Member PRofile: Rachel Ilardi

February 25, 2020

Rachel Ilardi
Communications Specialist, Curley & Pynn Public Relations Management

Give a brief explanation of your job.
I support the agency’s campaigns to create, enhance and maintain relationships with the stakeholders of our clients. This work varies from day-to-day and can include responsibility for creating social media calendars, providing updated research, proactive pitching and more.

How long have you been a member of FPRA and why did you join?
I joined FPRA in 2017 as a member of Quotes, the PR Club at UCF, during my first semester at the university. I was new to the industry and wanted to learn as much as I could. When I discovered there was a club on campus dedicated to helping me do just that, I joined right away.

What has been your favorite FPRA event so far?
There have been a lot of great events! One of the highlights was FPRA’s tour at the Electronic Arts (EA) studio in Orlando. It was my first time taking a tour with FPRA and getting a behind-the-scenes look at PR in the video game industry really opened my eyes to the possibilities in this industry.

Tell us about an exciting achievement (personal or professional).
This past year has been full of moments I’m so grateful for. Over the last year, our Quotes Executive Board hit quite a few milestones, winning Image Awards at the local and state level, increasing student attendance at Intern Pursuit, and catapulting club membership into the hundreds. I also graduated summa cum laude from UCF at the end of 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Public Relations and a minor in Writing and Rhetoric. And finally, the end of January marked my first month working with Curley & Pynn.

What was your first job?
My first job was working as a clerical assistant at True Property Group, a local construction defect restoration company. I worked there through high school and the majority of college, working my way up to an administrative assistant and eventually, marketing consultant.

Fun fact:
I love aerial silks and lyra. I had to take a break from them a while back due to a knee injury, but hope to get back to them soon.

Contact Information:
rilardi@thestrategicfirm.com


Quotes Corner

February 25, 2020

How Social Media Helps College Students Get Involved

By Genesis M.

Genesis M.

Genesis M.

Starting life at a new school can be overwhelming, but starting at the University of Central Florida (the largest university in the country) is even MORE frightening. There are a wide variety of clubs to join, classes to take and people to meet. The summer before fall 2019, I researched all the clubs on campus. In this search, I found Quotes, the PR Club at UCF. I immediately followed them on all social media platforms and tried to get involved virtually. I participated in Q&A sessions through Instagram stories, commented on postings and even sent direct messages with any questions that would come up. The community that Quotes created on social media gave me the confidence to go all-in once my first semester started. The attention to detail that they had was admirable. Every event would be promoted a few times to gain traction. What worked best for my peers and I was sharing the events on Facebook to see who was going to what. It would get us excited to attend!

As the director of communication for Quotes now, I see how much work it takes to put the time and effort into social platforms. We plan every post that goes out. There are constant questions from current and prospective members with no days off.  Having this attention to detail, I see our members more engaged. People like to take polls on Instagram stories and share events on Facebook. This makes them feel valued and heard (which they are!). When our followers feel this way, they are more likely to attend an event because they are familiarized and comfortable with Quotes’ culture. If it weren’t for the previous director and her dedication to her duties, I and many others would not have joined this club. I plan to keep this culture going as long as I serve on the board.

A lesson to be learned from this: Social media is our friend if we use it correctly. Engage in your followers and they will engage in you, your product, organization or business.


Member PRofile: Despina McLaughlin

January 13, 2020

Despina McLaughlin

Give a brief explanation of your job.
I manage and fulfill media inquiries, coordinate/pitch story ideas to optimize media coverage and create/maintain partnerships with journalists and county partners. Meanwhile, I assist our communications team to select messaging for Mayor Jerry Demings, coordinate press conferences/releases and help in handling all communications needs for Mayor Demings.

How long have you been a member of FPRA and why did you join?
I joined in November 2019, after Jose Luis Dieppa suggested I apply for the scholarship, as he knew I was leaving local television after a 10-year stint. Before taking this position, I worked as a sports reporter for Spectrum News 13. With this new career ‘swerve’ I am looking forward to gaining insight, learning best practices and gaining a whole new community of communicators through FPRA.

What has been your favorite FPRA event so far?
I have not attended an event yet…but the goal is to go to the February luncheon/breakfast seminar.

