Friday, August 30, 2013

Register Today: September Luncheon

Jeff Mielke
Lee County Sports Development

September 17, 2013
11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Broadway Palm
1380 Colonial Blvd
Fort Myers, FL

Join us for our September luncheon meeting when we welcome Jeff Mielke, executive director of Lee County Sports Development. Mielke will discuss the business of sports tourism and how public relations professionals can capitalize on it.

Mielke has been the executive director of the Lee County Sports Development (LCSD) since its creation in 2003 where he has increased sports tourism by over 450%. He works closely with municipal Parks & Recreation Departments, Florida Gulf Coast University, and local sports clubs to market the region as a destination for state, national and international sporting events and sports business. He was previously the vice president of operations for the Central Florida Sports Commission in Orlando and marketing manager for Osceola County Sports. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sports Management from Florida State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management from the University of Missouri.

The chapter will also install its new slate of 2013-2014 officers.

$20 members   $25 non-members   $10 students
Thank you to our sponsor:

President's Word: A sign off from our 2012-2013 president and an introduction to Samantha Scott, APR 2013-2014 president

Jessica Clark, APR
FPRA SWFL Chapter President 2012-2013
Well, it is the time of year where we welcome a new Board and Leadership Team for the Southwest Chapter of FPRA.  Serving as President this year has been fun and rewarding for me in so many ways.  As in any role in life, you have the great times, and the challenging times.  But I think if you surround yourself with great role models, friends, and professionals, no matter how challenging something is, you can come out just fine in the end. 

I can’t believe that a year has passed from when I first took over, time really does fly when you are having fun.  In the past year, I have learned so much about our profession, about our members, and about myself.  Personally I am taking away skills that I never knew I had, and am so glad to have learned.  I know that I have grown because of the great knowledge from our chapter leaders and members, and I would encourage everyone to truly consider stepping into a leadership role, and maybe even becoming President themselves one day.  It is an eye-opening and awesome experience!

Every single person who served on the Board and Leadership team this year made 2012-2013 an amazing year, and I appreciate the efforts of all of you!  I know that the incoming team is complete with talented and fantastic professionals, and friends, and I look forward to seeing what else our future holds. 

Thanks again for allowing me to serve as Chapter President for the SWFL Chapter! 

Samantha Scott, APR
FPRA SWFL Chapter President 2013-2014
What a way to kick off a new year for the Southwest Chapter of FPRA! Jessica Clark, APR, our outgoing President is honored as President of the Year at the Annual Conference and many of our members brought home awards as well! It’s certainly an exciting time to be a member and I’m excited to begin my term as President of this outstanding organization.
As emphasized by her award, Jessica served our chapter faithfully and with great zest this year. It was under her leadership that our chapter continued to grow, exceed goals and add services for our members – you! I will work to continue this effort, further enhancing member benefits and also supporting our future generation of leaders through our student members.
Thank you for your support and encouragement as we kick off the new year and I look forward to growing along with all of you this year.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Student FPRA members recap on their experiences at Conference: Andrew Casademunt

As a Business Management major at Florida Gulf Coast University, the FPRA conference breakout sessions really helped me understand how public relations is important in the business community. When I went to the HMA, “When 60 Minutes Comes Calling” breakout session, it really gave me some important tips when it comes to interviewing reporters and trying to save your brand image. The breakout sessions gave me great tips and taught me that it is important to gather all of your data and have it ready to protect or attack the situation.  I also liked the fact that the company gathered its information and was ready to interview with 60 minutes before they were called by the producers.

At FGCU I took an Entrepreneurship and Creativity course, and in that course I was involved in creating a new product or service that would have to be pitched to Angel Investors. Since I took that course, I have an invention idea that I want to bring to the market, but I don’t really have a marketing plan to reach my target market. Since I went to the “Going Mobile Breakout Session” with Michael Winn, he gave some super interesting and effective tips to reach potential customers with a low marketing budget.  The best tip he mentioned in his breakout session was about developing a web based application instead of using a closed system app like Apple or Android. This information really has inspired me to use this web based application for smart phones in my business so I can reach mobile web users (smartphones and tablets) more effectively. I really thought the conference gave me important information about how public relations is important for your business. 

