Friday, May 28, 2010

President's Word: Summertime PR Reading

By: Kathleen Taylor, President

Summer time is here, and hopefully, we'll all get a chance to take a weekend or so for a relaxing nap in the shade. For me, summer seems to call for a few good books. There are about a million reading lists (including Oprah's guide) out there, but I thought we in the Southwest Florida Chapter could recommend a few great picks of our own. I'll start with what's on my shelf now, and then everyone can feel free to leave a suggestion below, as well as comments on what you got out of one you've already read. Do you have one of these books to share with fellow FPRA members? Let us know that too!

Thanks for your participation!!

1. Trust Agents, by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
2. The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott
3. The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
4. Get Content, Get Customers by Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett
5. PR 2.0 New Media, New Tools, New Audiences by Deirdre Breakenridge

Tap into FPRA Resources to Learn and Grow Professionally

Submitted by Mary Briggs, APR, CPRC

Our busy scheduled don’t always allow us the time we’d like to further our professional development. Personally, I’d love to spend all my time travelling to conferences and attending workshops. Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t work like that. In today’s economy we all have to be focused on delivering value to our employers or clients every hour of every day. Yet, to do that, we need to be constantly learning about new strategies and constantly growing in our abilities. So how do you do that with little time in your day?

FPRA offers you a convenient resource. Check out the PR Resources link on You’ll find dozens of links to great resources that will help you learn, grow and think, and you don’t have to leave your desk! There are links to web sites that will help you become a more compelling writer, links that teach you how to demonstrate your pet project’s ROI and, if you just can’t take it anymore, links to PR job openings around the country.

There’s one catch. It’s in the members-only section of If you haven’t been there for a while, and don’t remember your password, use the ‘forgot password” link and a new one will be sent to you.

Happy learning!

Editor's note: Mary Briggs, APR, CPRC currently serves FPRA, both on a local and statewide level. She is co-chair of the Southwest Florida chapter's Credentialing committee and she is VP of Professional Development on the FPRA Executive Committee.  

Member Spotlight: Kate Gooderham, APR, CPRC

Kate Gooderham, APR, CPRC is president of Gooderham & Associates, Inc., a Fort Myers, Florida consulting firm established in 1986, specializing in issues management, public information campaigns, grassroots organizing, governmental lobbying and monitoring, coastal permitting and strategic planning. A cum laude graduate of the University of South Dakota majoring in English and history, she was accredited in public relations in 1999 and certified as a public relations counselor in 2008.

She and her husband serve as executive directors of the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA). Founded in 1926, the ASBPA the scientific, technical and political interests along the coast in an effort to shape national research and policy concerning shore and beach management and restoration. One of their responsibilities is to plan, organize and execute two conferences a year.

Gooderham is active in the Florida Public Relations Association where she serves as vice president for professional development for the Southwest Chapter. She has been past chair of the Counselor’s Network, past president of the Southwest Chapter, past accreditation chair, 2001 Member of the Year, and 2005 PR Professional of the Year.
Question and Answer with Kate Gooderham, APR, CPRC

Q) What does it mean to you to be a part of the SWFL Chapter of FPRA and how has your involvement with the Association helped you in your endeavors?

A) Many of us, including myself, work either alone or with one or two people. It’s isolating. FPRA provides the networking and professional development which are critical to stay competitive. FPRA is different from many professional organizations in that fellow members really want to help. I have called on members for simple suggestions and big questions. In every case I have had prompt, professional responses.

Q) How has becoming accredited in public relations helped your career and do you have any tips for others who are considering the option?

A) Earning both the accreditation and the certification has given me confidence. It also makes our company stand out when clients are looking at us. For those considering accreditation, buy the books (you can get used ones very reasonably) and make a commitment to participate in the study sessions. Give yourself a deadline. I left annual conference one year and then made a commitment that I would begin preparing for the CPRC exam immediately after a February event, and that I would take the exam before the next year’s conference. I also found a study buddy who wanted to follow the same schedule, which helped.

Q) What is the most interesting project you have had to do?

A) I’ve had a number of really interesting projects. Sometimes the ones that help focus one’s life are the projects that stand out. In 1980, I was at a crossroads in my life. I was hired to do the internal public relations for a beach restoration project at South Seas. The project and the process were fascinating. After overcoming unbelievable obstacles, it was amazing to see the sand that was placed on the beach.

