Member PRofile: Mary Ann Horne

May 3, 2021

Title & company: Community Outreach Strategist, MetroPlan Orlando

Give a brief explanation of your job: I help come up with ways to connect the public to long-range transportation planning in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties. Transportation can be a daunting topic, so we always try to help people put it in terms of their everyday lives. And we use a variety of methods to find out what they are thinking and experiencing. Right now, we’re conducting our 2021 Regional Transportation Survey, which runs through May 23. This will cover so many great topics that we have never surveyed Central Floridians about before, such as driverless vehicles and rideshare. (You can participate, with a chance to win $25, at

How long have you been a member of FPRA and why did you join? I have been an FPRA member for 9 years, although I attended meetings and networked in FPRA before I joined. In fact, I met my current boss, Cynthia Lambert, at an FPRA meeting. I officially became a member when I went to work for MetroPlan Orlando.

What has been your favorite FPRA event so far?I love the annual conferences. I am always inspired by the speakers and seeing other P.R. folks’ great work.

Tell us about an exciting achievement (personal or professional):The most exciting achievements for me are usually the ones in front of me, since I thrive on the planning and mission at hand.

What was your first job?: I was a general assignment reporter at a small daily newspaper in Nebraska. I moved there in the summer and left the next spring, after a long winter spent hunting for my car in various snow drifts.

Fun fact: My first foray into mass communications came at age 11, when I won an essay contest in the Barbie Fan Club Magazine. For about a month, Mattel Toys sent giant boxes of all the newest Barbie stuff to my house every couple of days. It was ridiculous, but so much fun. My mom made me give a lot of it away. I don’t think the Barbie Fan Club Magazine exists anymore. My daughter literally never played with Barbies.

Contact Information:

(P): 407-446-0540

How to Use Interpreters to Break the Language Barrier

April 27, 2021

By Gabriel Soltren, MPA, Florida Public Relations Association Orlando Area Chapter Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

Did you know that residents in the Orlando area speak more than 100 languages? Local government agencies have identified approximately 160 languages spoken in the schools and in the courts. In 2015, the top 5 languages spoken by people in the Orlando area were English, Spanish, French Creole, Vietnamese and Portuguese. More than 35 percent of citizens spoke a primary language other than English. The most common other language was Spanish.

In 2019, people in the Orlando area were 32 percent Hispanic according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Specifically 96,000 people in Orange County spoke Spanish as their primarily language according to data from the U.S. Department of Justice. That number was larger than the populations of Kissimmee, Sanford or Daytona Beach. In response, the Ninth Circuit Court in Orlando has provided from 17,000 to 20,000 simultaneous interpreting services in Spanish  every year. 

Simultaneous Interpreting

In addition to the courts, simultaneous interpreters are often used by professionals in hospitals, governments and the United Nations. Heads of state and governors often use simultaneous interpreters when visiting foreign countries and during press conferences. The interpreter’s work can be also done behind the scenes, virtually and in isolation using microphones and headsets.

During the 2020 pandemic, vital information in Spanish was inadequate in the Orlando area. Press conferences often relied on journalists to interpret vital information into Spanish. As a result, people in the Spanish speaking community received less information than people in the English speaking community.

During a pandemic, agencies have to communicate vital information to the public in an accurate and timely manner. Timely communication would help to better address the concerns of people in the community. According to an ABC news poll, 81 percent of people in the Hispanic community were worried that their family members would get COVID-19, compared with 58 percent of people in the White community. Further research indicated that people in the Hispanic community contracted higher percentages of COVID-19. For example, in the state of Florida people in the Hispanic community were 27 percent of the population and 37 percent of COVID-19 cases according to data from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Interpreting Resources

Language barriers can be broken with professional interpreting services. Interpreters could be hired in-house and freelancers contracted when needed. As a resource, the Ninth Circuit Court in Orlando provides a directory of certified freelance interpreters. Founded in 1982, LanguageLine Solutions has thousands of interpreters available in 240 languages. Professional development and training provider Wurts Language Services has provided best practices for groups in the field of health and human services for years. Orlando agencies including Camelo Communication and Eleven 11 Communications have expertise communicating with people in the Hispanic community. Wouldn’t the cost of providing simultaneous interpreting be a small investment to provide vital information to almost 100,000 Orlando area citizens that primarily speak Spanish?

