Friday, December 28, 2012

I can't live without...

My wireless mouse and keyboard

By: Trish Robertson

Being a lefty in a right-handed world, you can get accustomed to certain things like cutting with regular scissors and even learning how to bat right-handed on a softball team, but some things like controlling your mouse with your right hand is just not comfortable.

My co-workers tease me regularly because I’m constantly re-arranging my office, but it’s been since I got my new wireless mouse and keyboard last year that I’ve rearranged anything.  Having these two items allow me to place everything exactly where I need it to feel comfortable without having to run wires and cables all across my office. 

Speaking of rearranging…I think it’s due time to see how my cork board looks behind me…

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Calling PR Pros!!

Have you ever considered volunteering in a leadership role for the Southwest Chapter of FPRA?  If so, this is the perfect opportunity for you, the chapter is searching for our next PR University Chair.  This position can be a single chair, or it can have two co-chairs.  PRU has been an annual event for years, so the resources and ‘blueprint’ are already in place, and previous committee members are willing to assist in the planning.  PRU chairs can also form a committee to help in the planning of this exceptional event.  This is a great opportunity to try out a leadership role for FPRA and start taking the steps to other positions in the future.  For more information about this, please contact Carla Ulakovic at  

Southwest Florida Chapter Community Connection: Opportunities to Give Back as a PR Professional

Interested in a new way to give back? How about the FPRA Community Connection?

As public relations professionals we have unique strategies and skills that may benefit our area’s non-profit organizations who are facing challenges generating awareness or raising funds.  You can help! 

By giving just a few hours per year of your time, you can be connected to one of our qualifying organizations to consult for advice on implementing a special event, creating a fundraising campaign or helping develop a PR plan.

Pro Bono Consultant requires:
*At least five years experience in public relations
*Three to four hours of your time per year as a pro bono consultant
*A follow up report to the FPRA Board

If you meet the criteria and are interested in giving back in this way, please email by Feb. 15, 2013 and let us know.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

President's Word

I know we all feel that the years go by faster and faster, which is probably due in part to the very busy schedules we all keep in the field of PR.  I hope that each and every one of you had a wonderful holiday with your families and friends.  I feel like we all have multiple families, with FPRA being a family in and of itself.  I have found that over the years I have made so many great friends due to my membership in FPRA, and I truly value them all.  Knowing how amazing this organization is, I hope you invite others to join our FPRA “family” to further enhance not only their professional lives, but their personal lives as well. 

We have a great opportunity coming up for anyone interested in learning more about our chapter.  Just before the January 8 business meeting at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater, we will host a  “new member orientation” that will offer an overview of the many ways FPRA can help you realize your professional goals and how to make the most of membership.  For more information, contact Melissa Cofta at  Make sure to sign up online for the January Business meeting as well, where Allison Blankenship will cover “Communicating Under Pressure.”   Let’s make sure that 2013 is another great year for the Southwest Chapter of FPRA!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December Member Spotlight

In a time of reflection of the past year and preparing for the new one, Tiffany Esposito-Kittinger, APR, certainly has accomplished a lot this year and has some pretty good advice for us pertaining to her journey earning her APR. If you are setting goals to finally get accredited, be sure to check out our interview below with Ms. Esposito-Kittinger!

What do you feel was your biggest challenge (or fear) was getting your accreditation (the test, number of flash cards, etc)? 
My biggest fear going in was the readiness review which is an oral presentation in front of a panel. Everyone told me that it was the easiest part but I was still concerned. It ended up being the easiest part and afterwards I was kicking myself for getting so worked up about it. In my opinion, the most difficult part of the process was the written readiness review portion that I had to submit prior to the oral presentation. It wasn’t difficult just very time consuming and I felt like I could constantly add to it.

In a short summary, can you provide the steps you took to get your APR (classes, readiness reviews…)?

The first thing I did was research. I wanted to know what I was getting myself into. I spoke to Kara Winton, the chapter’s credentialing chair, and she told me all about the process and where I could find additional information. I read everything on the UAB and FPRA websites regarding accreditation and decided it was something I was ready to pursue.

After I made the commitment I started attending the study sessions with Kara. They were once a week for about three hours. I was getting married three months after I started this process and was determined not to study on my honeymoon so the next thing I did was create a timeline with Kara’s help. We set milestone dates, scheduled my oral review, submitted my official application to the UAB and I started studying. Kara does an amazing job structuring the study sessions to make the entire process palatable. I did small sections of the written readiness review each week and worked on my oral presentation plan and materials as I went. I think the key to the process is to take it in small bites. It is a lot of work and not something you can do in a weekend. I also studied the flash cards as I went and the day before I sat for the written exam I literally did nothing but study flash cards for 13 hours just memorizing definitions and concepts.

During this time I was also taking two graduate courses at FGCU so I treated it like another class and did the work alongside my homework. I did my readiness review oral presentation a month before I took the written exam and sat for the written portion five days before my wedding. I received the official letter in the mail stating that I passed the day of my wedding. It was the best wedding present ever!

If you can give a piece of advice to someone who is preparing to take the next step and earn their APR, what would that be?

Something I would have changed was to have completed the study sessions before submitting my written readiness review and doing my oral presentation. After I was finished with the entire process I felt like I could have added a lot more to my readiness review to make it better but since I was on a tight timeline I rushed through it a bit. Someone once told me that a graduate degree is not a sprint, it’s a marathon and I feel like the APR process is the same way. It should be more of a marathon than a sprint.

