Orlando Members Shine at State Conference

August 13, 2013

Several members from our chapter were honored for leadership and excellent public relations programs at the state conference this month. Thank you for making your chapter proud!

State Board Executive Committee Installed


Three Orlando Area Chapter members were officially installed as members of the state board’s executive committee. Chris Gent, APR, CPRC will lead the state association this coming year as President. Amanda Forbes Mestdagh, APR will serve as VP of Technology and Roger Pynn, APR, CPRC will serve as Counselor’s Network Chair.

Awards for Service to FPRA

Congratulations to Roger Pynn, APR, CPRC, the winner of the Past President’s Award, which recognizes a senior member who has served the association time and time again. This special award recognizes a member who has achieved success in the field of public relations, but who has not forgotten FPRA.

Congratulations to Kerry Martin, APR for being honored as a member of the Rising Leader Class of 2013! Members of this class are up-and-coming FPRA members who have demonstrated emerging leadership traits along with dedicated active involvement in FPRA chapter activities and participation in programs, functions and events.

Congratulations to Cynthia Lambert, APR, the winner of the 2012-2013 Doris Fleischman Unsung Heroes Award! This award is intended to recognize an individual who consistently provides support and assistance to FPRA. It is meant to honor a member for his/her “behind the scenes” work and FPRA volunteer efforts that go unnoticed by chapter members and are not recognized by other awards programs.

Golden Image Awards

Congratulations to all the folks below who won big at Image Awards! View photos from the gala hereClick this link to view the complete list of winners by category.


UCF News & Information
Zenaida Kotala
Category A: Public Relations Programs; Division 9: Special Events
Golden Image Award & Judges’ Award
UCF’s Asteroid Encounter

Fry Hammond Barr
Allison Pope-Shutts
Christina Morton, APR
Category A: Public Relations Programs; Division 9: Special Events
Award of Distinction
Nemours Children’s Hospital Dedication Ceremony

MetroPlan Orlando
Cynthia Lambert, APR
Mary Ann Horne
Division B: Printed Tools of PR; Category 1: Annual Report
Grand All Golden Image Award, Golden Image Award, and Judges’ Award
What’s Next?: MetroPlan Orlando 2012 Annual Report

Curley & Pynn
Division B: Printed Tools of PR; Category 3: Magazine
Golden Image
Florida High Tech Corridor Council – florida.HIGH.TECH 2012

UCF News & Information
Zenaida Kotala
Division B: Printed Tools of PR; Category 6: News Release
Award of Distinction & Judges’ Award
Milky Way Cupcakes: A Savior for NASA’s Non-Manned Missions?

Florida Hospital Best in Care Team
Florida Hospital Experience Network
Division B: Printed Tools of PR; Category 6: News Release
Judges’ Award
100 Seizures a Day: Surgery Saves Boy’s Life

Curley & Pynn
Division C: Audio/Visual/Online Tools of PR; Category 4: Online Newsletter
Award of Distinction & Judges’ Award
Visit South Walton – South Walton “What’s New” eNewsletter

Florida Hospital Best in Care Team
Florida Hospital Experience Network
Division C: Audio/Visual/Online Tools of PR; Category 6: Video –Public Service/More than one minute
Judges’ Award
Epilepsy Explained: Finding the Right Treatment

Top 5 Takeaways from FPRA’s 75th Annual Conference

August 12, 2013

By: Lauren Hyer, APR

As an FPRA member, you’ve already committed to enhancing your career in the public relations profession.

One of the great benefits our association offers is professional development programming. If you’re not already taking advantage of these outstanding opportunities, I strongly encourage you to join us for an upcoming event. By doing so, you not only improve your professional development, but you also build and strengthen relationships with other public relations professionals in Central Florida.

In addition to its unmatched monthly chapter events, FPRA hosts a statewide annual conference, which includes a lineup of first-class speakers, networking events and prestigious awards recognizing outstanding members and stellar public relations programs. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to attend this year’s 75th Annual FPRA Conference in beautiful St. Petersburg, Florida. It was an exciting four-day celebration of our association’s rich past, strong present and bright future.

