Tuesday, December 14, 2010

President's Word

Ending the year on a Hot note!

Pam Nulman, APR, CPRC, President
 Yes, you heard right.

I said ending the year on a Hot note, not your typical high note. And, I’m not talking about the weather in Southwest Florida either.

I’m talking about the fact that public relations has been named one of the Best Business Careers for 2011 by U.S. News and World Report. Our profession earned this distinction based on the U.S. Labor Department’s projection that employment for public relations specialists is projected to increase by 24 percent, or more than 66,000 jobs, between 2008 and 2018.

At the same time, in a parallel universe, public relations has become a hot story line for television shows. It all started in the late 1990s when actress Kim Cattrall portrayed PR agency owner Samantha Jones in Sex in the City (and the number of students enrolling in undergraduate public relations programs skyrocketed).

Interest has hardly waned in our profession, indeed just the opposite, as universities are graduating record number of students majoring in public relations and, earlier this year a number of new TV reality shows based on public relations were announced.

• In early 2010, Kell on Earth premiered, based on the life of Kelly Cutrone, founder of the public relations, branding and marketing firm, People’s Revolution.

• The Spin Crowd followed this past summer. Produced by reality star, Kim Kardashian, the show is based on the lives of her PR pals Jonathan Cheban and Simon Houck of Command PR. (Warning - these are seriously beautiful people.)

• And yet another reality PR show is rumored for next year. Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey’s Anatomy is said to be planning a show about crisis management, based on the career of PR consultant Judy Smith, who has helped high profile celebs and politicians such as Bill Clinton, Michael Vick and New York Governor David Paterson.

I don’t for a moment profess to believe that television shows remotely do justice to promote the realistic worklife and contributions of the majority of PR professionals, in fact, they do just the opposite. But I, for one, don’t mind riding the wave of working in a profession receiving a little buzz.

We may not have our own television show anytime soon here in Southwest Florida, but we are part of the thousands of hard working professionals who sustain the reputation of our profession, mentor students and young professionals, and continue to deliver the communications results required in a global economy and digital world. And that, I believe qualifies us as working in one hot profession.

Happy New Year!

Congratulations to Melissa Simontis, APR

Congratulations to Melissa Simontis, APR, for successfully passing the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations and becoming an Accredited public relations practitioner. Melissa received her APR pin on the December 6th business meeting.

For those of you who are considering making this commitment to your professional development, it may interest you to learn that the APR status is recognized not only by FPRA, but also PRSA and seven other PR associations. And, perhaps more importantly, an accredited practitioner generally earns 20 percent more than non-Accredited members. If you want to join this elite group, contact credential co-chairs Mary Briggs, APR, CPRC at mary@briggsrogers.com or Kara Winton, APR, CPRC at pkwinton@earthlink.net.

December meeting recap: Are you a bouncer or a splatter?

December’s FPRA Southwest Florida Chapter membership meeting included both a community service project for feeding the hungry and hearing from someone’s whose mission is to do so on a daily basis - Sarah Owen, CEO of Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc. (CCMI).

As part of CCMI’s management process, they reflect on both the successes and challenges faced throughout the year, including accepting and acknowledging how the challenges actually helped them improve. She compared taking risks to a trapeze artist hanging on to the safety of the bar versus the beauty of when they let go and fly through the air. The beauty lies in letting go rather than always playing it safe.

Our response to discouragement and failure that sometimes occurs when taking risks holds the key to our future. You can either be a “splatter” – someone who falls apart or becomes crippled when discouraged; or a “bouncer” – someone who pulls it together and rebounds. It’s a choice whether to give up or get up.

In the past year, Starbucks’ business model was crumbling. They were shutting down stores, receiving bad press and failure was predicted. Owens and CCMI examined what happened and learned from it. Rather than giving up, Starbucks created a new way of doing business by adding new products and services and recreating the look of the stores and is now on the path back to success.

When nominated for the Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame, Owens was touched by the profound stories of the other nominees, and discovered the tie-in between personal and business determination to “keep going” despite adversity.