Q) As an accomplished public relations professional, what advice would you give to those who are just starting their careers in the field?

A) Get involved in FPRA. The opportunities for professional development are unlimited. When you take on committee responsibility, you learn and grow. Being an officer is leadership training at no cost!

Q) What drew you to first become a part of the SWFL Chapter of FPRA? Tell me about what made you come to your first meeting and what kept you coming back for more.

A) When I first attended a meeting, I was working alone. I definitely needed the networking. I kept coming back, because the programs were good and I liked the members. Then I was asked to be on the Board. Some of our most active members are the younger members. I find working with that group to be very satisfying and inspirational.

Q) What do you enjoy to do for fun in Southwest Florida?

A) I really enjoy the work I do on behalf of beaches. I also like to swim, ride bicycles, travel, garden and read. I’m very excited that I’m learning to grow herbs. Food tastes so much better with fresh herbs!

Student Corner: Think Outside of the Book this Summer!

Just in case you thought PR learning stopped with the last final of the semester, FPRA has several things in store that can change your thinking. Summertime is one of the best times of the year to grab that perfect career opportunity! Below are a few tips for making the most of your summer vacation:

  • Internships: Unless you're taking summer classes, you've got a few extra hours in your day to fill, and internship opportunities are great ways to make those ever important contacts. Check with your school's student services resources and academic advisor for potential openings.
  • FPRA Conference Student Track: This is really a two birds-one stone kind of event. Not only can you attend top-notch training sessions and seminars for a fraction of the professional cost, but you can also network with PR pros from around Florida. Check out this brochure to learn more!
  • Tweet-up with a Keynote Speaker: The 2010 FPRA Annual Conference will be held in Naples at the Naples Grande Resort on August 8-11. In addition to the Student track mentioned above, there are also several events happening that might be of particular interest to students. Deirdre Breakenridge, co-founder of the #PRStudChat on Twitter (held monthly between public relations professionals and students) and one of the keynote speakers of the conference, is participating in a special tweet up on Sunday night at 5 p.m., directly before the President’s Welcome Reception. All professionals and students are encouraged to attend. This is an excellent opportunity for new connections and mentorships to form offline with Deirdre and other PR practitioners.
Extra Credit! 

Sunset Social at Conference: This event is a fundraiser for the Florida Public Relations Education Foundation (FPREF). This foundation grants scholarships to PR students each year and the fundraiser is a really fun way to find out more and to chat up other PR professionals. Everyone lets their hair down a bit to dance, bid on silent auction items at a themed event. This year it fits in with the "Big Picture" theme of conference, sort of. It will be an 80s party (because everything was "big" in the 80s). Plan to see a few traditionally straight laced pros in their funkiest neon get ups from a totally rad decade! Watch for a flyer coming out soon on our blog and the state site:

Monday, May 24, 2010

FPRA 72nd Annual Conference e-Brochure

Checkout this year's fantastic speaker line-up for the Florida Public Relations Association's 72nd Annual Conference!

The Big Picture: Bringing PR Leadership and Strategy into Focus

Click Here

Southwest Florida Chapter calls for Annual Award Nominations

Every year, the Southwest Florida Chapter honors three outstanding members with very special awards. Anyone from our chapter can be nominated.

Our chapter honors an member who exemplifies the high standards of the public relations profession in Southwest Florida with the PR Professional of the Year Award. The recipients of this award display a professional attitude and exercise professional conduct, are cooperative and supportive of fellow public relations professionals, and are very interested in raising the professional standing of FPRA in our community. Think of this person as one who both leads by word and deed. She or he is a person you respect for their work and for their determination constantly improve.

The Southwest Florida Chapter Member of the Year is one who goes above and beyond in their commitment of time and energy to ensure the success of the chapter. Not only has this recipient embraced the creative thinking and opportunities for participation in chapter programs and projects, but she or he also serves as an ambassador to the community of what FPRA is all about. Basically, this person excels at their profession, and enjoys giving back to this chapter to inspire future PR leaders to learn and grow through FPRA.

The Rising Star award recognizes and up and coming leader in our chapter. This is someone who has shown enthusiasm and passion for the profession, and where ever you see them, they are likely to be making a positive difference through their service to chapter events, career pursuits and in other arenas. We like to encourage our members to seek opportunities to get involved, and the Rising Star awardee takes puts this call into action. As a special bonus, thanks to the FPRA Annual Conference leaders, our chapter will also award this year's Rising Star with a full conference registration and reserved seating at the President's Luncheon and the Golden Image Awards Banquet!

