A Lesson from Coach Smart Scores Big

March 20, 2013

Guest Blog: FPRA-OAC Member Nancy Kinnally shares how Michael Smart, media coach who served as the OAC’s guest speaker in February 2013, influenced her work.

Welcome to my double life. By day: director of communications for The Florida Bar Foundation. By nights, weekends and vacation days: lifelong best friend, cheerleader, and self-appointed volunteer assistant publicist for Susan Spencer-Wendel, whose book “Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy” was released March 12, 2013 to international media fanfare and landed on the New York Times Bestsellers List. Susan, formerly an award-winning journalist for the Palm Beach Post, is dying of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. She wrote her life-affirming memoir using her right thumb on her iPhone, since she is otherwise paralyzed and has lost the ability to speak clearly. The book reached number two on Amazon’s bestsellers list the day after its release. Universal has bought the film rights to her story, so a major motion picture may be next.

Susan’s real publicist, Rachel Elinsky of HarperCollins, generated the media firestorm that erupted the week of the release. I claim no credit. But my support for Susan has sometimes spilled over into the PR realm, and when Michael Smart of MichaelSmartPR spoke to the FPRA Orlando Area Chapter on February 13, my instincts took over. I saw Michael as the consummate PR guru and as someone who would appreciate Susan’s story. And − as he collected e-mail addresses from the audience to add to his distribution list − I saw him as someone with a large audience. Michael, who shared with us the cheer he came up with when he coached his son’s flag football team, the Honey Badgers, coached us all on how to write the perfect e-mail pitch. So after being schooled, I decided to practice what I’d learned right  back on Coach Smart.

My pitch scored big when Michael turned it into one of his widely broadcast e-mails. Two days after the book’s release, he sent an e-mail telling how I had contacted him after his speaking engagement. He shared Susan’s story and included the link to her book’s fan page.

“I recommend the Today show piece that aired yesterday as an encouraging and guilt-trip-free lesson on priorities and strength facing adversity (and includes a sound bite from Nancy). More coverage from NPR, USA Today, Huffington Post, and many more outlets does the same,” Michael wrote.

Michael continued, “Thanks to the expertise of the publicists at Susan’s book publisher, her message is reaching tens of millions of people. And because a devoted friend and PR pro is leaving no stone unturned, contacting everyone she can think of, even a visiting PR speaker, with carefully customized outreach and follow-up, you’re reading about it now. Many thanks to Nancy for sharing, may God bless Susan and her family, and best wishes to all of you as you balance the loves of your lives with the powerful discipline you practice.”

Many thanks to you, Michael, for being a positive force in our profession and for reaching out to support my friend, whose tap, tap, tap with her right thumb has shown us how easy it is to tap three letters: J-O-Y.

If you are interested in receiving Michael’s weekly PR writing and pitching tips, register in the sign-up box on his website, www.michaelsmartpr.com.

Nancy Kinnally & Susan Spencer-Wendel pictured beside the Mediterranean Sea in Cyprus (the birthplace of Susan’s biological father) during travels in 2010 to meet relatives Susan had never met before.

Nancy Kinnally & Susan Spencer-Wendel pictured beside the Mediterranean Sea in Cyprus (the birthplace of Susan’s biological father) during travels in 2010 to meet relatives Susan had never met before.

2013-2014 FPRA-OAC Board of Director Positions Open for Nominations

March 18, 2013

The Orlando Area Chapter is one of the Florida Public Relations Association’s largest and strongest chapters because so many of our members are involved and seek leadership responsibilities. If you are interested in serving on the 2013-2014 FPRA-OAC Board of Directors, now is the time to step up!  Please e-mail Amanda Forbes Mestdagh, APR by April 5, 2013.

The 2013-2014 board will be recommended by a nominating committee in April that is composed of five percent of our chapter’s membership. The slate will be published in the May issue of PRoclaimer for members to review.  The 2013-2014 board year runs from September 2013 through August 2014.

Below is a list of available board positions:

1. President–Elect

2. Secretary

3. Treasurer

4. Assistant Treasurer

5. Vice President of Membership

6. Assistant Vice President of Membership

7. Vice President Accreditation

8. Vice President of Professional Development (Two positions)

9. Vice President of Student Scholarships (Two positions)

10. Vice President of Image Awards (Two positions)

11. Vice President of Media Relations

12. Vice President of Publications

13. Vice President of Technology (Two positions)

14. Vice President of Student Outreach

15. Communiqué Advisor

16. Quotes Advisor

Member PRofile: Skye Guthrie

March 18, 2013

Title & Company: Communications Specialist at Nielsen

Why are you involved with FPRA?: “I joined FPRA two years ago to connect with local PR and communications practitioners. I work from home and my colleagues are spread across the state, so I was really interested in spending face time with like-minded professionals.”