Member PRofile: Mandy Kimmer, APR, CPRC

April 1, 2021

Title & company: Public Information Officer, Community Relations & Marketing at Orange County Parks & Recreation

Give a brief explanation of your job:I handle all news media inquiries, film shoot requests, social media and web site updates; answer emails from the public daily; and publicize all special events and about 500 programs.

How long have you been a member of FPRA and why did you join?I first attended an FPRA seminar, “PR on a Shoestring Budget” in Orlando in 1983 but I didn’t join until 1991 while working in Manatee County (Central West Coast Chapter). During my next few jobs, I worked my way through the Tampa Chapter ranks to become president (1998-99). One’s education doesn’t end at graduation so FPRA has provided plenty of programs and opportunities to grow, including achieving my APR (1993) and CPRC (1994) designations.

Can you share with us why you’ve decided to remain an FPRA member? FPRA has offered me so much over the years — leadership opportunities, professional development, networking, accreditation and a whole lot of fun. I’ve made some lifelong friends as well.

What has been your favorite FPRA event so far? It WILL BE the 2021 FPRA Conference – can’t wait to be in a room again with my colleagues!

Tell us about an exciting achievement (personal or professional): My BFF and I co-founded the Zebra Coalition’s Jefferson R. Voss Education Fund. We fund raised about $28,000 to endow Zebra’s now-annual LGBTQ scholarship at UCF, and also had someone donate $30,000 to be used for GED education, career and technical education, classes at other colleges and book expenses. We continue to fund raise and the fund has awarded thousands of dollars in the past five years to LGBTQ students and some allies.

What was your first job?:Working in a JCPenney warehouse.

Fun fact: I’m an alto in the Orlando Gay Chorus.

Contact Information:

Mandy Kimmer, APR, CPRC
(P): 407-405-4579

March Event Recap

March 10, 2021

Fostering Relationships and Building Trust During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Monique Mendez

When it comes to a global pandemic, communication is key.

On March 10, FPRA Orlando hosted a virtual presentation with Chris Tomasso, CEO of First Watch, and Eleni Kouvatsos, APR, Director of Communications for First Watch. They spoke on the importance of fostering relationships during a time of complete uncertainty, maintaining open lines of communication with employees and effectively sharing information with customers.

First Watch had it all together – an effective crisis plan, careful decision-making strategies and public trust. However, COVID-19 threw everything for a loop. The team quickly pivoted to new strategies, creating a crisis team with twice-daily meetings, an updated crisis plan, and improved internal and external communications.

The pandemic brought struggle upon struggle. First Watch had to temporarily close all of their restaurants and furlough 9,000 employees in an effort to keep the business going. During these difficult times, focusing on internal and external stakeholders became more important than ever.

Tomasso shared his tips for internally communicating with employees and prioritizing their needs:

  • Constantly communicate with employees
  • Provide talking points and resources
  • Make sure employees have the proper resources to communicate with customers
  • Be transparent and tell employees the end goal

Tomasso utilized these tips by conducting weekly check-ins with every employee and providing video updates in which he shared company growth initiatives. Additionally, when it came to externally communicating with stakeholders, First Watch had two unique ideas:

  • Publish a letter from the CEO to ensure the company appeared real, relatable and approachable
  • Maintain two-way communication between the company and its customers

Ultimately, fostering relationships and building trust during COVID-19 can be difficult, but well worth it. By practicing these tips and being cognizant of your company brand, your business will succeed amidst any crisis.