My all-time favorite breakout session from conference would have to be “When 60 Minutes Comes Calling!” led by MaryAnn Hodge and David Green. This was my favorite session, because it was interesting to see what happened when the TV show “60 Minutes” contacted Health Management Associates and how they had some pretty strong accusations against the company. As well, I got to see how much work it takes to handle a situation like this, and how HMA had to team up with their company’s PR partner to figure out a game plan.

Overall, this breakout session gave me a lot of insight into what can really happen at any given second when you are in the business world. Communication is such an important aspect, because it is what can make or break a company. If a company has excellent communication skills, then they are typically able to take on any given situation. They are also the ones who help to represent the company and fix any problems that may occur. This session taught me about what to do when faced with a situation like this, and how important it is to research the information, know the facts, and stand firm for what your company represents.

In addition, I liked how they seemed to stay very calm throughout the whole ordeal, and I learned how important it is to not let the pressure get to you, especially when you are dealing with a huge company. This unexpected situation could have done terrible damage for HMA, including ruining their brand and reputation, but MaryAnn and David explained how they prepared for the interview and why it was so vital. I found it most intriguing when they talked about setting up a mock interview to help prepare the interviewer and make sure that he was ready for the real deal.



Student FPRA members recap on their experiences at Conference: Gabby Nicotra

As having attended this year’s 75th annual FPRA conference, I can definitely say that it will be an experience I will never forget. I am also so grateful for being able to receive a scholarship to attend. Currently being a senior and Vice President of the FPRA student chapter at Florida Gulf Coast University (DUNK CITY!) I can proudly say that I have learned an extreme amount of information throughout the communication and public relations field. I am ready to take on any job that may come my way after graduation, and I am excited to use all of the skills I have learned throughout the past four years in a job that I will hopefully work at for many years to come.

Furthermore, attending this year’s FPRA conference in St. Petersburg has truly helped me learn and understand about various topics in the public relations field and industry. I now feel even more confident in the skills I have previously learned, and hope to use the skills I have just learned at conference in the future as well. Some of my favorite breakout sessions which gave me amazing insight into real life situations and stories, include ‘Answering Tough Questions’ by Carrie Hoeppner, ‘When 60 Minutes Comes Calling’ by MaryAnn Hodge and David Green, and ‘Keeping Your Brand Authentic’ by Carrie Crozer. These three breakout sessions stuck out to me, because they each showed an extreme passion for what they do and shared real life experiences. They showed how you can get through difficult times and how you should not give up so easily.

One of the breakout sessions at the FPRA conference which has really stuck with me is “Keeping Your Brand Authentic” which was led by Carrie Crozer. Not only did Carrie grasp my attention from the very second she played the Spanx video, but I continued to stay mesmerized on my way out. I really enjoyed this session the most, because it gave a lot of fascinating insight on a brand and showed how they have been able to have the same reputation stick with them for many years now.

Furthermore, I thoroughly enjoyed how Carrie talked about your brand being more than just its products, but the connection you feel to it. She also mentioned how Spanx sends special kits over to various stores, that way they can teach the employees how they should go about selling Spanx to the consumers. I think that is extremely important when one of your main goals is to have brand loyalty, as Carrie mentioned.

Overall, I found it incredible how a young woman created this brand from scratch, and is now on the cover of Forbes magazine today. Not only has this story inspired me to not be scared of my dreams or aspirations, but it has also shown me how important it is to keep my brand authentic at all times, especially if I want to have a successful business and people all of over the world recognizing what I stand for.
By attending conference, I have received a glimpse into the ‘real world’ and what to expect. It has taught me to stay true to who you are, knows the facts 100%, keep your cool, and be confident in what you stand for. Public relations can be very stressful at times, but I will always remember these important things which I have learned from these various speakers, because I know it will help me in my future endeavors. I am so lucky to have been given this opportunity, and would love to attend conference again next year.

Monday, August 26, 2013

I can't live without...

Terri Hansen of Priority Marketing would be lost with her dancing shoes and taking time out of her schedule to ballroom dance!

Do you have something that keeps you sane outside of your crazy work schedule? Email us at!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Social Media Corner: Show, don’t tell. The rise of visual social media

By: Jessica Boles

A picture is worth a thousand words. When pictures are applied to social media, this have never been more on point. When users are engaging on social media sites, it’s the pictures that are getting the most “likes.” Videos are shared twelve times more than links and posts combined and photos are liked two times more than text updates.
We live in a visual-driven culture where images have long been used as a powerful communications tool for high impact branding. Social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been the trend in visual marketing, but studies show that now marketers are spreading the maxim that where “content is king”, now “a picture is a really worth a thousand words.” It is now more important that never for businesses to be creating strategies to translate their brand through images on social sites.

