Member PRofile: Despina McLaughlin

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

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