Thursday, December 15, 2011

Image: Begin at the Beginning

By Jessica Clark

More often than not, Image entries often lose points or are disqualified for not following the entry criteria. 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.

Image guidelines are very specific. There are guidelines for what should be included and how things need to be formatted, and those guidelines should not be ignored. 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.
Put most of your effort into the two-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.

APR Trivia Question

Q: How much does it cost to apply for accreditation?

A: $385 … but the FPRA state office and the Southwest Florida Chapter both offer $100 rebates to successful candidates, bringing the cost down to $185!

Cheer is in the Air!

By Carla Ulakovic
carla.ulakovic@gmail.com


The December Merry Mixer was a great success! We mixed and mingled to several jingling beats as Riversedge Photography caught these memorable moments on film. A big thanks to JJ Taylor  for providing the Merry to this mixer with a variety of craft beers, ciders and even wine to whet the palate of our FPRA friends. We appreciate the help of all of the businesses, sponsors who helped make this a memorable occasion and a great fundraiser.

2012 Accreditation Study Sessions Set to Begin With Informational Meeting


Credentialing Chair

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)? Join us at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 19, 2012 for an informational meeting. We will talk about an overview of the accreditation process and discuss the next round of study sessions set to begin in February. We’ll poll those in attendance for the best days/times for everyone involved and plot a course for you to pass the exam and earn those coveted initials – APR!
Mark your calendars now: 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 19. We will meet in the offices of newly accredited member Samantha Scott, APR: Pushing the Envelope, 12655 New Brittany Blvd., Suite 13W in Fort Myers.
If you have any questions, or to let me know you plan to attend the organizational meeting, please email me today!

Social Media Corner: Twitter


By Samantha Scott, APR

Moving on to a new network, this month's Social Media Corner features Twitter. Many are intimidated by this social networking platform, but it's really just micro-blogging. Here's a few facts, resources and tips to use it effectively.

Twitter is one of the top tier social networks active right now. Even if you don't fully understand it or use it, you've probably heard of it or seen the twitter icon (lower cased blue "t" or little blue bird). Self described as "an information network," the company states "Twitter is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest information about what you find interesting."

With roughly 175 million registered users, it's no small potato. People that use the site can create an account, load a profile picture and custom background and engage with users around the world. Unlike Facebook, connections aren't mutual. If I, for example, start to "follow" someone, they don't automatically follow me back. They have to choose to do so. Likewise, I don't have to follow everyone connected to me.

It's a highly organized social network, allowing people to create lists and follow people that way and there are many directories in place (via third party sites) to help users connect with others based on similar interests. Searching the main Twitter feed for keywords or phrases of interest, including hashtags, is also a good way to find new connections.

The only limitation it has, which sets it apart from other social sites, is the length and style of posts - commonly referred to as "tweets." Users can only share 140 characters in each post. That includes letters, numbers and spaces. Enter abbreviations, shortened links and other creative ways to briefly get the point across.

Overall, Twitter is a good tool for businesses to listen to consumers (complaints, compliments, needs) and share news. Just keep a 4 for 1 rule in mind. Twitter users want information, not sales. Share useful, on-topic information 4 times for every 1 self-serving or self-promoting post. Engage. Connect. Share. Listen. 

Good luck!

Resources:
If you want to connect with the chapter on Twitter visit twitter.com/swfl_fpra. To connect with the author, Samantha Scott, visit twitter.com/GetPushing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Special Workshop: Warming up for Image

As the 2012 Olympic Games approach, it’s time to warm up and submit your medal worthy public relations programs for the Local Image Awards. On Tuesday, January 24 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, a panel of distinguished PR professionals are offering an Image Workshop to help you get started. The panel of Image coaches includes Kate Gooderham, APR, CPRC, Victoria Moreland, Pam Nulman, APR, CPRC and Samantha Scott, APR. Each expert will provide insight about the do’s and don’ts of program entries, judging categories and scoring, the all-important two-page summary and binder composition.

