision to pursue the APR is both personal and professional.

So why should a company or organization care if its public relations employees have earned their APR?

Accreditation is a mark of distinction. The APR is earned through a rigorous process. Practitioners are required to present their knowledge to Accredited peers for review. This is followed by a comprehensive examination that tests candidates’ knowledge of the field. Perhaps most importantly, the credential signifies an understanding and commitment to a Code of Ethics, and ability to think and plan at the strategic level.

In today’s business climate, it is critical that an organization’s public relations function adheres to ethics. The complexities associated with technology, societal change and instantaneous news make ethics more important than ever as the profession matures.

As evidenced in a recent study completed by faculty at Baylor University*, Accredited public relations practitioners possess more confidence in providing ethical counsel to senior leadership than their non-Accredited peers. In today’s business climate, a solid understanding of ethics is critical to an organization’s success.

The public relations field has moved far beyond the stereotype of spin doctors and press agents of the 20th century. Today’s PR practitioners play a vital role in reputation management, crisis communications and issues management. A seasoned public relations pro operates at the strategic level, focusing on target audiences and measurable results, not just flashy media coverage and publicity tactics.

But how do companies and organizations know they are hiring the right person? The APR credential signifies that a professional possesses the competence necessary to operate at a strategic and ethical level in an increasingly complex communications world. Hiring managers and clients who choose Accredited public relations professionals know that they have chosen competent individuals committed to providing strategic and insightful advice and counsel.

2019 marks the 55th anniversary of Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) — and our Orlando chapter has a lot to celebrate. Join us at the April program for a special recognition of our 60+ APRs in Central Florida.

Questions about APR? Mimi Flatley, APR — mflatley@tcco.com and Laura Lord-Blackwell, APR — laura.lord@ocfl.net are here to help.

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. 

 

Key Takeaways from the 2018 PRSA International Conference

by Lauren Leetun, APR (pictured third from the left)

Many people associate Austin with “keeping it weird,” and while I did happen to come across one or two locals who were a little different, the vibe at the PRSA 2018 International Conference was anything but weird. In fact, if I had to sum it up in one word, it would be inspiring. I must thank the Orlando chapter for providing me with a scholarship to attend. As an independent practitioner, expenses surrounding a conference of this scope and magnitude can sometimes feel a bit out of reach. But thanks to the scholarship, I was able to see and hear from some of the most interesting public relations and marketing minds around the globe. Leaving ICON, I felt energized and ready to take on new challenges for my current and future clients.

One of the recurring themes among keynote speakers at the conference was how much of a difference public relations professional can – and should – make during a time when many audiences feel more divided than ever. Perhaps Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich put it best when he said: “You have a great deal of influence over the tone of our national communications. You have a great deal of influence over your clients in terms of helping them to understand that civility- and by that, I mean just merely being respectful – is critically important and is good for them as well as for the country.”

The overarching theme of this year’s conference was communications convergence, and it’s a concept I’m sure most of us grapple with from time to time. What really constitutes a journalist nowadays? What is considered real news and what isn’t? I can tell you that there were several encouraging statements I heard from those in PRSA leadership at the national level that made me feel well-represented and defended. There are people in some of the highest positions of our organization that are consistently going to bat for PR professionals who may feel embattled or tired of having to fight against the notion that we provide ‘fake’ news on behalf of our clients. I was also encouraged to hear that leadership is turning its attention to the value that PRSA’s sections provide members; as a section leader myself, I have witnessed first-hand how important it can be to meet – even if it is virtually – with others who are in similar roles to brainstorm ideas, discuss hurdles, and even partner from time to time.

One of the most exciting pieces of news I heard during the conference was that ICON will be held in beautiful, sunny climates for at least the next two years. San Diego is next up in 2019, and, believe it or not… ORLANDO is slated to play host in 2020. As you well know, a lot can happen in any given profession in two years’ time, and given our current political climate and the fact that Orlando’s 2020 ICON will be held right before a presidential election, I think we’ve got a great opportunity to showcase just how critical public relations professionals are when it comes to leading both a national, and international, narrative.

Leaving Austin, I was grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with some old friends and to meet some new ones, and I was especially appreciative of the opportunity to learn from some of the best and brightest in this business. I’m excited to put what I learned into action in the weeks and months ahead, and look forward to what I’ll most certainly learn in San Diego, Orlando, and beyond.

