Chapter Rewind | Digital Media for PR Pros

December 10, 2018

By Megan Paquin, APR, CPRC

Working as a public relations professional in a full-service advertising agency might make me a little biased, but I believe in integrated marketing communications strategies. Paid, earned, owned and shared media each have their own roles in achieving goals for our brands, clients and stakeholders. Yet, I was surprised to see at the Florida Public Relations Association Annual Conference when digital marketing expert Megan Harris polled the audience revealing many public relations professionals were unaware of digital marketing resources that are enabling marketing professionals to better target and influence key publics.

In public relations and marketing, our overall intent is to change behavior. Whether that is to encourage someone to buy our goods or services, or to think differently about our brands’ reputation. Public relations is hands down the most powerful tool (in my humble opinion) to gain endorsement and influence, yet I see time and again that reliance on earned, owned and shared media is sometimes not enough. Sometimes, we need a little rocket fuel.

Enter: digital marketing. My colleague Cristina Howard, director of digital media and analytics at &Barr, broke down for us the basics of digital marketing and, along with Fiona Cooke, director of southeast sales for Nativo, the ways public relations professionals can use to boost our efforts. Today’s digital marketing landscape extends far beyond the realm of display banners. We learned about native content, the next generation of advertorial where public relations professionals can place narrative content within the native settings of the websites where our target audiences are currently engaged. We also learned that programmatic advertising allows us to amplify high performing owned, earned and shared content, and boost it directly to those audiences who are most likely to engage with our message.

For me, the takeaways of this chapter meeting were that we can and should look to paid initiatives like digital marketing as an opportunity to add rocket fuel to our initiatives. With a greater understanding of the lingo and technologies available to do so, FPRA members can make sound recommendations to their stakeholders about when and how to leverage these technologies to move the needle. That’s pretty smart, definitely engaging and a lot of fun to see when it all comes together in successful integrated campaigns.

Quotes Corner

December 10, 2018

Adapting to Life’s Challenges

By Randi Rioux

Randi Rioux

I think this week I’ve been letting it settle in my mind that I’ll no longer be a student at UCF. It’s weird and emotional, yet extremely exciting. As I’m preparing for graduation, I asked myself “what do I want to leave behind?” and that answer comes as a story and a hopeful message to all the undergrads and students who are looking for advice. My advice? Improvise.

When I entered my college career, I was embarrassed. I’ll be the first one to admit, I was not some scholar in high school. I wasn’t great at math and I was mediocre in science. I loved to read and write, but my GPA was always below average. I hated feeling like I had to fit a certain stereotype to feel successful. I knew I wasn’t the best, but I also knew I had a passion for art and writing. I was in the AP art program, drew every day and I was president of the National Art Honors Society my senior year. I had set my heart on a private art school and hoped to become an illustrator. My hopes were quickly dashed at the realization I could not afford such a high tuition cost. I had to decide what was next. For the first time I could remember, I had to improvise!

I had a lot of friends from high school attend some amazing colleges. Some studied abroad, and others were in Ivy League universities. I felt like something was wrong with me. I didn’t feel like I could ever be that successful. Yet, I pushed myself mentally and decided I would work harder than I ever had before. In my first two years, Valencia College taught me important core values of motivation, focus and determination. Every single one of my professors was passionate about their students and wanted each of them to succeed. I strongly believe I was humbled and molded into the person I am today because of this. In the blink of an eye, I received my associate degree in Studio Art in the fall of 2016 and was accepted into UCF. I was at an all-time high. I felt confident, excited, happy and like I had the whole world in front of me.

Within a couple of months of attending classes at UCF, I knew I wanted to expand my passion for visual design and bond it with another passion of mine: writing! The Ad-PR program was a perfect fit. I was lucky to be accepted the day before my birthday. It’s been a whirlwind of fun, excitement, learning, collaborating and growing ever since. Fast forward two years later. 2018 was going to be my year. When the New Year’s ball dropped, it hit me for the first time that this was going to be the year I became a young adult in the real world. Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last very long.

