Chapter Rewind: 2017 Image Awards

May 16, 2017

Orlando’s Public Relations Professionals Honored at Annual FPRA Image Awards Gala

By Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala

The Orlando chapter of FPRA honored some of the best and brightest public relations professionals in Central Florida this month at the 2017 Image Awards Gala at The Balcony Orlando in downtown.

The awards recognize those who develop public relations tools and campaigns that meet the highest standards of excellence and ethics and meet or exceed measurable goals. Winners are chosen by a group of public relations professionals in another chapter. This year, the Orlando chapter submissions were judged by members of the Capital Chapter in Tallahassee.

“The winners represent some of our most talented professionals and some of the most creative campaigns of the year,” said chapter president Alayna Curry, APR. “We are so proud of all our winners. And I would be remiss if I didn’t thank our wonderful event organizers and chapter board members, Judith Pariseau and Brittany Baron.”

The night’s Grand All Image Award went to the University of Central Florida for its campaign, UCF Stands for Science. Mark Schlueb and Zenaida Kotala, who work in the News & Information Office submitted their campaign that focused on promoting UCF’s extensive research and science work to the general public and scientific community.

The Grand Image Award for print tools and the Grand Image Award for visual tools went to MetroPlan. Mary Ann Horne, Cynthia Lambert, APR and Susan Ennis, APR, CPRC worked on the winning entries – the annual report “Plans, Progress. Action” and the redesign of the organizations website

Also honored for their PR tools or campaigns were professionals working for Orange County Government, Orange County Public Schools, Curley & Pynn, Kissimmee Utility Authority, Costa Communications, Orlando Health, Seminole Public Schools, Florida Municipal Power Agency, Orange County Animal Services and Orange County Utilities.

PR Professional of the Year Kena Lewis, APR was honored for her long and rich career that spans working in radio, cable and healthcare. She is Director of Public Affairs and Media Relations for Orlando Health. She led her communications team through the Pulse crisis and is a seasoned communications professional and an accredited public relations practitioner (APR) with a diverse background in news, public affairs, marketing and public relations.

Quotes Corner

May 16, 2017
Taylar Freitag

Taylar Freitag, President, Quotes UCF

Quotes Corner
By Taylar Freitag, President, Quotes UCF

It is at this time of the year we celebrate those who are moving onto the next phase of their lives. It’s important to us that our fellow classmates get the recognition they deserve. To ensure this, Quotes and Ad Club hosts an event called Senior Salute.

Last year was the first time the UCF Ad/PR program organized such an event. Having been a huge success, we did it again, but this time was different. We were fortunate enough to receive a sponsorship from our good friends at Orlando Health and we extended an invitation to Nicholson’s Radio/Television graduates.

In addition to acknowledging the achievements of our students, we like to recognize those that have lent a helping hand to the Nicholson School of Communication. This year, former instructor at UCF and retired director of public affairs at NASA, Lisa Malone, was recognized as our Corporate Champion. Malone played a major role in allowing Quotes to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of NASA and for her work with the first semester of students enrolled in our PR certification course. A well-known face, Jonathan Gabriel, was chosen for the Professional Partner award for his involvement in Quotes. Gabriel has played a vital role in connecting our club with the local FPRA chapter and, for that, we are eternally grateful.

It was a wonderful night of celebration, and we are thankful to Orlando Health for making it all possible. We appreciate all who attended and wish our graduates luck in their future endeavors.

Chapter Rewind | Lessons Learned from Pulse

April 15, 2017

Chapter Rewind | By Zenaida Kotala

FPRA and PRSA Members Listen to Lessons Learned from Pulse

FPRA and PRSA Members Listen to Lessons Learned from Pulse

Plan ahead and develop relationships before you ever need them.

That was Heather Fagan’s message to a group of public relations professions gathered for a special FPRA and PRSA’s joint March breakfast workshop at the Citrus Club in downtown Orlando.

Fagan, Mayor Buddy Dyer’s chief of staff, spoke about how her office communicated to the media and the public during and after the shooting at the Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016.

The sold-out workshop featured Fagan and other public information officers that responded to the Pulse tragedy including representatives from the county, Orlando Health, and former PR Pro of the Year Sara Brady who represents the owners of the nightclub. WKMG reporter Eric Sandoval also provided his perspective because he was one of the first reporters on the scene.