February Event Recap

March 9, 2021

Pitching to National Media 

By Chris Crawford

During last months event, FPRA was happy to host a media panel with journalists from top national media outlets. Each panelist spoke about trends they are noticing currently and how PR practitioners can best engage with journalists in todays media landscape. The guest speakers were:

Victoria Moll-Ramírez- Senior Producer, ABC News Live

Christopher Nelson- Weekend Managing Editor, WGN America’s News Nation

Astrid Rivera- Reporter/Producer, Univision

Michael K. Lavers- International News Editor, Washington Blade/Los Angeles Blade

Two of the most important factors each panelist agreed on was when we, PR practitioners, are coming to a journalist with a possible story, you must have timeliness and proximity. Journalists and news producers are working at a lightning speed, news is ever-changing and part of their job is to keep up with that demand. PR specialists need to understand this and have to make sure we are not wasting their time.

You must do your background research on the journalist you are pitching a story to. Find out who the audience is for their media outlet and understand the types of outlets they have access to. If your story does not match up to their audience, it will end up in the cutting room floor.

Lastly, make sure your pitch is current. For example, when the capital insurrection was taking place in early January, that’s what was currently being covered. If any of these journalists received a story that was about something other than the current events, it was not going to make it on air.

Quotes Corner

March 8, 2021

Virtual Intern Pursuit

By Isabela Roselione

Quotes the AD/PR club at UCF is excited to be organizing our third virtual Intern Pursuit. Over the last year with the pandemic changing the way we all operate and function, Quotes has had to change the way we serve the UCF student community. We have moved programming to a virtual platform which has allowed for a variety of guest speakers from across the country. We have also evolved our bi-annual internship fair, Intern Pursuit to a virtual setting on our website The virtual intern pursuit is now housed on a webpage and allows students to browse active applications right from the Quotes website and easily apply.

Our event that had been in person for so many years was moved to a virtual platform just one year ago. The Quotes 2020 executive board adapted to move our cancelled in-person Intern Pursuit to a virtual website in just one week. Their ability to adapt has inspired us to continue to improve the Intern Pursuit webpage for employer and student user experience. We have done this through adding programming that is focused on preparing students for the virtual application process as well as traditional preparations like resume writing.

Employers can join the list by signing up on the Quotes website ( and filling out the employer interest form now until March 19, 2021. The employer list on the Intern Pursuit webpage will be available to students on March 24, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. We are so excited to be able to provide th

Quotes has launched a COVID-19 resources page available for all students! It includes detailed resources for finding internships and furthering your professional development. View the resources page here.

Have something to add? Email

Member PRofile: Wendy Jo Moyer, APR

February 8, 2021

Title & company: Assistant Director, Organizational Communication, Valencia College

Give a brief explanation of your job: In my role, I research, develop and manage Valencia College’s employee communication programs and initiatives to advance and support Valencia College’s organizational goals and culture.

How long have you been a member of FPRA and why did you join? I joined FPRA in 2003. When I began working in a role for Curley & Pynn, the individual I replaced had been an FPRA member. As she had an institutional membership, I took over her membership. I’m very thankful to Curley & Pynn for introducing me to the organization (and to the gal who left). I’m sure Roger Pynn and Joe Curley never expected me to thank them in this newsletter 18 years later.

Can you share with us why you’ve decided to remain an FPRA member? FPRA has offered me so much over the years — leadership opportunities, professional development, networking, accreditation and a whole lot of fun. I’ve made some lifelong friends as well.

What has been your favorite FPRA event so far? I love the FPRA Annual Conference. The top-notch professional development and networking opportunities energize me and make me excited to be a public relations practitioner. And it’s nice to not have to travel out of our state for the conference.

Tell us about an exciting achievement (personal or professional): I was the FPRA Orlando Area Chapter president in 2010-2011, and what a rewarding experience it was. I recommend that all PR practitioners get involved and take advantage of the leadership opportunities. It’s a great way to build your leadership skills and confidence.

What was your first job?: My first job ever was working at a snack bar for a golf course and a really cheesy water park. This was no Typhoon Lagoon, and actually, the board of health closed the place down right after I left. My first grown-up job was a marketing coordinator at Planet Hollywood.

