Friday, September 30, 2011

PR Pro Bono Day - Session 1

Events: How to Bring in the Cash
Ginny Cooper of The Cooper Group opened PR Pro Bono Day with a presentation on her area of expertise: Events.
In Lee County, there are more than 2,100 nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations, with another 1,800+ operating in Collier County.  Clearly, there is a lot of competition for donor dollars.
A quick look at the Gulfshore Life charity register reveals 326 major fundraisers in our area, most of which are held during the high season months, all battling for the attention of donors.
How to compete?
Be daring, be different, and be diligent.

Be Daring: Don't be afraid to strike out and do something our area has never seen. 
  • The Red Cross "Star Struck" dance competition was the first of its kind in our area, and has been duplicated many times.  Cooper helped the Red Cross create "star" themed silent auction packages, and the creative merchandising of the packages brought in 30% more profit. 
  • The PACE Grand Dames Tea was another new, one-of-a-kind event. Cooper suggests that the event itself shouldn't be the only fundraiser, and that you should continue the opportunities for giving beyond the event.
  • Another PACE event, Love That Dress, allows people to create ownership in the event by donating dresses and by hosting dress donation parties. 
Be Different:  Make your event stand out. 
  • Take a different approach.  Even though more than 10% of our local fundraisers listed in the Charity Register are Golf Tournaments, it's possible to make even a common-sounding event stand out. Several years ago, the Lifetime Family Center started a Golf Marathon, which allowed people to play as many holes as possible and take pledges from supporters to raise funds.
  • Use a different theme.  The golf marathon was during the peak of the series "Survivor," and the tournament was branded using a "Survivor" theme, with mini events and challenges, survival-themed gifts, and even a million-dollar hole in one competition.
  • Find a way to stand out.  Eleven years ago, when VHS tapes were the medium of choice, the Edison Ford Gala was the talk of the town by issuing their invitations on videotape.
Be Diligent: Success is in the details.
  • Never assign yourself an event duty.  Instead, delegate responsibilities, and allow yourself to check in to make sure things are being accomplished the way you want.
  • Plan everything way in advance.  Prepare your timeline by starting with the event date and working backwards.  For example, know when you need the number of guests for the caterer, and set your RSVP date at least a full week before that.  Make sure guests receive their invitations at least 3-4 weeks before the RSVP date.  Prepare the rest of your timeline accordingly.  
  • Know that there will be problems. (and just hope that they're ones that your guests won't notice)
  • Never run out of food and drink (and chances are, your guests won't notice the problems if they're still well-fed).
Cooper also offered a few more tips to help your event run smoothly-- and also to get as much value as possible from your event:
Sponsorships: Sponsors get involved for one of three reasons- either for cause marketing, for image building, or because they're devoted to their communities.
The sponsors have three primary expectations.  First, they expect to get a 3-to-1 return on their investment.  Second they don't require (and often don't want) tickets to the event.  Third, they do want proof of performance after the event, in the form of testimonials, photos, screenshots, copies of ads and articles, and more.
Caterers: When you're shopping for a caterer, make sure you're comparing apples to apples.  In other words, present them with a menu and a budget, and see what they're able to do with it.  If everyone is presenting you with different menus and different prices, you'll never truly know which is the best value.
Event Management: Cooper reminds to not forget permits and codes when preparing your event-- especially if you're in a nontraditional location.  You don't want the fire marshal shutting down your event.  In addition, she cautions to write everything down, because you have a lot to remember, not only for this year's event but for future events.  Also, remember to budget carefully and always allow a 10% contingency.

Thanks to Ginny Cooper of The Cooper Group for helping our guests learn how to make the most of their events at PR Pro Bono Day!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

President's Word: A New Year, Beyond Words

As we embark on another FPRA year we welcome a new slate of board members and leadership chairs to the Southwest Florida Chapter of FPRA and strive to go Beyond Words.

We are living in a time where the economic challenges are changing business landscapes and organizations are doing more with less. The communications frontier is in a state of flux as the culture, strategies, and tactics of public relations begin to change on the rise of the social media wave. With the continued diversification of tools and technologies, some argue that “specialists’’ are fading. All the while, we must stay on the cutting edge of emerging trends while staying true to the traditions and core principles that make public relations what it's all about: relationships, planning and strategy, ethics and beyond.