Some other advice…don’t be afraid of it. It is not as scary as it looks. It can be overwhelming at first but the great thing is that you can go at your own pace. It is an incredibly rewarding experience and I honestly learned more through the accreditation process than I did in my undergraduate degree (which is in PR). 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Image Tip!

Your 2013 Image Committee has already started working on this year’s program. We held our first call with the state association, have developed a theme and will be putting out deadlines for submitting your entries shortly.

But, in the meantime, we want to tell you something that will really help as you think about your projects and prepare to enter the competition. It is quite simple, but very important – the “devil is in the details!”

We know it seems obvious, but it really may be your key to success. 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 is a certain way to submit or present your entry, what should be included and how your presentation materials need to be formatted. We have seen award-worthy projects fail to win or, even worse, be disqualified for wrong formatting, sloppy presentation and typos in written materials.

Put most of your effort into the 2-Page Summary. Seventy percent of your score is based on the summary of your project that states 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. 

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 them 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. Show the judges what you did – this is your opportunity to be creative!
Read the Call for Entries, use the checklist and follow the specific directions. And, of course, your Image Committee is here to help you at any time.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Join us! January 2013 Chapter Luncheon

I Wish I’d Said That! 
How to Motivate, Persuade and Communicate Under Pressure

With Allison Adams Blankenship

In a crazy world of tweets, texts and viral videos, you only have a few seconds to get your message heard.  Discover how to cut through the clutter with a message that is targeted and persuasive in just 3 simple steps.  Increase your client compliance up to 93% by using one single word.  And, create immediate buy-in and motivation by answering the one question every person asks.

Allison Adams Blankenship is an author, trainer and motivational speaker on accelerating results through powerful communication and priority management.  Blankenship is one of FPRA’s first 100 APRPs and the former regional director of Public Relations for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.  She is the author of 3 books on communication, life-balance and change and was named the Florida Speaker of the Year by the Florida Speaker’s Association.

January Luncheon
Tuesday, January 8th 2013

$20 for members    $25 for non-members    $10 for students

Register today!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Monthly APR Trivia: December

Question: Candidates for Accreditation in Public Relations must master the art of writing SMART objectives in the public relations planning process. The acronym reminds candidates that objectives must be: (S) Specific, (M) Measurable, (A) Attainable, (R) Realistic and (T) _____. What does T stand for?

Answer: Timely. SMART objectives must be measured over a specified time period.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Going Mobile with Social Media

By: Jessica Boles

The future of mobile social networking is inevitable. Nearly half of the world’s social media users are visiting media sites from their phones. What does this mean for marketing your company or business?

More people these days are “on the go” and using their cell phones for not only phone calls and text messages, but social media networking. Consumers are watching videos, using apps and creating message services (think “Text-to-Win” contests). Companies can create videos using Viddy, a new social network focusing on sharing 15 second clips. They can post their videos to YouTube. They can create mobile apps from AppMakr, MyAppBuilder or MobiCart. They can create messaging services through Short Message Service (SMS) or Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). The possibilities are becoming endless.

One of the biggest misconceptions for small businesses is assuming that mobile marketing is for large corporations and huge budgets. Not so. A good social media marketer can create a buzz in the social media without spending a dime. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Don't forget to renew your membership! 5 reasons you should register today!

Membership Renewal Deadline 12/31!
Attention all non-renewed members, the renewal deadline (12/31/12) is QUICKLY approaching! If you haven't done so yet, let me give you a few reasons to take care of it:

  1. You can do it online -!
  2. You'll avoid paying the $25 late fee!
  3. You must renew by December 31st to be included in the printed 75th Anniversary Membership Directory. 
  4. If you have your APR, you can no longer use that designation if you don't maintain membership in one of the UAB organizations.
  5. You'll miss out on all the awesome perks of SWFL chapter membership!

Have questions or need help? Contact Samantha Scott, APR at

2012 Merry Mixer Recap

As we begin our journey into the holiday season, many would probably consider our chapter’s Merry Mixer as a kick-off to this year’s holiday party season!

Last Thursday evening, the Art of the Olympian’s lobby was filled with auction items, good food and smiles from an attendee population that seemed to have tripled from last year’s event. And if you stayed after the auction, you may have even been able to catch a little dancing from our chapter president…
Some attendees this year had all the luck during the Chinese auction raffle! With items from hand-crafted wreaths to end zone Everblades tickets, each donated item from local companies and individuals will be sure to make someone’s holiday season bright! 


We raised approximately $1,900 in profit at this year's mixer.  This money will help support student engagement, scholarship opportunities and professional development for the members of the Southwest Chapter!

Thank you to Jessica Clark APR and to all of the leadership team  for assisting with the event. And another huge thank you to our wonderful and very appreciated sponsors:  LCEC, Shell Point Retirement Community, Flame Productions, Charlotte Behavioral Healthcare, JJ Taylor, Owen-Ames-Kimball Company, Costco Wholesale, Jack & Michael Elias, Inc, New Beginnings Entertainment, Art of the Olympians, and Riversedge Lifestyle Photography.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

APR credentialing classes are coming up soon!

2013 APR study sessions set to begin with informational meeting 

Are you ready 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. 16, 2013 for an informational meeting. We will talk about 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., Wednesday, Jan. 16. If you are interested in attending, please email me and I will let you know the location of the meeting. Or if you have questions, please feel free to email me as well.

Credentialing Chair