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

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!

If you want to connect with the chapter on Twitter visit To connect with the author, Samantha Scott, visit

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

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,

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!