In 2011-2012, SWFL FPRA will go Beyond Words to continue to build strong community ties; create more opportunities for member engagement; and offer a diverse array of programming rooted in public relations core principals and emerging trends.

I’d like to thank each of these volunteers for making a commitment to FPRA; it is their talent and dedication that will make 2011-12 a successful year for our chapter. A big thanks also goes out to Immediate Past President, Pam Nulman, APR, CPRC and her 2010-2011 board for all of their hard work. We have big shoes to fill, but I know this year’s board is up to the challenge!

Our complete list of board members and leadership chairs can be found below. Please feel free to contact any of us with questions about the chapter or how you can get more from your membership.

Our chapter will always welcome ideas for luncheon program topics and speakers. If you have a topic in mind or know of a dynamic speaker, please don’t hesitate to offer your ideas to myself or our programs chair, Merrilu Bennet.

The full Fall Calendar of events is now posted and ready for you to register! I hope you will join us on October 11 for our first luncheon program of 2011.

It is an honor to serve as your President for 2011-2012. I look forward to seeing you at our luncheons and social events and hearing your ideas on making FPRA an important part of your professional development.

September Luncheon: New Leadership Team Installed

Kate Gooderham, APR, CPRC installs new president Carla Ulakovic
 A new leadership team is in charge of the SWFL FPRA.  Kate Gooderham, APR, CPRC installed the new the new team led by President Carla Ulakovic.  Below is a list of the 2011-2012 leadership:

President: Carla Ulakovic
President-Elect: Jessica Clark, APR
Immediate Past President: Pam Nulman, APR, CPRC
Secretary: Laura Puerto
Treasurer: Michelle Nagel
VP Communications: Kirsten O'Donnell
VP Member Relations: Melissa Simontis, APR
VP Community Relations: Tiffany Esposito
VP Professional Development: Kate Gooderham, APR, CPRC
Also at the luncheon, the SWFL FPRA scholarship winners to this year's Annual Conference shared their experiences.  Some of the highlights were the incredible key note speakers, break out sessions on building an image your way, advance social media and crisis communications.
Next month's luncheon is October 11 at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater 11:15 a.m. - 1 p.m.  Click here to register.

Sponsorship Opportunities Available

The Southwest Florida Chapter of FPRA has revitalized its sponsorship package to include an array of opportunities, from monthly luncheon sponsorships, to individual professional development seminars and annual sponsorships.

For the nominal fee, your business or organization can be recognized at FPRA and reach more than 85 public relations professional who represent businesses across Lee, Hendry and Collier counties. Sponsorships help connect members and the organizations they represent to businesses and organizations in the local community; educating an influential segment of the community about your business offerings. In addition, sponsorship contributions will help FPRA to support our FGCU student chapter’s scholarships, professional scholarships and community professional development series. To inquire, please contact our Carla Ulakovic.

Big Thanks To Our Sponsors

LCEC - Platinum Sponsor
Established in 1940, Lee County Electric Cooperative, Inc. (LCEC) is a not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative. Beginning with 15 miles of distribution line and 158 members, LCEC now has over 8,000 miles of distribution and transmission line, more than 197,000 customers, and is one of the largest electric cooperatives in the nation.

J.J. Taylor Companies, Inc. – Premium Sponsor

J.J. Taylor is a local beverage distributor for many import and domestic malt beverage products, including MillerCoors, Diageo/Guinness, Heineken USA, and a variety of craft brews such as Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Cigar City and Blue Moon.  J.J. Taylor serves more than 10,000 retail customers in seventeen Florida counties and has over 670 full time employees across the state.  

Credentialing Corner: Now’s the time to give APR some thought

By Kara Winton, APR, CPRC
Credentialing Chair

Do you have five years of public relations experience? Are you ready to challenge yourself to learn more about strategic and measurable PR tactics? Do you want to take your career to the next level and earn international recognition? Then it’s time to consider pursuing Accreditation in Public Relations, APR.

You won’t be alone, and you won’t regret the move!