Click here to see nomination criteria and a list of past Rising Stars, Members of Year and PR Professionals of the Year!

Nominations are currently being accepted for the annual Chapter awards. To nominate someone for one of the following awards, email Kathleen Taylor, APR. The deadline is June 11, and the winners will be announced during the July monthly meeting. The three awards are: The PR Professional of the Year; The Rising Star; and The FPRA Chapter Member of the Year.

Sign Up Today for "Flipping the Script" Media Breakfast!

Join us on Tuesday, June 8 at the Embassy Suites in Estero for the "Flipping the Script" Media Breakfast! This event will also serve as the monthly business meeting for June. The cost is $40 for members and $50 for guests. Click here to download the event flyer (PDF).

 Mei-Mei Chan

Our keynote speaker will be Mei-Mei Chan, President and Publisher of The News-Press Media Group. Mei-Mei joined The News-Press in March 2010 and has held executive positions in news, circulation and advertising. She came to Florida from The Seattle Times Company, wehre she had been the Vice President of Advertising and, before that, the Vice President of Circulation and Consumer Marketing. Mei-Mei was recognized for innovation as Sales Executive of the Year by the Newspaper Association of America in 2003. Previously, she held editor and reporter positions at the Post Register in Idaho Falls, ID, the Chicago Sun-Times, USA Weekend magazine, USA today and the Commercial News in Danville, IL.

Following the keynote, a panel of media professionals will answer your questions:
  • Darrel Adams, Executive News Director and Manager of Promotions for Waterman Broadcasting
  • Mei-Mei Chan, Publisher and President of The News-Press Media Group
  • Jean Gruss, Editor of Gulf Coast Business Review
  • Osvaldo Padilla, Managing Editor of Florida Weekly
  • David Sendler, Editor of Gulfshore Life
  • Amy Tardif, FM Station Manager and News Director of WGCU Public Media
Check-in begins at 7:45 a.m. and the event will start promptly at 8. Register today and we'll see you there!

Thanks to our sponsor:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bridging Politics and PR: Lessons Learned from a Presidential Visit

Three of Southwest Florida's political insiders shared their insights at FPRA's local chapter luncheon on Tuesday, May 4th at the Broadway Palm in Fort Myers: Sharon Harrington, Tammy Hall and Will Prather. This is the third of three posts reviewing their presentations.

Lee County Democratic Chairman Will Prather is a successful businessman and supporter of the arts in Lee County.  He's well-versed and comfortable in working with the media through many years of leading community events and business development at the Prather Family of Theatres.

Just as the 2000 election changed the face of how we physically cast our votes, it changed Prather's outlook on the importance of every vote in such a close race.  Inspired by Howard Dean during the 2004 election, Prather publicly declared his political leanings, became involved in the Democratic party and published daily reports from the Boston convention.  Despite receiving negative feedback and even cancellations from customers in this traditionally Republican area, he continued to stand strong in supporting candidates he believed in, including heading the Southwest Florida campaign for Barack Obama in the 2008 election, and shortly thereafter became Chairman of the Lee County Democratic Party.

He recalled several instances where the original intent or "story" of an event was lost when the media grabbed onto a controversy instead.  During the 2008 election cycle, there were several notable visits to the local area... by Michelle Obama, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.  However, what garnered the most media coverage was Sheriff Mike Scott's use of Barack Hussein Obama's full name during the Sarah Palin rally.  This totally overshadowed the candidates' visits and messages and dominated the news cycle, even making it to the national news.

Prather's best (and worst) political experience began with a phone call from the White House Political Affairs Office letting him know that newly-elected President Obama was planning a visit to Fort Myers.  It was a challenging experience working with the White House staffers on this event because of coordination, communication and crowds!  Unbeknownst to Prather, Robert Gibbs unintentionally mentioned the visit to Fort Myers during a press briefing, unleashing a media frenzy several days prior to the planned announcement of the visit.  The low point of the event came with the ticket distribution, when there were only a limited number of tickets available and Prather knew that anyone arriving after 2am to get in line would likely not get a ticket.  As the crowds grew (and grew restless) outside Harborside Convention Center, the White House staffers' instructions, there were no announcements made.  Prather was basically forbidden from addressing the crowd or the media regarding the ticket situation.  Very frustrated and worried about the crowd getting out of control, he took matters into his own hands and arranged to meet the press behind Harborside to clarify any misconceptions regarding ticket distribution.  Needless to say, the White House staffers were not pleased about Prather going against protocol.  Although he succeeded in disseminating more accurate information to the public and avoiding a riotous situation, he was not rewarded by staffers with what they call the "pull back" -- the opportunity afterward to be pulled aside and thanked personally for his efforts by the President. 