Tell us about an exciting achievement (personal or professional).
A professional achievement for me, was being able to cover the UCF Knights football team and their perfect 2017 season. I remember the Peach Bowl finale and the team upsetting Auburn so vividly. Confetti was falling down on my face during our live coverage inside Mercedes Benz stadium, McKenzie Milton and Shaquem Griffin hoisted up the trophy, fans charged the field. It was a season and moment that will stay with me forever. Personally, I feel very fortunate to have found my husband, Matt, during our time attending UCF. We married in 2016 down in the Florida Keys and are close to completely restoring our home near downtown Orlando that was built in 1945.

What was your first job?
My first job, at 16, was working as a hostess for my godmother’s Greek restaurant. Since then, I have been a Pizza Hut server, babysitter, YMCA referee, server/bartender at Logan’s Roadhouse and Grand Bohemian Hotel and a runner for TNT during the NBA Finals (2011, 2012 & 2013). My first ‘real-real’ communications job was in 2010 when Bright House Sports Network hired me as a Marketing Coordinator.

Fun fact:
I have a twin brother, Bobby, who is a Marine Veteran. (SO MUCH APPRECIATION AND LOVE TO OUR SERVICE MEN AND WOMEN—THANK YOU FOR PROTECTING US EACH AND EVERY DAY!) Also, I used to figure skate competitively as a child and still keep a pair of skates in the trunk of my car at all times. You never know when you’ll find some time to drop in to RDV.

Contact Information:
DespinaBarton@yahoo.com, 407-341-5337, @DespinaBarton on Twitter and Instagram


Member PRofile: Kenneth Morgan-Schleuning

December 10, 2019

Kenneth Morgan-Schleuning
Public Relations Manager – Disney Signature Experiences

Give a brief explanation of your job.
In November, I joined the public relations team for Disney Signature Experiences – which includes Aulani (a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii), Disney Vacation Club (Disney’s vacation-ownership program), Golden Oak in Orlando (a luxury whole-ownership community of custom homes), Adventures by Disney (Disney’s guided group tour offerings) and Disney Cruise Line. My specific focus is managing PR for Aulani, Disney Vacation Club and Golden Oak.

How long have you been a member of FPRA and why did you join?
I first joined FPRA with the Capital Chapter in 2011. The opportunity to connect with and learn from colleagues from other areas of PR and industry sectors continues to be an important opportunity for learning in addition to our professional development programs. My husband, Jay, and I moved to Orlando earlier this year. The Orlando Area Chapter members have been amazing, welcoming and supportive as we worked on getting settled and engaged. Our chapter members really helped make the transition of our move from Tallahassee to Orlando easier through their hospitality and kindness.

What has been your favorite FPRA event so far?
The ER for PR annual program through the Capital Chapter was always a rewarding experience. Assisting local non-profits through ER for PR via a few hours of pro bono service provided much needed assistance in the community as well as a way to exercise your own knowledge and skills to solve issues you might not encounter in your daily work. I also enjoyed the Orlando Area Chapter’s Media Mashup program for the first time earlier this year. The diversity of the content provided great value.

Tell us about an exciting achievement (personal or professional).
When we lived in Tallahassee, Jay and I had a home with large retention walls containing giant planting spaces which ran along the backyard and one side of the house. The previous owners did not plant a lot, leaving the retention walls mostly empty and stark. Our solution? We created a giant butterfly garden. Through the years we lived in Tallahassee, we enjoyed many types of butterflies and birds in our backyard.

What was your first job?
I worked as a cashier for Winn Dixie in high school. After college, I worked at the front desk at The Brown Hotel in Louisville, KY.

Fun fact:
I almost joined a Benedictine monastery after college.

Contact Information:
kennethGmorgan@gmail.com


Quotes Corner

November 15, 2019

Reflecting on Intern Pursuit

By Aspen Arias

Aspen Arias

Aspen Arias

Landing an internship in your desired field is like taking your future profession on an in-depth test drive for an entire semester. Most majors within the Nicholson School of Communication and Media (NSC) require at least one internship to graduate – the majors that don’t require it always encourage it. And that’s where Intern Pursuit comes in.

Intern Pursuit is the bi-annual internship fair, hosted by Quotes the PR Club at UCF, and is open to all majors. Our most recent event on October 22 boasted more than 60 employers and had a record-breaking attendance of over 220 eager students. Our attendees were comprised not only of advertising and public relations, communication and journalism majors, but also of students with a focus in graphic design, film and marketing.

The event setup and planning were executed without a hitch. The directory boards at the front of the room displayed the employers in attendance, while specifying the type of organization they identified as (agencies, corporations, government, nonprofits and media companies).

This event is instrumental in bridging the seemingly intimidating gap between potential internship employers and students. I myself have locked down all four of my internships within the walls of the Pegasus Ballroom thanks to Intern Pursuit and now, as the director of events for Quotes, feel extremely grateful to spearhead this purposeful event and watch it continue to grow as a resource for others. We are working towards building upon our successes for next semester’s Intern Pursuit on March 26, 2020.

Remember: it is never too early to register as an employer or secure your spot as a featured internship sponsor by reaching out to quotesevents@gmail.com.


President’s Message

November 14, 2019

Megan Paquin, APR, CPRC

On more than one occasion this month, I’ve been reminded the role of “public relations executive” ranks among some of the world’s most stressful careers. That’s no surprise when the Carnegie Institute of Technology reports that 85% of an individual’s financial success (and, arguably organizational success) is dependent upon your communication skills. I’ll thank this month’s professional development speaker, leadership coach Daniel Pennington, for that statistic. But, more importantly, I want to thank all of YOU for creating a network of professionals who truly support each other in spite of the stressors we all face.

In a world that has become increasingly competitive, it is refreshing whenever I meet with FPRA members to hear about those who collaborate together on projects, help each other land their dream jobs and volunteer their time to advance the profession. At this time of the year, we have accredited members who mentor candidates for Accreditation in Public Relations. Members who have won Image Awards encourage novice entrants to consider submitting entries for their outstanding work. Committee volunteers meet with new members to introduce them to all of the benefits of FPRA membership. And, on and on it goes.

So, when things become stressful as we ease into the holiday season and all the wonderful end-of-the-year activities that come with it, I want to remind everyone to lean on your FPRA Orlando family. Let’s continue to model our own unique brand of collaborative professionalism. How can FPRA Orlando help you? Join our FPRA Orlando Community on Facebook to connect with each other in between events, and don’t forget to check out all of the professional development resources we offer statewide at http://www.fpra.org.


Quotes Corner

October 7, 2019

By Monique Mendez

Monique Mendez

Save the date for Intern Pursuit on October 22 from 5:30-8 p.m. in the UCF Student Union’s Pegasus Ballroom! Register now.

Touring Universal Orlando’s offices and learning the ins and outs of its PR team’s operation? This is exactly what Quotes, the PR Club did on Friday, September 27. This highly anticipated tour brought 20 Quotes members to the offices of the Universal PR team and gave them valuable industry insight into one of the largest theme parks in the United States.

Several team members, including Ali Beemer, Ashlynn Webb, and Alyson Lundell, APR, CPRC, spoke to the students about the structure of the team and each individual’s roles. Each brought a unique aspect to the team that helped them collaborate on large-scale projects, such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This sense of community and teamwork exemplifies the values that a student should inherit in order to be successful in the workforce.

As a sophomore studying advertising and public relations, I gained incredible insight as to what the field of public relations entails and how it can benefit society. I also learned important skills such as having to think on your feet, brainstorming creative ideas for campaigns and working with the media.

A large component of the work done by Universal’s PR team is media relations. Essentially, this involves “selling” your ideas or products to the media. By doing this well, as the Universal team has, they have been able to inspire influencers to visit the destination for media tours, take some media groups into the destination for unique coverage opportunities, and develop campaigns for attractions like Volcano Bay.

Speaking of which, Volcano Bay quickly grew to prominence as a destination water park that guests could enjoy whether they visited the other two parks or not. They introduced the park with a soft open, meaning that it was open for select guests before the official opening. This taught me the importance of not only having a plan but also making the experience authentic and exciting for guests to ensure they feel “part of the process.”

Lastly, the team stressed the importance of professionalism in the industry, while also keeping a harmonious balance between work and life. These are crucial for any individual, whether they choose to pursue public relations or not.

The lessons learned from the Universal PR team were incredibly valuable and will be taken with me as I move through life and the workforce. I want to thank the team for hosting the tour and giving students the knowledge needed to become successful.