Attendance at the Image Workshop is FREE, and for more individualized feedback, you are encouraged to bring campaign plans, printed materials, news releases, or other communication tools. Submitting entries to Image is valuable as it may attract greater exposure for your client(s) and further distinguish yourself as a PR professional exhibiting the very best examples of innovation, planning and design. To take one step closer to the winner’s podium register here.

Member News: Get Your Passport, Draw Up Your Playbook, Renewals

By Jessica Clark

Early Bird Gets the Worm
Everyone who renewed their membership by October 31 was included in a drawing for a $50 gift card.  Congratulations to Trish Routte, who won the $50 gift certificate to University Grill for being the “Early Bird Who Gets The Worm!”

Thanks to all our members who have already renewed, whether before or after October 31 this year.  It is great to see that all of you recognize how membership in FPRA is a valuable tool to make sure that we are always on top of our profession! 

Membership Renewal
If you have not had a chance to renew yet, there is still time!  You have until December 31 to renew without a penalty cost, and to make sure that your membership information doesn’t lapse. 
Don’t forget... if you help recruit a new FPRA member, both you and that person will be entered into a drawing to receive a new iPad ($500 value), a $200 Visa gift card or $300 of FPRA Professional Development bucks. The deadline to enlist a new member is: December 31, 2011. Winners will be notified in January.

If you need a new renewal form, please contact Jessica Clark, APR. For more information about membership, you can reach Jessica at (239) 454-2071 or jessicaclark@shellpoint.org

Is the Cost of Membership holding back your renewal?
There is still a small number of membership scholarships available.  If you are interested in applying for a membership scholarship, please send a few paragraphs to Jessica Clark, APR stating why you are in need of financial assistance, what role you have played in the field of PR, and how you plan to make the best of your membership for the organization and your own personal career.
 
January 10 Meeting – Getting your playbook in order helps win the game!
Without a solid public relations plan, you reduce your chances of scoring that big win for your employer or client. Even the smallest project or event will benefit from a well-developed plan. In fact, planning methodology can help with all areas of your professional and personal development. Karen Ryan, APR, CPRC will share tips to make the planning easier and possibly increase your chances of bringing home the gold! The LCEC team has won more than 100 Public Relations Awards utilizing the plan. But it isn’t just about winning awards. The entire LCEC organization utilizes a Public Relations planning template for every major project it undertakes. Project managers are required to present the plan before moving forward to the implementation phase of the project. The first 20 registered attendees for this session will receive the LCEC Public Relations Planning Toolkit with additional examples of winning plans.

Your Passport to FPRA
Are you new to FPRA, or have you joined within the last two years?  Do you know someone who is considering a FPRA membership? 

If so, we invite you to join us on Wednesday, January 10 at 10:30 a.m. at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre to learn more about the many ways that FPRA, both locally and statewide, can help enhance our profession and your career. The Southwest Florida Chapter will launch our brand new membership engagement program with the start of the New Year, to provide you with a plan to make the most of your membership and fun ways to get to know your industry colleagues. Jessica Clark, APR and Melissa Simontis, APR will be facilitating this informal session before the Chapter’s monthly program. To sign up, find our more or refer a potential member, call Jessica Clark, APR at (239) 454-2071Or sign up online here.

Credentialing Corner - Where are you going without a plan?

Advice, recommendations and news you can use from the chapter’s seasoned professionals

By: Krista Cartee, APR
Account Services Manager, Priority Marketing

As we begin a new year, many businesses are forging ahead with business goals for their organizations – planning for ways to hit sales projections and high conversion rates from leads to clients. Ideally, these businesses have a plan in place to reach revenue goals and benchmarks to evaluate their success; key staff development, new product or service launches, etc. Smart business owners would not leave their bottom line up to chance with no planning or strategy to work from. So, surely they would also have a plan in place for the marketing efforts that should be driving traffic to their door? Right? 

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  Lack of communications planning is a common mistake made by many, well-seasoned business leaders. Strategic planning for marketing, advertising and public relations is not a priority for many companies and lies outside their area of expertise. Even more concerning, the budgets allocated for these marketing programs fall in the “if we have any money left over” category.