The Southwest Florida chapter provides significant support and resources for candidates pursuing accreditation. Study sessions will begin in February, but now’s the best time to consider whether it’s time for you to make the move. Here are some simple steps you can take now, so there’s no rush come February:

  • Email me at and let me know you are interested. I will keep you updated prior to the start of study sessions and answer any questions you might have before then. 
  • Check out the official APR website for details about the accreditation process: 
  • Order the textbook and start reading. Candidates who start, or even finish the textbook prior to the start of study sessions with a huge leg up. Start now and take it slow, or wait until the sessions begin and the workload will be more taxing.
Between the holidays and the start of the busy tourist season, February will be here before you know it. Take the time now to begin your quest for those coveted initials – APR!

Congratulations Angie Strait, APR!

Angie Strait has earned the designation of Accredited in Public Relations (APR). Strait is a public affairs coordinator for the Lee County Port Authority.

To earn accreditation, candidates must pass an oral presentation and a rigorous written examination administered by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), which is an alliance of eight national and statewide professional associations dedicated to furthering the field of public relations and the development of public relations professionals. FPRA is a member of the UAB.

Strait is the fourth member of the FPRA Southwest Florida Chapter to earn the APR credential this year. She joins more than 4,300 active public relations professionals worldwide who represent an elite group of highly skilled professionals committed to practicing with exemplary ethical standards.

A Cape Coral resident, Strait is a member of the Lee County Port Authority’s public affairs team. Her department is responsible for the promotion of Southwest Florida International Airport and Page Field, through media relations and public information/marketing communications, special events, community relations programs, corporate citizenship and employee communications.

Prior to joining the Port Authority, Angie was the watermelon breeding research assistant for Sakata Seed America, Inc., where she was responsible for assisting the watermelon plant breeder with all aspects of their global watermelon research program including product marketing and branding. She has also served as the Michigan State University Extension – Jackson County 4-H Youth Agent and interned at the White House in the President’s photography office.

Upcoming Events

In an effort to help everyone plan for upcoming Chapter events, our leadership team has been hard at work to ensure events are planned ahead of time.

The Fall Quarter includes:
• Friday, September 30, 12:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. – PR Pro Bono Day
• Tuesday, October 11, 11:15 a.m. – 1 p.m. Monthly Business Meeting - Latest Trends & Tools to Increase Your Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) – A look at QR Codes
• Friday, November 4, 8:30 a.m. – 4:45 pm. – PR University
• Friday, December 9, 5 p.m. – 7 pm., Merry Mixer and Auction.

Mind Your P's and Q's at October Luncheon ....purl's and QR Codes that is!

October 11 is going to be one of those meetings you just shouldn't miss! Boris Hughes of Hewlett-Packard will discuss new interactive marketing tools and site case studies and HP campaigns that successfully integrate technology like pURLs, QR codes, Multi Channel Communications, and much more.  Boris has over 15 years of experience in international executive level solutions, strategy and business development. Register today!

Call for Auction Items

On Friday, December 9, the Southwest Florida will host a member mixer in place on the monthly luncheon. The event will feature a beer tasting provided by JJ Taylor and a silent auction to raise funds for the many professional development opportunities our Chapter hosts. We are asking members to help coordinate auction items, so please reach out to the community and your clients and help make this a wonderful event. Contact Carla Ulakovic with any questions.

Membership Renewals

It is that time of year again! As a current FPRA member, you should have received a renewal application in the mail. Renewal Applications should be turned into the state office no later than October 31.

We realize that times are tough for businesses and the SWFL Chapter offers membership scholarships to our valuable membership base. If you are in need of financial assistance, please submit a brief statement to membership chair, Jessica Clark, APR outlining your need and involvement in FPRA for consideration.

Changes in Membership Opportunities: Student-To-Professional Membership

There is a new membership category available for recent college graduates! To help encourage our rising stars to invest in their futures as public relations professionals, the state organization has created the Student-to-Professional Membership.
The Student-to-Professional Membership is available to any person professionally qualified by education, who has graduated within the past 12 months from an accredited college or university with a degree in a related field of public relations/communications, devotes at least 50 percent or more of his/her working time to public relations activities, and pays his/her own dues shall be eligible for the student-to-professional membership.

This membership is available for a maximum of one year from date of joining. Membership applications are available on

Membership survey

On Monday, September 12 the chapter sent out a membership survey. Please take a moment to fill out the short, ten-question survey to better help leadership understand your thoughts on the organization and plan programming for the year: