Thursday, January 27, 2011

February Monthly Business Meeting: Social Media Success Stories

Considering using Facebook, Twitter, or other social media as a tool for marketing, public relations, or non-profit fundraising? Many in our area have found out that achieving social media success isn't as easy as it might look. The Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) Southwest Chapter presents "Southwest Florida Social Media Success Stories" at its February meeting. Panelists Jennifer Berg, Lydia Black, and Ginny Cooper will address the return on investment of social media and discuss their experiences with social media.

This event will be held on Monday, February 1. The luncheon meeting will begin at 11:30 a.m. Guests are welcome to attend.

Jennifer Berg
Berg currently serves as the Marketing and Communications Director for the Fort Myers Regional Partnership, Lee County’s Economic Development Office.As the Marketing and Communications Director, Berg is responsible for carrying forward the strategic marketing and communications plan for the Economic Development Office. She brings to her position a wealth of experience in a 15-year career that has spanned the spectrum of national advertising and public relations experience.

Lydia Black
Black has served as the Executive Director of the Lee County Alliance of the Arts for the past two years. She earned a Masters degree in Nonprofit Management and undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Communications. Before moving to Southwest Florida from Washington, DC, in 2005, she served as the Program Director for Eastern University’s Nonprofit Management programs. Black is an active community volunteer and is a member of Rotary Club of Fort Myers, Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, the Junior League and Gulf Coast Society of Fundraisers. In 2009, she was named a GulfShore Business 40 under 40 recipient and was recognized for her dedication to the Nonprofit Sector.

Ginny Cooper, APR, CPRC
Cooper founded her public relations and marketing agency following a long and varied career that spanned banking, retail sales and merchandising, journalism, real estate and human resources. Her agency, The Cooper Group, emphasizes both traditional and new media public relations.

In 2010, Cooper was invited to present a workshop at TWTRCON SF 2010, a national conference on the use of Twitter for business, headlined by representatives from some of the world’s foremost social media-savvy corporations such as Ford Motor Co., PRNewswire, H&R Block, Southwest Airlines and Edelman Digital.

The cost to attend the February luncheon meeting is $20 for members, $25 for non-members and $10 for students. Walk-ins are welcome for an additional fee of $5. For reservations or information, visit

Click here to register today!

Friday, January 14, 2011

President's Word: Coloring Outside the Lines

By: Pamela Nulman, APR, CPRC
FPRA SWFL President

As we turn the page on a new year and are deluged with year-end lists, resolution lists and inspirational articles about starting the new year off on a positive note, I am reminded of interview I read recently with Jim Collins, author of the seminal business best-sellers Built to Last, Good to Great and How the Mighty Fall.  

Collins was speaking about the idea that life can be a work of art and that entrepreneurship is not only a business idea, but a life idea.  "You can either follow a paint-by-numbers-kit approach to life and do what everybody thinks you should do and stay within the accepted lines," said Collins, "or you can decide you want to create a masterpiece and start with a blank canvas."

I personally love the idea that come January 1 each year we all can pull out a fresh, new blank canvas and work on creating our next masterpiece.  Within that masterpiece we need to consider how are we going to prioritize our time, energy and resources.  How are we going to achieve the right blend of family, friends, spirituality, work and community? 

As you look at your own blank canvas for the coming year I hope you find FPRA is part your masterpiece. With a focus on professional development for public relations professionals and our allied partners, FPRA offers leadership opportunities, learning platforms and networking.

Although we have had to make a few tough decisions this year as an organization, including raising membership dues for the first time in 10 years and increasing the cost of attending our regular monthly meetings to $20 from $18 for members, we believe the value we return to our members well offset the slight increase in costs. 

Here are just a few suggestions on how you can become more involved and leverage your membership in the coming months:
  • Network and connect with other professionals at "The Great Unwind" on Friday, January 28th.  
  • Pursue your APR (Accreditation in Public Relations) and/or CPRC (Certified Public Relations Counselor) credentials. Preparation classes begin soon.
  • Enhance your leadership skills by joining the leadership team or board of directors.  Nominations for the 2011/2012 board begin in March.
  • Celebrate your success by entering the annual Image Awards and Golden Image Awards this year.   
  • Plan to attend FPRA's monthly meetings to learn the latest in trends, leadership skills and public relations strategies and tools.
  • Contemplating starting a blog but not quite ready to take the leap?  Join the state conference blog team and dip your toe in the water before jumping in.
Read on to find more information on each of these areas within this issue of ImPRess. 

This is an exciting time to be in public relations and I encourage you to include involvement in FPRA as part of your plans for the coming year.

I, for one, plan to spend most of the year coloring outside the lines as I work on my masterpiece. Join me and let's get out and make it a great year.

Credentialing Corner

By: Melissa Simontis, APR

Simply put, branding is about the FEELING associated with a product or company rather than the product itself. Yet, branding isn’t just for products and organizations. What about personal branding? Are you actively taking charge of brand YOU?

Based on my own research over several years, here are a few tips on how to make personal branding a conscious and ongoing effort.

The most important part of personal branding is figuring out how to distinguish yourself from all the very smart and talented people around you every day. While reputation is important, branding is more than your track record. It’s about creating a message and strategy to promote YOU.

