Wednesday, March 18, 2015

APR Celebrates 50 Years of Professionalism

By Heidi Taulman, APR
President, Southwest Florida Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association

Publicists. Event Planners. Spin Doctors.

For years, those were the perceptions of the public relations practitioner. In the early days of the 20th century, there was some truth to them. Lack of training and ethical standards on the part of some practitioners perpetuated the negative perception of individuals who claimed to be public relations “professionals.”

In today’s world, the emergence of Accreditation has helped to bring stronger credibility to the public relations profession, especially by practitioners who have chosen to complete the strenuous process that leads to it. Being able to use the initials APR (Accredited in Public Relations) is a mark of distinction for 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 process.

Accreditation supports the maturation of the field of public relations, helping it move toward becoming a true profession similar to others that require certification or credentialing. Ethics are and have been a central part of the Accreditation process. Once professionals are Accredited in Public Relations, they are required to follow a strict code of ethical standards.

Hiring managers and clients who choose Accredited public relations professionals know that they have chosen strategic thinkers who have demonstrated skills and abilities necessary to advise executives or managers on how best to establish and maintain the relationships necessary to meet organizational objectives. These professionals have completed the Accreditation process and are committed to maintaining that Accreditation through professional and personal development. That sets Accredited professionals apart from other practitioners.

Today, eight professional organizations compose the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) and participate in the Accreditation process, including the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA).  In Southwest Florida, 27 members of the Southwest Florida Chapter of FPRA proudly display the APR initials after their names.

The Southwest Florida Chapter of FPRA places a major emphasis on professional development to its membership with its 24-member volunteer Board of Directors and leadership team. The chapter does this by sharing education each month, hosting an annual, one-day seminar, PRU, focused on public relations with speakers from around the state, participating in state association activities including an annual three-day conference, annual 10-week study sessions to prepare for Accreditation and many other activities such as events and tours with the local media, pro-bono activities with area nonprofits and more.

Providing credentials is as important now as it ever has been in the past. FPRA has provided me the great opportunity to join in its efforts to advance our profession. This year marks the 50th anniversary of APR. It is a process that continues to evolve, but it is a process that has brought credibility to an important profession that has wide-ranging impact. Remember that the next time you need a public relations professional.

Social Media Activities Simplified

For many social media managers, handling the numerous social media platforms can take a lot of time and be overwhelming. recently posted an article titled “Four Steps to Simplify Your Daily Social Media Activities.” The steps below will help you generate a to-do list that will help you save time and work more efficiently:

1.     Rank Your Social Accounts: This will take time and research, but once you discover which channels are working the best for your business, you can then concentrate on the platforms that are most valuable.

2.     Prioritize Engagement Signals: Each social media channel has different analytics. A like on one channel means more engagement than a share on the other, so you’ll have to prioritize those signals for each of your most valuable platforms.

3.     Create a To-Do List: Using the information from the above steps, create a to-do list with your top platforms and types of interactions.

4.     Stick to a Schedule: Determine how much time you should spend on each platform and stick to it.

Paying the most attention to your top channels, and prioritizing the signals for each, will help you simplify the overwhelming task of managing multiple social media accounts. Repeat this process every few months to make certain the statistics haven’t changed.      

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Find Your PR Superhero on Social Media

The SWFL Chapter of FPRA is active on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. We want to encourage our members to be social media superheroes and become more engaged on all of our social media platforms. These channels are great forums to engage with PR professionals, build and strengthen relationships and spread the word about everything FPRA has to offer.

How many of you will “Find Your PR Superhero” and be more social with us? Use the hashtag #FindyourPRsuperhero, and you’ll be entered into a contest for a SUPER prize!  Below are each of our social media channels and how you can engage with us:

Our Facebook page is a great source for meeting reminders, member kudos, important deadlines and pictures from events. We want to encourage you to like, comment and share our posts. Please note: Because of the recent algorithm changes on Facebook, our posts are not showing up in all of our fans’ newsfeeds. To ensure you’re seeing our content, visit our page and like and comment on recent posts.