As public relations practitioners, it is our responsibility to educate clients on the value and importance of strategic planning in all areas of business, especially marketing, advertising and public relations. Here are some compelling reasons business professionals should develop an integrated strategic plan and budget with the help of a public relations professional:
·    When you have a plan, you develop tactics that fit within your company’s business goals and brand. Everyone in the company is aware of the company’s messaging and positioning, allowing them ALL to act as brand managers.
·    Life is easier when you know what is coming. Following a marketing plan helps prevent the “what are we going to do this month?” syndrome that causes unneeded stress on an organization and its employees. Things can move forward quickly and efficiently, consistently keeping your company name in the marketplace.
·    It saves you money! Developing an annual marketing plan and budget creates internal efficiencies that save the company money. This process also allows you to negotiate contracts with media on annual schedules, which reduces advertising costs, target publicity efforts around new products/services and plan out printing and production projects to be more cost-effective in the long-run.
As public relations professionals, we counsel our clients on the best use of their marketing resources. This needs to include the development of a strategic plan, each year, to help them (and us) continue to be successful in the marketplace.

President's Word: New Year's Challenge

By Carla Ulakovic, carla.ulakovic@gmail.com

December is a time to reflect on where we have been as a Chapter and begin charting FPRA’s journey into the New Year. In 2011, our chapter enjoyed wonderful programs and a few notable milestones – like being named Chapter of the Year and offering dynamic programming. In 2012, we will continue a winning tradition through great programs, networking and by offering opportunities to really get involved.

My New Year’s challenge to you all is to start setting those goals and make this month a December to remember! As we all reflect on our personal and professional accomplishments for the year, perhaps you’ll consider making the most of those accomplishments by entering a program in the Image Awards. Remember, the Chapter is here to help with two great programs in January focused on successful PR Planning.

As you continue to set those pesky New Year’s Resolutions, perhaps you will consider a resolution to: pursue your APR and participate in our chapter’s next preparation course, which will take place in on January 19 or volunteer on a committee.

Happy Holidays! Thank you all for your membership, and for helping to make our chapter a success!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Merry Mixer Replaces December Lunch

Mix, mingle and unwind on December 9 at the Chapter’s Member's Merry Mixer and Auction at JJ Taylor Distributing, 2040 Park 82 Drive, Fort Myers, FL 33905. The mixer replaces our December luncheon. Come out and enjoy some great networking at this can’t miss event! Plus One's Welcome. Tickets are $20/person.

Auction Items Include:
• Tickets to the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater
• An HP Office Jet Printer
• A Edison Estates Holiday Nights Package
• Restaurant Gift Certificates
• And More!

Interested in lending a hand? The Chapter is still looking for a few more auction items. Contact carla.ulakovic@gmail.com with any questions.

President's Word: Giving Thanks

By Carla Ulakovic
carla.ulakovic@gmail.com

November is a time to give thanks. It is a time to focus on building and celebrating relationships. Something that FPRA strives to do year round. Though, as the holiday inches nearer we are able to unplug from the monotony of working life for one day (or maybe two) and relax with family and friends. So this month I will deviate from the traditional “president’s word’’ and take the opportunity to share what I am thankful for:


FPRA Friends: As an all-volunteer organization, this chapter wouldn’t exist without its dedicated and passionate volunteers. And as individual’s we are fortunate to be surrounded by a supportive network of FPRA friends.

Education: The opportunities to expand my educational frontier through FPRA and other life endeavors.

Family Togetherness: Someone has to do the cooking, because I burn almost everything!

We’ve had an excellent start to the FPRA year and as you’ll see by this edition of the newsletter there’s a lot to report. So I keep it brief and simply say – I hope that you all have an opportunity to give thanks, relax and watch a little football!