Fun fact: For fun, I belly dance with A Magi Belly Dance.

Contact Information:

Wendy Jo Moyer

January Event Recap

January 20, 2021

Enhance Your Communications Programs with Podcasts

By Isabela Roselione

Founder and owner of Media Maven, Christina Nicholson, joined FPRA Orlando Thursday Jan. 14, 2021 to share her podcast prowess. Nicholson started her career off as a TV journalist and has experience anchoring, reporting, writing, blogging, and the list goes on. She is an expert at storytelling and has honed in on the craft of podcasts. Nicholson gave the inside scoop on podcasting problems, benefits, and how to get your client on the best podcast.

Podcast Problems  Podcasts have become the new blog, it seems everyone has one. There are over 1.75 million podcasts, 55% (155 million) of individuals in the U. S. have listened to one podcast (Infinite Dial 20) and podcast listenership has grown 37.5% in the last three years. Now, we know there are a million podcasts options with a variety of topics and more and more people are tuning in and subscribing, the options are endless. What could possibly be an issue for a PR practitioner?

  • You don’t know which podcast is a good fit for your client.
  • You don’t know if a podcast is even “good” and you can’t measure download numbers.

Podcast Solutions

Christina Nicholson recommends starting small with the search for the perfect podcast for your client to be a guest on, and get as specific as possible with subcategories for the topic; afterall, there are over a million podcasts to choose from. Following your gut and using your best judgement to decide if a podcast is “good” is smart; be sure to check reviews and see when it was last published. Now that you have chosen a podcast, the pitch is next and the approach is different than pitching to traditional media. Nicholson recommends connecting with the podcast creators on social media, doing your research and knowing how they want to be pitched is crucial to landing your client as a guest. It is also important to note podcasts sometimes are only posted weekly or monthly so, depending on the topic, your client does not have to be discussing the most up to the minute, relevant information. The importance of media training was noted as your client prepares for the podcast recording. It is also encouraged to have a giveaway and to mention where the audience can connect with your client, whether it be on social media, their website, or the storefront.

Podcast Clout

This research can be time consuming and we don’t all have eager interns to be googling away finding the perfect podcast, laying groundwork by liking posts and tweeting. In addition to starting her company, Media Maven, Nicolson has created a program that aggregates the top podcasts in each category from Apple Podcasts, and allows you to search podcasts by keyword. This time saving program is called Podcast Clout and allows you to automate hours of work into seconds.

Podcast Takeaways

Christina Nicholson provided practical and relevant advice for students just entering the field and even for the most seasoned PR practitioner. It is important to follow your personal experience when choosing a podcast for your client, but it can be helpful to try new tactics to fit the podcast host’s needs. Nicholson answered questions from the virtual audience and closed out the presentation with a bit of advice if the daunting task of creating your own podcast should call to you: “the best way to grow your podcast is to be a guest on someone else’s [podcast].”

To learn and hear advice from a new perspective is always refreshing. There will be similar professional development events from Orlando’s FPRA chapter and more information about these events can be found on the social media pages and website.

Quotes Corner

January 11, 2021

Looking Back at 2020 and to Our Hopes for the New Year

By Monique Mendez

Out with the old, in with the new. Although 2020 swept us into a wave of uncertainty, the world was brought together in an entirely unique way. Our homes became our offices and our friends became boxes on a video call. However, amidst these uncertainties, the public relations community stood alongside each other and supported their fellow PR professionals.

Quotes, the Ad/PR Club at UCF strived to do the same for their student members. The board brainstormed ways to get members involved and educated about the field of PR without leaving their couch, providing a toolkit of resources on the Quotes website. The COVID Resources page offered personal and professional resources to students, ranging from recorded FPRA webinars to online courses and podcasts.

Despite immense changes being implemented across the university, Quotes aimed to create a safe space for students to engage and learn about the PR field virtually. The team hosted virtual events throughout the fall semester, such as Creating a Digital Portfolio and Resume Writing 101. Additionally, the team launched their second annual Virtual Intern Pursuit to match students and employers for internships.