Become the “bouncer” and help other people to bounce. Your positive influence can also be pivotal to rescuing others from self-destructive discouragement. At CCMI, stories of despair are common every day. Each employee and volunteer is a part of the culture of helping people in need to keep going.

How do we rescue others? Help them to properly interpret setbacks by guiding them to the right perspective, connecting them to the right people, and restoring them with the right words.

In closing, Owens encouraged us to look carefully at 2010 and become the most beautiful trapeze artist we can be in 2011.

Credentialing Corner: You just never know when those initials will come in handy

By Kara Winton, APR, CPRC

Anyone who’s spent more than five minutes at an FPRA meeting with me knows I am a big proponent of earning one’s Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) and Certified Public Relations Counselor (CPRC) credentials. I can run through a list of benefits a mile long. However, if you had asked me a year ago if I’d be a grad student today and those initials would help me get into select courses, I would have laughed at you longer than an APR study session. Laugh’s on me … because it’s true.

Last spring, I decided to combine my dream of being a full-time mom with a passion for continuing education and teaching. I pulled out the GRE study manual and applied to grad school. This August, I began work as a part-time grad student, pursuing a master’s degree in adult education through a distance education program at Indiana University (my Alma mater).

In addition to the litany of adult education courses, the program requires a chunk of credit hours in a “professional focus area.” Surprise, surprise … mine is public relations. So I started searching for online public relations graduate courses, and found just the classes I needed. I also discovered I had to have advanced permission to take the classes.

So I emailed the head of the graduate PR program (after being disappointed when I read his bio and discovered no initials after his name), and provided my resume. I mentioned what classes I was interested in taking, and was pleased to get a very quick reply. Not only did he approve me for the classes I requested, but any and all courses the program offered. Included in his rationale, and I quote, “two well respected professional credentials (APR, CPRC).”

How cool is that?! Clearly the effort I put into studying for the APR and CPRC exams paid dividends. What’s even more remarkable is the professor’s experience lies all in Indiana, yet he recognized and respected the CPRC designation, which is specific to Florida. Sounds like the PR industry respects the work of Sunshine State PR professionals!

So if you’ve ever wondered what earning your APR and CPRC credentials could do for you, imagine the unimaginable. The laugh could be on you next!

Make accreditation #1 on 1-11-11!

Do you have five years of PR experience and want to take your career to the next level? Are you interested in pursuing Accreditation in Public Relations (APR)? Then what better way to start a new year than setting a professional goal of making accreditation #1 on 1-11-11?

Join us on Jan. 11, 2011 for an informational meeting. We will share with you an overview of the accreditation process and talk to you about the next round of study sessions set to begin in February. We’ll discuss the best days/times for everyone involved and plot a course for you to pass the exam and earn those coveted initials – APR!

Why pursue accreditation?
  • 1 – Among FPRA chapters we are the only 1 to provide candidates electronic flash cards!
  • 11 – Join us for 1 meeting plus 10 study sessions and you will be prepared for the oral presentation and written APR exam.
  • 11 – We guarantee you will receive at least 11 congratulatory emails within the first hour after we announce to the chapter you’ve earned your accreditation!
OK, there are a lot of other reasons to pursue accreditation, and we would love the chance to talk to you about them. Don’t forget to join us on 1-11-11. We’ll meet at 5:30 p.m. at the Briggs and Rogers office, 7680 Cambridge Manor Place in Fort Myers. If you have any questions, or to let us know you plan to attend, please click on either of our names below.

Ensuring the success of each candidate is our #1 priority!
Mary Briggs, APR, CPRC and Kara Winton, APR, CPRC
Credentialing Co-Chairs

Local Image Awards 2011: Tips for Success

We already told you to look at your projects and think about the many categories you can submit entries for Local Image Awards. But the real Image formula for success is something so basic it may be overlooked - Read the directions!

Image guidelines are very specific. Since projects are different, there must be a uniform approach to presenting an entry so that judging can be fair and impartial. And remember, PR professionals are sticklers for details and they are the ones who judge your entries. There are guidelines for what should be included and how things need to be formatted, and those guidelines should not be ignored.