Memorable FPRA Event?: “My favorite recent event was the backstage pass tour of Nemours Children’s Hospital. I loved that we Guthriegot the inside scoop on how the hospital works, what makes it so special, and how their communications team executed an amazingly successful series of launch events.”

Explanation of your job?: “I manage a wide range of communications projects for Nielsen’s Chief Operating Officer. Most of my work involves breaking down highly technical concepts to tell compelling stories about how Nielsen produces the best insights about consumers across the world. I’m responsible for projects in employee engagement, client communications, investor relations, public relations and thought leadership, spanning print, presentation, video and web media. My job is anything but monotonous – I love the constant opportunity to learn and challenge myself!”

Exciting Achievement: “I’ve really enjoyed being able to travel as part of my job. Since I work outside of the office, I regularly head to New York, Chicago or Washington, D.C. for meetings. Beyond my regular travel, I had the opportunity in 2011 to fly to India to support a large conference we held for our clients in that part of the world. I was able to make time for a visit to the Taj Mahal, which was more breathtaking than pictures could ever capture.”

Why Orlando?: “I’m originally from the Ft. Lauderdale area, but have lived in Orlando since 2004, when I moved here for college. I graduated from UCF with a BS in business administration, and from Rollins College with an MBA. Go Knights and Tars!”

Contact info: Email skye.guthrie@nielsen.com and LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/skyeguthrie

Interesting fact: “Until my second year of college, I thought I’d end up becoming a teacher, like nearly everyone else in my family. Even though I pursued a different professional path, I’m passionate about education as one of the most worthy and impactful causes for support in our country. I currently serve on the Board of Directors for Winter Park Day Nursery, a local nonprofit preschool dedicated to providing affordable high quality education for the working families of Central Florida. It’s incredibly rewarding!

FPRA Members Pair Thinking Caps With Fun At MERGE

March 15, 2013

Common celebrity bonds and storybook villains were just a few of the categories that FPRA-OAC trivia teams pondered at the MERGE Trivia Night held at The Relax Grill at Lake Eola on April 6.  During the event, more than 25 members and non-members put their knowledge to the test to support the FPRA scholarship fund, which benefits the UCF Nicholson School of Communication’s Scholarship and the Organizational Communication Program of the Hamilton Holt School of Rollins College.

Attendees donated $10 toward the scholarship program and enjoyed a complimentary drink, donated by The Relax Grill at Lake Eola. The winning team received $100 in various restaurant gift cards.  After a generous donation provided by Bright House Networks, our MERGE event series sponsor, this event generated over $1,250. 

To view event photos and access upcoming information on the next MERGE networking and scholarship fundraising opportunity, visit facebook.com/FPRAorlando.


Ask A PRo: Moving On Up

March 15, 2013


Do you have your PR career all mapped out? How will you achieve the next level of your professional growth? Come learn from FPRA past presidents as they share their experiences on climbing the corporate ladder and reaching senior level positions. They’ll talk about important lessons learned and pivotal moments that helped define their professional paths.

No matter where you are in your career, there’s always room for growth. Make sure to come prepared with questions for our distinguished panel – they’re willing to tell it all to help you build your future in PR.

Lori Booker, APR – CEO/Founder, CBR Public Relations
Joe Chabus, APR – Regional Communications Manager, McDonald’s
Chris Gent, APR, CPRC – Vice President of Corporate Communications, Kissimmee Utility Authority
Amanda Mestdagh, APR – Senior Account Executive, Fry Hammond Barr
Roger Pynn, APR, CPRC – President, Curley & Pynn

Thursday, March 28, 2013
University Club | 150 E. Central Blvd., Orlando, FL
(Complimentary parking available in fenced lot at corner of Central Blvd. and Rosalind Ave.)

8:00 a.m. – Registration
8:30 a.m. – Presentation

Cost: Members $15, Non-members $20, Students $10

Click here to REGISTER!

Nominate Yourself for the Joe Curley Rising Leader Award

March 15, 2013

The Joe Curley Rising Leader Award is intended to identify and honor up-and-coming individual FPRA members that demonstrate emerging leadership traits along with dedicated active involvement in FPRA Chapter activities, programs, functions and events.

The goal of the award is to help recognize personal dedication and engagement of members with two to five years of membership, and to help build a healthy leadership stream at the local chapter level.

The honor includes a $500 cash award and a $500 FPRA state credit that the winner can utilize at his or her discretion for state professional development seminars, workshops, or Annual Conference (and for costs associated with conference).

Nominations (self-nominated) are due to FPRA-OAC President Allie Vatcher by March 31st.  Recognition will take place during the FPRA Annual Conference in August.

joe curley award