February 14, 2018 – Valentine’s Day. This used to be my favorite holiday. I remember coming home from my classes to fix lunch and prepare a gift for my significant other and get ready for our date. I turned on the local news to see the weather and it was interrupted by a breaking news alert: someone was shooting up a high school in south Florida. That high school was mine.

That day, 17 fellow Eagles had their lives cut short. My hometown was changed forever. My safe place and refuge was no longer the place I grew up in. As the days went by and more information was released, I remember asking, “what do I do now?” That’s when I decided I wanted to help. The following month, I teamed up with the Counseling and Psychological Services at UCF (CAPS) to create a workshop where fellow Douglas alumni and anyone who was affected could come, connect, grieve, share stories and know they were not alone. I wish this part of the story is where things get better and things go back to the up-and-up. Unfortunately, I was hit with another life-altering situation.

Not even three months after the event at my high school, I was preparing for final exams when I got a phone call. It all happened so fast, I couldn’t tell you the details. My mom found out she had a benign brain tumor and needed to go into emergency surgery within the next 48 hours.

How does something like this happen to a person in such a short amount of time? How can someone carry this shock, pain and fear? They improvise.

I held myself together to take my exams the morning of my mom’s surgery. I drove home as fast as I could to make it in time for her to come out of her surgery. I forced myself through my exams and studied as hard as I could. I guess the focus paid off because I passed all of them with flying colors. I am still stunned about that to this day!

Fast forward seven months later. Today, I am preparing for the next chapter of my life. To say this year was full of challenges would be an understatement. But I wanted to share my story with all of you and to leave you with my personal list of advice.

  1. Talk to your professors. This year alone, I was so fortunate to befriend my professors. They were the ones to give me the strongest advice and give the best support when I needed it the most. Seriously, talk to them. They care more than you think.
  2. Surround yourself with good quality friends. In these last four years, I’ve built an amazing circle of friends I know I can rely on when I’m having a rough day. For those “friends” who only stick around when you’re at your highs: forget them. Your true friends will see you at your lows and be the ones to lift you up.
  3. Be humble. It’s great to be the top of your class and get every internship you’ve ever wanted, but no one is going to care if you don’t stay humble about it. I’ve met several students who are incredibly intelligent and have a passion for what they do, but they have an attitude like they will never fail. Newsflash: everyone takes an L. Be humble when you succeed and be gracious when you fall. It only gains you respect.
  4. Have fun! It can get overwhelming as you get older and your final campaign approaches or personal life events can bring you down. Please don’t forget that you’re only an undergrad once. You are in your current position only once. Embrace every moment. I know I’m going to miss being a student at the best university in Florida.
  5. Be kind. Maybe there’s a student who’s not as great at writing as you are, or maybe someone isn’t as visually creative. Maybe they got a late start. Be kind to them. Teach them along the way. I like to call these people underdogs, and if you’ve seen any great underdog film, they always win in the end.
  6. If you’re that underdog, stick with it. It can be hard when you feel like you’re alone on the road to become the professional you’ve dreamed of being. The world does not look kindly at those who show their struggles and mistakes. I’m on your side, and I’m rooting for you. Which leads me to the next tip:
  7. Not everyone is going to understand your vision. It sounds like something out of a cheap motivational book but it’s true. I loved my fellow students, but some of them had different ideas and plans for what this major meant to them. I understand I may have not been a typical Ad-PR student, but that didn’t stop me from losing sight of what I wanted out of this major.
  8. Breathe. It’s funny, I know. However, people forget that they can be so consumed by deadlines and assignments that they forget to stop and take a moment to get in their right headspace. Not every assignment and every deadline must be met with such high stress.
  9. Improvise. If there is anything you can take away from this, please improvise. As a lover of communication, PR plans and advertising strategies, it’s ironic how much we cannot control.
  10. Accept those things you cannot control. Didn’t get into your major the first time? Try again. Failed that test? Study a different way. Didn’t get that job or promotion you wanted? Look for another door. I cannot tell you how many people I meet that have this expectation of walking, no, running down this path they’ve created in their minds like nothing’s going to go wrong. I laugh. They think there is only one special door and only one path they have to stick to. I tell them they must look at all the different paths around them. I promise, even with every bump, crack, rock and obstacle, with enough motivation and determination, you will get to that door.