The shooting at the gay nightclub left 49 dead and more than 50 wounded. Many were members of the Hispanic community. Pulse is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Despite the tragedy, the tone of the city’s initial response helped create a spirit of resilience that translated into #OrlandoUnited, which has been recognized worldwide.

Fagan was called early Sunday morning, 10 minutes before Mayor Dyer picked her up on the way to the scene.

The city has good partnerships with police, the county and the hospital already so it was easier to call people in the early morning hours, she told the crowd. It’s important to have good relationships, but it is also key to have a process to responding to crisis situations.

A disaster is not the time to be negotiating who is going to be responsible for what, she said. Plan it out and practice with multi-agency mock drills. That way when a crisis happens, you are better able to respond in a timely manner, Fagan said.

She also talked about the power of social media and the early decision to use Twitter as the city’s official way to communicate with the media. There was just no way Fagan and her team were going to be able to keep up with requests, so social media was the way to go. The team responded to thousands of inquiries that continue even today, as the community prepares to remember the tragedy on its first anniversary.

Kena Lewis, APR, the director of public affairs for Orlando Health, referred to the hospital’s crisis manual during her presentation. Her advice – if you have a plan that would accommodate 50 people, now blow it up for 100 or more. You can’t predict exactly what the crisis will be, but there are steps that can be taken to prep and then you have to have good relationships to be able to pivot when circumstances change.

Other speakers shared their personal stories and provided tips for PIOs who may find themselves dealing with a massive crisis.

Tips included:

  • Have relationships with set up protocol before you need to.
  • Assign someone to monitor the news because you won’t have time to do it. And sometimes you’ll have to respond to information you weren’t aware was out in the public domain.
  • Record interviews, that way you can remember and correct facts.
  • Ask for help, you can’t possibly handle it all.
  • Prioritize by asking yourself, do I have to make that decision today?
  • Keep a jump bag handy at all times.
  • Assign someone to take care of your PR team so they eat and sleep.

Start With Your APR Leave With Your Master’s

April 13, 2017

Thanks to a new partnership with Northeastern University, public relations professionals can now use their APR certification toward Northeastern University Master’s Degree.

Anyone who has successfully completed the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) professional certification can be awarded the equivalent of three courses of academic credit (nine quarter hours) toward a Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication. This recognizes the rigorous program of study required to earn the APR, which is the industry credential for public relations professionals who demonstrate their understanding of and commitment to strategic communications principles through a multi-step review process based on established industry competencies.

If you’ve earned your APR, congratulations! Now you can apply that learning toward a master’s degree — and save time and money in the process. If you’ve been thinking about earning your APR, this may provide added incentive.

This advanced standing for APRs in the Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication means students can complete the Master’s in 12 courses rather than 15, with a corresponding 20 percent savings in tuition. This Master’s is available both online and in Boston, making it easy for APRs anywhere to take advantage. Special bonus: Earning an advanced degree qualifies APRs for automatic re-Accreditation during the three-year maintenance cycle.

If you’ve been thinking about getting your master’s degree, now may be the time.

Quotes Corner

April 13, 2017

Stefania Markowicz, Director of Communication for Quotes, the PR Club at UCF

New Changes Bring New Opportunities

By Stefania Markowicz, Director of Communication for Quotes, the PR Club at UCF

Moving to a new city can be scary. Especially if you’re going away to college. Three hours away from home. With no mom and dad. At a university with over 64,000 students.

I came to the University of Central Florida (UCF) this past fall – a mere 8 months ago. It was my first time in college, and I didn’t have many friends who were planning on attending UCF with me. This meant adjusting to a completely different lifestyle, managing my time more efficiently and forming a new circle of friends. I was excited, but nervous. For the first time in my life, I truly had to be independent.

To be blunt, fall semester was rough. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to get involved or how I was going to make friends, so I ended up doing nothing besides going to classes and doing homework most weeks.

But then, a magical thing happened in the spring. I discovered Quotes, the PR Club at UCF – and it’s probably the best thing to have happened to me at UCF so far. Quotes has done so much for me; it has motivated me to get into the Advertising-Public Relations major at UCF, helped me to make friends with very similar interests and allowed me so many opportunities for networking in the public relations world. To me, this is priceless.