Renewals, Scholarships and State News



Make Sure You Gift Yourself With Your FPRA Renewal!
With the holidays lurking right around the corner, everyone has their hands full for work and personal commitments. Don’t forget to get your renewal for FPRA turned in! Give yourself the gift of professional development and networking this holiday season and continue to see the rewards year round! All Members should have received your renewal notice in the mail last month, and if you have not received yours, please contact Jessica Clark, APR or renew online at http://www.fpra.org/. Any renewals after December 31, 2011 will have to pay a late fee in addition to your renewal.

If you have questions about membership or renewals, you can contact the president-elect and membership chair, Jessica Clark, APR at (239) 454-2071 or jessicaclark@shellpoint.org.

Membership Scholarships Available
Worried about the Cost of Membership or Renewals? Don’t panic!

We know that many individuals and organizations have had to make budget cuts or limit participation in many professional organizations. Because of this, the Southwest Chapter of FPRA has a limited number of membership scholarship opportunities available. If you are interested in a memberships scholarship, please send two to three paragraphs outlining your financial need, involvement in chapter activities, your commitment to professional development and how your participating in FPRA will benefit the chapter and your professional career to Jessica Clark, APR.

FPRA Treasures its Members!
This holiday season share the gift of FPRA! Help recruit a new FPRA member and you and that person will be entered into a drawing to receive a new Ipad ($500 value), a $200 Visa gift card or $300 of FPRA Professional Development bucks.

Have the applicant place your name on their application and the Chapter will submit the information to state upon approval of the application and turn it in to Membership Chair, Jessica Clark.

The deadline to enlist a new member is: December 31, 2011. Winners will be notified in January.

News from State
Each Quarter Chapter President’s and President-Elects travel to the FPRA State Board to meet with the Executive Committee to discuss FPRA business, events, programs and its future. The first meeting was held on October 21-22 and resulted in several changes for the upcoming year.

• State has revamped its newsletter to make in more user friendly and it will be issued monthly.
• It was announced that the 2013 Annual State Conference will be held in Tampa and will mark the 75th anniversary of FPRA be held in Tampa.
• The State Board Voted to increase membership dues next year. Professional - $175, Allied - $175, Multi-Institutional - $165 (first member of a company is $175, additional members are $165), Associate - $70 (membership good for one year only, intended for members who are temporarily unemployed), Retired Professional - $20, Student - $30
• In an effort to raise funds for FREF State will launch its "Every Member Campaign" in February and is asking every member to contribute. The campaign will run until May 1. The recognition for donors will become part of the President's Reception at conference and will be included in the cost of conference registration. There won't be any additional charge for donors or non-donors to this event. As a result, FPRA will not be hosting the auction at this year’s conference.

Pros Sharpen Their Skills at PRU

By Brian Hamman

"Don't make me do it.  Don't make me!" urged WINK News Anchor Lois Thome.  "Don't make me open your press release as an attachment."  Thome was the first in a list of distinguished speakers that presented to about 50 PR pros at PR University earlier this month.

Thome kicked off the day with a presentation on "Bad News Releases."  She shared tips including:
  • Send your release directly to the correct editor
  • Get to know a reporter in your field
  • Be persistent not a pest
Thome was followed by Michelle Bono, APR, CPRC, who outlined some of her award winning strategies for public relations planning.  Bono demonstrated how "Big Ideas" can get attention and convey a message.  One example was the flash mob her team used to raise awareness about a street project.

Other speakers on the agenda included:
  • Tara Tyler, "How Not to Write Commercials"
  • Dr. Hank Hine, "How We Opened the New Dali Museum and helped St. Pete become an International Arts Destination"
  • Kate Gooderham, APR, CPRC, "Sunshine Laws"
  • Joe Curley, APR, CPRC, "Crossing the International Border"
FPRA SWFL would like to thank sponsors:  The News-Press Media Group, LCEC, J.J. Taylor Distributing, Fort Myers River District.  Also, thanks to the Southwest Florida Community Foundation for offering half scholarships to non-profit attendees.

Credentialing Corner: RPIE

Advice, recommendations and news you can use from the chapter’s seasoned professionals

By Angie Strait, APR

The holiday season is here and soon we will say good-bye to 2011 and step into a new year full of promise and possibility. This is a great time to recalibrate your settings and figure out what it is you want to accomplish in 2012. People start mentioning New Year’s resolutions this time of year, but I want to challenge you to go further. After all, you are PR professionals and the key to your “promise and possibility,” may be as easy as R-P-I-E.