It has been an absolute honor to serve as your creative director for the student chapter at UCF! I am so thrilled to see Quotes continue to evolve. I look forward to being a helpful professional and mentor to the next era of Ad-PR students.

Member PRofile: Melissa Catalanotto

December 10, 2018

Melissa Catalanotto
Public Relations Coordinator, Waste Pro USA

Give a brief explanation of your job.
As Public Relations Coordinator, I am responsible for all internal and external communications expanding Waste Pro’s media reach. I write press releases, internal announcements, our internal newsletter, Trash Talk, and our external newsletter, Blue Sky, Green Earth. I also assist our municipal marketing team as they prepare bids for municipalities that put out requests for proposals (RFPs) by writing biographies for key personnel, assembling fast facts about their region, supplying them with various documents, etc. Additionally, I work closely with the company that creates our graphics for marketing projects which are distributed internally or externally, such as brochures, videos, posters, and more.

How long have you been a member of FPRA and why did you join?
I am new to FPRA; I joined in 2018. Since I am new to the PR field, our Senior VP, Ron Pecora, encouraged me to join and connected me with Alayna Curry. I had breakfast with her and we had a wonderful chat about similar experiences we’ve had in our careers. She told me all about FPRA, and it was clear that this organization is full of great resources that can help me become more established in the PR field. I plan to obtain my accreditation in a few years, so I look forward to utilizing the resources FPRA offers to achieve that goal.

What has been your favorite FPRA event so far?
As a new member I have not yet had the pleasure to attend a FPRA event, but I plan to in 2019.

Tell us about an exciting achievement (personal or professional).
When I graduated from the University of Central Florida, where I majored in journalism, I was named the Outstanding Journalism Student for the 2014-2015 school year. I was blindsided by the award because none of my professors told me they nominated me. It was a great surprise!

What was your first job?
In my last year of college, I was hired as a part-time Associate Producer for WFTV, the ABC affiliate in Orlando. I was promoted to a full-time Producer after I graduated and worked on the morning newscast until April 2018.

Fun fact:
I am an avid music fan and have been to so many concerts I have lost count.

Contact Information:
Melissa Catalanotto,

Member PRofile: Karen Kacir

November 5, 2018

Karen Kacir
Communications Specialist, Curley & Pynn Public Relations

Give a brief explanation of your job.
I help manage social media, editorial content development and media relations for a variety of clients, including the Florida High Tech Corridor Council and FAIRWINDS Credit Union.

How long have you been a member of FPRA and why did you join?
This is my first year as a full-fledged FPRA member. As a college student at UF, I had a student membership with the Gainesville Chapter. The warm welcome I received as a student member motivated me to explore what the Orlando Chapter had to offer. Since attending my first session as a guest back in March, I’ve been consistently impressed by the quality of the chapter’s programming and the camaraderie among its members.

What has been your favorite FPRA event so far?
I truly enjoyed Ginger Broslat’s “Fall Therapy” session, which focused on how to appropriately address one’s mistakes in an ethically consistent manner. Her tips for keeping calm and maintaining one’s integrity during a crisis have served me well both personally and professionally.

Tell us about an exciting achievement (personal or professional).
In 2017, I fulfilled my dream of teaching English abroad. As a member of the Peace Corps, I lived in a rural town of about 3,000 people on the coast of Colombia.

What was your first job?
Cashier/photo lab supervisor at CVS/Pharmacy

Fun fact:
I was homeschooled from pre-K to 12th grade (and loved every minute of it).

Contact Information:

Quotes Corner

November 2, 2018

An Open Letter to 18-Year-Old Me

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

College Decision Day, 2016

Everything I wish I knew then, now.

Dear younger me,

If you’re reading this letter, I have successfully transcended the scientific laws of the universe and traveled back in time to get this communication to you. It’s me, Stefi. Just a little older and a little wiser. I’m here because I know you have a lot of questions. I know how nervous you are about starting college. You can’t predict the future, and I know that that scares the heck out of you. But I also know that everything is going to be all right – take some advice from the future 20-year-old, about-to-graduate-from-UCF you.