After five breakout sessions and seven general sessions, here are my top five takeaways from conference.

  1. Everyone watches videos. If you’re not already, make video production a key element in your next integrated marketing campaign. Aside from creating compelling content, remember to keep the video short – research shows that audience appetite for video is about one minute and 20 seconds.
  2. When developing messaging, keep your audience’s generation in mind. Each generation has unique core values that guide their consumer, career and lifestyle decisions. For example, Baby Boomers (ages 49 to 67) still have a “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. If you want to motivate this generation to donate to your cause, tell them their neighbors are giving. Conversely, to stimulate the more traditional Civics (68+), tell them their donation today will make a difference for tomorrow’s generation.
  3. Embrace your inner storyteller. And do it fast … you only have about eight seconds to grab your reader’s attention. “Storying” is so much more impactful than using jargon or spouting off various facts and figures to your readers. Instead, captivate your audience by leading with the most non-traditional, unique part of the story. Additionally, use powerful language and paint a vivid picture to engage your readers and help them visualize your story.
  4. Break your own bad news. Set the tone and define the crisis to the media. By doing so, you can help steer the direction of coverage. Additionally, always keep the media fed with information. Send updates to print, TV and online reporters, as well as bloggers. If you don’t, someone else will.
  5. Powerful communication campaigns emerge from strategic integration. For results that resonate best with your audience, strategically leverage your platforms (Facebook, Twitter, website, micro site, etc.) and blend unified messaging across all channels. It takes an average of three to five times for a person to remember a message, so make every impression count!

Weren’t able to attend this year’s event? For more coverage, read our conference blog, or take advantage of the virtual conference, where you can learn valuable lessons from 12 highly sought after speakers.

Save the date! FPRA’s 76th Annual Conference will be held August 10-13, 2014 at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek. I hope to see you there!

Quotes Corner: 2013 Media Roundtable

August 1, 2013

Beyond the Classroom: Media Pitching 101

By: Ivan Hernandez, UCF

A goal of PR is and always has been to work with the media. Unfortunately, I have found that textbooks and even professors seem to promote separation between the two. They perpetuate the idea that talking to journalists is like walking on eggshells; that the wrong comment can lead to disaster. These teachings leave students feeling uneasy and nervous about approaching the media, making their primary goal considerably more difficult to achieve.

We’re also taught that most of this tension stems from bad practices in media pitching. We’re told to not make pitches too long, and to not send multiple emails, but for the most part, it’s a list of don’ts rather than do’s.

In July, FPRA and PRSA hosted the Central Florida Media Roundtable 2013 (CFMR13) at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel. An event that serves as a fundamental learning tool for those in the PR profession, CFMR13 is a safe space for journalists, bloggers and public relations professionals to gather and have the blunt conversation about the practices in media pitching. It not only helps professionals build relationships with the local media, but it also give students, like me, a handful of tips that can help mend the notorious tension between journalists and PR pros. CFRM13 allows students to learn from the people they’re pitching while simultaneously learning alongside the professionals they are hoping to work with one day.

The Media Roundtable:

As students, we don’t have clients. At most, you might get to pitch during an internship, however it doesn’t mean that students have nothing to gain from speaking with journalists. Meeting face-to-face with journalists and bloggers gives students the advantage of learning about pitching right from the people they’d be pitching to in the real world.

After talking to representatives from publications like the Orlando Sentinel and the Orlando Business Journal, I managed to compile a list of helpful tips that students can take with them into their professional careers.

1. Know the audience of the publication. Journalists don’t want to spend their time reading a pitch that doesn’t cater to their readers’ interests. If there’s a story that matters to their audience, tell them what it is. Don’t simply provide a stream of information.