Thank you again, PRSA Orlando, for the scholarship and for the opportunity to represent our great chapter in another really great city.

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.

2018 PRSA Membership Savings

by Beth Swanson, MBA & APR

Taking time from our busy schedules to refresh and renew with peers opens us to new ideas, advice and problem-solving assistance, according to Francesca Gino, a professor at Harvard Business School in a recent article on HBR.org.

During my 13 years as a member and volunteer, PRSA has provided me with just that through opportunities to meet communicators in my field and the industries where I’ve worked. These professional relationships are both fulfilling and enlightening and have made me a believer in the link between networking and career success. That’s why I encourage professionals in PR, marketing, and communications to join us.

This year PRSA is making it even easier to share the benefits of our chapter and national organization with several 2018 promotions that welcome new and returning members to PRSA.

Score a thank you gift and help a colleague save on membership dues during the Refer-A-Friend promotion. Members receive a $40 Amazon gift card for each new person who joins PRSA and lists your name as a referral on the application form (How did you hear about PRSA). PRSA will also waive your friend’s $65 initiation fee if they use the promo code FRIENDS18Applies to Member (3+ years experience) and Associate Member 3 (2-3 years experience) levels only.

Know a lapsed PRSA member? Let them know former members can use the promo code WELCOMEBACK18 and PRSA will waive their $35 reinstatement fee. Applies to memberships lapsed 6 or more months. 

Anyone applying as a new member can use the promo code JOINPRSA18 and the $65 initiation fee will be waived.  Applies to Member (3+ years experience) and Associate Member 3 (2-3 years experience) levels only.

All promotions are valid through Dec 31, 2018.  Learn more about PRSA membership benefits, chapters, and professional interest communities at https://www.prsa.org/membership/.

Have questions?  Please email Beth Swanson, Co-VP Membership Recruitment at beth@swansoncomm.com.

Diversity, Inclusion, Public Relations and Beyond

By Jaylen Christie, Chairman of Diversity & Inclusion

An age-old axiom states that all good things come to an end. And so it is that my term as PRSA Orlando’s Chairman of Diversity & Inclusion has officially come to a close. It’s truly been a fantastic year – not just for our wonderful chapter, but for the Public Relations Society of America nationwide. I humbly believe that 2017 was the year that Diversity & Inclusion received a beautiful and much-needed spotlight. While the subject has, in fact, always been acknowledged in some way, shape or form, I’d respectfully argue that a renewed focus has been placed on it within the PRSA nationally.

PRSA Orlando had the honor of providing our amazing members with diverse programming including communications as related to the LGBTQ community, race, and justice. Moreover, 2017 also saw PRSA Orlando participate in a coast-to-coast Twitter chat on the state of diversity regarding public relations, and multiple conference calls with several diversity chairs from other PRSA chapters to brainstorm ideas and tactics regarding inclusion. As a group, we also worked very hard in submitting a detailed entry for consideration of the PRSA Chapter Diversity Award, an accolade bestowed upon PRSA chapters that embody and demonstrate key values in diversity and inclusion, and that contribute to advancing diversity as shown by submissions of best practices or case studies. Suffice it to say that it was a pretty good 2017.

I am looking forward to another marvelous year of keep diversity and inclusion in the conversation and how it relates to public relations. After all, companies with intent to build positive relationships in diverse markets would be wise to recruit and retain talent that accurately reflects the population of their clients. As indicated in one of my previous blogs, and to use another time-tested axiom, variety is indeed the spice of life.

Over the course of this year, our amazing members were also reminded that inclusion and ethics go hand-in-hand and were taught how to drive success through diversity. As the public relations profession continues to grow, statistics have shown that a lack of diversity in communication-related positions has continued. I’m optimistic that this will change. PRSA’s national Diversity & Inclusion Committee is committed to driving this – and it starts with placing a spotlight on the subject. We did that this year and it is my hope that everyone was left feeling enlightened and empowered.

As I make the transition to VP of Communications for PRSA Orlando, I am pleased to announce that my colleague and fellow board member, Alyssa Badalamenti, will be taking over my spot, and I have no doubt that she will keep the conversation going. PRSA Orlando has a lot of fantastic things in store and I couldn’t be happier to share these experiences with everyone.

Here’s to many more years of celebrating diversity and inclusion: cheers!