PR plans have helped professionals navigate their work for ages. The research, planning, implementation and evaluation process (RPIE) is a systematic way to strategize and execute goals for your company and/or clients. This year, take your work home with you! Write a PR plan for yourself. We all have goals and RPIE is your chance to make them a reality. Where do you want to go in 2012? Do you want to take on a new job, a new event or even the APR certification? Here are some questions to get you thinking about achieving your professional and personal goals:

• Who am I (personally and professionally)?
• Where do I want to go?
• What do I want to learn/accomplish?
• How do I want to get there?
• Who can help me on my journey?

Take the time to write your plan. Identify goals, target audiences, objectives and even a timeline and budget. As you work through the process you will see RPIE for what it really is - a multi-purpose tool and something you can utilize to achieve that laundry list of goals you keep for yourself. Get back to your PR roots and use RPIE to help guide your path in 2012. When I see you next year at this time, what will you boast as an accomplishment?

APR Note: For those of you putting “get my APR” on your goals lists – your knowledge, skill and understanding of the RPIE model counts for about 30 percent of the questions on the written exam. Remember, practice makes perfect!

APR Trivia Question

Q: Is there a certain number of years of public relations experience required before I can pursue Accreditation in Public Relations?


A: No; however, the Universal Accreditation Board strongly recommends candidates have five years of PR experience.

Social Media Corner: Facebook Etiquette

Debuting last month, this is the Social Media Corner. I hope you enjoyed the Google+ review. This month we're going to discuss the etiquette of Facebook and some best practices.

By Samantha Scott, APR

Etiquette is important on and offline. As a result, Alex Fernandez, social media strategist at our office, developed a few key points (a dos and don’ts list) to help you manage the content for your businesses Facebook Page. While many of us (via our personal Facebook profiles) are representatives of the brands we work for, proper social etiquette is a must, even when we’re off the clock.

DO NOT: Constantly self-promote.
DO: Provide a variety of different types of content, balanced with some promotional elements. We are using the social space to build relationships not be sales-y so use a 4:1 ratio. That means for every four interesting, useful, creative posts you make, you can post one promotional or sales driven post.

DO NOT: Invite me to everything.
DO: Be wary of over-inviting people to your events, meetings, groups, etc. All of these actions result in a notification message being sent to other Facebook users. It’s important to keep the 4:1 ratio when inviting your fans.

DO NOT: Post about every part of your day. TMI!
DO: Post useful, engaging content. This may seem like common sense, but we’ve all seen posts about someone that is bored, going out to the store, etc. While this probably won’t drive people away, how does it help build relationships? It’s business. Don’t forget.

DO NOT: Exhibit unrestrained braggadocio.
DO: Plug yourself, every now and then, using discretion. Since it doesn’t actually help your users, it’s important to keep your kudos in check. This is probably a good place to note that liking your own status isn’t fooling anybody.

Other suggestions would include personal updates on your Farmville status, inappropriate language or images, etc. Just remember, this is the digital face of your brand (aside from your website) and proceed with caution.

SWFL Starts Thinking About Image

By Carla Ulakovic
carla.ulakovic@gmail.com

Public relations professionals work year round manage brands, build communication campaigns, and enhance images year round. This month, the Southwest Florida Chapter challenges each member to reflect on your year of public relations successes and really begin thinking about projects you may be able to enter in the 2012 Image Awards Competition.

Maybe you launched a promotional campaign, held a special event, conducted an internal communication campaign, etc.

Image Awards offer an array of opportunities to showcase your hard work and provides the opportunity to showcase smaller projects like posters or calendars, news release, written speech, specialty item, electronic communications (including blogs, e-mail, newsletters and surveys), brochure, website or even a presentation. Since most of these projects are smaller in scope, entering your work in the “tools of the trade” categories B and C may be less overwhelming, especially to someone who has never submitted anything. This may end up being your formula for success!