I just want to start off by telling you that you did a pretty good job at this whole life thing. Navigating college on your own away from home is no small feat. Maybe next time, try not to procrastinate on your assignments as much, and try to balance your meals a bit better, but overall, a pretty dang good job.

Speaking of jobs, you got a whole lot of ‘em since you started college. I mean, c’mon, seven internships in two-and-a-half years? Girl, you’re crazy. But in all seriousness, that’s an incredible accomplishment. You sacrificed so much of your own free time to advance in your professional career and create a personal brand. For that, I’m so proud.

Also, good on you for joining Quotes your freshman year and making it all the way to the executive board. This experience will help you meet so many fantastic people, and you might just win yourself a couple of awards and scholarships along the way.

Looking back, however, you might want to consider setting some time aside for yourself. Trust me, I know it’s hard when you have to juggle four classes, multiple jobs, an officer position, homework, friends, and family, but one of the key lessons you’ll learn soon is balance. Work hard, but also make time for self-care. Maintain your happiness and keep your well-being in check.

And don’t sweat the small stuff. I promise it’s not the end of the world if you get a ‘C’ on a test. Those things might seem dauntingly important right now, but no one is ever going to ask you why you don’t have a perfect 4.0 GPA.

Network as often as you can, no matter how tiring it gets. The connections you make now will create the foundation that will support you throughout your career. You might not see results right away, and this might make you feel like giving up – don’t.

Some more miscellaneous advice: Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Be hungry for knowledge. There are resources on campus for you – use them. Try to get more sleep. Don’t let the fact that the class starts at 8:30 a.m. deter you from taking it. Get involved in as many extracurriculars as you can. Take a weekend trip every once in a while. Make an effort to get to know your professors. Change is OK, and often, it’s a good thing. Always buy your textbooks used and then sell them. Strive to learn something new every day. Never stop applying to scholarships. And lastly, college goes by quickly … enjoy every second of it.

Well Stefi, you’ve handled this wild ride like a champ. I might have been able to travel back in time to get you this letter, but I definitely don’t have a crystal ball to be able to tell you your future. I just really hope that you’ll make use of all of the lessons you’ve learned throughout your time at UCF.

So here I am, writing to you, almost a college graduate. If nothing else in this letter sticks with you, I want you to remember one thing: you are an intelligent and resourceful young woman with an incredibly bright future. Dream big, because no mountain is too high for you. Love yourself for who you are every day, and don’t settle for anything less than you deserve. And when you lose yourself in other people’s expectations, forgive yourself and find your way back to you.

You’ll thank me later.


Future you

Chapter Rewind | Management 101 with HR Pro Mark Havard

October 5, 2018

By Elizabeth Lytle

Whether you’re a seasoned public relations professional, a practitioner just breaking into the field or a student looking to land the perfect internship, navigating the competitive job market, or the ins and outs of your workplace, can be a daunting task. At FPRA Orlando’s September professional development breakfast held at the beautiful Hub 925 co-working space, Mark Havard, director of human resources for Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, shared key insights to help members take their careers and leadership skills to the next level.

Mark Havard
Director of Human Resources, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts

Crafting a Standout Resume

On average, each job posting attracts 250 applications. And, despite the hours you’ve likely spent crafting your resume, hiring managers spend mere seconds scanning it. So, how do you ensure your resume catches the eye of a potential employer? Havard shared several tips – utilizing white space, keeping design simple and tailoring your objective to the position you’re applying for – but stressed one key point: show, don’t tell.

Anyone can say they are motivated, dedicated or passionate, so it’s crucial to back up these claimed qualities with real-world examples. Potential employers are not interested in the responsibilities you’ve been tasked with; they’re interested in the results you achieved while managing those responsibilities. Students seeking their first internship can take advantage of this advice, as well. Highlighting academic accomplishments, accolades and community involvement can effectively illustrate initiative – a sought-after trait in internship candidates.