With 2021 already upon us, Quotes is excited for the new year and all the virtual events currently in the planning stages. Also, the team is looking forward to the unique social media campaigns planned with FPRA. One in particular will encourage graduating seniors to join FPRA Orlando as a student-to-professional member once they graduate.

Overall, Quotes will continue engaging members and promoting professional development, networking, and the understanding of public relations. To 2021, a year of growth.

Quotes has launched a COVID-19 resources page available for all students! It includes detailed resources for finding internships and furthering your professional development. View the resources page here.

Have something to add? Email

Member PRofile: Michael Lawrence, APR

January 6, 2021

Title & company: Communications Officer, Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS)

Give a brief explanation of your job: My main role is to serve as the spokesperson for Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) and handle all media/public relations needs.  In addition, my other responsibilities include supervising our Community Involvement Department and our Communications Team comprised of Graphics, Marketing, Multimedia, and Web staff supporting our schools and district.  For those of you with children in our school-system, I also serve as one of the main voices on your many school district phone calls you probably receive at home throughout the school year.  #SorryNotSorry

How long have you been a member of FPRA and why did you join? I’ve been a member of FPRA for so long I actually don’t quite remember when I started.  I believe I joined after college once I started officially working in the PR industry as a way to network and learn from my fellow peers and professionals.  I’m guessing it’s likely been for approximately 17-19 years.

Can you share with us why you’ve decided to remain an FPRA member? In my opinion, there’s many benefits to being an FPRA Orlando member.  For me, it’s an opportunity to network and learn from my fellow PR practitioners.  Everyone in the Chapter comes with their own unique skillset, knowledge, and experience so, it’s great to be able to reach-out and know you can get help in areas that may not be your forte or bread & butter.  I also really enjoy sitting on the APR panels and assisting with Image Award Judging because I find it serves as a tremendous learning experience seeing how various organizations and/or individuals handled their various PR campaigns.  I always come away from that with a few best-practices or new ideas that I often wish to try myself in future tactics and/or campaigns.  Most of all, FPRA also serves as one big support group.  Only fellow PR practitioners know what we experience in our day-to-day work lives.  We all have similar stories to share and similar craziness we’ve experienced.  I feel like we’re able to lean on each other, laugh, cry and even sympathize together because only we truly know what it’s like to walk in each other’s shoes.

What has been your favorite FPRA event so far? As MANY of my fellow FPRA colleagues probably already know…it’s most-definitely the Image Awards Gala dancing the night away with my fellow PR Practitioners to the beats of the musical group “We Want More” (formerly the Kaj Bros.)!

Tell us about an exciting achievement (personal or professional): My greatest personal achievement hands-down is being a Dad.  However, on the professional side of things, I’d have to say the achievement I’m most proud of and that is the most meaningful/rewarding to me is being a mentor to my many former UCF interns who’ve gone on to have successful careers in the PR-industry and then subsequently watching them shine by paying their experiences and knowledge forward with interns of their own. It gives me great satisfaction to give back and hopefully lend some of my knowledge and experience to those just starting out.  It’s even more fun and surreal when your former interns start hiring your other former interns.  That’s when you know you’ve truly come full-circle and are beginning to quite possibly encroach on 5-degrees of Kevin Bacon status in-regards to UCF PR interns.

What was your first job?:  Technically, my very first job was in high school opening the Target in Oviedo, FL where I started as a Cart-Attendant/Cashier.  But, my first serious full-time professional job after graduation from UCF’s Master’s Program (Mass Comm.) was with the non-profit organization Senior Resource Alliance where I served as the Marketing/Communications Manager.

Fun fact: I’m really into all things Sports, Star Wars, & Punk Rock/Ska Music.  UCF Games, Warped Tours, & chillaxing on the beaches of Scarif are my jam.

Contact Information:

Michael Lawrence, Communications Officer
Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS)
400 E. Lake Mary Blvd.
Sanford, FL 32773
(O):  407.320.0471