There is even an opportunity for students to enter! Students can enter a written speech, news release, position paper or computer-generated communication like a website or PowerPoint. You can also enter any other category in the other professional divisions if you have something that doesn’t fit in the student division.

So put those thinking caps on and start thinking Image!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Presidents Word: Invest in yourself

In simple economics, we are taught to invest in things that appreciate in value. This is naturally true with cars and homes, but how often do we apply these principals to ourselves and our careers? If the goal is to increase your own personal value, then it should stand to reason that you should invest in opportunities that will help you attain your personal and professional goals.

Our Chapter Board is working hard to deliver value in 2011-2012 by bringing you ways to invest in your own futures through diverse programming; fulfilling networking events; and volunteer opportunities.

On Friday, November 4, you will have an amazing opportunity to invest in your future at PR University. The strategies, trends, tips and tactics you’ll learn in our Chapter’s largest professional seminar will be sure to make an impact on how you approach public relations. The intensive, full-day seminar provides valuable advice and a great opportunity to network. The speakers – truly some of the best in the business– will give you knowledge that you can use the moment you step out of the seminar actually begin achieving your goals.

We believe in helping individuals find the road to success. And to help in the journey, the Southwest Chapter has once again partnered with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and the News-Press to offer scholarships to students and non-profits for PRU registration.

Another great way to invest in your future is to volunteer your time to the Chapter and watch what your efforts can accomplish! Maybe volunteering to Chair Image, seems like a daunting task, but have you considered blogging an event or greeting guests at a Chapter luncheon?

We understand that everyone is doing more with less and are proud to offer membership scholarships to interested members as an investment in the future of our chapter. We also offer a strong support network for credentialing candidates who are looking at making the ultimate investment in their future by pursuing an APR or CPRC.

If you make the right investments now, your career will continue to appreciate in years to come.

So, I ask you to join the 2011-2012 board in an effort to make this another fantastic year for the Southwest Florida Chapter and pledge to:
  • Get involved in our chapter by, attending and supporting luncheons and events; volunteering on committees, sponsoring an event, writing articles for the newsletter or presenting at a luncheon.
  • Be ambassadors for FPRA and the public relations profession.

Scholarships Available for PR University

PR University - The Art of PR
Friday, November 4
8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Crowne Plaza Hotel

This full-day professional seminar will examine trends in the changing market and the fusion of new media and traditional communication elements - all while giving you the opportunity to sketch your first idea or create another masterpiece!

Be sure to register by October 28! Registration is $75 for members/$90 for non-members.

Non-profit scholarships offered for PRU
For the third year, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is offering a limited number of half-scholarships to local area non-profit organizations to attend PRU. The scholarship will be applied to the regular-registration cost. Non-profit organizations interested in applying should send a 50-word summary to Michelle Nagel at m@michelleinnovation.com. Only one member per organization can apply. Scholarships are on a first-come first-served basis.

Student Scholarships
Two students scholarships are available to PR University courtesy of the Fort Myers News-Press. Interested students should send a 50-word summary describing why they would like the scholarship to Michelle Nagel at m@michelleinnovation.com.

Test Your Knowledge: Monthly APR Trivia Question

To help sharpen your mind about all things APR, we are going to include a monthly trivia question in the newsletter.  The answer will be published in next month's newsletter.


Q: In which decade was the APR recognition born?

Lunch Recap: It’s all About Cross-Marketing

Boris Hughes, Business Development Manager for Hewlett Packard, spoke with the group about QR codes, direct mail and leveraging technology to make the biggest impact with your marketing / PR plans.

If you missed this lunch, you missed a good one!  Here are a few of the tips he shared:

Creating push in a pull world
The new thinking!
• Companies need to track and drive all marketing channels.
• Interactive print can drive users/buyers to appropriate SM sites and create a push in a pull world.
• This enables tracking and gives your clients the data they need to justify their marketing programs
• Create interactivity that is relevant and may not exist today i.e. www.facebook.com/youroffer/yourproduct
• Make it easy to find with QR codes and pURL$.