Acing Your Interview

According to Havard – who has interviewed countless candidates in his career – the best way to make a lasting impression in your interview is to do your homework beforehand. Knowing the company’s mission, purpose, vision and values is key and will help you tailor your answers in a way that personally resonates with the interviewer. Plus, your interviewer is investing time in you, so it’s important to return the favor.

Agencies, companies and PR departments always have their clients top-of-mind, so Havard advised kicking your background knowledge up a notch by researching issues affecting the industries the company serves. With client-specific questions at the ready, you’re guaranteed to make a unique impression.

Another reminder from Havard: relax! Break the ice, establish a rapport and treat your interview like a conversation.

Leading With Success

Nearly every public relations practitioner reports to a boss, but how many can say they follow a leader? According to Havard, you can clearly differentiate between a boss and a leader by assessing whether your supervisor is working above you or working alongside you. Noting that engaged employees are proven to go the extra mile, he covered his top tips for leading with success, including being visible and accessible, clearly communicating expectations and making a concerted effort to publicly celebrate employee achievements and accomplishments.

Regardless of where you are in your career path, commitment, passion, empathy and dedication are crucial to your success. Havard’s insights underlined the importance of these qualities and we would be wise to keep them in mind as we work toward becoming effective leaders within our organizations and community.

Quotes Corner

October 5, 2018

Six Tips on Using Your Personal Social Media for Professional Growth

By Maddie Kjosa, Quotes UCF

Maddie Kjosa

Maddie Kjosa

Social aptitude (almost) looks better than a resume.

For anyone in the Communications/PR field, having a strong social presence goes a long way in establishing yourself as a professional. It indicates dedication to digital, adaptability, creativity, and ability to tell a story through something other than press releases or news articles. Having a strong presence also eliminates the struggle that many college students or fresh graduates face in getting a job with no prior experience.

With dedication and creativity, you can enter an interview with skills in content creation, analytics, SEO, CMS, and more, all without interning or spending money on courses/conferences.

This is something I’ve seen clearly in my time as a Communications student at the University of Central Florida. Across campus, I see students of every major focus more on their digital presence, whether it be via blogging, vlogging, becoming a micro-influencer, or having Instagram photoshoots with friends. Call it a trait of our generation.

Yet regardless of how old you are or how much you know, it is never too late or less important to have a strong social media presence. This is a field new to everyone. Therefore, it is paramount that we as communications professionals know how to use it, and moreover, use it well.

So, whether you’re fresh out of college or years into a career, here are some tips to get you started on using your personal social for professional growth:

  • Find what you love. It’s much easier to focus on one or two major aspects of your life in creating a digital presence.
  • Find the medium that best serves telling the story of that love. It can be slightly depressing to see people who seem to do it all, but there’s always one platform they do the best. Determine what “the best” is for you; videos, writing, photography, etc. After doing this, mainly use that medium in your social media to continue improving your skills.
  • Get a support network. Some of the best communications professionals got their start by connecting with others of similar goals. Being in FPRA is a HUGE start, but also seek locals or friends who love what you love and create content together!
  • Learn about social media tools by using them on your personal accounts. Interested in social analytics? Sign up for a free Hootsuite account and connect your accounts to it. You can also browse the in-program analytics offered by Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to see what metrics matter on each platform.
  • What about website analytics? Create a free Google Analytics account and connect it to your website like I did for metrics like bounce rate, user data, and more.
  • Take advantage of mobile apps! The App Store is filledwith a variety of apps that social media professionals use to create content. Some of my favorites are Canva, Unfold, Adobe Spark Post, Adobe Lightroom and PicPlayPost. Tip: I always test apps out on my personal social before using them professionally.

While more exist, these are all really easy and beneficial ways to start improving your professional social media skills with personal accounts. For all of my fellow UCF students who plan to attend Intern Pursuit and similar job fairs, remember that any skill you learn personally can and should be on your resume, portfolio and mentioned to employers. For example, explaining how you used Instagram Analytics and engagement tactics to increase your following by 500 accounts in six months. It doesn’t have to come from a job to be valid experience!

Due to the nature of social media itself, I offer one final word of advice: stay current. You never know when the next big thing will hit, and staying current will ensure that your social strategy is too.