With this being said, social media channels are becoming increasingly more visual in nature.

Blogs were one of the earliest forms of social networking, where individuals were writing short blogs and then posting on various websites. Then Facebook moved to status updates and the posts became shorter. Then Twitter came along and the updates were shortened to 140 characters. Now the trend is to skip words all together and move towards visuals with social-sharing sites. This trend is influenced by the shifting habits of technology and as more people are engaging with social media with their smart phones it is now easier to take a picture than to write out and status update.

Images are also rising in prominence because the tools of the trade have made it easier and more available to edit and post pictures. The mobile photography niche has risen dramatically because of the stronger emotional response from users. The visual web is rising and it is not stopping any time in the future and as consumers favor the simplicity of taking pictures, 2012 has since been deemed the shifting point of social media that we will all remember.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Member Spotlight

Jane Hess
US Weather Consultants

Jane Hess is the Public Relations Manager for U.S. Weather Consultants, the largest private forecasting service in Southwest Florida.  U.S. Weather Consultants specializes in hurricane and tropical storm forecasts for government and private industry, frost and freeze forecasts for agribusiness, and weather event research and testimony for the legal profession. She has been a member of FPRA since 2010.

Jane comes from a radio and television news background, spending 20 years as a reporter, anchor and producer in both commercial and public television fields. “Being a reporter was very important to me,” she says. “It allowed me access to all sorts of people who trusted me to be impartial and to get the story straight.  It taught me to be a good listener and a good sounding-board for ideas…and to be able to put those ideas into words and pictures. As a Producer, I learned to be a project manager—to figure out budget, manpower and equipment—to problem solve. All these skills I now apply to my new career in public relations.”

Since coming to U.S. Weather Consultants in 2008, Jane has revamped the company website, marketing materials, and has dabbled in ways the company can incorporate social media. She is now concentrating on identifying new stakeholders and expanding the company’s visibility in new markets.

Jane is the mother of two talented (of course!) children and the owner of one large yellow dog of undetermined origins.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Jessica Clark, APR named President of the Year!

Jessica Clark, APR was honored by the Florida Public Relations Association as its 2013 “Chapter President of the Year” by FPRA president Jeff Nall, APR, CPRC during awards ceremonies at the state FPRA conference held recently in St. Petersburg. Clark was singled out for her professionalism and effective leadership as this year’s chapter president of the Southwest Florida Chapter, one of the largest chapters in Florida.

“The recipient of this years’ Chapter President of the Year is dedicated, organized and self-motivated … yet someone who always credits her team,” said Nall. He went on to praise her for always being either the first or one of the first presidents to submit required reports and information to the state office. “This person has impressed me greatly—and what impressed me most were the many positive comments that her fellow chapter presidents have made about her this year, both as a person and a leader,” he continued.

Clark is the Public Relations and Marketing Associate for Edison State College, where she works closely with local and national media outlets to garner coverage for the college on a variety of topics and events related to the higher education industry and those it serves. Her public relations career began in 2001 handling media relations for organizations, as well as managing branding, event planning, membership club coordination, and sales related projects. In addition to serving as the current Southwest Florida Chapter president, she has also served on its Board of Directors for five years. Clark has also served on various committees of the FPRA State Board for two years to help it reach its goals and better serve its members, and she is currently on the Community Advisory Board for the Junior League of Ft. Myers.

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. For more information about the Southwest Florida chapter, please visit

Members of the Southwest Florida Chapter of Florida Public Relations Association Win State Awards

The Southwest Florida Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) won several prestigious awards at the 2013 state FPRA Annual Conference held August 4-7 in St. Petersburg, FL. The Golden Image Awards competition recognizes outstanding public relations programs, tools, and student projects throughout the state of Florida during the past year to encourage and promote the development of public relations professionalism. Winners demonstrate the very best examples of innovation, planning and design.
Golden Image Award and Judges’ Awards: Canterbury School – Grandparent Annual Fund Appeal Brochure – Carolyn Rogers, APR, CPRC and Deborah Johnson; and Southwest Florida International Airport Facebook Launch – Lee County Port Authority Public Affairs Team.