2. Catch the attention, and keep it short. For the most part, when pitching through email, the subject line should read a potential headline for the article. It’ll prompt the journalist to read it. Once they’ve opened it, don’t scare them away with a six-or-more paragraph pitch.

3. Follow up, but don’t harass. If the journalist is interested, he or she will make further contact. It’s okay to follow up with them, but be weary of sending too many emails or making inappropriate phone calls. Be considerate, or you might end up blacklisted.

Social Media Panel:

After the media roundtable sessions, a panel of journalists and PR pros took the stage and shared their experience with building relationships through social media. This combination of traditional and new media techniques is one of the more important aspects of this event. It’s one thing to know about Twitter and hashtags, but it’s another thing to know how to use them to your advantage.

It was such a pleasure to hear what panelists Jennifer Cook, John Cutter, Kim Matlock and Jennifer Wakefield had to say about social media and its role in the industry. I learned that social media should be used more for building a relationship. Research the journalists and get to know their interests. Once you’ve done that, a friendly tweet to them can lead to a solid conversation and then a potential pitch, if appropriate.

The bottom line is that the world is changing and this year’s CFMR13 showcased the new techniques that are being implemented. We students should be integrating these practices into our learning and eventually into our careers. So forget the tension, and embrace the relationship because it may be what gets the journalist to read your pitch.

Price Increase for FPRA Events

July 31, 2013

For the past several years, FPRA Orlando has kept meetings and events as affordable as possible to allow PR practitioners and students to stay current on their skills despite tough economic times. We’ve held prices at the bare minimum, making our programs the best value in town for PR networking and professional development.

After discussing rising food and program costs at the July 11 chapter board meeting, our board decided to increase prices slightly for our regular monthly programs to help cover the needs of the chapter. To increase the benefit of membership, prices for members and students will only rise by $5 and non-member price will rise by $10. Starting in August, the new pricing structure for regular monthly programs will be: $20 for members, $30 for non-members and $15 for students.

Thank you for your continued support of FPRA. We appreciate you and look forward to providing programming that helps you do your job better. If you have any questions about the pricing change, please contact Cynthia Lambert, president-elect (clambert@metroplanorlando.com or 407-481-5672 x320).

Member PRofile: Vianka McConville

July 30, 2013


Title & company:
Communications Specialist, Curley & Pynn

Explanation of your job:
While working in an agency, no two days are alike. I get to speak about economic development for the Florida High Tech Corridor Council one hour and pitch Father’s Day activities in Daytona Beach the next. I manage social media, code eNewsletters, draft news releases, conduct research, write editorial-style articles, support grand openings, update websites and more for various clients.

Years in FPRA & why you joined:
I have been with FPRA for two years. I joined to meet people in the industry and learn from many great minds in one place.

Position on the FPRA board:
Vice President of Image Awards

Favorite FPRA event:
I really enjoyed the media round table this year. The journalists provided a lot of information and we certainly didn’t skimp on the food!

Exciting achievement (personal or professional):
I won’t call it luck, but I have had a number of pitches turn into stories recently. I feel that I have graduated from dreading the follow-up call to a reporter and now welcome it. It is always exciting to have a story placed for your client and I’m glad to see my media relations skills strengthen.

Fun fact:
I visited the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal, Guatemala, and climbed one of the tallest Mayan pyramids in the world.

Contact info:
I can be reached at VMcConville@TheStrategicFirm.com or 407-423-8006.

Celebrating Leaders: Annual Networking and Recognition Breakfast

July 30, 2013

Join FPRA’s Orlando Area Chapter on Thursday, August 22 for a networking event with incoming FPRA State Association President Chris Gent, APR, CPRC as we celebrate a successful year! Chris will condense his 15 years of chapter leadership into five must-have traits for rising leaders before inducting the chapter’s new board members. Our Member of the Year and Bob Davis Award recipients will also be honored.

We’ll be starting the new board year in style at a private event at Cask & Larder, the southern-inspired sister restaurant of the Ravenous Pig. To start, a fresh-made seasonal yogurt parfait will be served as you meet and mingle with Orlando’s finest PR professionals, then you’ll enjoy your choice of classic eggs benedict or vegetarian quiche.