The very last thing you want is to have an award-worthy project fail to win or, even worse, be disqualified all together, because you did not follow the directions.

Put most of your effort into the 2-Page Summary. Seventy percent of the scoring is based on the summary of your project that sets out the reason and need for development of the public relations program or tool, how it was implemented and the results. Make sure you address five elements - Research, Objectives, Implementation, Evaluation and Budget. And it should be clear, concise and factual – not just creative.

The judges then review support materials for professionalism, innovation and design to score the remaining 30 percent of the entry. Please think about what you can include to help the judges understand or appreciate your project. Don’t lose valuable points by failing to include support materials that detail what you have presented in the summary.

And last, but not least, please, please proofread your final summary. Check, not only grammar and punctuation, but general typos that could cost you an Image award.

Every job is a self-portrait of the person who does it. Autograph your work with excellence. ~Author Unknown

FGCU Student Chapter Finishes Semester Strong

On Tuesday, November 9, FPRA's student chapter at Florida Gulf Coast University hosted a panel discussion focused on Sports PR. More than 40 students attended.

The panelists included:

Gary Sharp, Miracle Baseball, director of media relations/promotions and P.A. Announcer

Ed Reed, The News-Press, sports editor

Nick Johnson, Florida Everblades, account executive

Justin Miller, 60 Feet Away, executive director

Congratulations to faculty advisor Professor Susan Moniz and our Student Chapter on hitting a home run with this very successful event!

A number of FGCU FPRA students topped off the semester by attending the professional chapter's December meeting with guest speaker Sarah Owen, CEO of Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc. (CCMI). Students were able to network with professional members and hear Sarah's inspirational message about embracing challenges and failures and turning them around as learning lessons. 

Annual Conference: Exceeding Expectations!

By: Dan Whicker
Director of Marketing and Communications
Southwest Florida Community Foundation

The 2010 FPRA Annual Conference was the first one that I attended. Having been a member of the FPRA’s Southwest Florida Chapter for just over a year, I was finding that the learning was great and the networking even better. Fellow members encouraged me to attend the Annual Conference, especially since it was being held right down the road from where we are in Fort Myers. So, with the blessing of my employer, I headed down to Naples with high expectations that I would be returning with some good PR-enhancing ideas.

Well, my high expectations were more than met, and I ended up making some nice friends along the way. The conference was well thought out and the sessions were all very informative. It’s too hard for me to pick a favorite speaker because they all did such a wonderful job. One of the most memorable was, of course, Jenny Dervin from JetBlue Airways, who had the misfortune of having to deal with a major PR incident at the exact time she was attending the conference and speaking! She expertly turned the situation into a learning experience for session attendees and it was a very potent reminder of how the PR professional’s role must constantly adapt to changing situations.

It is usually difficult for conference attendees to immediately put into practice what they have just learned. The everyday demands of work threaten to push new knowledge and ideas into the recesses of our memories once we return after a few days of learning and networking. However, through local chapter recaps, new relationships, and FPRA resources, help is never far away and you eventually find that you are using what you learned without even thinking about it.

I highly recommend this Annual Conference to all FPRA members and to anyone interested in growing in their roles as professional communicators. Kudos to all who were involved in setting up the 2010 event. I can’t wait to see what you do in 2011!

PR2011: The Evolution of Public Relations
August 7-10, 2011
Naples Grande Beach Resort

Holiday Forget Me Nots

Calling All FPRA Professionals!

We Need YOU!

Tiffany Esposito and Melissa Simontis, APR are gearing up for Pro Bono Day and this year's Media Breakfast, and they need our help. If you are able to volunteer to assist on the event planning committees for these two events, then please call or email Tiffany at (239) 992-2943, tiffany@bonitaspringschamber.com or, Melissa Simontis, APR at (239) 425-2366, ext. 25, melissa.simontis@pacecenter.org  No matter how big or small a role you can take, all help is greatly appreciated.

Pro Bono Day will be March 18th at the Lee County Elections Center and the Media Breakfast will be held in June, date still to be determined based on location.