Continuing the discussion, Prather also mentioned the challenges of working within a party-driven organization with official talking points, rules and even loyalty oaths.  These often present obstacles to effective public relations during political campaigns.  He also stressed awareness of the social media effects of partisan politics, when your views are publicized online and open the gates to criticism -- from all sides -- regarding who you "friend" and what you say or do.

... Be sure to check out the other two related posts about the presentations given by Tammy Hall and Sharon Harrington on the topic of "Bridging Politics and PR".

Bridging Politics and PR: A Candidate's Perspective

Lee County Commissioner Tammy Hall comes from a marketing background, having owned her own agency in downtown Fort Myers prior to her career as an elected official.  Hall shared her insights and experiences with campaigning and holding public offices in Fort Myers and Lee County government at the FPRA luncheon on May 4th at the Broadway Palm.

Hall explained that there are vast differences between running in a city council, single-member district race and county-wide, at-large, party-affiliated race.   Those differences not only include budget and geographic/demographic scope, but also the dynamics.  The city council race required door-to-door contact with voters, and a small budget to cover a small geographic area, whereas the candidacy for county commissioner required a much larger budget, advertising campaign and navigation of partisan politics.

In becoming the first female county commissioner in many years, Hall had to overcome gender stigmas and stereotypes of her predecessors, several of which had been involved in scandals.  She also had to deal with attempts to smear her reputation.  At one point, someone hacked into her AOL account and set up a very promiscuous profile.   Thanks to a consistent reputation, and strong relationships with the local reporters and assignment editors, she was given the benefit of advance phone calls and the story was either downplayed or not reported at all, in most cases.  When the same person/group also sent an email blast accusing her of questionable activities, the media chose not to cover it - mainly due to the credibility she had built.

Hall encourages candidates to always act with integrity and character (including online), and to keep open lines of communication with the media.

This is one of three posts covering the presentations at the May 4th meeting.  Be sure to check out the recaps of Will Prather's and Sharon Harrington's presentations, too!

Bridging Politics and PR: Elections Office Public Outreach

Three of Southwest Florida's political insiders shared their insights at FPRA's local chapter luncheon on Tuesday, May 4th at the Broadway Palm in Fort Myers: Sharon Harrington, Tammy Hall and Will Prather. This is the first of three posts reviewing their presentations.

Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington discussed how legislative changes in the election process over the years have impacted the way her office communicates with voters.  Some of those pieces of legislation include the National Voter Rights Act of 1965 which outlawed discriminatory voter practices and the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (a.k.a. "motor voter") whereby those registering to vote no longer had to do so in person.  Both of these Acts required the elections office to shift the way they communicate with voters.

Another national political event which caused a PR firestorm, and many changes in the election process was the November 2000 election, which Harrington called, "the election that will never go away." The notorious butterfly ballot, which was necessary due to the number of local elections in several counties was approved by both parties, and everyone involved in the process.  Despite that, it caused confusion among the voters.  The ensuing recount debacle in Palm Beach County spurred the Help America Vote Act in 2002, which caused changes in the physical process of voting by eliminating punch cards and lever systems.  The Lee County Elections Office rolled out electronic voting machines, requiring a major educational push for employees, poll workers and the general public.  Shortly thereafter, the Florida Legislature outlawed the electronic voting systems, causing the change to an optical system.  Two entirely different voting systems over the course of just a few years was a challenge, but the Elections Office's public outreach efforts helped the transitions go smoothly.

One last piece of PR advice Harrington had was aimed at candidates -- stay away from negative campaigning.  In her experience, she's seen how rather than hurting the opponent, it works against the person spreading the negativity. Candidates should stick to the issues and facts about themselves, and also steer clear of potentially embarrassing situations.

...Be sure to check out our other meeting recaps on the presentations at this meeting by Will Prather and Tammy Hall.