Awards of Distinction and Judges’ Awards: Modern Day Mother’s Day news release – Samantha Scott, APR and Terri Davidson-Cabitt; and Storage Opportunities PowerPoint Presentation – Carla Ulakovic and East County Water Control District.

Award of Distinction: Lee BIA Builders Care Certified Builder Partner Program – Lee BIA Builders Care, Priority Marketing of SWFL, and Stock Development.

Judges’ Award: An Evening of Laughs with Kevin Nealon – Debra Webb, APR, HOPE Clubhouse of Southwest Florida, Susan Bennett, APR, CPRC, Susan Bennett Marketing & Media, L.C. and Chris Nealon, REACH FREQ.

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 Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry, and Glades counties. For additional information, please visit the Chapter website at

Friday, August 9, 2013

Diary of a PR Intern: Nailing that paid internship!

By: Gabby Nicotra

Since previously being a teacher’s assistant, I have received all of my internship credits towards graduation. I could have easily stopped right there, but I chose to go down a different path. I decided that I wanted to engage in an internship that was in an office, that way; I could get a first-hand glimpse on what the ‘real world’ was all about. Nobody told me to do this, and I knew that I had all of my internship credits already; however, this is something that I wanted to do.

So I decided to apply like crazy to various places that were looking to hire interns. I knew that I would want to intern starting in the summer after my spring classes would end in April. After going to various interviews and sending out my resume like there was no tomorrow, I finally heard back and was picked from a few different places to intern. At first, I became anxious, not knowing which place to pick, but after speaking with my family and friends, they told me it was a good problem to have. That is when I finally decided to intern with Fifth Third Bank’s corporate office in Naples, assisting their SVP Marketing Director.

I was so ecstatic that I was going to intern with them, and the best part was, that I was going to be paid! Knowing how hard it is to get a paid internship these days, I felt extremely grateful. As well, I felt even better when their HR recruiter based out of Cincinnati, Ohio called me to tell me that the Marketing Director who interviewed me was so impressed, that she didn’t even want to see anyone else! It got even better, when they called me again a few days later, and told me how they would be paying me more money than they had originally told me!

At this point, I knew I had made the right decision and could not believe that I was receiving this amazing opportunity. Although my main focus has been public relations, I have taken an intro to marketing class, and knew how important marketing was, and how it went hand I hand with public relations. While I was very nervous for my first day on the job, I was always extremely jubilant! I could not believe that I would be interning from May until December when I graduate, and that it would be a co-op internship, meaning that I could potentially land a job with Fifth Third Bank after I graduate.

Since interning in a corporate office, I have learned various things. I also have to dress professional every day, and love it! I currently intern three days a week, and am always working on various projects. So far, I have helped set up a few events for the winners of a food drive that ended before I got here. It included having to call a gaming company and food truck service to come to multiple locations. The events turned to be a success, and I felt very proud to have planned it all. I am also helping out with our upcoming “Back to School Supply Drive” which includes collecting school supply items for children throughout Lee, Charlotte, Manatee, Sarasota, Broward, Palm Beach, and Collier County!

I am constantly connecting and communicating with people every day, which is what public relations entails as well. My boss has me constantly sending out communications to everyone in regard to what we are previously working on, whether it be the supply drive or about stories we need for our weekly online newsletter. I am always up for challenges and learning new things. I cannot believe that I have already been interning for two months now, and have five more to go! I could have easily sat around all summer, but I chose to take a different path, and could not have made a better decision. This marketing internship has already taught me how important communication is, as well as getting to know your surrounding publics and community. By the time I get a real job after graduation, I can strongly say that I will be prepared and ready for any challenges that come my way!

Monday, August 5, 2013

APR Trivia: August

Question: True or False: The Readiness Review portion of the Accreditation in Public Relations process requires the most preparation and is the most grueling step compared to the written exam?

Answer: False! Candidates often worry most about the oral Readiness Review presentation, but ask any recent APRs and they will tell you the Readiness Review is the “easier” of the two steps. We promise! Unlike the written exam, candidates can receive help in preparing for the Readiness Review. Also, the Readiness Review panelists in Southwest Florida are the nicest and most supportive in the state, which eases the anxiety level of candidates the minute the presentation begins.