Twitter: @SWFL_FPRA
Our tweets consist of updates about events and pertinent content we feel is valuable to our members and followers. You can become more engaged with us on Twitter by mentioning us in your tweets, rewteeting us and favoriting our tweets.

LinkedIn: FPRA Southwest Florida Chapter
You can find our private group on LinkedIn by searching for FPRA Southwest Florida Chapter in the Groups section under Interests. Joining our group allows you to participate in discussions, start new discussions and even promote your own events.  

We encourage you to engage with us on each of these channels and be sure to use #FindyourPRsuperhero when posting about the SWFL Chapter of FPRA on Facebook and Twitter. The more you use it, the more chances you have to win a SUPER prize! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

FPRA Image Awards 2015 Tips

Most Common Mistakes
  • Not completing a 50-word Summary
  • Formatting errors on Two-page Summary, i.e., must use a minimum of 10-point, Times New Roman, double-spaced with a one-inch margin.
  • Not including staff time in budget. Remember, nothing is free!
  • Not including all five required sections in your Two-page Summary
  • Not using AP style
  • Misspelled or incorrect words, typos, poor punctuation
  • Disorganized or lacking support materials
  • Failing to check numbers

New This Year
  • Electronic entry process
  • Your entry must have a Table of Contents as the first page of the support material PDF
  • You must upload your entry and supporting documents in one sitting.   Information cannot be saved.

  • Choose the best category for your entry. Consult with your Image team for help.
  • Have someone else outside your project team review your Two-page Summary.
  • Enter early. Don’t wait until the last minute to enter electronically.

Entries must be submitted electronically at by Friday, March 6, 2015 at 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January 2015 Member Spotlight- Sharon Brandon

Sharon Brandon is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office. She started as a part-time Patriot in 2006 then joined the Community Relations team as the Outreach Coordinator full time in 2012.  

Sharon coordinates outreach events, maintains the Outreach information on the Lee County Supervisor of Elections’ website, and works closely with Patriots to provide voter registration and voter education in the community. 

Sharon has been a member of the Southwest Florida Chapter of Florida Public Relations Association since 2012.

Sharon is also a professional singer and goes by the stage name of Sasé. She toured with the Supremes in Spain for seven months and with the popular recording group, The Platters for nine years. Currently, she performs for diverse audiences and covers a wide spectrum of music.

Sharon is making her mark in Southwest Florida and wants to be thought of as someone who has left love and passion in the hearts of many and is an inspiration to PR professionals and artists.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Image Award Tip

As you prepare for Local Image Awards, we wanted to give you some simple advice - “Follow the Rules!” Image rules are very specific and are in place to make sure diverse projects are presented in a uniform and standard manner.

Make sure your project falls within the specified time period and remember, you can’t enter the same exact project in more than one category. Two-page summary specifications must be followed: cannot exceed two pages, double-spaced with a one-inch margin and font has to be a minimum of 10-point Times New Roman. You have two pages to educate and prove your project is worthy to a judge. So, each word counts!  

In addition to the two-page summary, there are other items you must submit in order for your entry to be complete – an organizational overview, support materials (look for specifics in some categories), a table of contents, a 50-word summary and a digital image that represents your project. 

It is heart breaking when someone makes the effort and has an issue with “a rule.” Through the years we have seen award-worthy projects fail to win or, even worse, be disqualified for improper formatting, sloppy presentation and typos in written materials. Remember, PR professionals are sticklers for details and they are the ones who judge your entries.

So, open that Call for Entries and look at the rules and the entry checklist. If you are new to entering Local Image, we suggest making a copy and using it as a checklist. And, of course, you can always come to us with questions or for guidance. We are here to help!

Important dates to mark on your calendars
Image Workshop – Tuesday. Feb. 3
Deadline for Local Image - Friday, March 6

Image Question

Q: What if you have more than one project (i.e., special events) that took place in the proper timeframe and want to enter them in the same category? Can you do that?

A: Yes, you can. Even though you will end up competing against yourself, you are able to enter more than one project in a category. You may have had several special events in a year or have different clients with successful internal programs and if they are great candidates for an award you can (and should) enter them.