Thursday, August 22, 2013
Cask & Larder | 565 W. Fairbanks Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789
(Parking is available at the restaurant and at the shopping center next door. Please do not park at Enterprise Rent-A-Car.)
8:00 a.m. – Registration
8:30 a.m. – Program Begins

About the Speaker

Chris M. Gent, APR, CPRC
Vice President of Corporate Communications
Kissimmee Utility Authority

Chris is responsible for internal and external corporate communications for KUA, including marketing and advertising, media and public relations, employee communications, special events and corporate philanthropy. Hired by KUA in May 1993, Chris previously served as Manager of Corporate Communications and Communications Specialist for the utility.

A third-generation Floridian, Chris grew up on Florida’s Space Coast. He earned his bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Central Florida and master’s degree in strategic public relations from The George Washington University in Washington, DC, where he graduated valedictorian in 2011.

Chris is the incoming president of the Florida Public Relations Association, the oldest public relations organization in the United States. As a statewide Association, FPRA boasts nearly 1,500 professional and student members, all which make up the 15 professional and 11 student chapters. Chris has held several FPRA leadership positions at the chapter and state levels, including chapter president.

In 2004, Chris received FPRA’s Bob Davis Award for his behind-the-scenes contributions to the public relations profession in Central Florida.  In 2010, he was inducted into UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication Hall of Fame and was named Central Florida’s Public Relations Professional of the Year by FPRA. Chris’ work at KUA has earned 266 local, state, national and international communication awards for public relations programs, events and publications.

About the Venue

Located in Winter Park, Fla., Cask & Larder serves southern-inspired cuisine with seasonal ingredients, house-brewed beers and handcrafted cocktails in a vibrant, historical neighborhood brewery and kitchen. James Beard-nominated Chef Owners James and Julie Petrakis oversee Cask & Larder, along with sister restaurant The Ravenous Pig. Learn more about Cask & Larder at http://www.caskandlarder.com, and don’t forget to connect with us at facebook.com/cask.larder and @CaskLarder on Twitter (#ohmylarder).

Remembering Dr. Bob Davis

July 30, 2013


Dr. Robert Hamilton Davis
June 1943 – July 2013

Born June 26, 1943 in Detroit, Michigan Bob grew up in Grandview, Ohio and earned bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in English and Communications from Ohio State University. He also studied at the Columbus School of Art & Design. While at Ohio State he met his wife, Gail, and also became very involved in Army ROTC, rising to Brigadier General. He then served one year in Vietnam after attending Airborne School.

In 1977 he joined the advertising and public relations faculty of Florida Technological University as an Assistant Professor – doubling its ranks in those early days of its communications program. He was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in 1982, promoted to Full Professor in 1986 and served as Ad/PR Division Head for many years.

Shortly after arriving in Orlando, he joined the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) went on to hold numerous local and state offices, including serving as statewide President in 1988. FPRA honors have included: Member of the Year, Past President’s Award and the association annually awards the Bob Davis Scholarship. In 1995 he was presented its highest honor, the John W. Dillin Award.

He was a tireless promoter of FPRA’s Roast & Toast Program, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for scholarships. Bob created Quotes, a UCF student chapter of FPRA that has gone on to teach leadership skills to countless graduates and created the Knight Image Awards to annually recognize outstanding student PR efforts.

In 2008, Bob retired from the faculty, and truly enjoyed retirement, finding time to take up ballroom dancing, focus a longtime interest in martial arts and keep up his love affair with typography by studying calligraphy. In the last year he learned to speak Spanish giving him a good reason to stay in touch with an old college friend, talking regularly in his newly acquired language.

Dr. Davis was preceded in death by his daughter, Sandy and is survived by his wife of 47 years, Dr. Gail Davis, his daughter, Meredith Peeples and son-in-law, Phillip.