Roger Pynn, APR, and Ashley Tinstman of Curley & Pynn. “They spoke about a topic I had never heard of before – The Message Matrix®”

Being in Quotes allows me to go to unique events and learn valuable information for furthering my career as a student wanting to be a PR pro down the line. Just this past month, for example, I was taking part in an event led by Roger Pynn, APR, CPRC, and Ashley Tinstman of Curley & Pynn. They spoke about a topic I had never heard of before – The Message Matrix®. Had it not been for Quotes, I would have never known about this event, where I learned the basics of reputation management and consistent message delivery.

Now, my life is not “go to class and get your homework done.” It’s “go to class and get your homework done, and attend Intern Pursuit, and sit in on PR speaker events, and tour downtown agencies, and update the Quotes Facebook account and go to Tallahassee for a three-day PR trip.” To a random person, this might seem overwhelming. But to me, it’s exactly what I wanted in a college experience.

So thank you, Quotes, for everything you have given me up to this point. I will never stop being thankful for it.

Member PRofile: Mark Schlueb

March 16, 2017
Mark Schlueb

Mark Schlueb
Sr. Communications Coordinator
University of Central Florida

Give a brief explanation of your job. 
I’m lucky enough to be part of UCF’s News & Information team, a group of pros much smarter than me who I learn from every day. I love working at UCF — it’s such a dynamic place that there’s always something going on. I write stories about cool faculty, from archaeologists to nanoscientists, and students who are so accomplished they make me feel like a slacker when I think back to my own college days. Our team pitches our stories to local and national media, and we handle a huge volume of inquiries from reporters, too.

How long have you been a part of FPRA?
I joined FPRA in 2015 because that’s when I left my longtime job as a newspaper reporter for a career in public relations, and I knew I had a lot to learn. There’s a wealth of knowledge among FPRA’s membership that enables newbies like me to learn from people with decades of experience.

Why did you join?
I joined FPRA in 2015 because that’s when I left my longtime job as a newspaper reporter for a career in public relations, and I knew I had a lot to learn. There’s a wealth of knowledge among FPRA’s membership that enables newbies like me to learn from people with decades of experience.

Favorite FPRA event:
I’ve enjoyed every FPRA event I’ve attended, from the media mashups with PRSA to presentations by PR pros from around Florida. But so far, the 2016 state convention was the most valuable. With sessions on everything from crisis communication to video production to social media, there was plenty to learn. The happy hours weren’t bad, either.

Tell us about an exciting achievement.
I married my best friend and have raised two awesome sons. Also, mayors of two cities have proclaimed “Mark Schlueb Days.” Totally undeserved, but feel free to celebrate.

What was your first job?
My first job was at a Taco Bell in my hometown of Titusville. I saved enough money to buy a beat up Mustang and can still roll a perfect burrito with my eyes closed.

Tell us something people may not know about you.
When people learn I’m the youngest of 10 children, they always ask, “What was it like growing up with nine brothers and sisters?” Loud. It was really loud.

Contact Information:, 407-823-0221 or @MarkSchlueb


Chapter Rewind: February Breakfast – Taking on Tallahassee

March 16, 2017

Chris Carmody, Alayna Curry, APR and Robert Stuart at the Taking on Tallahassee presentation at the Wayne M. Densch Discovery Center at Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens.

Chapter Rewind | By Gabriel Soltren

Economic Development is hot right now. Chris Carmody and Robert Stuart with GrayRobinson spoke about government priorities in Tallahassee. During the Taking on Tallahassee presentation, they explained that 116 million people visited Florida in 2016. However, some in state government want to cut marketing efforts and trim the role of Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida.

Robert Stuart with GrayRobinson explained how to play by the rules when communicating with legislators in Tallahassee.

Are legislators using social media and technology? Yes. They are increasingly posting videos as an alternative to writing press releases. For example, the governor and the house of representatives posted opposing videos to drum up support for and against Florida’s economic development agencies. A new rule banned lobbyist from texting elected officials while working on the chamber floor. Now there is a simple yet effective phone app from Lobbytools that lets lobbyist know when a legislator is available for texting.

Lawmakers are working on legislation dealing with police body cameras, red light cameras, health care issues and medical marijuana.

At the end of the day, there is no substitute for meeting with your representative. “Politicians are always trying to contact constituents,” said Stuart. “Call your local representative’s office and ask them how they want to be contacted.” Carmody and Stuart suggested that constituents stay in touch with their representatives. Legislators are always thinking about re-election and value what voters have to say.

Click here for more event photographs.