Ask yourself these questions…

What makes you different from your colleagues and competitors? What have you done this week to make yourself stand out? What would your customers and co-workers say are your greatest strengths? What do you do that you’re most proud of? What do you want to be known for?

After you’ve defined your brand, you must gain visibility. How? Sign-up for an extra project at work to showcase your skills, take on a freelance project that introduces you to new people, teach a class, write for a local newspaper column, get yourself on a panel discussion, win some awards.

Everything you do – and everything you choose not to do – communicates the value and character of your brand. From the way you handle phone calls and email messages to the way you conduct business meetings. All these little pieces make-up the larger message you’re sending about your brand.

Another key to growing your brand is realizing that personal branding isn’t all about you. Personal branding is largely about serving others… to make other people successful first, or to help solve other people’s problems. Each success you have while building your personal brand is the result of others endorsing you. Surround yourself with the right people, deliver quality services and make them look good!

If all of this wasn’t time consuming enough, you have to continuously evaluate the value of your brand. Always insist on honest, helpful feedback on your performance. It is necessary for you reinvent yourself by learning new skills on a regular basis.

Personal branding is a simple concept, yet hard to do and inescapable. You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. And, there is no single path to success. The good news is that everyone has a chance to stand out; a chance to learn, improve and build your skills.

So, if you haven’t done so yet, get started! There is no better time to take charge of brand YOU!

EDITORS NOTE: Melissa Simontis, APR, is the FPRA SWFL Chapter’s newest APR.

Wanted: Bloggers for State Conference in August.

Now’s your chance to jump in and help blog at the state conference.  If you’d like to be part of the blog team this year, please contact Chris Gent, VP of Technology, as soon as possible.  It requires a lot of planning to cover each session so the earlier Chris can pull his team together, the better for all.  You can reach Chris at:

Welcome to our newest members!

Please join us in welcoming Janelle Beaber and Yvette Bone, the newest members of the FPRA, Southwest Florida Chapter!

Janelle is with The Foundation for Lee County Schools and Yvette is with The Corridor.

Welcome ladies! We are happy that you have chosen to join our chapter!

Local Image Awards 2011: Tips for Success

The Call for Entries for Local Image Awards will be sent in late January. It will contain all the information you need for an Image entry including judging criteria, awards presented, rules for entry, deadlines and where submissions need to be sent, descriptions of each of the divisions and categories, entry fees, the official entry form and an entry checklist.

Whether you are new to the process or a seasoned Image participant, use the Call for Entries as your step-by-step guide to staying on track. A new project is kind of like your very own PR science experiment – you have a hypothesis or great idea, develop a plan, consider and address the variables, observe and collect data, create back-up materials, formulate the project results and come up with a final conclusion.

One very helpful hint is to ask someone who is not invested in the project to review your entry. A colleague, with a fresh perspective and eyes, may notice something that needs to be corrected or clarified.

And finally – we know we mentioned it last month, but make sure you proofread and present your project in the best way possible. We have a new chapter judging our entries this year. So, let’s show the Pensacola chapter what great work Southwest Florida professionals are doing in the PR field!

“The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious.” - Marcus Aurelius

FPRA's Pro Bono Day

The Southwest Florida Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association

Invites you to PR Pro Bono Day

Friday, March 18
12:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Lee County Elections Center
13180 S. Cleveland Avenue in Ft. Myers
(Behind Robb & Stucky across from Bell Tower Shops)


Be with some of Southwest Florida’s most distinguished public relations professionals for FREE advice on how achieve results for your organization!

Session 1: Panel Discussion 12:30-2:30

PR Driving Results for Non-Profits - Samantha Scott, Pushing the Envelope, Inc

The Art of Procuring Sponsorships - Gail Lamarche, Henderson Franklin Attorneys at Law

Building a Team for Effective Branding - Karen Ryan, APR, CPRC, LCEC

The Importance of Planning & Research - Mary Briggs, APR, CPRC, Briggs & Rogers

Session 2: Roundtable Discussions 2:45-4:30

Social Media Do’s & Don’ts- Carla Ulakovic, Communications Consultant

Creative Design That Inspires Action- Matt Connar, Boost Creative

Press Releases & Media Kits- Laurel Smith, APR, Gravina Smith Matte & Arnold

Media Relations & Getting Camera Ready- Susan Bennett, APR, CPRC, Susan Bennett Marketing & Media, L.C.

*Attendees are encouraged to bring samples of their work for feedback from our experts.

About FPRA: Established in 1938, FPRA is the oldest public relations organization in the country. FPRA is dedicated to developing public relations practitioners, who, through ethical and standardized practices, enhance the public relations profession in Florida. PR Pro Bono Day was created in 2009 at the Southwest Florida chapter’s annual community service project. For more information, visit

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Great Unwind!

It is time to mix, mingle and unwind with FPRA friends!

When: Friday, Jan. 28, 2011

Time: 5:30—7:30 p.m.
Cost: $15, includes two drink tickets

Where: Art of the Olympians
1300 Hendry St.
Fort Myers, FL

A special thanks to J.J. Taylor Distributing for their support.