Click here to read the News-Press article covering his talk.

Next month, PR University will take the place of our luncheon. See the article in this month’s imPRess to learn how to sign up.

Credentialing Corner: Going for your APR the Practical Way

Advice, recommendations and news you can use from the chapter’s seasoned professionals
By: Samantha Scott, APR

As with most challenging or time consuming things in life, we tend to think there's time to do it later or there will be a better time. When it comes to studying for your APR, that may not be true.

As a business owner, I completely understand having a busy schedule, but if you're thinking about getting your APR, don't let obstacles become excuses. Really evaluate if this is something that you want and could benefit your career (which I guarantee you it will!), then make the plans to do it!

Here are a few tips from my experience:
  1. Plan ahead. In PR, we're used to planning and this should be no exception. Consider annual events, family and work commitments, etc. to determine when the best time will be for you.
  2. Set aside the time - every week. It's important to take this one bite at a time. You can't swallow all the information at once and if you get behind, you'll end up with a stomach ache.
  3. Attend the study sessions. We're fortunate that our chapter hosts study sessions to help you learn the material, prepare for your Readiness Review and ultimately the exam. Use this!
  4. Review your notes and do case studies. While knowing the definitions is important, the name of the game is application. Apply what you're learning to work, to previous projects and do practice case studies.
  5. Don't stress! It's easier said than done, but trust yourself and your abilities. Anyone can become an APR if they study and really apply the lessons to their everyday practices.
I knew going into it that I would learn more about our profession and how to do my job, but I learned so much more. I have a new perspective and know I am serving my clients better. It was worth the commitment and I hope you will take the leap too!

Social Media Corner: Google+

Introducing a new component to the FPRA SWFL newsletter - social media! Here we'll share news, trends and tools to use this form of communication. The world of communications is changing every day. There are more ways to share a message and more channels to monitor for our companies or our clients. With the recent launch of Google+, add more one to your list.

Now the third largest social network, Google+ is the newest player in the social media game. Originally launched in beta/test phase, they opened it up to the public in September. Now users can give people, business, websites and more a "+1" or in Facebook terms, a "like".

For those of you using social media, or at least monitoring it, for your company or your clients, here's another one to add to the list. It's yet another reputation management platform where customers can express if they like your company or not. Additionally, as a social channel, Google+ offers another way to engage with your target audience, but you have to earn it. Even if someone is using Google+ and connected with you, they have to select to see your news and material. This is going to require businesses to put really valuable material up - not just promotions, in other words really using social media for communications and relationship building rather than sales.

Right now, businesses can't create profiles - much like how Facebook started - but that option is expected a little later in the year. Stay tuned as we'll keep you posted on this and other social media news in future editions.

Time To Be Renewed!

It is hard to believe that it is the time of year where fall is upon it, and our “season” is about to kick into high gear. As PR Professionals, we all have so many things to remember with all the events and holidays right around the corner. But there is one other thing you don’t want to forget…to renew your FPRA membership! All Members should have received your renewal notice in the mail by now, and if not, it should be on its way. But did you know that there is another way to renew where you don’t have to wait for your form in the mail? You can actually handle it all online by visiting http://www.fpra.org/. If you have questions about membership or renewals, you can contact the president-elect and membership chair, Jessica Clark, APR at (239) 454-2071 or jessicaclark@shellpoint.org.

As a bonus, all members who renew by October 31 will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate to a local restaurant. So not only do you get all the great perks of membership, but you have the chance to win “dinner on FPRA” too!

Membership Scholarships
Worried about the Cost of Membership or Renewals? Don’t panic!

We know that many individuals and organizations have had to make budget cuts or limit participation in many professional organizations. Because of this, the Southwest Chapter of FPRA has a limited number of membership scholarship opportunities available. If you are interested in a memberships scholarship, please send two to three paragraphs outlining your financial need, involvement in chapter activities, your commitment to professional development and how your participating in FPRA will benefit the chapter and your professional career to Jessica Clark, APR.